Gran Canari-aaah

Love It’s Paul Carter was basted like a chicken, stroked, pummelled and then stoned when he went on a spa break to Gran Canaria with wife Rachelle! Here he reveals why the jewel in the crown of the Canary Islands is a must when it comes to spa breaks..

Maspalomas beach is exquisite – seven-and-a- half miles of pure white sand and windsculpted dunes that take your breath away. But be warned – a walk from the lighthouse at the southern end, along sands that quite literally shimmer before your eyes, to the northernmost tip at Playa del Ingles, can be quite an eye-opener – as my wife was quick to point out. We were walking through the nude zone. More specifi cally, the gay nude zone. I was walking through it a little bit quicker than my wife.

‘Look at the size of them!’ Mrs C exclaimed, ‘I didn’t know they could be that big.’ ‘Hurry up, darling – there’s nothing to see here. They’re just Germans,’ I said, speeding up my walk to almost a running place. ‘Why isn’t yours as big as those?’ Mrs C chuckled, pointing. Although Maspalomas is considered one of the world’s great beaches, you have to be broad-minded to walk the length of it! Maspalomas beach is divided into four zones – two family zones to the north and south and a nudist and gay nudist zone in the middle. It’s important to know this if you’re planning to walk the length of it with an inquisitive wife!

My best advice would be whether you’re straight, gay, family or single, just find your ‘zone’ and be prepared to marvel at one of the great unspoilt natural beaches of the world. But if beaches don’t float your boat, there’s now another reason to visit the third largest of the seven Canary Islands – it’s becoming ‘the’ go-to place for spa breaks. We were based at the five star Sheraton Gran Canaria Salobre Golf Resort. It resembles a miniature Jenga tower built into the hillside, but inside has the feel of a Miami-style south beach resort, all wooden decking and glass windows.

As we headed to the Aloe Wellness Spa I groaned as I realised it was clothing optional – yet more reason for Mrs C to comment on my inadequacies. Luckily, bikinis and swim shorts were kept on as we and the other guests did the spa circuit – a combination of sauna, ice rub, steam room and fi nally an oxygen room. Rich in 90 per cent O2, halfan- hour in here and you can kiss goodbye to any hangover. It really is that good! The Sheraton is the pinnacle of chic, with restaurants that serve Galician steak – the Spanish equivalent of our Aberdeen Angus or Welsh Black Beef – and a bar that serves a mean espresso martini.

We recommend leaving the children at home if you’re planning a trip! Day two saw a visit to the Gloria Palace Royal Hotel and Spa, built in stone to match the surrounding hillside and overlooking the splendid beach of Playa de Amadores in Puerto Rico. Our day started with a circuit of the ‘dynamic pool’, rich in sea salt and heated to 35 degrees Celsius. It has different massage stations such as swan necks, water jets, bubble hydromassage and microbubble beds. An hour in each was the equivalent of having an intense sports massage. Next we were off for our treatments – and this is where things got a bit weird. Our two masseuses came out, looking remarkably like Angelina Jolie and Noel Edmonds. I copped for Noel.

Leading me to a massage room, he gave me a wafer-thin blue tanga thongs, told me to put them on and left the room while I got undressed. My wife was in another room having exactly the same treatment, only with her Angelina Jolie lookalike. Life can be cruel sometimes. I self-consciously put my thong on – not on my head, as one of my less spa-savvy colleagues had done on a trip to southern Spain a few weeks earlier – and clambered on to the massage bed. Minutes later Noel began basting me with salt. Then he wrapped me up tightly in plastic sheets and left me for 15 minutes. Unable to move my arms, I got slightly claustrophobic. I told myself not to panic. I thought of Angelina in the neighbouring room. When Noel unwrapped me a quarter-of-an-hour later, my skin felt like silk. I forgave Noel and went to meet my wife. ‘Doesn’t your skin feel great?’ she said. ‘How was Angelina?’ I asked. Day three saw a trip to the Hotel Cordial Mogan Playa, located in the idyllic fi shing village of Puerto de Mogan. This was by far the prettiest of all the hotels we visited on our trip – and the quietest, suiting couples more than families. The hotel is built in the style of a typical Canarian village – if you’ve ever been to Bahia del Duque in Tenerife, you’ll know exactly what I mean – but it’s only half the price. We were booked in for a massage. ‘Can you ask who’s doing the massage?’ I said to my wife. ‘Tell them I don’t want a man!’

She shook her head and replied, ‘Does it matter?’ Fortunately, I got a woman. Waves of relief swept over me as I had the most blissful aromatherapy-style massage that saw me, quite literally, drifting in and out of consciousness. Our fi nal stop on day four was the Gloria Palace San Agustin. The sea water circuit has an amazing 34 hydromassage stations, including fi tness pools with cross-current swimming. By the time it came to our treatment I was feeling what I can only describe as aquafresh, though I have no idea what that actually means. Two women escorted us to the treatment rooms – result! – where we were told to strip off and lie on the beds on our tummies. They then proceeded to place hot pebbles on our backs. ‘I don’t get it,’ I whispered to Mrs C. My back was then massaged by one of the girls holding two hot pebbles. I still didn’t get it. It was only afterwards, when my back felt relaxed, less tense and more supple than it had ever felt, that the penny dropped. ‘Hot pebbles – they’re the future,’ I told my wife. ‘They’re stones,’ she said, by now slightly exasperated. We ended our stay having cocktails on the rootop terrace of the sunset bar of the Sheraton, gazing out over the volcanic wilderness that covers most of the island. ‘I could get used to this,’ I said to Mrs C.

Sheraton Grana Canaria Salobre Golf Resort

Gloria Palace Royal Hotel & Gloria Palace San Augustin

Hotel Cordial Mogan Playa