Put off by its ‘Lanzagrotty’ association? Erica Crompton says this is one island we should all look to for a winter sun destination and here’s why…
It’s 6am on a dark December morning at Birmingham airport. Rain beats against the concrete walls and daylight is yet to break. While Lanzarote may also give rise to bleak visions of cheap cocktails and pints of lager at 10am (thanks to Michael Palin’s ‘Lanzagrotty’ tag) today, as the sun rises an hour into a flight here, you’ll find that this Canary Island is now the one-stop winter sun-spot – and lanzarote holidays shouldn’t be missed.
Hip-hunters eschew the island’s main drag in the south and instead head north to a cluster of small, white-washed fisherman villages with a smattering of luxury accommodation, local seafood and Canarian potatoes, and sparse shores all to oneself, bar from the odd surfer.
Thanks to eco-accommodation group, Lanzarote Retreats; a small, emerald, word-of-mouth door will open up local life – with its surfy vibes, bohemian boutiques and restaurants of small wonder – to tourists who want a peaceful break, some culture, a luxury bolthole to recuperate and most importantly your annual dose of ‘vitamin sea’.
On arrival to Arrecife, the only airport on the island, you can notice the heat – one of the main draw-cords of a winter trip here. It’s December and it’s 21 degrees, not unlike a typical summer’s day in the UK.
All the buildings in Lanzarote are white-washed little boxes and the airport is no different, except on a much grander scale. Quivering, green palm trees wave to greet you and as you cross into the car park, you’ll also be met by Josh, son of the Lanzarote Retreats dynasty and family-run business of some three decades. He’s in a four-by-four worthy of a P-Diddy pop video and armed with a bottle of chilled Cava, a tipple that’s locally produced and exported.
Lanzarote Retreats have over a dozen properties you can book for your stay on the island known for its volcanos – mostly in the north and flag-shipped in Arrieta, the first of the fisherman’s villages you’ll hit from the drive from the airport.
There are a total of 18 villas and apartments and 16 eco-homes to choose from under the umbrella of Lanzarote Retreats – from diminutive, romantic yurts for idyllic writing retreats, to family-sized villas kitted out with kitchens and a gifted bottle of local wine.
The flagship accommodation here in Arrieta has its own pool area, honesty shop and is a pebble-skim away from the beach which is visited mostly by locals at weekends. It’s super quiet in the week apart from the odd surfer. Yet you’ll have everything you need here from a local shop for the self-catering facilities, a bar fashioned out of a turquoise camper van for late night mojitos and lo-fi hip hop music and a few seafood restaurants resting on the shore a little further into the village.
Carry on travelling north from Arrieta’s centre and within 1 mile you’ll be ensconced in the centre of Puerto Mujeres, an even smaller fisherman’s village with two tiny grocery stores that also double up as the local off-license, bakery and café. ‘Pebbles’ is one of a further few home-stays by Lanzarote Retreats located in this village that plays host to the more typical, laid-back Lanzarote lifestyle. Wander along the sea front to the low-key tapas bar for lunch, enjoy traditional dishes in a variety of local restaurants or go beach combing along the coastline.
‘Pebbles’ is a self-catering apartment set right on the water’s edge with waves lapping the shore – you may even be able to catch your supper from the master bedroom’s window. While the location is low key, as with any Lanzarote Retreats property the apartment is well-furnished with all mod-cons and WiFi as well as modern kitchen appliances.
The Punta Mujeres coast line is lined with natural rock pools that fill at high tide and make the most wonderful locations for a relaxed dip with the family. Many locals have built their houses as close to the sea as possible, creating small alleyways and cul-de-sacs where homes look out over the sea. One or two houses almost blend in and disappear altogether, as they are constructed of volcanic stone. There are numerous pretty terraces and balconies, painted the traditional blue that once denoted the dwelling of local fishermen.
Other hot spots
From the Punta Mujeres fishing village to the resort of Costa Teguise to, right through to villas close to the prestigious Puerto Calero Marina, Lanzarote Retreats provides a wonderful range of holiday rentals beautifully designed in idyllic surroundings that are a far cry from the lurid neon and pints of Bloody Mary that Lanzarote was known for in the 90s.
Visit here for a nicely chilled dose of sun, a surf and seafood that all conspire to open-up a world of wonder that’s still easy on your purse strings.
Fly direct to Arrecife in Lanzarote from East Midlands, Birmingham or Manchester airports.
Return flights start from just £50 on a last minute deal with EasyJet or from £115 booked in advance with Jet2.
Flight time is 4 hours and 20 minutes from Birmingham airport.
Prices for one person based on an eco-yurt start from around 65 Euro (£55.50) per a night.
Currency is Euro.
Lanzarote Retreats can include all transfers from airport to accommodation, with complimentary Cava to chill with during the 30 minute journey for an additional fee.
For more information or to book your stay visit www.lanzaroteretreats.com