Puerto del Carmen or Playa Blanca?

Being a returning visitor to Lanzarote I should admit I had some expectations. I’m happy to confirm that I was not disappointed.

Playa Blanca with its picturesque coastal walks, sea front location and variety of coffee shop, restaurants and bars make it ideal for those looking for a quiet getaway. We didn’t spend too much time here as my previous visit was spent relaxing and walking along the seafront all the way to the lighthouse.

Puerto Del Carmen being the main resort and is 15 minutes’ drive from the airport makes it ideal for those not looking to drive or hire a car. Not only do you have everything you need within walking distance, you also have great access to the transport system ,which gives you great access to the rest of Lanzarote.

Whether you’re travelling as a couple ,with friends or family your grandparents or children this resort can offer something for everyone. Please refer to our handy resort guide for things to do.

For a day away from the main strip you can visit Puerto Calero – an upmarket area and harbour with a selection of bars, cafes and restaurants with a selection of high end shops to distract you from the calming harbour views.

If I had a sporty bone in my body I could see myself running along the beach or cycling, but let’s be honest that’s not me. I like to relax and enjoy the sun while watching those more dedicated work up a sweat.

Snorkeling, Playa Chica Beach, Puerto del Carmen.

At night Puerto del Carmen comes to life, the bars compete and the touts are out ,but not to bother you, of course they are there to tempt you into the bars and restaurants, but once they know you’re not interested or that you have already eaten most will just say hello and check your enjoying your time in resort.

Despite the liveliness at night the noise isn’t too loud and it’s unlikely you will hear any wherever you’re staying, as I was one street behind the main strip and couldn’t hear a peep.

After reading this back, I guess I am still undecided and to be honest I’m rather torn as both have a great feel to them and I would return to both.

For those of you who have read this in the hope of having the ultimate question answered I’m sorry to disappoint ,but let’s put it out there … which is better Playa Blanca or Puerto del Carmen?

 

5 things to do when in Lanzarote

 

1. Relax – there’s no excuse…. you’ve worked hard for this time away and you deserve to be able to do nothing but relax.

2. Coastal walks- If you’re like me and exercise is a chore, a slow walk taking in the views is something even your Nana will enjoy.

3. Beaches: Playa Grande Beach which is 1km long a sandy beach with the Avenida de Las Playas promenade can take you past some more quieter coves. Playa Flamingo is pretty with a protective rock barrier making it ideal for swimming and snorkelling.

Tip: Don’t be fooled by the weather if cloudy. Always protect yourself and cream up I learnt the hard way.

4. Timanfaya national park aka ‘Fire Mountains’ with its ‘Martian’ landscape which when at the top of Timanfaya. Only then do you get the full sense of how much of the island was affected by the last eruption. Ideal for a day out and fun for all the family. The coach tour around the craters is only €10.00 pp and gives you a chance to see the best views on the island of the impact area.

5. Day trip to Fuerteventura- Hop on a ferry from Playa Blanca port for a 25-minute ferry crossing which usually depart every 2 hours for about €14.00 each way. Explore the island of Fuerteventura and experience what this isle has to offer and get away for the day to maybe do some shopping.

Tip: For those who suffer from sea sickness the larger ferries are impacted less by natures forces but this is dependent on the weather.

 

Top Tip: When excited about your villa and Facetime is in use, ALWAYS look where you are walking and not into the phone screen. This avoids unnecessary accidents as I discovered for myself.

 

Written by Jamie from our Travel Team.

Meet the team. Majorca: Jo Ryan.

What’s your name and where do you come from?

Hi, My Name is Jo Ryan, and I am originally from a little place in the North West of England called St Helens, but I have been living overseas now for 30 years, most of those years on this beautiful island of Majorca.

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How long have you been at Villa Plus?

I started and set up Villa Plus here on Majorca, at a time that we only had two other resorts, Portugal and Costa Del Sol and we received our first clients in March 2005. My Villa Plus journey began with 38 villas and today we have 220 in different areas of the island!

Fun fact about you/ Mallorca

I was fascinated by the Spanish language from a very early age and remember always trying to chat to Spanish natives as a child on holiday in different parts of Spain. I always wanted to live in Spain when in was older.  I was lucky enough to take my O’ level Spanish a year early and perfected my Spanish in the North of Spain during my teenage years. When I came to work on the island I was shocked to be greeted by people speaking a new language….. Mallorcan/Catalan, a totally different language to what I had learnt!!   I was, at this time fluent in Spanish!  I spent the next 10 years here on a mission to learn this language!

Today I am fluent, like a local, in Catalan and Spanish and have a 15-year-old son born on the island who speaks both languages like a local but also English with his Mum’s great northern accent! 😊

What is your favorite villa and why?

That’s a really hard question to answer with just one villa name. We have such a variety of villas ranging from villas that are walking distance to beaches and resort centres to Mallorcan fincas located down meandering country lanes, modern villas and classical Spanish villas. I’m going to be cheeky and give my two best choices:

I love Villa Marino which is a beautiful country villa nestled in mature gardens with a fabulous pool area to enjoy sunny days in the sun, with comfy seating on the splendid terraces and a wonderful BBQ area for those evenings relaxing by the pool. It’s a country villa but also not far from the resort of Cala Dor so for me offers the best of both worlds.

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Another favorite of mine is a new villa on our programme this year, Villa Quiros 2.

I fell in love with this villa for its perfect location by the beach and a few of my favorite restaurants are nearby too, not to mention La Roca Beach Bar which just a stone’s throw away and a great place for those early evening cocktails. The villa itself is so majestic and impressive and I can imagine myself and my family on holiday here in the hot sunny months.

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What is a typical day like for you?

I can’t say that any day is the same for me in my job as Area Manager, which I love! It’s such a diverse role that keeps me busy and on my toes! I work with a wonderful team of 17 people who are what make Mallorca so successful. I feel very lucky to have the team that I have. I am responsible for the whole delivery of the holiday experience to our clients, through the hard work of my team, as well as contracting the villas for our programme on the island. My days start early in the morning and I can often be found at my desk before 8am. My role takes me out of the office quite a lot too and I travel around the island meeting owners and agents and visiting their villas to see if they could be part of our programme. I work closely with my team on the ground to ensure the smooth running of the resort and to make sure that we deliver a great holiday experience to every single one of our customers.  Once my working day is over, I can be found cycling along the pine walk on my new vintage bicycle and having a well-deserved G&T with friends, or walking my dog Luna with my son Samy, who is 15. In the hot summer months, we often go to the beach at about 8pm to have a refreshing evening swim followed by a BBQ in the garden. It’s great to relax and be able enjoy this wonderful island as well as working hard!

What made you want to be a holiday rep/manager?

I wanted to work in Spain ever since I can remember. As a family we holidayed most years in Spain or France and I decided in my teens that I wanted to be a holiday rep in Spain.

I worked as an Overseas Holiday Rep for the first few years of my time overseas, and with my years of experience and time became involved with the contracting of the villas and Area Manager. I love my job as Area Manager and the diversity contracting also gives to my role.

Which other Villa Plus destinations do you most want to visit & why?

I would love to visit our Greek resorts as Greece is one of the places that I have never visited. Perhaps this summer I may escape my lovely island and pop to see my colleagues over in Corfu or one of the new islands that we have on offer like Zante.

What is one thing our guests CANNOT miss during their holiday in Mallorca, in your opinion?

You simply cannot miss sitting on one of our beautiful beaches at the end of a fabulous day and experiencing the amazing sunset over the Mediterranean Sea and majestic mountains whilst enjoying a fresh cool drink with your loved ones!

 

 

Cala Galdana: Menorca

I have called Menorca my home for over 15 years, and Cala Galdana is without a doubt one of my favourite spots. A combination of many factors makes it, in my opinion, a little piece of paradise. Think golden sand and the crystal-clear turquoise waters, towering pine trees and dramatic limestone cliffs. This beautiful resort really does have something for everyone.

Menorca May 2018

Cala Galdana is the perfect family resort and is always one of my first stops with visiting family and friends. It has a horseshoe shaped bay of gentle waters ideal for even the youngest members of the family to enjoy a paddle. There is plenty to keep the little ones busy, including the Tobogan restaurant on the main strip, which is a firm favourite with my kids. It has two water slides, allowing the kids to tire themselves out whilst you enjoy a cool drink and a few snacks. There is also a crazy golf course and a play park if the kids ever manage to grow weary of the slides!

Family and friends playing on Cala Galdana beach

I often head to Cala Galdana to enjoy an afternoon picnic with friends, whilst the children paddle until the sun goes down. There are large picnic benches on the beach, nestling under the shade of the pine trees. However, if you prefer to treat yourselves, there is a popular restaurant perched on the edge of a rocky outcrop, where you can enjoy unbeatable views of the bay whilst sampling freshly caught sea food with cool, crisp white wine or try some local tapas accompanied by fruity, refreshing sangria.

After a day relaxing on the beach, if you fancy doing something different, the twice weekly equestrian show at Son Martorellet is situated less than 5km from Cala Galdana. I have taken my family numerous times, and it never fails to be both spectacular and enchanting. It is not just for horse lovers, and it is described as “A complete experience that touches the hearts and souls of all audiences”. The show is called “Somni” meaning “dream” in the local Menorca language. Magnificent stallions and their talented riders act out the story of a girl´s dreams and her longing to own a horse which soon becomes her best friend, embarking on many adventures. For true equestrian enthusiasts like myself, Son Martorellet also offers exclusive behind the scenes visits.

Lidia and Poppy at end of Cala Galdana to Cala Macarella walk

 

 

 

 

 

For the more adventurous holiday maker, Cami de Cavalls is the natural bridle path which skirts the whole island. From Cala Galdana, you can head in two directions, East to Cala Mitjana or West to Cala Macarella. Both walks saunter through a contrast of shady wooded areas as well as dramatic costal stretches. They are suitable for even the younger members of the family, with my younger son, aged 6, easily managing the longer route to Cala Macarella which is approximately 3km. The route to Cala Macarella should definitely be done in the early morning or late afternoon, when the heat of the Mediterranean sun is not so intense. The route to Cala Mitjana is shorter, and the majority of the route is along a well paved and shaded path, which winds down to the beach. Don’t forget that the way back is uphill though! The beach itself is spectacular, with the limestone cliffs overhanging the turquoise waters. Both Cala Macarella and Cala Mitjana are unspoilt “virgin” beaches, which is the reason for their appeal, however remember that this also means there are very limited facilities, with one beach bar at Cala Macarella and nothing at all at Cala Mitjana, so take plenty of food and water on your walk.

Menorca May 2018

If you prefer the open waters to dry land, there is a wide selection of water activities for all the family. I love hiring a kayak to explore a multitude of hidden caves and outlets around the bay. Or if you wish to head further afield, a round trip from Cala Galdana to Cala Mitjana and back should take approximately 2 hours. If its family fun you are looking for, my kids adore hiring out one of the floating pedalos, complete with its own slide!

After all the exertion, let the rest of the family head back to the villa for an afternoon swim, and book yourself into the Audax hotel’s Blue Spa for a bit of pampering. It boasts a full thermal spa circuit, as well as an array of treatments. The perfect way to unwind!

But it’s not all about the kids, as there is plenty to keep the grown-ups busy too! Cala Galdana has a good choice of restaurants and souvenir shops, as well as bars that are open until late, such as the popular Mississippi bar. Or head to the trendy chill-out lounge, Francesca, for an early evening cocktail.

Cala Galdana is home to 18 spectacular Villa Plus villas, including 7 which are new to the Villa Plus 2019 programme. Myself and my colleagues are delighted that they have been named after some of our children: Alexia, Erik, Ethan, Lidia, Nicolas, Olivia and Poppy.

Have a browse on our website to find the perfect villa to suit your needs, but I can guarantee that the resort of Cala Galdana will be an all-round winner!

So, in a nutshell, I just can’t wait for family and friends to visit us again in Menorca this year so that I can proudly show off this perfect piece of paradise on the island that I am proud to call home.

 

Post written by Caroline, part of our Villa Representative team in Menorca.

41 Hours in Andalucía

On a recent work trip I was lucky enough to find myself in Andalucia…for just 41 hours! Having spent the last few days exploring the bustling resorts of Fuengirola, Marbella and Benalmadena, I was looking forward to a more relaxed pace as I headed east along the coast – luckily, I was not disappointed! Trading the glitz and glamour of Puerto Banus for the laid-back charm of Torrox Costa and Nerja, here are my favourite experiences:

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Tapas in Torrox Costa

Home to a wide promenade lining the beautiful beach, Torrox Costa certainly has a relaxed vibe. Having found a wonderful little tapas bar, Entre Vientos, I enjoyed a delicious feast whilst admiring the stunning views.

Getting lost in Nerja

Although a popular tourist destination and therefore busier than its neighbour, Torrox Costa, I was surprised by how Nerja has managed to keep much of its authentic Spanish charm. The old town is a network of narrow streets and characterful buildings with a mix of shops selling perfumes, wines and clothing as well as souvenirs.

So much seafood!

With both Nerja and Torrox Costa having such superb costal locations, it’s no wonder I had so much seafood to choose from. From mussels to lobster, and everything in between, the world (or menu) is literally your oyster! Having settled on a delicious crab ravioli, I sat back with a glass of wine overlooking the sea.

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Balcon de Europa

A tree-lined promenade leading to a spectacular viewing point, the Balcon de Europa is certainly a popular spot for the novice photographer – or selfie taker! Grabbing a coffee from the nearby café, I settled in for an hour or so of people watching.

The stunning views

With the seaside location of both resorts, I was (of course) expecting some spectacular sea views, and true to form I was not disappointed! Driving along the coastal road between Nerja & Torrox Costa, I was surprised by how beautiful the scenery was. Heading up in the hills I was quick to choose my favourite villa, Cecilia Sol – a charming, traditional Spanish villa with superb views.

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All too quickly my 41 hours in Andalucia came to an end and it was time to head back to the airport, one thing I am sure of is it won’t be long till I head back – hopefully for a longer stay next time!

Post written by Sammy, one of our Product Performance Analysts.

Meet the team: Angela

Hi Angela, tell us a little about your role at Villa Plus…

I look after all of those out of hours queries, from email to live chat & social media. So, when it’s late at night and you’re popping your lovely holiday pics on our Facebook site, it’s likely to be me that gets the pleasure of seeing and responding to them.

 

How long have you worked here for?

I’ve been with Villa Plus now for just short of two years although I’ve worked in travel & tourism for 23 years.

 

What’s the best part about your job?

The best part of the job is definitely the opportunity of being able to interact, first-hand, with our customers through our social media platforms. Sharing their holiday stories and getting honest feedback. It’s a pleasure to be able to react and respond in such a direct way.

Holidays are such a great thing to talk about and it always puts a smile on my face when our customers take the time to let us know about a villa they’ve loved, a beach they’ve found or a special holiday memory they want to share.

 

Do you have a favourite villa?

I have my eye on the beautiful little one-bedroom Villa Trullo Grazia in Puglia, it looks stunning and I’m always very jealous as I see it getting booked up. I adore Italy and I would love to explore more of Puglia. It’s definitely on the favourites list.

I also have a soft spot for Corfu, stunning scenery and those coastal views –  the Villa Folitsa in Agios Stefanos looks absolutely gorgeous.

 

Which of our destinations would you love to visit?

I’ve been so lucky to have lived and worked in a number of our destinations from the Balearics and the Canaries to Mainland Spain, Cyprus and Italy but I would love to take a holiday in Croatia.

Some of my favourite things to do on holiday are wild swimming, hiking and exploring, so Croatia is the perfect location with it’s national parks, lakes, waterfalls, forests and stunning untouched scenery. Not forgetting those beautiful old towns and villages; full of culture and history.

 

In your spare time, what do you get up to?

I’ve mentioned the hiking and swimming; basically anything that gets me out of doors. I’m passionate about nature and the environment and I volunteer with the Waterways Recovery Group. We get around the country restoring old derelict canals and waterways, to encourage urban regeneration, as a haven for wildlife and restoring ecosystems, and providing areas for recreation. It can involve anything from bricklaying and stone work to planting trees and picking litter. It’s great to learn new skills and an opportunity to give back.

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Where’s next on your travel bucket list?

Apart from Croatia, further afield I would say Alaska is definitely at the top of the list right now!

From the experts: Croatia

We caught up with Alex, from our Operations team, and asked her 10 quick fire questions about her resort visit to Croatia.

Croatia is a beautiful destination and Villa Plus have over 40 villas dotted across the stunning Istrian peninsula.

 

Have you been before?

I’ve never been to Croatia but have always wanted to go!

What were you most looking forward to?

I was most looking forward to the food and taking scenic pics as I’ve always had an eye for photography

What did you expect?

A lot of countryside, wine vineyards and colourful historic buildings

3 things you shouldn’t miss?  

1) Church of St. Euphemia, Rovinj – You can climb up the tower which offers stunning views of the Marina.

2) The arena in Marina  in Pula. An architectural masterpiece, an ancient Roman amphitheatre.

3) The vineyards –  it’s a must to do wine tasting when you have so many options of where to do it in Croatia.

Favourite Villa/Place/Activity and why?

1) My favourite Villa is Villa Judita, in Porec– it gives off a magical fairy-tale and doll house feel.   Recommended for groups! 

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2) Favourite place was Rovinj as there was lots of restaurants to choose from, here you can visit the church of St Euphemia and art galleries also!  

3) If I were there long enough I’d get the ferry from Porec to Venice – it’s so easy and a MUST for a day out 😊

How was driving?

Driving was super easy! I’ve never driven abroad before, but all the roads are straight and not very busy. The road signs are easy to follow, I actually enjoyed it as it’s sunny and scenic!  

What’s the food and wine like?

Our rep showed us the must go to tapas bar in Porec – Bacchus Vinoteka. It was full of locals with a buzzing atmosphere. Here we enjoyed wine and shared a meat platter – YUM!

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Temperatures?

We went in September and it was 25c!

Shopping/local specialities?

Truffles! They were advertised everywhere. We ended up buying a truffle oil as a souvenir. There are lots of markets offering tasters and variety of truffles in all different products.

Most unexpected thing?

We got a boat around sunset from Porec harbour and managed to spot dolphins… this was totally unexpected! 

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Ode to Costa Blanca

Here at Villa Plus we’re passionate about everything we do. Rachel, from our Costa Blanca team, is multi-talented and has written us a poem about this stunning destination.

Costa Blanca known as the jewel of Spain ,
A destination too enchanting to really explain.
With beautiful beaches & restaurants galore,
And magical places for you to explore !
Javea is special & very unique
And offers you everything you could possibly seek.
At the foot of Montgo Mountain so stunning to see.
Making the temperatures here the best place to be.
Its historical old town with tradition & charm,
Or the port to relax & admire the palms.
And the Arenal beach for families & friends,
From morning till night your time you can spend !

For a village of beauty Moraira is fine,
With its tiny stone castle & places to dine.
Its exclusive marina & surrounding coast,
It understandably has something special to boast.
With its breath taking coves for you to explore,
Leaving you amazed & wanting much more.

Then Calpe is larger & buzzing with fun,
And a beautiful beach for days in the sun !
Its known for its restaurants & specialist dish,
With a great choice of seafood & delicious fresh fish.
A vast promenade full of bars & places to shop,
This Spanish resort certainly has got the lot.
So do come & visit to relax & unwind,
The beautiful Costa Blanca is a fantastic find !
For a wonderful holiday you won´t want to leave.
Just now choose your villa & truly believe!

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Come dine with me in Corfu

Feeling peckish? This week Susie, our Product Performance Manager, discusses Greek Cuisine in Corfu. 

As a self confessed foodie, I always enjoy trying new things when travelling overseas and at home. While the cuisine is a big part of my experience, the location is just as important. In 3 busy days in Corfu, I visited a number of great spots that combined both perfectly.  

My first lunch was with colleagues by the marina just on the edge of Corfu town. They chose a selection of local, simply prepared dishes to share while we watched the luxurious yachts come and go. Later, we were on the western side of the island in the charming sandy bay of Paleokastritsa. Having visited the small Greek Orthodox monastery which sits above the bay, we stopped for a drink in a café with views across the sea. Watching the boats pass back and forth as the sun began to set was incredibly relaxing and helped me forget the 4am start that morning.

Coffee at The White House

Having visited a number of resorts the next day, we stopped for a late lunch at Vitamins on the outskirts of Nisaki. While it sounds like a contemporary café specialising in detox juices, it is a lovely, family run restaurant with spectacular sea views. I could have sat there for hours eating baked feta cheese with honey but there was work to be done.  

As I was staying in Corfu Town, I was able to see what a buzzing place it is for tourists and locals alike. The backstreets are full of smart looking bars with people spilling out into the streets where the  music and conversation was humming. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to dine on the Liston, the famous elegantly colonnaded street which reminded me of Paris and Bologna. The traditional cafes staffed by welcoming waiters were busy with families stopping for ice cream and old men catching up on news. I enjoyed the people watching with a simple Greek salad.  

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I had a morning to myself before handing in the keys to the hire car so got up early and headed back up the coast. I couldn’t come to Corfu and not see where the Durrells had lived. Avlaki is a beautiful bay and the White House, one of their former homes, is now a restaurant and hotel. The sea was calm and a yacht which had moored there for the night set off around the coast as I waited for breakfast. My final coffee was delicious and I enjoyed watching the cats playing. Were they distant relatives of some rescued by Gerald Durrell? Who knows.  

 

New Year’s Resolutions

New Year, New You? As we look ahead to 2019 we’ve asked some of the Villa Plus team what their 2019 resolutions are.

Nick Cooper – Founder and Co-owner

Don’t put off next year what you can do this year.

Sandra – Area Manager Tenerife

Get back to the gym and get my bikini body ready for summer 2019. I also want to do a paraglide! In Tenerife they have tandem flying on a daily basis and this is on my bucket list!

Serene – Travel Team

This year I’d love to go to Puglia and I’d like to be more adventurous and try something new like rock climbing!

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Kim – Admin Co-Coordinator Majorca

My best friend of 50 years and I always buy birthday and Christmas presents for each other. Our resolution is to STOP and use the money on a holiday together. No more perfume, fluffy jumpers or slippers this year. It’s booked – we’re going to Iceland and I cannot wait!

Keith – Senior Customer Service Executive

They say “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. Therefore I plan to travel as much as possible to as many new destinations as I can manage.

What is your resolution for 2019? Let us know in the comments below.

 

By Maddy Morgan