Hotel vs Villa: The Princesa Yaiza Experience
Soon as it starts getting into Autumn – darker nights and gloomier skies – my husband’s thoughts turn to ‘where can we go to get some sun over Christmas and New Year?’. Now I am more of a ‘snow and fairy lights’ type of person… well that’s what I tell myself. With a ‘complex’ family structure – thats one way to describe it – exiting the country (UK) is a good way to extract ourselves from seasonal challenges, but it’s more than that. This is our third Christmas and New Year in Lanzarote, first time in a hotel rather than villa. Let’s look at how that went and explore how you can SKI’ing in Lanzarote when there is no snow or snow dome! Read on to find out more….
For medical reasons we choose a hotel over a villa this year, with hubby in major recovery mode, this break was as much about resting, re-building his walking and just being in the sun. Picking a location right on the front at Playa Blanca gave us easy access to both ends of coastline with 10 mins walking to a restaurant or bar.
We love the Marina area, so Princesa Yaiza was a good choice. We sussed out a couple of the hotels along that front last year, the Iberostar being the other but there was more choice for walking and eating towards the Marina end. The Iberostar reception was a bit stand-offish, so the Princesa Yaiza’s friendliness paid off.
We booked three weeks!
I was nervous.
Three weeks in a hotel room…. hmmm
Let me preface the rest of this blog with a positive slant. Overall we enjoyed Princesa Yaiza, for all the ‘What We Loved’ points and more. It’s always easy to find fault with a hotel. We have had such fabulous experiences in many luxury hotels around the world, so feel we have high expectations of anything with 5 stars!
See what you think...
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What We Loved
Champagne on arrival always puts me in a good mood. The check-in process was pleasant and un-rushed. An excellent start.
Our fourth floor suite was spacious, clean and with a good view of the sea from our balcony. With separate bedroom, bathroom, small kitchenette area with a fridge, kettle and microwave, a good table and chairs to work at, TV and nice settees, I didn’t feel cramped or shut in. All good!
Balcony: Sunrise or Sunset?
Our sea-view balcony faced the morning sun – until mid-afternoon. Lanzarote sunsets are stunning and I like nothing better than watching them with a glass of good Cava – not possible from our balcony this time. Reception was very helpful when I enquired about alternatives and I checked out a similar but sunset facing room, but it looked out over the waste ground, and some quite noisy bars, so we stayed put. BUT if we go back again, I’ve spotted our ideal room. We enjoyed the occasional snack lunch on our balcony – fine in the winter sun, but would be too hot in the summer, with no umbrellas provided (due to the wind I presume).
What a Position!
The hotels position was perfect! Especially because I love to swim in the sea. With Playa Dorado right opposite the hotel’s entrance to the board walk it was simple. Beach and pool towels were provided on a card basis and it’s a pretty safe beach, with lots of people swimming, life guards, beautifully clear seas – what more could you want.
Tapas or Italian Anyone?
Walking past the swimming pools down the steps was a pretty Plaza area, under the trees with a pleasant Italian restaurant, the Don Giovanni, a Tapas bar that was open through the day and a cafe/ice-cream parlour. We liked the Italian, the food was good although typical Italian fare – what made it special were the staff especially the manager who brought the place to life. We loved coffee’s, smoothies, ice creams and Aperol Spritz following my afternoon swim in the sea at the cafe.
Feeling Like a Good Stretch…
Free yoga, pilates and stretching outside in the sun every morning was delightful. The instructors were pretty good – fun, helpful, knowledgeable and adapted the classes for a mixed group. Finding where it was taking place the first time was a bit of a challenge, but as it was a chilled affair if you were a few minutes late it really didn’t matter.
What Were the Staff Like Sue?
It’s the staff that make or break a place for us and we met some lovely individuals that really looked after us with exceptional guest service. From having gluten free toast ready before I asked for it at breakfast, to ensuring my allergies were taken care of and just recognising us, stopping to ask how we were and remembering what our favourite coffee looked like. In general everyone was helpful, kind, welcoming but a special mention for the breakfast and Plaza restaurant staff.
Fantastic New Years Eve Gala
I take exceptional delight in fireworks!
With two gala events to choose from, one formal, the other in the Plaza area hosted by Don Giovanni’s, we chose the latter. We weren’t disappointed. From the early fireworks – for the children – to when we headed to bed early hours of the morning New Years Day, we were expertly wined and dined and entertained. With live singers and great vibes, we danced the night away, all brought together with a fabulous set of people serving and celebrating with us. And then MORE fireworks at midnight.
SKI’ing in Lanzarote = Spending the Kids Inheritance on a 6 week stayA term we learnt from a lovely couple doing just that. We need to keep practising this!
Food Allergy Report: The staff of course took my allergies (peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish) very seriously. It was pretty easy to navigate breakfast and one of the chefs helped with bread and cakes. No problem in the Tapas bar or of course Don Giovanni’s, they were excellent, especially attentive for the New Years Eve Gala.
What We Didn’t Love
Mainly small gripes, but what do you think?
Most five star hotels we have stayed in, show you to your room, explaining layouts and facilities along the way. This didn’t happen. It’s a BIG hotel, bigger than we realised, and it was only recognising our luggage being wheeled past us, after we had wandered around aimlessly, that meant we found our room!
How Many Restaurants???
The hotel website shows 7 restaurants – if you included Don Giovanni – we thought we would have plenty to choose from. We had booked bed and breakfast. Disappointingly, the Isla De Lobos was closed for a fairly noisy refurbishment. A buffet at Euros 45, offered in their main restaurant with the half-boarders, is hard to justify – a starter plus a salad and am full! We liked the Tapas bar but it closed at 6pm. So dinner in the hotel, was the Teppanyaki – which we didn’t try – or Don Giovanni. Setting expectations reduces disappointment – Isla De Lobos being closed should have been pre-advised.
Adults Only? Where?
An ‘adult only’ breakfast apparently was available, at an extra cost, it took another guest to tell us, just before we were leaving… Am not saying we would have paid the supplement every day, but as a couple, that should have been offered. During the very busy Christmas and New Year week a quieter breakfast area would have been a nice option.
Making Me Shiver…
The outdoor swimming pools were colder than the sea! The seawater pool was so cold no one ventured into it. The freshwater pool, was a degree warmer but certainly not inviting at that temperature! With nearly full capacity guest wise, the pool should have been heated. Many were complaining about it. To rub salt into the wound, there was a heated indoor pool, in the Spa area – BUT at 15 euro’s per day, unless you had a treatment. Didn’t see that mentioned on the website.
Drinking Water! The hotel provided two small bottles of water, then you pay hotel prices for additions. Trying to avoid going to the supermarket but this meant frequent trips and lots of plastic bottles! Somehow that didn’t feel right in a 5 star hotel. They had purified water from a dispenser in the gym, I want to challenge them to come up with something better to serve the guests with drinkable water.
Well That’s Not Entertainment… or Is It?
Musical entertainment featured most nights in various bars at the hotel, but it wasn’t to our taste – violinist, piano, middle of the road solo-singers. Despite our age, deep house, rock and good dance music are our preference, along with anyone playing the saxophone for me. They did have a saxophonist one night, in the plaza area, and he was OK – nowhere near as good as at the Afrodite Little Italy restaurant in the Marina. It felt like it was ‘waiting for a party to happen that didn’t’ – apart from our New Years Eve gala.
A Disappointing End
Our checking out experience with our baggage wasn’t great. No response from the front desk – it was about 9.30 am. I had paid our extras the night before. We had a long, walk to the exit and five bags. Nearing reception, one of the porters headed past us with an empty luggage cart, said good morning and headed past us! Am sure he could see us struggling. Didn’t leave us with the best of memories!
Admired their ‘Amenities’ notice in the bathroom. They didn’t supply all of the extras automatically, but you could call front desk or use the app and ask for what you needed. Plus a reminder notice to use water carefully. Good with the basics i.e. all refillable toiletries in the shower and bath. Lanzarote works hard to be a sustainable destination, with many things in place to protect and conserve the unique nature and environment there, encouraging local economic growth. But its infrastructure, along with other Canary Islands, is clearly suffering with the enormous strain of too many visitors. In 2023 Lanzarote had a record 48 million visitors! After recently reading much in the media about new hotel complexes, sewage spills and waste issues, the damage to the environment could tip over into destroying the natural wonders that make Lanzarote. A lot to chew over for us Brits that make up over half of their visitors. P.S. I am in the process of trying to make contact with the hotel sustainability representative, Mr Ricardo Fernandez – hey, if you are out there and read this, please get back to me – am sure they work hard to rebalance at the Princesa Yaiza and I would love to write about that.
Hotel vs Villa
We normally book a large villa (3 – 4 bedrooms), and love the space. Our suite was fine, but I wouldn’t have wanted to stay any longer in the three rooms.
No Shivering Here…
We always arrange to have the swimming pool heated. Last two years our pool was 28 degrees and lovely to swim in. The sea was refreshing this year, cold but doable however the previous year, similar time, it felt a lot colder so having a pool I can swim in is important to me.
The downside of villas is that mostly they are away from the main sea front, and there is a good 20 minute walk or so before you reach the Playa Blanca’s shops and restaurants, so you need to drive. Normally thats not too much of an issue, but this year it wouldn’t have worked for us. The good part about the distance from the main front of restaurants and beaches is that you can escape the crowds, particularly if you are there between Christmas and New Year. We missed that this time and struggled to get away from the multitudes of people. Especially at breakfast which was pretty manic in the hotel!
What! More Shopping?
My husband dislikes that you arrive at your villa and immediately have to go shopping. I get that too. However, in my previous note you might have read that we had to shop for water every couple of days. After 3 weeks in a hotel, we began to get a little jaded with choosing restaurants and were not good at finding a snack for lunch out without over eating! So we did buy local cheese, Spanish tortilla, tomatoes and Jamon to have on our balcony but the facilities were not as good of course as at a villa. We loved at the Villa that we had the choice of eating at home, ramping up the BBQ and enjoying simple local produce and wine – it also keeps the costs down somewhat.
- Good location for access to the beaches, Playa Blanca’s broad walk shops and restaurants
- Food quality in the hotel was excellent
- A very warm welcome from all of the staff and some excellent service
- Big hotel, lots of rooms, lots of people – especially over Christmas and New Year
- Not able to swim in the pools in the winter as not heated
- Very pleasant bedroom suites
- Good value? It’s on the high end for Lanzarote, and there is a new hotel just opened, that looks spectacular – the Barcelo. with an Adults Only level. I think Princesa Yaiza will have some fierce competition
- Pretty hot on sustainability with reference to toiletries, bathroom amenities, towels/sheets and respectful of water
- Super New Years Eve gala in the Plaza
- Still can’t decide if we prefer a Villa or Hotel!