Gran Canaria has long been the forgotten Canary Island, sitting in the shadow of its incredibly popular neighbours Tenerife and Lanzarote. But this makes the island - the second most populous of the Canaries – an undiscovered gem. Located just west off the coast of Africa and only a four-hour flight from London – plus no time difference to deal with – it is home to Europe's best beaches, small local vineyards - and a spa resort to rival Thailand.
HELLO! Online visited the island to discover just why Gran Canaria is the ideal winter destination.
Where To Stay:
The Bohemia Suites and Spa is a five star resort based in the heart of Maspalomas, the southern town which is the island's biggest tourist destination. Launching in late 2014, the hotel is made up of 38 rooms and 29 suites, with stunning views over the gardens or the ocean, friendly staff and the Siam spa.
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The Bohemia Spa and Suites in Gran Canaria
The jewel in the crown of this stunning hotel is the Siam spa, which provides the ultimate relaxation experience. The spa has been created with original materials from Thailand, and clients can choose from Thai to Bali to Hot Stone massage, all performed by therapists who trained in Thailand, and remain warm and professional throughout.
The hotel is located a short five-minute walk from the local beach, and guests can also lounge around one of the two outdoor swimming pools, taking in the hot tub and delicious cocktails on offer.
What To Do:
Though only a small island, Gran Canaria can have up to five microclimates at any one time. Drive half an hour out of the sunny beach resort of Maspalomas, through the narrow and windy roads to Degollada de las Yeguas. Reminiscent of America's southwestern national parks, the dry climate is apparent with rocky canyons and exposed rock. Take the time to explore - the island has several parks and protected landscapes. Less than 50 years ago the island was largely uninhabited, and the interior remains so.
Visit one of the islands vineyards, and sample local produce
Weather in the centre of the island becomes damper thanks to forests and woodland. Once out on the other side, and into the lush drier climate of the northern side of the island, a good tourist stop can be found at Bodega Los Berrazales. This small local finca produces delicious award-winning wines, coffee, and fruits, all of which are available to buy.
Las Palmas, the capital of the Canary Islands, is a 40-minute drive across the island from Maspalomas, is home to four beaches, and is included on Spain's list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Take a guided tour around the Old Town with tour company Patronato de Turismo, or explore on your own.
The Old Town of Las Palmas retains much of its original features and charm
Don't forget to visit Santa Ana Cathedral, with its gorgeous stained glass windows, and Casa de Colón, or Columbus House, which focuses on the history of the Canary Islands and its relations with America and explorer Christopher Columbus, who used Las Palmas as a base on his 1492 travels.
Of course, when in Spain, one of the best pastimes is to while away the day on the beach.
Even in January Gran Canaria's southern beaches are guaranteed sunshine and warmth, and Playa Del Ingles beach is less than a five-minute walk from the Bohemia. Hire sunbeds and laze the day away in the sun, or take on the challenge of walking across the Dunas de Maspalomas, or the dunes of Maspalomas, one of the island's nature reserves.
The dunes of Maspalomas are a challenge for all the family
Where To Eat and Drink:
In Las Palmas, try something different with Smile Cooking, a cookery school that custom-makes courses on a one-by-one basis. Get involved in cooking your own dish and learn new skills at the same time from chef José Rojano. Just a short walk away is La Azotea - the first cocktail bar to open on the island and the only one to focus on gin.
Bohemia Suites very own hotel, the 360° restaurant, is also the ideal place to eat and relax.
The Bohemia Spa and Suites offers stunning views across the ocean
Enjoy the bartenders' most recent cocktail creations in the outdoor lounge, before sampling head chef Xavier Franquet's menu, which offers Michelin-starred dining with a menu that changes every six to eight weeks, and uses local produce and wine as much as possible.
Fly to Gran Canaria daily with EasyJet from London Gatwick Airport. Visit http://www.bohemiasuitesholidays.com/ for more information and reservations on the Bohemia Suites and Spa.