Jayne Dawson travels to Gran Canaria for an exotic spa break.
Ahead of us lies the glittering Atlantic Ocean, the sun sparking off its surface, to the right is a flat, cool pool of seawater, all sharp angles and calm, Zen-like beauty.
Only moments earlier we had been experiencing the pleasure of that pool. It is a Thalasso pool, it is full of seawater, and it contains one high, giant beautiful spout which looks like a sculpture but out of which pours, a torrent of water, strong and exhilarating and forceful enough to massage the tension from even the most stressed of shoulders.
But that part of our experience is over and now we are lying on soft therapy beds while aloe vera is anointed into our skin.
This is the ultimate mother-daughter spa break. We have travelled from an England which is slipping fast into winter to an island just off the coast of Africa.
We are staying in Gran Canaria, the island full of Spanish influence, and we are tasting the best of spa breaks.
At the Lopesan Villa del Conde Resort and Corallium Thalasso we have been booked into the Ocean Suite. We have had time in the private jacuzzi and now are being indulged with an aloe vera wrap, the moisturising emollient derived from the cactus-like aloe vera plant which grows on the island.
My daughter has the attention of one expert therapist and I have another. As we recline, our limbs are first exfoliated, then coated in aloe vera.
As our suite is glass fronted and open to the ocean we can hear the sea, smell the ozone and feel the light breeze all the while. This is the ultimate in beauty treatments.
Gran Canaria, although a small island with a population about the size of Leeds at around 800,000, is a place of contrasts. In the north it is cooler and that is where its large city, Las Palmas, can be found.
In the centre of the island it is mountainous but in the south, where we were based, there are desert conditions, and no rain. Which is why holidaymakers, who mainly come from Britain, Germany and Scandinavian countries, love it so.
The landscape is rocky and dramatic, a place of pure, clear light and sometimes fierce heat.
Cacti thrive and their strange outlines add drama to the bare, arid scenery of this part of the island.
Occasionally you will see a sudden, unexpected oasis of green, carefully irrigated, since Gran Canaria is also a golfing destination.
We stayed in Hotel Cordial Mogan Playa but Gran Canaria is an island of many hotels, where you decide what you want and take your pick. Many families choose this destination for an all-inclusive package, to cut down on worries about spending once in the resort.
Our hotel was a grand complex of around 400 rooms with a large pool and carefully tended grounds.We ate every night in the hotel dining room and every night we looked chose from a huge, tempting array of fantastic food. Breakfasts were equally good. At this hotel, it is possible to have any type of holiday you choose - there are children’s clubs, but equally there are yoga and pilates classes. A health break or a fun break - either, or both, can be yours.
By complete contrast we could have stayed in the Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort and Spa - an elegant, understated, minimalist building of dramatic lines, often used in international fashion shoots. It was built by architects from Arizona who know how to make the best of the dramatic, rocky landscape of southern Gran Canaria.
This is the hotel where couples spend their holiday, enjoying the seclusion of its seven small pools and its dramatic rooftop area overlooking the rocky valley.
But we were there for serious spa treatments and these are available too at Mogan Playa, so we opted for a comforting head massage.
Every spa hotel in Gran Canaria has its signature treatments. At Gloria Palace Amadores Thalasso and Hotel it is possible to have a treatment on the roof, under the Gran Canarian sun. We tried a massage and were then left on the rooftop to eat fruit dipped in melted chocolate, by way of recovery after our luxurious experience.
The Corallium spa at the Lopesan Costa Meloneras hotel is on a different scale. Here, there are some of the biggest steam and sauna rooms in Europe. This venue is an impressive visual feast with a series of rooms designed to give an alternate hot and cold experience, to stimulate the senses and the circulation.
It has rooms coated with ice - sometimes welcome in the Gran Canaria heat, but the most popular room contains the flotation pool, so heavy with salt that it is possible to float in darkness, listening to music piped under the water.
At Seaside Palm Beach hotel, there is a spa but the emphasis is on families, fun and food. The hotel even has its own bakery to entice guests - but there are also two areas for nude bathing, so those calories will show.
But if you want some serious pool therapy then Gloria Palace San Agustin Thalasso and Hotel is the place to be. Here the vast Thalasso pool, full of seawater, is also home to dozens of different water treatments.
The idea is to walk around the pool, which is both indoor and outdoor, while different spouts and jets massage and energise different parts of the body, literally from top to toe.
Like all of Gran Canaria it is fun and a treat – just like a holiday should be.
Jayne Dawson stayed at the Hotel Cordial Mogan Playa
Tel: +34 928 724 100
Other hotels visited were:
Lopesan Villa del Conde Resort & Corallium Thalasso
Gloria Palace Amadores Thalasso & Hotel
Lopesan Costa Meloneras Resort, Corallium Spa and Casino
Sheraton Salobre Golf, Resort and Spa
Seaside Palm Beach
Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia
Gloria Palace San Agustin Thalasso and Hotel
All can be contacted at www.grancanariawellness.com