Thursday, 13 July 2017

Baby's First Holiday: Bahia Principe Costa Adeje, Tenerife

We made the decision that the four month mark was a good time for a post-baby holiday. It was May, the weather in the UK was still chilly and after navigating the winter months with a newborn in tow, we were longing for some sun, not least because we had an amazing selection of tiny clothes that just
weren't going to get an airing if we didn't take matters into our own hands. Ok, that was only in my mind, Tom couldn't give any number of hoots, he was just excited to spend some solid time with her, the same went for my parents, we decided to up the adult to baby ratio and go mob-handed, so my Mum and Dad came along for the ride too. Choosing where to go was a little trickier than pre-baby, we had a few more things to consider and settled on the all inclusive Bahia Principe Costa Adeje in Tenerife with Thomas Cook. Our key criteria were simple:

1. Not too hot
2. Not too far
3. A heated pool
4. All inclusive (so that we could abort dinner if it wasn't going well and try again later)

We flew from Stansted with Thomas Cook airlines, the flight was four hours long so we left it until the last possible moment to take our pre-allocated seats. We pushed the pram right up to the aeroplane  where they took it to the hold. We were lucky enough to have a spare seat in our row so we sat apart with the baby in the middle, she was very new to rolling then so laid comfortably stretched out on the seat between us. The aeroplane loo had a changing table which folded down, it was snug but I managed to get the job done with no dramas. On landing we found out that the pram would not be returned to us but exit in the same way as the luggage, cue throwing her in the carrier and sprinting through the airport to get there before my beloved Joolz Geo crashed into the belt. We made it, it survived entirely unharmed (I can't say the same for the return journey). From here, it was a coach ride to the hotel, at almost an hour in total but thankfully she slept. Tom sat, belted, with her in the carrier, we didn't have the car seat with us and felt this was the next safest option. It was boiling hot with air con resembling an old man blowing on your head, they both arrived at the hotel dripping wet. Not our finest parenting moment.

Check-in was reasonably swift despite arriving en masse from the coach and we were allocated a green wrist band, so glam and a room next to the grandparents (my mum and dad), the area around the hotel is largely barren but once in the resort, there are well kept gardens and brightly coloured buildings surrounding three large pools, perfect backdrops for those holiday photos. The complex is built on a gradient down towards the sea so stairs feature heavily, every move required one or two lifts (or a stairs vs pram carry). We got used to it and worked out our fastest routes quickly but taking the buggy from the pool to the restaurant via the bedroom was a bit like completing a puzzle at first. That said, the long and winding paths around the hotel, particularly in the mid section-above the main pools are tremendous for pram pushing at nap time. The hotel is technically on the sea front, but there is no beach to speak of.

The rooms were clean, had everything you'd expect and were large enough to comfortably fit a travel cot (the hotel supplied one) and pram between the queen-sized bed and the patio doors. We were allocated one with a balcony on the ground floor so there was no risk of a baby overboard. The balcony was shaded all day long, which was wonderful for her but not so handy for hanging swimwear out to dry. The modest mini-bar was topped up each day with fizzy drinks, beer and baby-safe mineral water but there was no kettle in the room, so in desperation to sterilise bottles, it cost us £15 to rent a tiny travel sized one from reception, we'd have taken our own if we'd known. The air-con was really effective and kept the room cool ( than I would have liked. I don't think there's a couple on this earth who agree on room temperature). The bathroom was ok too, there was a double sink and a powerful enough shower but the water from the tap had a brown tinge which you only notice when you put the plug in. This didn't make for a very relaxing bath time.

Let's talk about food. The main restaurant is what you expect from an all inclusive. Large, busy and a huge amount of choice, there are four other restaurants around the hotel (including in the sister hotel across the road), the package included four a la carte meals in any one of the Italian (excellent), Brazilian (mouth-watering meats), Mexican (would give it a miss next time) and Asian (thumbs up). The starters and deserts were served as a buffet and only the main course is brought to your table so it does't feel as much of a treat as it might. For lunch, the main restaurant is open, as is the Rodizio and the snack bar. We tended to skip the long journey to the big mama buffet and eat in the Rodizio restaurant by the heated pool (it turns into the Brazilian a la carte by night), much less choice than the main restaurant at the top of the complex but that turned out to be a good thing. The downside was the lack of ice cream. For breakfast we received a tip-off (from a chat with a northern couple fresh from their excursion on a submarine-very good but a bit short by all accounts) that you could take breakfast in the Portofino restaurant. This was a game changer, much smaller and obviously a well kept secret because it was quiet too. Both the main restaurant and this one have al fresco dining options but the cigarette smokers have the area covered so it's not baby friendly.

One of our key conditions for choosing the Bahia Principe was its claim of a heated pool. And hot it was, like a bath. The temperature chart recorded 30 degrees and I can well believe it, perfect for a baby that we wanted to keep out of the mid day sun. There wasn't any shade around the pool so we tended to leave it until 5pm to take her in, by which time the activities were over and we almost had it to ourselves. The other pools were not heated, but tended to be quieter during the day so we camped out wherever we could find a bed, which was to be a challenge. We didn't make it down to the pool until 10.30am most days, by which time most of the beds and every parasol seemed to be taken. Cue a half hour session of parasol hunting while baby waits impatiently to be fed/changed/just wants to get out! Not exactly the epitome of relaxation. The pool attendant occasionally came to our rescue, other times we dragged, begged and borrowed to find enough kit for the five of us to be bedded and shaded. The pool bars were well staffed and we rarely queued for a drink, there wasn't a limit either, so you're free to grab enough drinks for your whole party without them all being present at the bar (I have been on holidays were this has happened). Some people came armed with a multi-cup holder (like this one) which we eyed up with envy.

The activities team led games each day, from darts to water polo, but I can't speak for how good they were, all I can say is that they weren't pushy, the programme was there and you rocked up and joined in if you wanted to. I did not. Occasionally the music would be slightly pumped up or a quiz would begin out over the speaker, at the end of which Julie from Birmingham would be presented with a bottle of the same fizzy plonk that's available behind the all inclusive bar. It's all about the taking part though, right Julie? But, Julie was happy, winning the quiz, waving her arms in the air like she just don't care with the promise of becoming (aqua)fit and I was happy watching, un-pestered. The only pestering came from chirps of 'whose round is it?', oh and the snappers. Every day, men with cameras circled the pool asking to take photos which they would later try to sell you. I don't have a problem with this per-se but after the third lens was pointed in my direction within an hour I became a bit weary. Yes, it's a baby. Yes she does have amazing I don't want to buy a photo of her. It's a minor gripe and it's not their fault, there were just too many of them.

The evening entertainment is an area that I can't say too much about. We enjoyed the chilled live music every night outside the main bar but didn't make it to the show in the main square or the karaoke bar. A stage was set up each night with theatre style seating, on the nights we walked through it didn't seem busy. We spent most evenings outside the bar listening to either a solo artist or small band (all very good) or playing cards in the main bar underneath the reception area with a baby (sometimes) sleeping in her pram.
We left the hotel only twice, first, a quest on foot to the pharmacy (after calling the in-house doctor who took one look at my boob and diagnosed mastitis in exchange for 90 euros), all uphill including climbing over a barrier and a terrifying dash across a main road. The second trip out was a taxi ride to the main town of Costa Adeje, twenty minutes away by car. We sat her on our lap and instantly regretted it, the Spanish taxi driver, we learned is always in a rush, so for the rest of the holiday we stayed put, we took it in turns to push her on nap laps, we ate well, we drank well and we relaxed well, albeit in shifts. I hear once they're on the move, the holiday is a very different ball game.

So, would I recommend it? For us, it was perfect, we had a small budget and we felt we did pretty well getting ten nights, all inclusive at £748 each, including the baby, and the flights. The food was good, the pool was warm and the flight was totally manageable with a four month old. It was everything we asked for. Oh, incase you're wondering we never did have to abort dinner because of a screaming baby. We came close though!

We booked the Bahia Principe Costa Adeje through Thomas Cook. Find out more here.


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