Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Review: Hotel Apartamentos Canaima

I originally wrote this review of Apartamentos Canaima for Expedia, but it exceeds their length restriction, so I am posting it here.

The major advantage of this hotel is that it is cheap - at 50 Euros a night, one of the best rates available on Gran Canaria.

And for this rate, you get quite a bit - separate living room and bedroom, kitchenette, bathroom, cooking utensils, toaster, kettle, and the like. The room is cleaned five days a week, though you should not expect the linen to be changed.

The hotel also includes a restaurant and pool, which I didn't use, though they appeared to be popular with other guests.

To be clear: while the hotel website does not misrepresent the hotel, many of the descriptions on various hotel websites do. So:

- there is no internet access. None. If you want internet access, my recommendation is to go to Puerto Plata, which is about 500 meters up the road toward the sea, or to use internet access points in the commercial centre, which is about 1000 meters away and down about 300 steps. - there is no telephone. There is a pay phone on the road outside the hotel.

- there are televisions, however, you have to pay for them there's a coin slot). It's roughly one Euro per hour. If the cable system is down (as it was for me) it's your tough luck (though I did ask for, and get, a refund). - there is no soap or shampoo. Bring your own. There is toilet paper. There are (small) towels.

- You will be charged 0.90 Euros a day for seat cushions for the outdoor lounge chairs. Which really takes 'chep' to a new level.

- You will be charged 1.50 Euros a day to use the room safe. Be sure not to lose your receipt or you won't get your 15 Euro deposit back, even if you still have the key.

- You will be charged 0.50 Euros to have hotel staff call you a taxi.

- there is no laundry. You can et your laundry done (4 Euros to wash, 4 Euros to dry, per load) in the Commercial Center - go straight down the stairs, and then to the basement (parkade) of the Commercial Center.

If you are ready for these extra charges, you will find the hotel a pleasant stay. It certainly was for me - it is high enough on the hill to get a pleasant breeze, and the rooms are large and clean. But the cheapness of charging for things like seat cushions is off-putting. If a hotel is going to charge extras, charge for luxuries - like laundry or internet - not basics.


Despite references to 'Mogan' on the hotel website, it is located in the Puerto Rico tourist complex (which is about 18 winding kilometers from Puerto Mogan and something like 30 kilopmeers from Mogan).

Puerto Rico is at the very end of GC1, a 4-lane express highway, so is very accessible by car. As a result, it is crammed full of hotels, has a loud commercial center in the denter, and is second only to Playa del Inglis for the concentration of foreign tourists.

There is a frequent bus service, though service can be slow. The major bus lines are the 1, which is the local run to Las Palmas (but *not*) the airport, and the 91, which is the express to Las Palmas and the airport (note: the bus did not go into the airport, but dropped passengers - luggage and all - at the side of the 4-lane highway). Catch the bus near the main traffic circle at the center of town.

It's hard to find the hotel because the roads wind back and forth, and the map on the hotel website will not help you. Type the address into Google maps to pinpoint the location. Note that Google Maps misinterprets the staircases (which run perpendicular to the valley) as roads.

Your best bet is to rent a car. I rented from Top Car at the airport - 30 Euros a day, all inclusive, got be a Toyota Yaris (standard but really the car to drive on the Island's winding roads).


Puerto Rico is a collection of hotels and services, including restaurants, bars, etc. Basically anything you need can be found there, for a price. Watch out for the hard sell. Puerto Rico has a nice beach and a port. From the port you can take jet boat trips, parachite rides, fishing expeditions, glass-bottom boats, and tours.

I took a 60 Euro tour on the Aphrodite up the west coast of Gran Canaria. The 5 hour tour included drinks and a nice meal and was, in my mind, well worth the expense.


Except for GC1, it is hard to get around the island because the roads are very narrow and winding. It takes a bit to get used to driving them. Plan on spending more time to get anywhere than you expected. That said - the island has some excellent destinations, including a beautiful part at Pico de Neives, walking paths in and around San Mateo, festivals at places like Teror and San Bartolome, and excellent fish restaurants just about everywhere.

To enjoy the islands, get out of the resorts (even if you're staying at one). The beaches on the west coast of the island (Puerto Mogan and north) are non-commercial; some of them are very isolated and very quiet The towns are fantastic, and the food in the center of the island is plentiful and authentic (exactly the opposite of the resorts). Try the Canarian potatos.

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