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Checking In :: Tall Storey

Monday March 24, 2008

Checking In :: Tall Storey

The Gran Hotel in Arrecife is one of the most inescapable landmarks on Lanzarote. Opened as a luxurious five star plus establishment in June 2004, the hotel boasts more floors to its structure than any other building on the island. And occupies a unique spot in modern island history.

Lanzarote´s Only High Rise

On an island where high-rise buildings are forbidden, the origins of this towering edifice are often discussed. Indeed, the subject caused much controversy over the years, as there were endless debates about what to do with the building. The shell of which had been constructed almost overnight in 1988, whilst the island born artist and architect Cesar Manrique was away from the island. Upon his return, the project was halted – as it clearly contravened his edict for building no taller than a palm tree and to a height of only three storeys maximum.

Halting the completion of this project meant that the concrete superstructure stood empty for many years, a monument to the need to impose strict building controls if nothing else.

The structure was occasionally squatted, which led in 1990 to a substantial fire engulfing the empty floors. It was argued back and forth that the best thing to do would be to demolish this half finished eyesore. Yet the costs of demolition were prohibitive, so when eventually a developer approached the Cabildo (the Island Government) to propose completion of the building as a five star luxury hotel, permission was granted.


For several years, work ensued behind corrugated iron hoardings that ran the length of the new gardens to the side of the hotel. At a cost of 26 million euros the hotel was brought up to scratch, with the entire external structure glazed in blue-tinted glass and pale cream tiling. The sun terrace, swimming pool area and the up market shopping mall were all finished to a high specification.

Today, there is now a bar on the upper ground floor, with views overlooking the city beach, Playa del Reducto and the sea.

There are seventeen floors in total, with the well positioned restaurant Altamar on the top floor. In addition, there are a number of bars dotted around the building, including a piano bar, a pool bar which is located next to the Spa Centre and their very own pub, Star City.

The restaurant Altamar is proving popular, due to the panoramic views available, especially to be enjoyed at sunset. However, it is also introducing new tastes and flavours to diners by offering dishes such as ostrich, at relatively inexpensive prices.

For guests who need to unwind, the Spa Centre has a full range of jets, pools and hydro-massage showers. There is also a Turkish bath and a sensation pool, whilst pampering comes in the form of a variety of massages and beauty treatments.

Rooms & Facilities

The rooms in the hotel have been decorated in the current minimalist style, with a focus on clean lines and modern decor using marble and wood. There are 52 double rooms, 104 suites and four Imperial Suites. Apart from the usual services offered such as air conditioning and a mini-bar, it is also possible to have an internet connection on request.

The new gardens that surround the Arrecife Gran were replanted under the aegis of the hotel, with stylish tilted flowerbeds, a boardwalk with covered seating overlooking the water and several modern sculptures. To the far side of the hotel is the Playa del Reducto, a stretch of golden sand just at the bottom of the hotels steps, where guests can relax under palm trees and soak up the sun.

Yet further improvements to the environs of the hotel will be added once the Islote de Fermin is completely refurbished. Current plans are to create a lido swimming area, with bars, restaurants and shops in the original style intended by Manrique - whose development of a similar project in Tenerife has been extremely successful at the Parque Mari­timo de Santa Cruz.

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