The Fariones Hotel in Puerto del Carmen is the birthplace of tourism on Lanzarote, and one of the most important buildings on the island. Now, as the iconic hotel prepares to relaunch itself as a Five Star establishment, we took a closer look at the amazing changes in store.
First published in Gazette Life, July 1st 2020.
Tourists and residents may call it Puerto del Carmen, but to many locals this part of the island is still called Fariones. And that’s not because of the beach; it’s because the opening of the Fariones Hotel in the mid-60s brought wealth and opportunity such as the island had never seen before.
Since that time the hotel has watched one of the most popular resorts in Europe rise up around it; it has welcomed thousands upon thousands of holiday makers, including the artist Salvador Dalí, German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and it has always remained an iconic presence at the forefront of Lanzarote tourism.
Today, we’re greeted outside the hotel by marketing director Sergio Arencibia and e-business manager Jan Siewert, who are taking advantage of the lockdown to show us how the old hotel has changed completely.
The first change is immediately apparent. The old reception area always seemed a little confined and closed-in, a sign of 60s architecture from a different, bygone age of hotels, perhaps. Now, it’s all glass and open spaces with a view straight through to the immense palms and pool on the other side. Pop music is coming out of the speakers as the sound system is checked: “Today is DJ day,” smiles Sergio.
Large ceramic pots, a selection of colourful chairs and wall murals add an eclectic touch, which is upheld throughout the hotel. If you know a little about art on Lanzarote, you’ll recognise paintings by Alfonso Aguílar, sculptures by Manrique and Juan Bonilla, traditional ceramics by Juan Brito and many more nods to local culture, but there’s still much more to catch the eye and delight the senses.
The increased space is one of the two aspects that are necessary for moving up to five star status, Sergio explains. “All areas are bigger and wider,” he says “This means that we’ve actually reduced our capacity and have fewer rooms than previously, but everything is of better quality.” The new Fariones will have 213 rooms once it reopens.
The other main aspect that must be addressed for that five star plaque is service and it’s also clear how much this will improve. As well as 24-hour room service, there will be show-cooking points in the dining room. The Fariones will not be offering all-inclusive holidays, however “All-inclusive and quality don’t go together”, says Sergio.
We walk outside to gorgeously maintained gardens and immense palms that overlook an infinity pool, a cabin that will contain butterflies and orchids, and a perfect view of the mountains of Los Ajaches, the Isla de Lobos and distant Fuerteventura. Another, immediately noticeable, change is the walkway that connects Playa Chica with Playa Grande, and leads past the small, perfect beach right in front of the hotel. This will serve the purpose of opening this part of the coast, and the pretty cove, up to the public.
A Vietnamese/Japanese restaurant is under construction that will be open to the general public and which Sergio says will be “a new reference for dining in Puerto del Carmen”, and the nearby Fariones Sports Centre is already well known as a reference point for Lanzarote’s outdoor lifestyle and athletic appeal.
Upstairs, we enter hotel rooms which, to be quite honest, we’re reluctant to leave. Memory foam mattresses offer the perfect rest, and there’s a pillow menu if the ones available aren’t quite perfect. Even here, the decoration is exquisite, and a freestanding bath in the bathroom overlooks a paradise view of the wide, blue ocean.
Sergio explains that the “new normality” is nothing new in the health trade. “We’ve been operating health and hygiene protocols for years,” he says “And health hospitality is something we already have experience of.”
The new-look five-star Fariones Hotel will open its doors in September. Bookings are positive, according to Jan, and the whole island will soon get the chance to see how its most iconic hotel has entered the 2020s.