Escaping to the sunshine of Lanzarote during pandemic times.
With 2020 being mostly a write-off for international travel, we were excited to manage a quick winter escape last December after the second lockdown eased in England, and found that going abroad is still possible – and safe, with a few extra considerations and precautions. Our destination? The charming volcanic Spanish island of Lanzarote, which we had visited 15 years ago, but we discovered so much more on our return visit, including the excellent eco-friendly glamping retreat of Finca de Arrieta. Here’s a bit more about our experience of travelling to and staying on the island.
Arriving at Gatwick Airport was a rather surreal experience. Usually a bustling airport, with one terminal closed and the other still half empty, we had never seen it so quiet. However in our opinion this was to be one of the surprising plus points of the travel experience during 2020 – the ‘pandemic year’; with so much less footfall, social distancing was an absolute breeze, and with the mandatory face covering rules and sanitising stations everywhere, we really felt totally safe. The flight experience too was reassuring, the crew totally professional and with an adapted briefing for Covid times.
In Lanzarote itself, the island felt a little quiet with much less tourism than typical years of course, but we found it to be equally safe and very relaxing – no queueing for any of the island’s attractions or lengthy waits for tables. We were greeted at the airport by the lovely Renata from Lanzarote Retreats with a glass of cava which will always put a smile on our faces. We arrived and checked into our yurt for the next three nights, which was to be our first ever yurt experience!
The Eco Yurt had its very own spacious solarium with loungers, covered kitchen, day bed, private bathroom, and of course the yurt itself, which was filled with interesting furnishings such as the converted surfboard wardrobe. Very quirky, and comfortable. Perhaps the most surprising aspect was the warmth of the yurt during the winter months as we felt toasty and not cold once – so it really is a year-round option, unlike some UK glamping sites. (A heater was also on stand-by for us – not that we needed it!).
The site at Finca de Arrieta is so well designed, and it was clear that it would offer equal appeal to both families and couples, with an exciting kids adventure playground area, inviting swimming pool and solarium, and communal lounge and kitchen. It’s also impossible to overlook the eco credentials of the place, with a solar pool and green energy system powering the resort. The finca even has its own farm and encourages guests to collect their own egg from ‘Cluckingham Palace’. You can hire hybrid-electric vehicles to explore the island, and also plant your very own cactus somewhere throughout the grounds (with a mini plaque with your name on too – a nice legacy!). So you really feel like your visit to the island is leaving minimal trace and environmentally minded.
Exploring outside the finca was also an absolute joy. I had been to the island once before but on a work visit inspecting hotels in a previous life and a rather hectic itinerary left no time for exploration, so what I found on this trip was a fascinating island filled with unusual and quirky places to visit. We ventured into the crater of an ancient volcano, explored the former home of Omar Sheriff designed by celebrated artist Cesar Manrique, trekked underground lava caves, enjoyed panoramic views of smaller islands from a mirador carved into the cliffs, drank local malvasia wines in authentic bodegas and marvelled at the most impressive cactus garden we’ve ever come across (again, gracias a Manrique!). We quickly realised that any ideas of mainstream package holidays should be banished from memory, and this was an island with seriously cool credentials, just begging to be explored, and we cannot recommend a stay at Finca de Arrieta enough as a perfect base!