Posted in Projects on 8 April, 2024

There are many reasons to visit Lanzarote when faced with the dull monotony of a British winter. Throw in a five-star hotel, award winning architecture and gallery worthy artworks and it’s hard to find a reason not to.

Words by Emma Kennedy

Until recently Lanzarote had not featured high on my list of go-to destinations. Flying quietly under my radar for many years, it suddenly came into sharp focus when images of the newly launched Paradisus by Meliá Salinas beckoned, with its Brutalist façade of stepped balconies, tropical landscaping, and a mosaic of pools meandering their way through lush greenery.

Built in 1973, the hotel is the collaborative result of Lanzarote’s much celebrated creatives; Fernando Higueras, one of Spain’s most influential architects of the 20th century, and César Manrique, the artist recognised for fusing together landscape, art, and architecture. Following its completion in 1979, Salinas (as it was then known) was promptly promoted from a 4-star to 5-star hotel, awarded a prize for International Architecture, and has since been listed as an Artistic and Cultural Heritage Site.

Today Paradisus Salinas is a luxury five-star, all-inclusive, adults-only hotel, with direct beach access, spa, gym, meeting rooms, outdoor swimming pools, tennis court, 272 rooms (some with private pools), 10 villas, and seven different dining options.

The lobby has a swathe of pale marble underfoot, and the presence of an impressive collection of post-modernist artworks

Landing in a luna landscape, a twenty-minute drive heading northeast across the island will bring you to the small coastal resort of Costa Teguise, and the imposing Brutalism of Paradisus Salinas. Up close, it’s even grander than the images portray and once inside it positively ups its game in architectural gravitas.

Stepping into the generous lobby has the distinct feel of entering a major art gallery. In part, it’s the size and scale – but also the swathe of pale marble underfoot, and the presence of an impressive collection of post-modernist artworks, all looked down upon by a ceiling reminiscent of a giant eggbox. Brutalism has never looked so pretty.

The Y-shaped hotel is constructed around three central atriums, each spilling over with verdant tropical planting. Palm trees rise from the volcanic earth, and you don’t need to be a gardener to be impressed by the variety of plants on show. Waterfalls and walkways connect the internal gardens, allowing guests to enjoy the flora and fauna at close quarters. The first and main atrium has an open roof allowing an abundance of natural sunlight to flood down onto the gardens, and the surrounding areas.

The marble and concrete walkways hugging the perimeter of the gardens, play host to boutique shops, three restaurants, and Ginger – the main bar and lounge area – all with direct access to spacious terraces, landscaped pools, and the pale gold beaches beyond. Curvaceous concrete stairways lead down to the spa and gym areas on the lower ground levels, with noteworthy paintings and sculptures leading the way.

The interiors take the same paired back tone throughout. There is nothing showy or glitzy in the design, just a quiet confidence that allows the architecture to take centre stage. In keeping with its heritage, the aesthetic is clean and linear, riding a wave that undulates gently between mid-century modern and seventies cool. Open plan spaces flow seamlessly into one another, often incorporating clever design solutions by way of sliding doors and open shelving, allowing restaurants and bars to take on different identities from day to night.

Avoiding the rich palette and swirling patterns of the seventies, the tones here are calm and neutral without so much as a hint of a shagpile. Instead, natural stone and pale marble floors segue into mid-toned woods, echoing the original window frames throughout. It’s a clever contemporary solution that has clearly been designed and curated with utmost sensitivity.

The footprint of the resort is greater than the four stories it inhabits, lying relatively low on the coastal landscape. The marble walkways leading to the guestrooms offer a bird’s eye view of the atrium gardens below, and the masterplan of César Manrique’s landscaping. The rooms are elegantly furnished in neutral tones, with light flooding in through picture windows gazing out across the Atlantic or the tropical gardens. The rooms in the main hotel offer terraces, complete with deck chairs, drinks tables and total privacy from your neighbours thanks to the to the honeycombed architecture. Roca, Duravit and Gerberit add some style and luxury to the reassuringly modern marble bathrooms, and the beautifully fragranced toiletries by Australian brand Biology, dissolve under the rain showers. There are 12 room categories which include a handful of Villas, tucked away in the gardens. Whilst being undeniably elegant, with their own saltwater pools, private dining areas and outdoor showers set into volcanic rock – they are very much a later addition, and aesthetically a world away from the main hotel in all its Brutalist glory.

Taking up residence in a listed building comes at a cost, and looking after Paradisus Salinas is an ongoing situation. Its expanse of white painted concrete – both inside and out, is the Canarian equivalent of painting the Forth Bridge. It is pristine throughout, and its rightful listed status rules out any shortcuts in maintenance or structural changes. The 1970s concrete, the mainstay of the structure, is a prime example. It’s a lifetime away from the concrete used today, and looking after it involves strict guidelines in terms of repair and restoration. Responsible for all the recently reimagined interiors is architect Álvaro Sans, whose personal friendship with the late César Manrique, has undoubtedly added a sincere layer of responsibility to stay true to the original design concept.  Describing the hotel as a ‘living museum’, as Meliá is prone to suggest, in my opinion gives a misleading overview – conjuring up images of a staid environment- which couldn’t be further from the truth. It is relaxed beyond compare, and even when operating at 95% capacity, the feeling of peace and space evokes a unique state of restorative wellbeing.

Tapping into the latest high-end trend for the all-inclusive concept, Meliá rebranded the hotel as a Paradisus (the seventh hotel in their all-inclusive portfolio) in the summer of 2023. Coining the term ‘Destination Inclusive®’ it consciously encourages guests to leave the resort and immerse themselves in local historical culture. Every stay includes access to many of Lanzarote’s sites and landmarks including an art tour of the hotel. This is well worth taking the time to enjoy, as there are many pieces tucked away in corners that may otherwise pass you by.  César Manrique once again is the star of the tour, not least with his vast murals carved into the concrete wall in the Lobby and volcanic stone in the Ginger bar. They are exceptional examples of his work and would justify a visit to the hotel for this visual feast alone.

For the athletic community of which there appear to be many, there are classes aplenty. The shoreline is alive with runners, and the landscaped gardens are awash with small groups practising yoga, spinning, and Pilates, kicking any preconceived ideas of the beer-swilling all-inclusive holidays of yesteryear into the long grass.

The array of restaurants – which do involve booking in advance – offer a wide selection of international menus. Whether your preference is Middle Eastern, Italian or Canarian, they are all concocted from seasonal local produce and cooked to perfection by a host of talented chefs.

As a latecomer (and slight sceptic) to both Lanzarote and the all-inclusive concept, I have to admit I was blown away – and not just by the strong island winds. Paradisus Salinas has created a resort that ticks so many boxes in terms of culture, comfort, and experiences, it would be hard to beat. And let’s be honest, there are few things in life that can bring a holiday to an abrupt end like a joy-sapping bill at check out.









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