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Archive for May, 2011

Early in May 2011 I was lucky enough to be a part of what must surely be one of the best blog trips ever, the Costa Brava blog trip.

For those who are not familiar with the term, a blog trip is like a press trip but for travel bloggers. A tourism destination invites a group of the most influential travel bloggers to visit their region, discover the beauty of their landscape, sample their hospitality, their gastronomy and their activities. For their part, the bloggers promote the destination on their blogs before, during and after the trip and use social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook to broadcast their experiences in real time.

During the seven day trip to Costa Brava, 16 international bloggers were wowed and wooed with experiences that ranged from lunch prepared by fishermen in a hut with no running water to a twenty course lunch at the second best restaurant in the world. They hiked to volcanoes in the rural interior and jumped from aircraft over the stunning coastline and they stayed in idyllic coves, seaside resorts and in Girona; in five star, family run and city centre hotels.

Most importantly of all, the bloggers met fascinating people from across the region who brought Costa Brava alive for them. They met famous chefs and painters, fishermen, sailors and vineyard owners. Everywhere they went they were welcomed with open arms, photographed, filmed and interviewed for TV and press and for their entire trip they were given access to WiFi to ensure that they could effectively do the job they had been brought to Costa Brava to do.

Costa Brava didn’t need a blog trip to raise awareness of a region of Spain that hitherto lay hidden from the tourist trail. Quite the contrary. Resorts like Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar and Roses have long been on the holiday destination map. But Costa Brava wants to  promote itself as much more than just a seaside resort and has used the blog trip to position itself as a destination for activities, gastronomy, diversity, culture and scenic beauty.

Now, cut to Tenerife
A popular holiday destination that desperately wants to reposition itself on the travel radar. A destination known only for the sun, sea and sand of its south and west coast resorts while the epic scenery of its mountains, its stunning volcanic interior and its cultural heritage go largely unseen.

The opportunities for activity holidays on Tenerife are endless, with everything from walking to paragliding to highlight. We may not have the world’s best chefs or restaurants but there is first class gastronomy to be enjoyed on the island and there’s a heritage of fine wine production that dates back to Shakepeare. There are five star hotels and rural idylls; festivals and fireworks; mountains, valleys and palm grove coastlines all waiting to be discovered and showcased to the world.

So why do I think a blog trip is unlikely ever to happen on Tenerife? Because any such publicity opportunity would be taken over by the politicians rather than focussing on local people interacting with the bloggers. Because in order to pull this off successfully you would have to have local and island-wide government working in seamless unity, something I have yet to witness on Tenerife. Because in Costa Brava local businesses, hoteliers, restaurateurs and tour operators opened their eyes to the power of social media; on Tenerife most of those people are oblivious to its existence and blind to its power. Because you can’t achieve millions of tweets and retweets and broadcast in real time to the world on an island where high speed WiFi is still a luxury and not a given. Because you can never move forward when you’re stuck in the past.

Wake up Tenerife, the world is passing you by.

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It amazes me why, despite having an absolutely perfect year-round climate, the vast majority of Northern Europeans only vacation on Tenerife during the winter months and it’s ironic that, when the summer arrives and Brits flock instead to Spain and the Balearics – the Spanish head to Tenerife in their droves to escape the heat of the mainland!

It’s a sad fact that flights to Tenerife from the UK are not as cheap in the summer as they are in the winter and it poses the question: are flights more expensive because demand is low, or is demand low because flights are more expensive? Either way, it would appear to buck the trend in market forces which traditionally see prices dropping in line with falling demand, not rising.

There are a few things about summer in Tenerife that are worth mentioning, particularly for those who have a penchant for putting.
Firstly, the temperatures during the summer months average an 18 holes ideal of 25° to 27° C (75° to 80° F) with virtually no rainfall. Even in heat waves, the mercury rarely climbs beyond 35° degrees and is short lived. Contrast that with the likes of Majorca and the Algarve in Portugal where the summer averages are above 30°C and regularly send the thermometer into 40° C plus sweaty, slicing mode.

The second thing to note is that Tenerife has one of the highest concentrations of four and five star hotels in Europe and if you’ve ever enjoyed the exclusivity and luxury of somewhere like the Hotel Las Madrigueras, you’ll already know how tailored their services are towards the needs of golfers. But what you may not know is that unlike hotels in mainland Spain and the Balearics for whom summer represents high season, Tenerife’s hotels drop their prices in line with reduced demand which means that you can get considerably more for your money in summer than you can in winter. Fabulously stylish hotels such as the Hotel Jardín Tropical even include  green fees in their room rates during summer.

But the real birdie in the benefits of summer golfing on Tenerife are the island’s summer green fees which are cropped as closely as the grass, which means you can tee off on some of Spain’s finest golf courses, like Golf Las Américas, Golf Costa Adeje and the Abama, at prices that will put an ace on every golfer’s scorecard.

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