But WHAT a location! Set on the sweetest beach in Tenerife - Playa del Duque - the entire strip is public, and thus the air of vacuum-sealed cabin-fever which can sometimes smother one with luxury in even the most gorgeous of gated resorts doesn't kick in. However, most of the disparate cafes, bars and restaurants which line it are owned by the resort; you sign for everything, leaving a paper trail of pleasure behind you, and giving the usual beachside bar-crawl a lush twist.
Just a hop, skip and a jump - or rather, this being Tenerife, a stagger, a stumble and a tumble - away from the beach is the Plaza del Duque, an extraordinary mall shaped like a double-decker Trivial Pursuit board where all lanes lead to the Mogu Lounge, with waiters so camp it makes G.A.Y look like the C.I.A and Long Island Iced Teas to make your eyes water. Escada and Cartier strut their stuff here with the Hiperdino supermarket - a reflection of the chavvery both rich and poor which makes Tenerife so vital and attractive to anyone who's not some sort of fun-hating, self-catering, cheese-paring sad-sack.
If you DO wish to stay behind the white wooden gates which open out directly onto the centre of the Playa del Duque esplanade, there's more than enough ways to while away a week in a place whose surreal beauty will leave you feeling as favoured and un-humdrum as the black swans who patrol the resort's waterways.
With eight restaurants, three bars and a multitude of lagoon-shaped, waterfall-and fountain-drenched swimming pools, you won't go hungry, thirsty or over-heated here; when we were there in March, every day was sub-tropically sweltering and reminded us that you're just off the north-west coast of Africa, NOT in Europe, when you're in the Canaries, and need to adjust your parasol accordingly.
Walking tipsily down to the beach in the morning, followed by a pair of peacocks, as the mission bell tolled the half hour, and operetta burst from random speakers, I recalled the place this fantastic creation most reminded me of. Portmeirion, in Wales, is the Italianate village made from unwanted buildings and opened in 1926 by the architectural genius Clough Williams Ellis. It is full of pinks and turquoises, Madonnas and Napoleons, neo-classical colonnades and Ionic columns, Siamese statues and Jacobean town halls...and Gran Hotel Bahía del Duque is just like it, writ large.
AND in a sweltering sub-Saharan temperature rather than a wet weekend in Wales. Call me shallow, but everything looks better in the sunshine...
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