I got the Club Carlson credit card years ago. Had I ever stayed at a Club Carlson property? Nope. Did I have any intentions of staying at one in the near future? Nope. At the time, the sign-up bonus was high, and it offered an annual retention bonus of 40,000 points. I figured at some point in the future I would use them. I just completed my first ever Club Carlson points redemption at the Radisson Blu Gran Canaria. I absolutely loved the resort, and if this is an indication of other Radission Blu resorts around the world, we will be back for more.
Reason for Trip
We planned out a big trip to London and Barcelona. My wife had been to neither, and it was time for us to make a visit. We wanted to add a beach / pool destination to our trip. I looked at some places in the Mediterranean, but going in mid September, the weather looked like it might be a bit chilly. I went south on the map and found the Canary Islands. I looked at potential hotel options, and lo and behold, I found a Radisson Blu Resort! It had very good reviews on TripAdvisor… time to finally redeem some Club Carlson points!
Location and Check-In
The hotel is located on the southern end of the island. It’s about 15 minutes west of the town of Maspalomas, and it’s just east of the Port of Mogán. Apparently Mogán is a popular stop for those with yachts. We rented a car; the hotel is about a 35 minute drive from the airport, and I do recommend renting a car. Driving in Gran Canaria was very easy, and the hotel offers free parking as well.
The property itself is built into a cliff, and that makes for a very cool entrance. When you pull off the road and walk into the lobby, you enter on the 11th floor. Here on the 11th floor there’s a hotel bar and restaurant, 222º Southwest. We ate there on our last night, and I’ll have more to say about that a bit later into the review.
A gentleman named Jose Luis checked us in, and he made us feel very welcome when we checked in. He offered us a glass of complimentary Cava and informed us that our suite would be on the 5th floor, 6 floors down from where we were. I paid a fee in advance of our reservation to upgrade from a standard room to a 1 bedroom suite. There are only two elevators right in the main area. He referred to one of them as the “panoramic elevator,” as it is glass and offers great views of the room and cove.
Another gentleman brought our bags to the room, and even though I insisted he take a tip, he politely refused and said that he wished us an excellent holiday.
Our suite was really large. For a full walkthrough, click the video below.
In terms of layout, you enter into the kitchen / living / dining area. There’s a kitchen table, an oven / microwave combo, a large refrigerator, and a freezer. It really was a full kitchen, and if you felt like keeping some food there for lunch or dinner, you could easily cook a meal at home instead of going out to restaurants. We used it just for keeping things cold and heating up milk for the little guy.
There’s a large HDTV, a couch, a chair, and a coffee table. After our previous suite in London, all of this extra space was a welcomed change. There were also shelves that we used to put all of Zachary’s toys on so he could play with them when he woke up in the morning,
The balcony was through the next doors, and I think this really was the best part of our suite! It was huge. It had a full table for four, two comfy day beds, and a rack for drying clothes. Instead of having railings or a wall, there was a full glass barrier on the edge. Not only was this awesome for giving us a better view, but it also made us feel very safe about having our son out there without our laser focused attention on him. The best part about the balcony was, of course, the view. It looks directly out across the pool area. With the Radisson Blu being nestled in the center of a large cliffside cove, it offered great views of the surrounding resorts to the right and left. I thought it was especially beautiful in the evening.
The balcony was huge, and it connected the living room to the bedroom. The bedroom itself was quite large, and they had the baby crib waiting for us in there. Given how large our suite was, we really didn’t spend much time in the bedroom, but my wife appreciated how many closets and drawers there were. We had no problem storing all of our things.
The bathroom had a shower, toilet, and two sinks. It also had a washer / dryer, which was crucial in our trip planning. I knew there would be a washer / dryer in advance of our trip so I planned for us to make it through London without doing laundry, doing it all in Gran Canaria instead. This worked great.
All in all, the suite was fantastic. I actually had zero complaints about it. My wife, on the other hand, did find the bed to be too soft. She also found one of the pieces of furniture in our room to be rather cheap. I literally don’t notice either of these things ever, but some people may :-).
The pool area is really great. There are two pools, one saltwater and one regular. One of the pools has sections of different height, and there’s a kiddie pool as well. One pool has a section that’s only a few feet tall, and my son loved being able to jump in and still touch his toes to the bottom. The resort was apparently full while we were there, but we never had trouble getting spots at the pool. There are standard pool chairs, but the resort also has a grassy area that you can sit out on. It was fun to let Zachary run around on the grass, when he wasn’t preoccupied with jumping in the pool.
The landscaping of the two pools is really great, and the only thing that bothered me was the more than occasional whiff of cigarette smoke. Being in Europe, this was all too common. At the edge of the grass, there’s a glass wall with a 15 foot dropoff that separates the resort from the public walkway. You can exit the resort to the walkway if you go near the tennis courts, and this is always manned by a security guard.
One more word about the pool – we appreciated the large amount of umbrellas out by the pool. Some resorts we’ve visited have great pools, but no shade. Shade here was plentiful.
Depending on your perspective, you may find the beach to be the weakest point of the resort. First of all, it’s a public beach. You need to actually exit the resort and walk to the beach. There are two options: a small one to the right, separated from the ocean by a breakwater, and one a five minute walk in the other direction. The second is a much larger beach with larger waves and more people. We never visited that beach, but there are a few restaurants right above the beach. We ate at two of those.
As for the actual quality of the beach, you may also find it a bit lacking. The sand is dark, there are some rocks mixed in, and it’s nothing like you would find in Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, etc. There are some beaches on Gran Canaria with better sand, just none right in front of the Radisson Blu.
Of course, I mentioned that your opinion of the beach is highly dependent on your perspective. If you have kids, it may be perfect. The small beach separated with a breakwater has no waves, and it’s perfect for kids to play in. It also gets deep very gradually so it’s no problem to walk out pretty far. Furthermore, that sand I mentioned earlier that isn’t as nice on your toes as the sand from other places? It turns out it is perfect for making sandcastles. If you have kids, it may be just perfect for you.
I typically use this section of my review to complain about how crappy a hotel / resort gym is. I’m happy to say that I don’t need to do that with this review. The gym is amazing! Treadmills, bikes ellipticals, weight machines, free weights, etc. This resort has a huge selection of gym equipment!
When we were in London I went running outside most days in lieu of using the Hyatt’s mediocre gym. Here in Gran Canaria, I used the Radisson Blu gym almost eveyday.
A large buffet breakfast is served every morning, and I believe it is included with every rate. It was included even with my points redemption, and they never checked for our room number or gave us a receipt.
The breakfast is a large buffet, complete with complimentary cava (similar to champagne). The buffet is held in a large facility near the pool area, and I loved the setting every morning. Waves are crashing, the breeze is blowing, my champagne flute is full, and life is good.
The hot food section of the buffet always had bacon, sausage, beans, eggs, quiche, and freshly made waffles. If you wanted a pancake instead, the chef was always there to make one for you. The chef also did make-to-order omelettes and eggs.
In the middle of the buffet area there was a section of pastries. Here you could find donuts, cinnamon rolls, banana bread, and a variety of other similar items.
This pastry section was separate from the bread section. The bread area was filled with so many different types of fresh bread, jams, and a toaster.
You could also get fruit, yogurt, jamón, cheeses, cured meats, cereal, and more.
There was even an orange juice station where you could squeeze your own fresh orange juice. This was perfect for making mimosas.
This is a family resort, and the breakfast area also had plenty of high chairs. Starting our morning at the Radisson Blu breakfast area was a real treat!
Other than breakfast, we had a total of 3 meals at the resort. We at at the pool bar twice, and we had dinner at 222º Southwest on our final night.
The pool bar serves standard pool bar fare. We found the pizzas to be pretty delicious, but we made a mistake with our gamble on “mexican nachos.”
The prices at the pool bar were reasonable for a resort, and the service was always pretty good. The waiters were always so outgoing and friendly with Zachary. The service really made a difference. I’m not going to say the pool bar food was amazing. It wasn’t. I would recommend the jamón serrano and melon, though. That was delicious and refreshing.
If you don’t like the food at the pool bar, you can walk about ten minutes to some restaurants on the beach nearby. One of the restaurants, Valentino’s, is closed at lunch, but served an excellent dinner. Another restaurant, Sagitario, had very poor food for lunch, and the prices weren’t even much better than the pool bar at the resort. My recommendation for guests is to either take a car / taxi to another area of the island completely or just eat at the pool bar for lunch. With such a big breakfast, you may not end up being to hungry for lunch anyways. I’d probably recommend a light lunch of jamon serrano with melon followed by an ice cream. Accompany this with as many 70 cent beers as you like :-).
Our final night, we ate at 222º Southwest. It’s on the 11th floor of the resort, and the views from up here really are great. It was a bit pricy compared to the other restaurants we visited on the island, but we felt that the ambiance and food quality more than justified the price increase.
I had a lovely piece of fresh fish, my wife had ravioli, and our son had some steamed veggies and pieces of our meal. The service was great, the food was great, and the view was even better. I do recommend eating here one of the nights of your stay.
This resort really had something for everyone. Prefer to play sports instead of lounge at the beach? No problem. The Radisson Blu has a sand volleyball court, grass tennis court, and paddle tennis court. Didn’t bring rackets or a volleyball? The resort had those available, free of charge.
There was also a grocery store on the bottom floor of the resort. It was a “Spar” grocery store, a chain separate from the Radisson Blu. Thus, you can’t charge things to your room. However, the best news was that they didn’t really charge resort prices. I could walk in there with a single Euro coin and buy a “Tropical” beer for 70 cents. Combine that with the fact that our room had a fridge, and we were in excellent shape!
The grocery store also had a great selection of ice cream bars, candy, pasta, milk, etc. It even had diapers and wipes, should you have forgotten to bring enough for your little one.
If I were ending the review right now, I’d say this is a great resort for kids, but it gets even better. This Radisson Blue has a VIC Club. VIC = Very Important Children. Down past the swimming pool near the public entrance to the resort, the Radisson Blu has its very own outdoor playground. It has a mini soccer field, a swing set, little houses, and a play structure. Our son enjoyed this a few times while we were there. There are also sites that may suit those who need a wide fit pair of boots to be able to play comfortable on that soccer field.
At the end of the playground, you can find the VIC club, which is staffed by attendants. It’s essentially a kids camp for kids over 4, and I’m sure it’s not free to leave your kid there for a day, but even if your child is younger than 4, all guests are welcome to take their kids there under supervision. There’s a giant ball pit and indoor play structure, cars, trucks, movies, coloring books, and more. As it’s staffed by an attendant, it was always in very tidy condition. This is just one more thing that made our visit enjoyable.
We had great service everywhere we went at this resort. Jose Luis, the man who checked us in, was there everyday and was always a joy to talk to. He helped give us restaurant recommendations as well, and he made reservations for us at some local places. At the pool bar and breakfast area, the waiters were so friendly to us and our son. The attendants at the VIC club were so welcoming to Zachary. Now to be clear, this hotel doesn’t offer 5 star service like a Four Seasons or anything like that. In fact, the attendants will mostly leave you alone unless you ask for something, but if and when you do ask for something, they’re extremely helpful.
This was my first Radisson Blu experience, and honestly I can’t wait to go back. This was such a fun place to spend five nights after being in London for a week. If you’re a European, this place is such a quick hop away that you owe it to yourself to make a trip here! If you live in North America like us, well, the Canary Islands are a bit of a haul, and like I mentioned, the beaches here aren’t as nice as those in the Caribbean / Hawaii / Mexico. However, if you’re like me and have a bucket of Club Carlson points you’re not sure what to do with, and you’re going to make a trip to Europe anyways, why not pop over here for 4 or 5 nights? Let me know if you have any questions!