A family holiday with a difference in Lanzarote
Club La Santa offers more than 40 sports, as well as cookie baking, at its resort
Overview of the pools at Club La Santa.
It’s 9am on a Saturday morning and a small corner of Lanzarote is buzzing. A swimming class for people with a fear of water has just finished in the Wellness Centre. A football school for teenagers is kicking off in the stadium while several Lycra-clad women are heading off on a mountain bike tour.
Half an hour away, in Puerto del Carmen, the night-time party crowd are probably rolling over for a few hours’ more sleep, but the holiday experience is very different at the family sports resort we’re staying at in the west of the island.
Twenty years ago, I would have been with the party crowd and would have scoffed at the idea of holidaying in a sports resort. But, four children later, and trying to pick a holiday to suit ages ranging from seven to 16, a sports resort sounded like a good plan. And it was.
We’ve spent the past 12 years holidaying in campsites in France, Italy and Spain and always thought the pools and sports facilities were perfect for families. But Club La Santa’s facilities are in another league. There’s a selection of three 50-metre pools, a running track, tennis courts, outdoor and indoor gyms, a bike studio, a lagoon for kayaking, windsurfing and stand-up paddling. And lots more. Access to more than 40 sports and related equipment is included in the price of the holiday while you pay extra if you want to book one-to-one instruction, to improve your golf swing or tennis technique, for example.
And then there are the classes. From 8am – or earlier if you are involved in some activities – classes run with military precision all day long. CrossFit, Pilates, TRX, dance, boxing, golf and tennis instruction were just a few of the classes on offer when we stayed in July. Holiday makers can book classes using the resort’s app and the system worked well during our stay.
In fact, everything worked well. The resort is Danish-owned and many of instructors are Danish or Nordic, all with flawless English. “You are allowed to hate me,” one instructor was fond of saying gleefully, during her HIIT (high intensity interval training) class. As someone who last took an aerobics class when Jane Fonda was queen of keep fit videos, I had never heard of HIIT but the short bursts of frantic activity made me an instant convert.
Some of the keep fit classes are open to children but there is also the option of morning play time for kids, followed by afternoon activities such as mini-Olympics, gymnastics and swimming games. The diving board at the leisure pool is also a great hit with all ages.
With so much going on around the resort, finding a sunbed by the pool isn’t a problem. I dozed off on one and woke in confusion when I saw six masked black figures rising from the water in unison. They had been taking part in a scuba-diving lesson.
You learn a lot about yourself on a fitness holiday. To my great surprise I learned that I could not dance. At all. I tried several different types of dance classes. It all went well when the instructor introduced the first step. Then she would add another one and soon my mind was wandering to the restaurant we would eat in that evening or the lack of milk in the fridge. Suddenly everyone around me was dancing in formation like they were on the set of Flashdance while I looked like I was floundering on the sinking Titanic.
I also learned that there’s nothing funnier than watching people trying to do squats on paddle boards in the pool and falling in ungracefully, during the aqua aerobics class. And I discovered that mini-trampoline classes and hula-hooping are excellent fun. In fact, I bought a hula-hoop on my return, to relive my carefree childhood. (The fact that it is now gathering dust behind the sofa is neither here nor there.)
And so to the cost. Club La Santa was a good deal more expensive than a campsite holiday. For example, our French campsite bill in 2017 was €1,542, for six people in a mobile home for 12 nights. Club La Santa cost €2,660 for six people in an – admittedly much nicer – apartment for nine nights.
But, with about 50 fitness instructors and state-of-the-art facilities, it’s easy to see where the money goes. And thanks to the 40-plus activities on offer, we spent nothing on day trips, whereas those costs quickly mount up on a regular holiday.
Running Club La Santa doesn’t come cheap, and the resort was not an overnight success. A Spanish bank began building a resort town on the site in 1968 but the project collapsed because of the oil crisis. The site fell into decay until a Danish entrepreneur Ejlif Krogager decided to create a sports resort.
He opened Club La Santa in 1983 but holiday makers were reluctant to ditch their sun loungers for yoga mats and it took 12 years before the resort turned a profit. Ejlif Krogager died three years before that happened but his family are still involved in the resort which has been turning a profit ever since.
It is also used as a training camp facility all year round and has been used by Irish sports teams such as Munster Rugby and Kilkenny Swimming Club in years gone by. During our stay I found myself dwarfed by a dozen strapping Qatari athletes piling up their plates at the salad buffet.
On the downside
Any negatives? If you are looking for a place with a buzzing night life on site, it’s not the place to go. We were usually among the last to leave the bar, at 11pm, but after the day’s activities we were quite happy to do so.
If your holiday is not complete until you have met at least 10 Irish families, then you might fall short here too. Danish, British and German tourists account for most of the holidaymakers with Irish making up about 14 per cent. Many of them are repeat visitors. Loyalty to the resort is very strong with the average guest returning a whopping 10 times.
Club La Santa is in the middle of nowhere so eating out requires a taxi or you could use the resort’s free bike hire to go to the nearest village, La Santa. We were happy with the choice of four restaurants on site and worked our way around those with gusto, feeling that we had earned the good food and ice-cream treats after the day’s exertions.
Car hire at the resort is €40 a day so day trips around the island won’t break the bank if you want to escape from the activity and check out the astonishing volcanic landscape or tourist resorts.
And the verdict from the children? They emphatically want to return. The teenagers’ favourite memories were of trying out new things such as windsurfing while the seven-year-old was torn between the gymnastics class and baking cookies during playtime. Yes, more than 40 sporting activities to choose from and cookie baking comes out on top.
Our family of six stayed at Club La Santa for nine nights in early July in a Comfort two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment at a cost of €2,660.55.