This is our review of The Ritz-Carlton Abama hotel on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
I stayed at The Ritz-Carlton on a recent press trip as the guest of British Airways to promote the launch of short haul flights at Gatwick for the first time in two years.
The hotel is also currently running an offer for British Airways Holiday bookings – more on that below.
Where is The Ritz-Carlton Abama?
The resort is outside the main tourist towns in the south of the island, between Playa San Juan and La Calleta. Tenerife South airport, where British Airways flies, is just 25 minutes away by taxi.
It’s worth explaining the layout of the resort before I go on. The main building of the property, called the Citadel, has the majority of rooms.
From the Citadel to the El Mirador clifftop restaurant are four descending terraces or streets featuring villas. I’ve turned the map sideways to fit into the page better:
‘Villas’ is a bit of a misnomer a these are two story buildings with around 6-8 rooms per building. Each street has its own private pool.
Inside The Ritz-Carlton Abama
The hotel itself, which opened in 2005, is reminiscent of Moroccan kasbahs. The building is fairly iconic – a hulking red ochre Moorish-inspired citadel that has all sorts of angles and corners.
Inside is a big lobby, refurbished in 2019 with a boho feel:
It was the busiest I’ve seen a hotel in some time thanks to a wedding and corporate event – it’s nice to finally see travel picking up again. (This photo was taken later when it had calmed down.)
As I was on a press trip I won’t comment on the check-in experience as things are done slightly differently for groups but it all went smoothly.
What’s the difference between citadel and villa rooms?
I was given a villa room.
The Ritz-Carlton Abama features three main room categories – the entry level deluxe room, a junior suite and a suite. Both the citadel and the villas feature all three room types, and at the moment they feature the same hard product.
This will change soon when the resort embarks on a €20 million refurbishment which will see the villa rooms refurbished to a higher spec than those in the citadel.
The main difference at the moment is the level of service you can expect. The villas are, in effect, club rooms. Pre-covid this meant use of The Ritz-Carlton Club in the citadel, but since covid the resort has rolled out club benefits at all the villa pools. This includes complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks. There’s also a cocktail happy hour between 5pm and 6pm.
Anyone in a suite or junior suite in the villas also gets a dedicated golf buggy to drive around.
The adults-only infinity pool at El Mirador is reserved exclusively for villa guests and you also get a higher quality breakfast, also served at El Mirador. In some ways the villas are like a hotel within a hotel.
Looking at feedback online about the hotel – and indeed in the HfP comments over the years – it does appear that the ‘citadel’ experience overall is poorer. The gap will only increase following the villa room refurbishment.
Villa rooms at The Ritz-Carlton Abama
I was on the lower ground floor of the building. The deluxe rooms are big, with hallway and wardrobes as you enter:
The very last wardrobe door features the mini bar, including a stocked mini fridge (technically a cooler) as well as a Nespresso machine and safe:
To the left is the bathroom:
This comes with a bathtub as well as separate shower:
A big thumbs up for the towel rails from me. You can’t always rely on them at 5* hotels! Toiletries are by Asprey, as is standard for The Ritz-Carlton:
In the room you have a large king size bed:
The sheets smelled wonderful – I think the hotel staff spray something on them at turn-down. It was lovely – just a hint of vanilla, not too overpowering.
Connectivity is good, with plug sockets on either side as well as a radio clock with a USB socket:
To the right of the bed is a chaise longue and coffee table:
On the other side of the room is a round dining table:
Opposite the bed is a long console table/desk, luggage rack and large TV:
As I was on the ground floor I had a little garden terrace with direct access to the pool:
The design of the room isn’t exactly the most trendy but I didn’t find it particularly dated either, and everything was still in very good nick. It is a little on the plain side – there was lots of beige and cream – and it will be interesting to see what the hotel does when they are renovated. I suspect the rooms will look more like the lobby, with a bit more character.
Turn-down was performed every night with the curtains closed, the duvet folded back and a sheet put down for your feet.
Pools, beach, gym at The Ritz-Carlton Abama
There are seven pools (I think) at the resort – plenty enough to go around. Each villa street has its own pool which span the length of the buildings:
Complementary drinks are served all day.
There is also the adults-only infinity pool at El Mirador, although in truth only a small portion of it is ‘infinity’:
The infinity pool is only for villa guests. There are three further pools at the citadel for all other guests, including a large lagoon pool that is dominated by families.
There is a small pool by the persian garden which I imagine is a lovely quiet spot, whilst another big pool is on the ground floor on the other side of the hotel. Both of these pools are much quieter simply because they are harder to find whilst the lagoon pool is unavoidable.
As far as I know, all the pools are heated. If you’ve ever been in the Balearics in the winter you’ll know this can’t be taken for granted!
The Ritz-Carlton Abama also has a virtually private beach. Whilst no beaches in Spain are private, the remoteness means that it is used by few other people. Access is via a steep path, or you can opt for the hotel funicular or hotel land train:
Like almost all beaches on Tenerife it is artificial, created with Saharan sand:
I was surprised to see how busy the beach club was – it was by much busier than the pools, with virtually all the loungers occupied. The water is crystal clear although it is just 18 degrees in late March!
During covid The Ritz-Carlton Abama closed its indoor gym and shifted a lot of equipment outdoors. It has chosen to retain this, which I think is a great idea:
The full gym has re-opened and you can find a greater variety of machines and weights there.
The Ritz-Carlton also features an extensive spa:
There is also a lovely spa area with a warm pool:
…. plus a sauna, steam room, pluge pool etc.
Restaurants at The Ritz-Carlton Abama
The isolated nature of the resort means that the nearest towns and restaurants are 15 minutes or so away by car. Fortunately you are spoilt for choice at The Ritz-Carlton Abama, as the resort features two Michelin starred restaurants (MB with two stars and Kabuki with one) as well as a number of more casual options.
On my first night we ate at El Mirador, which is open to all guests for lunch and dinner and focusses on seafood. The salmorejo starter was delicious:
As was the sea bass:
On the second night we were invited to MB, headed by Spanish chef Martin Berasategui. It was the first restaurant in Tenerife to earn a Michelin star and now has two. We had the ‘Great Classics’ tasting menu but there is more in-depth tasting menu as well as an a la carte menu. If you choose the longer tasting menu you might be there for some time given the ‘short’ Classics menu had ten courses and went on for four hours.
I won’t bore you with every dish but here are a couple of my favourites. The caramelized millefeuille with smoked eel and foie-gras was absolutely incredible – defiitely one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted:
The red tuna tartar, with local tuna fished in the straits between Abama and the island of La Gomera, was also fantastic:
Here is the Galician beef fillet:
And, for dessert, a warm apple tart in a funky ceramic apple:
The food was incredible, although Spain hasn’t quite caught up with the vegan wave. Tom, from Business Traveller, was mostly served dishes of shaved vegetables rather than any substantial proteins.
Breakfast at El Mirador at The Ritz-Carlton Abama
As I wrote above, one of the key differences for citadel vs villa rooms is the breakfast offering. All villa guests are invited to have breakfast at El Mirador, which offers al fresco dining and beautiful ocean views:
The breakfast consisted of a buffet, although the majority was not self-serve:
Full English items were also available and looked very good, although I didn’t try them.
Egg dishes could be ordered from an a la carte menu. There is no fixed menu – you can order pretty much whatever you want. I went for eggs royal with avocado one morning:
Whilst the next morning I opted for a traditional Spanish breakfast:
Thoughts on The Ritz-Carlton Abama
In many ways, The Ritz-Carlton Abama villas are a hotel within a hotel, and your experience is likely to vary largely depending on whether you stay there or in the main building.
Although the room types are identical, the extra space and privacy afforded by the villas elevates the experience hugely, as does breakfast at El Mirador and all the inclusions such as the complementary poolside drinks and service.
It is quite possible to spend your entire time either at the villa pool or down at El Mirador and never stray up to the citadel except to try out the restaurants.
One thing that is worth mentioning is that you can end up doing quite a bit of walking. The resort is quite long and the citadel is right at the top. There is quite an incline from the top to the bottom. Fortunately, golf buggies and the resort land train are available if you don’t want to walk.
The other thing is that the resort signage is not as good as it should be. Getting around can be a bit of a guessing game and it would be good if the hotel had clearer and more frequent signage.
The Ritz-Carlton Abama is about to start a significant new refurbishment – the biggest one in its history – so it will be interesting to see how the new rooms will look when finished. The resort is starting from strong foundations.
How to book
Rooms start at around €300 per night whilst villas are around €450. Redemptions via Marriott Bonvoy start from around 40,000 points per night. You can find out more, and book, on the hotel website here.
You may find it makes more sense to book via BA Holidays, especially as you’ll only have to pay a deposit now. There are two offers currently available for travel in September:
- Seven nights in a citadel deluxe room with Euro Traveller (economy) flights from £799 per person
- Seven nights in a villa deluxe garden view room with Club Europe (business class) flights from £1,529 per person
You can still earn double tier points with BA Holidays for bookings up to the 22nd October and travel until the end of October. You can book on the BA Holidays website here.
If you don’t want a package, there is also Emyr.
Since 2017 we have partnered with Emyr Thomas who runs Bon Vivant, a London-based luxury travel agent. He works with The Ritz-Carlton, amongst other luxury brands, as a Preferred Partner and is able to guarantee a range of additional benefits when you book through him, including:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Breakfast for two guests per bedroom
- $100 equivalent resort credit utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary wi-fi
Our partnership with Emyr has been going for five years now and you will regularly see readers praising his service in the comments. It is well worth dropping him a note if you have any high-end hotel stays planned.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (August 2022)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus Amex points)
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)