Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Review: The Ritz-Carlton Abama, Tenerife – five star luxury in the Canary Islands

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

The hotel website is here.

Ritz-Carlton Abama citadel

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.

Ritz carlton abama location

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:

Ritz Carlton Abama map

‘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.

Ritz-Carlton Abama arival

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama lobby 2

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.

Ritz-Carlton Abama villas

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa hallway

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa wardrobe

and

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa mini bar

To the left is the bathroom:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa bathroom

This comes with a bathtub as well as separate shower:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa shower toilet

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa asprey toiletries

In the room you have a large king size bed:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa room

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa bedside

To the right of the bed is a chaise longue and coffee table:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa sofa

On the other side of the room is a round dining table:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa dining table

Opposite the bed is a long console table/desk, luggage rack and large TV:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa console tv

As I was on the ground floor I had a little garden terrace with direct access to the pool:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa garden view

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa pool

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’:

Ritz-Carlton Abama infinity pool

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.

Ritz-Carlton Abama private pool

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama beach funicular

or

Ritz-Carlton Abama land train

Like almost all beaches on Tenerife it is artificial, created with Saharan sand:

Ritz-Carlton Abama beach

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama outdoor gym

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama villa spa

There is also a lovely spa area with a warm pool:

Ritz-Carlton Abama spa 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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama El Mirador salmarejo

As was the sea bass:

Ritz-Carlton Abama El Mirador 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.

Ritz-Carlton Abama MB

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama MB millefeuille

The red tuna tartar, with local tuna fished in the straits between Abama and the island of La Gomera, was also fantastic:

Ritz-Carlton Abama MB tuna tartar

Here is the Galician beef fillet:

Ritz-Carlton Abama MB steak

And, for dessert, a warm apple tart in a funky ceramic apple:

Ritz-Carlton Abama MB apple tart

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama El Mirador

and

Ritz-Carlton Abama El Mirador seating

The breakfast consisted of a buffet, although the majority was not self-serve:

Ritz-Carlton Abama El Mirador breafkast buffet

and

Ritz-Carlton Abama El Mirador breafkast buffet 2

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:

Ritz-Carlton Abama El Mirador eggs royale

Whilst the next morning I opted for a traditional Spanish breakfast:

Ritz-Carlton Abama El Mirador 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

Emyr can usually match any rate offered via The Ritz-Carlton website and get you the above benefits added on. You pay on departure as usual.  You can contact Emyr via our online form here.

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

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (June 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.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

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.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(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.)

Comments (99)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Supersub says:

    Stayed here for a quick halfterm break Feb 2022 and it’s a great shorthaul choice.
    The Citadel rooms are fine – huge size and most have distant sea views. The “secret pool” in the Persian garden was almost always empty.
    The restaurants are generally good. Citadel breakfast was excellent, clifftop El Mirador is great for a sunset dinner, Txoko nice too although the Italian one Verona is just a bit generic. MB has interesting tasting menus but is laughably strict on dress restrictions – even the missus had to wear “closed” shoes.
    A coke costs €6, but cocktails are reasonable and most of the restaurants have decent winelists.
    If you want to dine elsewhere, it’s only 5 mins drive to the little port of Playa San Juan where Marsala does a nice seafood lunch.
    Finally, the beach is good but there should be more sunbeds for a hotel this size.
    I’d go again though. Maybe try a villa next time but there’s no shame going for a Citadel room.

  • shub says:

    I have a points redemption booked for the Christmas break in a Citadel Deluxe room. It’s booked for 2 adults and a 3 years old. I will now have a 6 months old as well at that time. I can’t afford to pay for a suite specially with the cash prices so high around Christmas. We don’t mind sharing the bed with little one if needed.
    The room currently says max occupancy of 3. Should I contact the hotel to check if they’ll allow a 4th guest who will be 6 months old or should we just turn up for the check-in? Have Gold status, not sure if it’ll matter. Also planning to opt for Half-board for our stay.

    • Spurs drive me mad says:

      Contact them, what happens if you turn up and they say no you can’t have the baby in that type of room? I would assume at Christmas time it will be busy they might not have another room suitable you don’t want to end up in the stable do you. Just contact them and ask.

      • Rhys says:

        On the flip side – are they more likely to say no in advance vs when you rock up at Christmas when there are no spare rooms?

        • shub says:

          That’s what I’m thinking. Probability of refusing to give a room when there’s no availability elsewhere, specially with children, I hope it should be very low.

          • Rui N. says:

            Or they won’t have any rooms available and the maximum occupancy per the fire code is 3 people and you won’t be able to stay.

          • ChrisD says:

            If it can happen to Mary and Joseph, it could happen to you.

    • mikeL says:

      Worth checking the tripadvisor reviews, especially one from March (Elizabeth O) where the poster talks about “babies” and some of the issues they had. Surprised that the overall rating for this place is just 4 based on 3500 reviews.

  • Gordon says:

    Good review, Re Emyr I am certainly one who praises him, He has been brilliant over the pandemic, He has had a hard time of it as we all no doubt have, We had made many booking with him and he always responds to emails quickly.
    Unfortunately we had to cancel and reschedule re covid and the process was carried out seamlessly. Example, Booked various Hyatt hotels through Emyr for Singapore and Bali in June. He could not get a response from the Alila Ubud hotel in Bali regarding a transfer request,But his perseverance paid off and it was sorted.Great service.

  • Noggins says:

    Can I respectfully suggest you research the cruelty involved in foie-gras production. It may be delicious but I really don’t think you would eat it if you realised just how much suffering is caused in its production.

    • Gordon says:

      Other countries should follow the uk in its banning of uk farmers producing it back in 2000, Unfortunately it is still imported.

    • Rhys says:

      I didn’t choose the menu and the goose was already dead…

      • BA-Flyer says:

        Why not buy yourself some fur coats and ivory souvenirs then? Perhaps a nice elephant foot coffee table. After all, the animals are already dead. 🙄

        • Rhys says:

          Reusing vintage clothes, even if they are fur, seems to me a better use of resources than buying something new.

      • dougzz99 says:

        Come on. Already dead…… that’s weak Rhys.

        • Rhys says:

          So I should’ve let the food go to waste instead? That wasn’t going to bring the goose back to life!

          • dougzz99 says:

            Seriously? Yes, because when all the foie gras goes to waste they’ll stop.

    • illuminatus says:

      The guardianistas seem to be out en masse today…

    • T says:

      I find this a little short sighted of you. The tuna he ate got a big fat hook through his mouth, got janked onto a boat, and whilst still alive got its body ripped open so it’s guts rolled out. Then to have its head chopped off. After he had the beef, where a moo is hung by the legs and then gets stunned, and gets its brain fried by some voltage. Bottom line is, they all died and not by choice for the economical benefit of some, and culinary pleasure of others. So why is shoving some food into an animal before killing it is making Rhys a bad guy, but all the other food he had doesn’t?

      • lumma says:

        Good quality beef will have had a decent life before its trip to the slaughterhouse. The duck or goose being force fed won’t have.

  • MrDr says:

    Just back from Tenerife myself.( Gf Victoria).
    Have stayed here before in the citadel and its not worth it imo.
    With young children I am a regular visitor to Tenerife. Funny place really- the young the old and not many between that.

    • Mrs_Fussy says:

      How does Victoria compare ?

      • MrDr says:

        Gf Victoria is a better hotel if you have children -loads to do for them.
        RC better if you are adults only probably.

    • John T says:

      Tenerife seems like an odd place for an RC to start with…

      • Rob says:

        Seems to have been done the ‘right’ way though – built away from all the tat and with enough facilities to keep you happy if you never leave the building. Longer seasons than Mallorca, I imagine, and easier to get a plot with beach access.

      • Rhys says:

        It was unaffiliated for two years before it became an RC.

  • yorkieflyer says:

    Could be anywhere then? I wouldn’t know I was in Spain.

    • Rhys says:

      You’re not. You’re in the autonomous community of the canaries 😉

      • Rui N. says:

        And exactly how is that not in Spain?

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          You could bring duty free back to Blighty pre-Covid! Even though Spain and UK were in the EU then.

          On a lighter note: around 30 years ago I suggested to my Spanish wife we go to Tenerife. It’s not really Spanish, I said. What! She replied. My brother is I his national service there.

          I replied: southern Tenerife is Scandinavian, German or British. You’ll see!

          Not for the first time, she discovered I was right!

          • NorthernLass says:

            I did a year at uni in Tenerife. The Universidad de La Laguna de Tenerife is internationally renowned and is definitely considered to be a Spanish institution. As is the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias – a world-famous observatory where Brian May did some of his doctoral research!

    • jj says:

      @yorkieflyer, the international hotel chain vibe doesn’t float my boat either, but I do appreciate that many people love the comfort and security it brings. @Rhys is writing for that audience, so you don’t need to look down your nose.

      I personally love the historic towns in the north of the island, many of which are largely untouristed and full of characterful owner-managed restaurants and bars that provide exceptional food with a local vibe. If you want authentic Canarian, look at the San Roque in Garachico, for example – a luxury boutique hotel set in an C18th manor house but filled with C20th art. Or, if you fancy something more rural, several of the banana plantations in the north offer boutique getaways.

      But those places are not the purpose of HfP. The clue is in the name, and you can’t spend points in independent hotels – although you can usually earn Avios if you book sensibly.

      • Rhys says:

        I prefer smaller hotels too, but I can see why others (especially families) prefer big resorts. Kids clubs, lots to do, kids can roam freely etc.

        We did explore the north west of the island around Teno rural park and I would definitely want to explore that part of Tenerife again. The towns in the south have very little to offer, to be honest.

        • CamFlyer says:

          Exactly. Pre-child, we preferred those boutique places with character. Now traveling with a two year old, it’s all about convenience. I have had more non-breakfast meals in hotel restaurants in the past two years than I can recall peior to then in recent history when traveling for leisure.

      • John says:

        But you can go to those characterful restaurants and bars while staying in international hotel chains. Personally for me the hotel is a base and I don’t want it to be the centerpiece of the trip, I try to spend as little time in the hotel as possible (so the RC isn’t for me either) and thus prefer average priced Hiltons where many things are the same so I can check in, and generally things work how I expect them to, then I can go and do my thing without any faff.

        • jj says:

          @John, that’s broadly true although, for myself, I like my hotel to have character as well as my restaurants.

          One of the big downsides of resort hotels, though, is that they are typically large and located away from other establishments. A town like Garachico, which I mentioned earlier, has dozens of dining options within 10 minutes walk of your hotel, so you never need to eat in the same place more than once, and you never need to find a taxi home afterward.

  • Mrs_Fussy says:

    Spent Christmas and New Years there in the Villas. Absolutely smashing place highly recommend

  • Simon says:

    Stayed here several years ago in a stunning one bed suite in the main building with amazing views from the terraces. We actually preferred the main building, but that was before the recent club changes. We have looked to book since, but found the pricing to have increased dramatically and no longer justifiable for what it is (the RC is no Four Seasons…). The long flight on crappy aircraft also dont appeal.
    I can also second the fly issue…

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.