Here’s a condensed version of my review which appeared recently in The Sunday Times
When Abama opened eight years ago, I remember its press officer waxing lyrical about the Moorish design, the wonderful restaurants, the magnificent rooms — without ever saying where it was. In the end, I had to ask. A pause. “Ah, yes, it’s in Tenerife, but we don’t like to mention that.”
Outside the tacky resorts, however, the island’s volcanic landscape is spectacular. Besides, Abama is well northwest of the concrete jungle, in 400 acres of botanical gardens and golf course. The resort is a terracotta fortress that wanders down to a pretty golden-sand cove. It has 469 rooms and suites, most of which are in the Citadel (which houses many of the 10 dining venues and three bars), as well as rows of villas terraced into the hillside and several cool pools dotted about the estate. Decor is cautiously contemporary; service is always friendly, but inconsistent.
Almost as soon as I’d made it through the doors of the three-storey spa, I felt bionic. That was because my first date was with the electro-interstitial scanner (EIS), a device that measures the flow of electrical current through the fluid between the cells. Sensors were attached to my hands, feet and head, and in minutes 3D images of my body appeared on a computer screen before me, the like of which I hadn’t seen since The Six Million Dollar Man.
Charts and data described the condition of my organs and spinal column. I was yet to have breakfast, and could clearly see my stomach was protesting. My liver activity was slightly increased (that’d be the three glasses of rioja from the night before) and my adrenal medulla, an early indicator of stress, was weakened (that’d be life in general). I was feeling less like the crime-fighting superhero by the minute. A sickly shade of lime indicated muscle tension down my right-hand side.
Abama’s life coach, Daniela Herzberg, left, translated the findings into idiot, then created my unique programme. She prescribed a head, back and shoulder massage for my overloaded brain and keyboard-ache arm. She also recommended some pampering, namely the Pevonia Lumafirm lift and glow facial and body massage, which she promised would lift everything — even bingo wings. It was relaxing and fairly effective, but it was never going to live up to those hyperbolic claims.
The exercise routine did meet expectations. I had a stretching class in the spa garden, with the sun on my face and the birds chirruping. I learnt useful strategies to combat shoulder pain that I could enact at my desk without prompting the health-and-safety officer to fire off a memo. I tried Pilates and the Spinning class. Training can also include hula-hoop sessions, yoga, t’ai chi, qi gong, beach runs and gym work.
Each day finished with a thermal circuit to boost the circulation, passing from scented steam room to sauna, ice room and a cold-water bucket shower, followed by a DIY massage from the jets in the hydrotherapy pool.
After a couple of days, my shoulder had eased and some organ functions were slightly improved. My Q&A with Herzberg was inspiring and her lifestyle advice was reassuringly practical. She gave me nutritional tips and was particularly keen that I take algae supplements to help with brain function. Fingers crossed.
My only serious complaint was the food. While I was grateful that the spa didn’t impose a punishing detox diet, apart from the Japanese dishes at the Michelin-starred Kabuki, it was difficult to make healthy choices at the restaurants. Abama’s chefs seem to regard vegetables like British Rail does an unattended bag – with deep suspicion.