Photo: Melia

Paradisus by Meliá Is Injecting Culture and Fine Dining Into Their All-Inclusive Resort in Gran Canaria

Canary Islands Epic Stays
by Katie Scott Aiton May 20, 2024

This was my first time visiting the Canary Islands. The archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa is part of Spain and has long been a popular destination for Europeans looking for sunshine in Spring. The volcanic islands, which include Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, and Gran Canaria, have garnered the lazy reputation of being a place to flop and drop rather than explore. Although that’s not entirely fabricated, there are places and resorts that are shrugging off that reputation and working extremely hard to offer visitors a more immersive and cultural experience of the Canaries. One such property is the Paradisus by Meliá on Gran Canaria.

Local touches are present throughout the hotel. Paradisus, as a brand, champions the culture of each hotel’s destination. Nods to the Canary Islands can be seen in the food and drink offerings, resort-led excursions, on-site activities, hotel decor, and art exhibits that flow through the resort’s main building. Handmade woven light shades compliment carved wooden picture frames, and mini bars are stocked with rum from Gran Canaria, banana chips, and chocolate bars from the island.

The resort flows down to the beach with immaculately maintained gardens.

Photo: Melia
Playa de San Agustin at the foot of the resort on the quiet south coast. Photo: James Gavin
Fisherman on the rocks and red rock crabs, a species native to tropical eastern Atlantic coasts, including Ascension Island, West Africa, and the Canary Islands. Photo: James Gavin

The expansive five-star resort is set on the south coast of Gran Canaria, on the Playa de San Agustín beach, just 20 minutes from the international airport. The resort can organize transfers, which, depending on the package you opt for, can be included in your all-inclusive fee.

Girl in garden with flowers at Paradisus by Melia Gran Canaria

The gardens and grounds are beautifully maintained. 
Photo: James Gavin

Sprawling over impeccably kept grounds dotted with towering palm trees filled with parakeets, the resort’s grass areas, the indoor-outdoor spa with open air massage beds, restaurants, swimming pools, and accommodations are connected by winding paths.

Massage beds at Paradisus by Melia Gran Canaria

The outdoor massage beds are surrounded by swaying palms. An overhead canopy and curtains provide privacy. 
Photo: Katie Scott Aiton

Playa de San Agustín, a relaxing and quieter alternative to the busier Playa del Inglés nearby, is accessible for guests by a secure gate at the bottom of the ocean-fronted resort.

Girl by pool at at Paradisus by Melia Gran Canaria

The main swimming pool. 
Photo: James Gavin

The Reserve experience caters to adults who want an elevated stay.

The Reserve area swimming pool is adults only.  Photo: James Gavin
We enjoyed our breakfast in The Reserve area. Photo: Melia

I stayed at the resort as a Reserve guest, an upgrade you can opt for to elevate your all-inclusive experience. It caters specifically to adults, with access to the Reserve area, which includes private check-in, a daytime bar and snack area, a plush lounge space, an adults-only pool (with bar service), a private breakfast dining space, and a 90-minute spa visit.

The Reserve Premium Room Ocean Front. Photo: Melia
Outdoor sitting area of the suite. Photo: Melia
Photo: Melia

It also grants you access to a selection of premium suites, with beautiful views over the garden and ocean, upgraded amenities such as balconies with hot tubs, and suites with patios and private cabanas. Rooms have a calming ambiance with a natural color pallet and use of soft natural materials. Our bathroom was glass-fronted (with a privacy curtain), so you could enjoy a soak in the bathtub with a view of the ocean in the distance. Luxury lemongrass-scented toiletries by Australian brand Biology are a lovely touch.

You can enjoy excursions and activities designed to connect you with the island’s culture, history, and natural beauty.

Paradisus offers a twist on the traditional all-inclusive resort experience. As a Meliá Destination property, it goes beyond simply providing unlimited food and drinks. The resort offers a curated selection of excursions and activities designed to connect guests with the island’s culture, history, and natural beauty.

The resort is amenity and activity-rich, with something to do at seemingly every turn. The weekly entertainment schedule is jam-packed. Wellness and mindful offerings such as yin yoga, Pilates, and meditation are held in the garden in the shade of palms, aqua aerobics invites a mixed crowd of old and young to the main pool area, and watercolor painting, candle making, aloe workshops, and wine and cheese tasting in the resort’s winery introduce guests to the culture of Gran Canaria.

One of the highlights was the stargazing activity. Tickets for viewing are available on the event night from 9:00 PM. Luckily, we had a clear sky and were able to see the moon and many constellations through the telescope. 
Photo: James Gavin

Kids are also well catered for. The Kidsdom schedule included three morning activities, two in the afternoon and one in the evening. The splash pad comes to life, there was a mini chef competition, educational workshops in the garden, an outdoor cinema, a pajama party, and a mini-disco.

On-site staff play a crucial role in facilitating these experiences. With the Reserve package, you’ll be introduced to your Destination Concierge upon arrival. They are local experts who can recommend excursions and create a personalized itinerary. This ensures you get the most out of your vacation to Gran Canaria; venturing beyond the resort walls, you’ll make meaningful connections with the island’s culture and people.

You can add as many excursions as you’d like to your stay. You can venture to Las Palmas to visit the Museum of Gran Canaria, spend the morning at a traditional Canarian rum distillery, where you’ll learn about the process of transforming locally grown sugarcane into the island’s iconic rum, or take a one-hour drive to Roque Nublo Natural Park and hike through the volcanic landscape to Roque Nublo, which gifts you breathtaking panoramic views of the island.

Photo: James Gavin
Photo: James Gavin
Photo: James Gavin

We toured a local working banana plantation, where we joined a knowledgeable guide who explained the lifecycle of banana plants, from cultivation to harvesting. The plantation is located in the north of the island, which has a dramatically different verdant topography compared to the south. The walking tour took us through rows of towering banana plants, where we learned about the different banana varieties grown in Gran Canaria and the sustainable practices passed down through generations. We finished our morning sampling some of the delicious banana products, from liqueur to marmalade.

Paradisus is successfully running a luxury all-inclusive.

Food is where they could have faltered. But I was very pleasantly surprised. The quality of the products are to the highest standard. Menus are creative and varied, with dishes celebrating Canary Island food culture (as well as having a multitude of international options.)

“We want to give our guests the opportunity to experience the culture of Gran Canaria through the food we serve,” says the resort’s food and beverage manager, Raul Garate. Garate hails from Santander in the north of Spain and spoke to me about the passion the brand and team at Paradisus have for championing Gran Canaria.

Lemon Fish restaurant specializes in ceviche. As the sun went down, we enjoyed live music and sea bass with fiery chili and jalapeno pepper dressing. Photo: James Gavin
Lemon Fish as the sun sets. Photo: Melia

There are eight restaurants peppered across the resort: Gastro Hall (the main dining area with a buffet), Ginger (the 24-hour bar and small-menu eatery), Vibra (the sports bar with a light bites menu), MasCalzone (the Italian trattoria-style restaurant), Peseta (with a tasting menu designed by Michelin-star chef Germán Ortega from Las Palmas in Gran Canaria), Kanna (the Mediterranean restaurant), Lemon Fish (the Peruvian kitchen where ceviche is a must), and The Shack (the relaxed pool bar).

Italian restaurant at Paradisus by Melia Gran Canaria

MasCalzone is Paradisus’ Italian restaurant. We enjoyed bruschetta with cherry tomatoes, stracciatella cheese, and anchovies, followed by a wood-fired pizza. 
Photo: James Gavin

You can spend your entire vacation eating and drinking extremely well at Paradisus without spending anything extra. The options are endless; the house wines are local and delicious, and there’s a huge selection of cocktails and spirits. That said, at each restaurant, there’s an opportunity to upgrade your experience, whether that’s through the wine list (which leans heavily on bottles from the Canaries and Europe) or elevated sides such as jamón ibérico and lobster and fine-cut steak plates.

The Reserve package allows you to have breakfast in the VIP area. The a la carte menu offers a more formal setting than the morning buffet in the Gastro Hall. Spanish tortillas are a must here, as is the pancake stack with fresh redcurrants, cream, and chocolate.

I also enjoyed the Mediterranean restaurant Kanna. It’s situated on the lower pool level. The interior tables spill out through the open glass walls onto the patio and a cool breeze flows throughout (which is welcome if dining in the afternoon). I ordered well here. Plates of grilled and fried calamari and prawns with volcanic salt coupled with Mojo Roco sauce (a favorite dipping salsa in the Canaries of red peppers, garlic, and cumin) and homemade aioli became my mid-day go-to.

Risotto and starters at Paradisus by Melia Gran Canaria

Tasting menu at Peseta. 
Photo: Katie Scott Aiton

Michelin-star chef Germán Ortega is an advisor of the fine-dining restaurant Peseta. Each ingredient from the dishes originates within 60 miles of the resort. We had the choice of three menus of three courses (plant-based, fish, or meat) with a starter of homemade bread, whipped avocado butter with mint oil and alyssum flowers, olives from the south-eastern part of the island, and raw tuna cones with crunchy pea shoots. I opted for the Earth menu, starting with confit tomatoes from the garden with yogurt, followed by truffle and mushroom risotto and almond ice cream. In the future, Paradisus has plans to work with Ortega to design dishes for the other on-site restaurants.

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