A Tour of Tenerife’s White Elephants

Wed, September 2nd, 2015 - By Jack Montgomery

Often when I read about a Tenerife alcalde (mayor) announcing some grand plan, I wince. After reading about the re-branding of El Médano and Los Abrigos as Costa Magallanes, I sighed when the mayor of Granadillo de Abona declared that what the coast needed to complete it as a tourist magnet were two luxury hotels. The laid back surf scene in El Médano just doesn’t seem suited to luxury hotels. But, thanks to the success of Costa Adeje, nearly every mayor seems to want a luxury hotel or two in their municipality.

Grand plans going wrong are not uncommon on Tenerife. There are quite a few examples of anti-attractions around the island. Some were doomed from the start, others should have been successful.

These are some of the island’s white elephants.

White Elephant, Siam Park, Costa Adeje, Tenerife

The Guanche Park
When Siam Park was being built some locals questioned why it had a Thai theme rather than a local one, like a park built around the Guanche culture. They’d clearly forgotten about the short-lived Guanche Park in Ruigomez. The Guanches were a fascinating race, but throwing a spear or two, firing off a few arrows and making a pot out of clay aren’t enough to sustain a theme park. It closed almost before many people knew it was open. It was doomed from the start.


Humboldt's Mirador, La Orotava, Tenerife


Humboldt’s Mirador
It took the local council so long to build Humboldt’s Mirador in La Orotava that it had to be renovated before it ever opened. Finally it did, and this café/restaurant located on a sight which had explorers gasping in awe was worth the wait. Great food, funky design and the best of views made it extremely popular with locals and visitors. But contractual ‘irregularities’ resulted in Humboldt’s Mirador being closed after only a couple of years. For now it remains closed, a wasted opportunity.


Casona del Patio, Santiago del Teide, Tenerife


Señorio del Valle
Another project years in the making was the Señorio del Valle in Santiago del Teide. The government owned centre with it’s cheese and wine tasting corners, museum, gallery, tasca, farm animals and rural hotel was an impressive addition to the Santiago Valley. Within a couple of years it was closed. It has since re-opened as La Casona del Patio so with any luck, and some good management, hope is not lost. It’s a lovely place that deserves to be successful.


Eco-museum, San Jose de los Llanos, Tenerife


The Eco-museum
Seriously over budget and behind schedule, the Eco-museum in San José de los Llanos has been a work in progress since 1999… and still the electricity hasn’t been put in. There are even road signs pointing to the museum that doesn’t exist. Actually it does exist, it just isn’t finished.  All in all, a bit of a shambles.


Playa de las Teresitas, Santa Cruz, Tenerife


The Mamotreto
Worst of them all is the monstrous blot on the landscape around Tenerife’s best looking beach, Playa de las Teresitas beyond Santa Cruz. Apart from ruining the scene, the sorry story of the mamotreto (the local name for the grey bunker which was supposed to be commercial premises and a car park) shows the worst side of Canary Islands political shenanigans, alleged corruption and sheer ineptitude. For years the courts have been deciding the legality of the building, how many rules have been broken and how much money has been squandered, with various politicians and officials being given jail sentences as a result. The building is regularly under threat of demolition.

It’s one Tenerife white elephant I’d like to see laid to rest for good.

Posted : Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015 at 3:06 pm
Category : about tenerife
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One Response to “A Tour of Tenerife’s White Elephants”

  1. martin says:

    You know, Jack, I have never noticed the mamotreto in any of my – admittedly few (3) – visits to Playa de las Teresitas. Once I get the car parked, my focus has been on the beach and going for a walk barefoot in that lovely sand.

    On the other hand, on my last visit the signage/directions and the Memorial to the 1977 TFN Airport disaster (access to which was blocked) seemed to fit with the criteria you have listed.

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