Menorca holiday with TUI Blue review: see the historic Spanish island and stay at a gorgeous adults only hotel
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When kayaking in Menorca remember that Ray-Bans don’t float. That is perhaps the least important lesson you should take away from this account of a recent trip to the unspoiled Spanish island in the Mediterranean.
I travelled with TUI and stayed in their TUI Blue adults only hotel in Santo Tomas, just a two minute stroll from the beach. And even though the blue of the Med shone through my balcony window, my room was not advertised as a sea view - that label was reserved for the select rooms at the complex which offer a complete unimpeded panoramic of the water.
That pretty much sums up TUI’s attitude to service - everything must be perfect, and indeed it was. Of course, it helped that I had an all inclusive booking, so could sample a number of the hotel bar’s cocktails, beers, and wines for free throughout my stay. The staff could not do more to help - when I asked for a Baby Guinness, a bartender whipped one up for me even though he had not heard of the shot until I showed him the measures list on my phone.
As someone who very much enjoys spending at least half of any beach holiday reading by the side of the pool, it was a very welcome surprise to find that TUI is one of the few hotels to actually have enough sunbeds to accommodate all of its guests. At all points of my stay there was always a sunbed free whether poolside, by the whirlpool, or in the shade on the grass.
Essentially, the hotel was faultless. The rooms are spacious, extraordinarily clean - despite my best efforts to traipse sand and seawater across the floor - and excellently serviced.
But what about the island itself? When you think of Spanish islands maybe your mind jumps to Tenerife, Majorca, or - God forbid - Ibiza, and perhaps you cringe a little. Menorca was nothing like the aforementioned. Calm, quietly beautiful, and bursting with history, this was another side of the Spanish beach getaway.
An essential stop was the mediaeval sanctuary and convent atop Monte Toro, Menorca’s highest point. From here you can see right across the island in all directions, and it really boggles the mind how such a small place can contain so much history, culture and beauty. Monte Toro is an essential part of all three - the site has been a point of pilgrimage for Menorcans since the 13th century, and its summit was topped by a monastery that was destroyed by Republicans during the Spanish Civil War.
A visit to the coastal community Binibeca was an unusual experience - the narrow streets of completely whitewashed houses and olive tree fences, were beautiful but wildly impractical for permanent residents, especially given that the area now serves as a tourist stop for Santorini style Instagram pics.
There’s a more seductive side to the island though, for those who seek it. The caves of Xoroi provide a drinking experience like no other. Carved into the island's rock, these caves were once a prehistoric dwelling and later mythically the hideout of a notorious pirate, but are now a stylish bar and in the summer months, a disco.
And then of course, there’s plenty to do on the water, whether it’s a cruise around the harbour or a kayaking excursion. Without a doubt one of the highlights of the trip, and that’s accounting for the tragic loss of my sunglasses, kayaking is the best way to see the island.
From mountain goats climbing on steep cliff edges, to ethereal coastal caves (wherein, after hopping out of the kayak for a swim I failed to re-embark properly, thus capsizing losing my Ray-Bans), to the strangely tranquil secluded nudist beaches, you really do see everything when you get by kayak. A brief disclaimer - the good people at Fornells Kayak Hire had provided waterproof tubs for valuables and even offered to store sunglasses in their life vests, so the blame for my lost shades is entirely my own.
It was on the final evening of my stay that I most fully connected with the spirit of the island. Paddling in the sea around midnight, having had a few more cocktails from the hotel bar, I spent a blissful 20 minutes laying in the mild water, looking up at the star filled sky, the view unaffected by the limited light of the hotels and bars along the coast, and I truly felt that I could have stayed there forever. Alas, I had to get back to the hotel, sink another cocktail, and pack for my return flight to sunny Sheffield.
Bookings for the Santo Tomas hotel are only offered through TUI, and can be booked here: www.tui.co.uk.