H10 Conquistador's monstrous concrete exterior commands the coastline, but the 485-room upscale resort makes up for its unsightly bulk with a surprisingly fresh and contemporary interior design, warmhearted service, and a considerable set of features. Three pools, a gorgeous spa, seemingly endless buffet, and three distinct a la carte restaurants are standouts among the substantial offerings, not to mention direct beach access. Rooms are a squeeze, but come with mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, and balconies, many overlooking the ocean. In all, the property has across-the-board appeal for all sorts of guests -- families, couples, even the rare business traveler -- but those looking for a quieter vibe (and the same killer location) could check out Parque Santiago IV.
A concrete hulk of a hotel, but with contemporary interiors and lots of lively areas
H10 Conquistador's cement mass manages to disrupt a coastline already fraught with big, blocky buildings. Its gray face and chunky outline are infinitely more suitable for an airport administrative building than a beachfront hotel on a tropical island. (Seriously, what was the architect thinking?) Considering the weighty and glum outside look of the hotel, the airy and expansive lobby is nothing short of a relief. Although the unmissable monstrosity was built in the early '80s, it has been constantly renovated throughout the years, so the inside feels distinctly modern as well as surprisingly spacious. In fact, the bi-level lobby is so wide and open that it contains several distinct sections -- an attractive lobby bar, multiple lounge areas, a work space with computers, even an electric wheelchair charging station -- and doesn't feel the least bit cluttered. The beach-chic-meets-minimalism style mostly sticks to a fresh white-and-tan color scheme. Columns are clad in white plantation shutter paneling, giant white ottomans and Scandinavian-style egg chairs rest on seagrass area rugs, and pear-shaped wicker chandeliers hang over the broad white-marble staircase leading to the lower level and the pool area.
Lovely though it is, the interior design isn't what draws travelers to the Conquistador. Its beachfront location in the very middle of Playa de las Americas and the laundry list of amenities are what keep the hotel at full capacity essentially year round, generally with older guests (summers and Christmas see more families). Many guests come two or three times a year (staying in a Tenerife hotel is more cost-effective for some Scandinavians than heating their homes). The average stay is between seven and 12 days, and when we visited, the hotel manager told us about one couple who stayed for more than six months. She explained that people come back year after year for the staff, which sounded like hotel-mandated script, but during our tour, the dozen or so interruptions from guests stopping her to say hi, give hugs, and make inside jokes confirmed the line.
H10 Conquistador has a lot going for it, but its location ranks high on its list of features. Hotel guests can walk out the pool area's back gate and straight to the grassy lawn and rocky shore out front. The pebbly beach isn't ideal for lying out, but its waters are usually dotted with surfers taking advantage of the strong waves, and sandy beaches can be reached in a few minutes via the bustling pedestrian path in either direction. Sports Club Tenerife, a third-party surf school and equipment kiosk on the hotel's premises, rents surfboards, bodyboards, bikes, and stand-up paddleboards. Shops, restaurants, bars, supermarkets, and pharmacies are all accessible from the hotel's main entrance. Tenerife South Airport is a 17-minute drive away.
Rooms have air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and balconies, most with ocean views
Many of H10 Conquistador's are a little tight, but they're attractively designed, with street-art-inspired or light-wood headboards and a few modern art prints. Entry-level Double Rooms overlook the town and surrounding mountains. To guarantee a room facing the Atlantic Ocean, book a Double Room Sea View or Superior Double Room. In addition to their pool views, Superior Double Rooms have upgraded amenities, like pillow menus, espresso machines, pool towels, iPod stations, and free use of the safes (guests staying in lower-level Double Rooms must pay a fee). Junior Suites have dark wood-finish flooring, white wood-plank walls, and seating areas with sofa beds, and also come with coffeemakers and iPod stations.
The highest room category is Privilege, which has the same upgraded amenities as Superior Double Rooms, with bathrobes and slippers added. But the best perks of the Privilege level aren't tangible: Privilege Rooms come with twice-daily housekeeping, a la carte breakfast and dinner, free entrance to the spa's water circuit, and access to the Privilege lounge on the sixth floor, which has a self-service bar, free newspapers, and a private roof terrace with a hot tub, sunbeds, and loungers.
Bathrooms feature hotel-brand toiletries, hairdryers, and shower/tub combos. All rooms are air-conditioned, and have private balconies, mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, and free W-Fi.
H10 Conquistador's features are extensive enough to suit all sorts of travelers. First and foremost is the lifeguarded pool area, which the hotel wraps around like a horseshoe. This area is dominated by a giant freeform main pool that's almost like three pools in itself: it meanders around an island with Bali beds (accessible only to -- guess who -- Privilege guests) and eventually makes its way to a grotto topped with palm trees and columnar cacti. Past the rock overhang is a chill-out area with a prime view of the ocean and La Gomera in the distance. A heated medium-size pool nearby is dedicated to group games and aerobics and a small circular pool is for babies and toddlers.
More bodies of water are at the adult-only Despacio Thalasso Spa, which has a water circuit (free for Privilege guests) consisting of a hammam; sauna; foot deluge; cold dip; sensation, bucket, and rainfall showers; and a saltwater river with warm and cold stones. In the middle of the warm, jetted thalassotherapy pool -- flooded with natural light from the woodbeam-and-glass ceiling -- is a floating hot tub, accessed by a wooden bridge. The spa's treatment list includes facials, massages (including Ayurvedic and hot-stone versions), makeup application, waxing, and mani/pedis. Couples treatment rooms feature showers or whirlpool tubs. The hair salon uses Davines products for its blowouts, updos, haircuts, and hair-coloring. Adjacent to the spa is one of the only Pilates studios in Playa de las Americas. The Pilates Center costs an additional fee, but the small fitness center does not. It features a glass wall overlooking the pool scene and Technogym bikes, ellipticals, treadmills, and a bench press.
Off of the pool is an open-air game room with ping-pong, pool, foosball, and air-hockey tables, plus arcade games. The mini club has an outdoor playground and cabin-like play room with activity tables and a ball pit, plus a garden where kids can help grow things like parsley and cabbage. Inside, a teens' club features movies and PlayStations, and a big TV room features large flat-screen TVs airing football matches, as well as couches, red swivel chairs, a jukebox, a foosball table, electronic darts, and a World Cup pinball machine. Activities like mojito-making demos and ping-pong tournaments are on tap during the day, and shows like flamenco dancing and live Caribbean music are performed on the terrace every night. Nightly entertainment moves in to the on-site nightclub in the rare case of rain, and live piano music is performed inside in the winter.
Complicated meal plan tiers but a quality all-inclusive offering
All three meals are major productions at Tajinaste, Conquistador's buffet restaurant with an outdoor terrace. Breakfast features a Bloody Mary and Champagne bar, plus made-to-order eggs and crepes, bacon, yogurts, sliced meats and cheeses, smoothies and fresh juices, croissant sandwiches, and a granola and cereal station. Reservations are required for the three a la carte restaurants. La Vita e Bella, the Italian and Mediterranean restaurant, follows the same attractive design scheme of the lobby, with white wood-plank walls, wicker pendant lamps, a large sisal rug over the wood-finish floors, and glassed-in wine displays along one wall. An a la carte breakfast with continental, English, and Spanish options is served here, and is free for Privilege guests. Sakura Teppanyaki has three 10-person show-cooking tables with different seatings, and Steak House Restaurant is a snack bar by day and an American steakhouse by night.
Mike's Coffee, near the pool, could pass for a Brooklyn coffee shop. Opening in the late afternoon, Mike's serves coffees, cookies, and cakes, all free for all-inclusive guests. The huge palapa-topped pool bar serves late breakfast, lunch, and tea time, and has an all-inclusive buffet. The all-inclusive plan covers three buffet meals a day, plus alcohol. Once a week, guests on the all-inclusive plan get one free dinner at one of the a la carte restaurants. There is also an All-Inclusive Plus package, which entitles guests to an a la carte dinner every night. Other plans include bed-and-breakfast, full-board, and half-board. H10 Conquistador's very complicated package system means that every guest must wear a wristband at all times. The hotel is cashless, so non-all-inclusive guests must wait for the staff to charge meals and drinks to their rooms.