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[Top] 125 Hotel Riu Vistamar in Gran Canaria offers you an all-inclusive luxury break

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Hotel Riu Vistamar in Gran Canaria offers you an all-inclusive luxury break

We were aiming to unwind in the sunshine – and we got that and more as our worries melted away under the intense rays of the African skies

OUR stay at Hotel Riu Vistamar was always destined to be memorable — even if I’d not won the ping pong tournament, posed with Sandy from Grease and, oh yes, got engaged.

Tina and I jetted off to Gran Canaria, aiming to unwind in the sunshine.

And we got that and more at this all-inclusive resort as our worries melted away under the intense rays of the African skies.

From the airport it was a short taxi ride to our hotel, perched on the side of the mountain a short distance from Puerto Rico resort.

One of the highlights was my table tennis victory as I exorcised the ghosts of Huelva 2017 when, regular readers will no doubt recall, I fell at the last hurdle.

This time I managed to destroy Tina in a one-sided encounter and reach another final, where I was up against an all-round sporting titan who I had last seen leading me and others in a bout of water aerobics.

The match went all the way to a tiebreaker where my stamina was sorely tested by the Serena Williams of ping pong.

A mistake by my opponent — who hit a ball that was going out of play without hitting the table!

Oh this was the sweetest of victories gave me the coveted certificate.

But a fair majority of our time was spent away from the table tennis table as we soaked up the rays on sun loungers from the rooftop near the pool.

There were always activities to do — including volleyball and football — which we resisted, though we did venture into the two large swimming pools.

A third pool was fitted with small slides and was solely for the tots. And giving parents a well-earned break, the children at the resort were kept entertained via the RiuLand kids’ club.

There is a volleyball court and a gym as well, which we had great intentions of using.

More our pace were the less high energy games such as bingo, cards and, my pick, a cocktail challenge.

The High Noon encounter featured one brave soul who drank each of the contents of the cocktail — which was just sangria really — including orange juices and straight vodka.

Then, in a nod to Charlie Chaplin, he lifted up his T-shirt and juggled his belly in a bid to mix all the contents into the perfect cocktail, as we saluted with our sangria glasses.

Of course, being an all-inclusive resort, the drinks were always on the go and I hit the Poolside Bar hard — enjoying Diet Cokes as well as espressos, beers and bubbly with a sprinkling of slushpuppies.

After a day sunning ourselves, there was no better way to kill some time to cool down than at the Sports Bar, which is fitted with pool tables and big tellies showing all sorts of matches. It is open until 7am, though we struggled to stay up past midnight.

From the Sports Bar you could even opt to sit outside and peer out at the wide canvass of blue ocean.

There was also the main bar which at night became the main source for entertainment with different shows being held, including dance and music acts.

My favourite was a competition for guests to show off their skills called Mr Riu.

We watched a suave Swede, a dogmatic German and two enthusiastic Spaniards test their mettle in a series of hilarious rounds.

These included cowboy impersonations and a game involving balloons which their female partners struggled to burst – it was way funnier than it sounds. And it was during the first of these entertainment nights I got to a snap with Sandy from Grease.

I had hoped it would just be Sandy but, at her suggestion, the others jumped in too. That John Travolta – just won’t leave her alone for a second.

It would be most remiss of me not to mention the food. From the moment you wake up until your head hits the pillow there are all sorts of scrumptious delights on offer. We feasted each breakfast, lunch and dinner — there were always signature dishes to go with the tried and trusty delicious offerings.

Sure a pound on the hips while in the sunshine doesn’t really count.

As well as the main sittings in Amadores restaurant you could also book in for a more secluded setting in one of the other restaurants.

We tried the show cooking stations in the Kai Asian restaurant and the barbecue in Sea Breeze — and loved both.

Our only regret was not going for the Canarian night, but there is only so much food a person can eat.

There were always snacks available at Sea Breeze too, in between meal times, and late into the night at the Sports Bar, it was impossible to get peckish.

Not that it was ever needed, but you could always step outside the hotel and it is just a short stroll to nearby shops, restaurants and pubs.

The hotel organises day trips too including to local markets, a spa, a waterpark and camel riding.

And there were regular busses from the hotel down to Playa de Amadores beach and back again, a journey that took just five minutes down the steep incline.

Here, we lounged on the sand for the day and walked along the line of shops and restaurants, with great value lunch to be had.

Flights and hotel

WE flew from Dublin to Gran Canaria Las Palmas via Ryanair. Our flights cost €225 including a 20kg bag each but cheaper flights are available.

A taxi to the hotel was €60, although it is possible to get there by bus. Rooms at the Hotel Riu Vistamar start from €92 in August, €86 in September and €76 in December. See The resort is famous for its all-inclusive meals, with highlights including the Amadores, Kai and Sea Breeze restaurants. Down by the beach, there are lots of bars and restaurants with decent nosh at good prices, such as Monaco, the Irish Cottage and Vivaldi Italian.

While at the beach check out the pedal boats and the Ocean Fun Park — See

I swam out the short distance to the Ocean Fun Park where kids encouraged me in Spanish to keep trying to climb the obstacle course.

After valiantly refusing to bow to gravity and my weak arms, I managed to get to the top. It became too treacherous for my tired body to go any further towards the slide, so I jumped into the water and swam back to the shore, pretending that I had not been left physically drained.

When many of these memories and the ping-pong certificate fade, I will always remember Riu Vistamar as the place where I popped the question to Tina.

It was only a few hours in the planning.

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The bottle of champagne that had chilled in the mini fridge and the flowers that greeted our arrival were put to good use, and brought out to the balcony.

With such a breathtaking view in front of us — the golden sandy beach, perfect promenade, azure ocean and skyline — it was the perfect opportunity. After an earliert trip to the hotel’s kiosk, I had a €20 ring too so I all was set.

And even Tina’s insistence of bringing a can of Fanta with her to the balcony did nothing to ruin the romance.

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