This month, it will be 50 years since tourism was pioneered as the future for the south of Tenerife. I suspect like me, many think this would have been the development of the then fishing village of Los Cristianos, but it seems I was wrong and tourism actually started in one of my favourite towns – El Medano.
In 1960 tourism was unknown in the south of the island, the major contributors to the economy were bananas and tomatoes and once harvested, the tomatoes were taken to El Medano where they would be sorted, graded and packed into crates before being taken to the docks at Santa Cruz to be shipped around the world.
Don Francisco Garcia Feo, known locally as Don Frasco, owned the El Medano tomato packing plant, but he had the foresight to recognise that tourism was fast becoming a boom industry in Puerto de la Cruz in the north. He was aware that the south, with its warmer and sunnier climate, had the potential of become a magnet for tourists so he took the decision to extend and transform his packing plant into a hotel.
In 1963 while Puerto de la Cruz was building block after block of high-rise hotels and apartments, it was in El Medano that Don Frasco built one of the major landmarks of the south, the Medano Hotel. At the time when the hotel opened, there was no Playa de Las Americas or Los Gigantes, even Ten Bel was only a pipedream not to be constructed until the late 1960s.
Anyone who has ever been to El Medano will no doubt have seen the iconic Hotel Medano – it is not only the first hotel to be built in the south but also the only hotel located ‘on the beach’. Its large sundeck overhangs the sea and is an ideal place to relax while sipping a cool drink and listening to the waves beneath. For the slightly more energetic, should they decide to go swimming, there is direct access from the deck via a small staircase to the water below. I say deck because to those viewing the hotel it looks as if the extension into the water is the bow of an ocean liner and the sunbathers are about to sail the high seas on the imaginary ship.
So what about the Medano Hotel today? After fifty years, the hotel has gone through several owners and refurbishments although it has always retained its beautiful original deco facade. I have been several times and all the public areas I have seen, hallways, restaurant, lounge even furniture are predominantly white and whichever direction you look the sea views are magnificent.
Although the hotel represents a symbol of tourism in the area it has also been under threat from the Spanish Coastal Department who allege that the iconic deck should be demolished as it breaches Spanish planning laws. However Granadilla town council petitioned the island government in a bid to award the hotel Bien de Interes Cultural (BIC) status – similar to a listed building in the UK, saying that the hotel is seen as a Monument of Cultural Interest. I don’t know if this has been granted, I don´t know if the threat has gone away, as I have heard nothing for several years but I hope so as I just love this hotel. It doesn’t have to be big to have style and grace and like those other hotels built in the 60s this one does not look dated, she carries her age well.
Soon after the Medano Hotel was established, the next hotel to be built was the Gran Tinerfe in Playa de las Americas and so the start of tourism as we know it had begun and today the south of Tenerife has become the most popular area on the island.