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Take a shot at Tenerife; DERIC HENDERSON ON HOW THIS CANARY ISLE IS REINVENTING ITSELF AS A GOLFING PARADISE.

pounds 533, sharing), TRAVEL INFORMATION 423 . Deric Henderson was a guest of Abama Golf & Spa Resort (0034 922 126 500, abamahotelresort.com), where rates start at 390 per night. Three-night Golf Fitness packages from 615, seven nights from 1,295. Carrier (0161 491 7630) offers seven nights' B&B packages from pounds 915, including return flights Oct EGYPT MANY visitors haven't realised it yet, but Tenerife has been quietly and impressively reinventing itself over the past five years. Those cheap and cheerful 10-euro meals are still there on the crowded seafront at Playa de las Americas. But go a few miles from there and you'll find things are very different.

I asked Pep Lozana, general manager of the Abama Golf & Spa Resort, why Tenerife's No 1 holiday destination is not on his hotel's local guide as part of the residents' information package.

"Simple," he said. "People on low-budget packages can go where they please, and if it's Las Americas, then fine. But some clients expect high standards, and that's why we're here."

So while the crowds flock to the concrete jungle of Las Americas and nearby Los Cristianos, the five-star Abama on the slopes of volcanic Mount Teide is one of those flagship properties signalling a big change of direction for the island's tourism industry.

When Reina Sofia airport opened in the south 25 years ago it was all about packing in the numbers. Now there is a developing emphasis towards style and appearance.

Set in a lush estate surrounded by a vast banana plantation and with a private sandy cove accessed by a glass-enclosed funicular lift, Abama Golf & Spa Resort sits on a clifftop with a Moroccan-style citadel as the hotel.

Twenty years after striking my first tee-shot at the hot, sticky and unimpressive Golf del Sur resort next door to the airport, I returned for another couple of rounds on the island at a much grander location.

Between visits, I have sampled some of Europe's finest resort fairways: San Roque's Old Course on the Costa del Sol; Barseback in southern Sweden; Penha Longa near Lisbon; and Medoc, near Bordeaux.

Abama matches any of them. It has the tell-tale signs of a course designed by former Ryder Cup player Dave Thomas, with lots of lakes and waterfalls, some more than 900 feet above sea level.

There was hardly a mark, never mind a scratch, on any of the fairways. The greens were excellent, although poor drainage left some of the 96 bunkers needing fresh sand.

One afternoon when we set off on the uphill, 279-yard, par-four first hole, we had the place virtually to ourselves, with the Atlantic Ocean to our right and the shimmering outline of neighbouring island La Gomera in the distance.

Tenerife, and especially the Abama, is definitely worth a look. With rounds from EUR200 - discounted to EUR125 for hotel guests - the fees represent good value. Even at the height of the October-April, no more than an estimated 140 rounds a day are played.

Some landing areas can be quite narrow, particularly on the back nine. With something in the region of 25,000 palm trees and tropical plants framing the course, the need for accuracy is absolutely paramount.

But this is holiday golf as it should be played: at a comfortable pace. We reached 10 out of 18 greens in regulation, and even with so-so putting managed to birdie the par-three, 148-yard 14th.

The attractions of the Abama are not confined to the golf club and its adjoining academy. This stunning resort has seven swimming pools, a tennis club and a spectacular spa with a range of special treatments to regenerate ageing bones after hours on the fairways.

Cocktails on our villa terrace at sunset became another compulsory daily ritual.

There was little need to roam far beyond the main gates, apart from one leisurely mid-morning stroll and coffee on the promenade in Las Americas, and the discovery of an excellent pizzeria just up the coast in the village of San Juan where we lunched three days out of seven.

At night, flames from hundreds of gas torches brilliantly illuminate the network of sloping pathways. Our double room and balcony was about three times the size of the 18th green. There was even a Carta de Almohadas (pillows menu), and chauffeurdriven golf carts ensured the chief concierge got us to our dining table on time.

For those fortified by a couple of gin and tonics, and seeking something special on their plate, the food at Abama is superb, with daily choices from any one of 10 eateries.

La Verona, at the centre of the hotel with access to a large outside terrace overlooking a pond with 45 enormous and spectacularly-coloured Koi carp, was attractively informal. Italian cuisine of the highest order was presented by staff keen to please.

The same applied to the Kabuki Japanese restaurant with its minimalist red and black decor.

The MB restaurant, opened late last year, has lifted levels of a la carte dining in the Canaries. Michelin-star chef Martin Berasategui's use of fresh ingredients from the Basque region are at the heart of all his innovative signature dishes, providing a gastronomic experience to savour.

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Fairway to heaven... Abama Golf & Spa Resort is putting Tenerife on the golfing map
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 3, 2009
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