The History of Abama

Anyone who has visited our resort can attest to its extraordinary nature, but the history of Abama is worth hearing as well. Though we can marvel at the facilities and views of the Atlantic, breathe in the clean air and envelop ourselves in its calm, we may not think about the effort required to create this place. The story of converting this piece of land into the incredible destination we see today reveals a deeper worth. It enables us to appreciate not only the strength of the vision that sparked this project, but the determination that brought it to fruition. Ideas are inspiring, but it is execution that turns potential into achievement.

The story begins, as so many do, with a sort of accident. Jesús de Polanco, a Spanish businessman who had already been successful in the telecommunications industry, came to Tenerife to visit Chilean friends that had decided to try to make a go of it on the island. They were in the process of developing a small chain of cafés, Olympo, in the capital, Santa Cruz, and they asked Polanco if he would like to join them in their venture. He became a shareholder, and the success of the cafés provided capital to make further investments. The Chileans decided to buy a 3-star hotel in Adeje, the Hotel Ponderosa, as well as an adjoining coastal property on which they planned to build a hotel.

Shortly after the new investments were made, the change came that would force the Polanco family to decide whether to fully commit to this new industry in which they had heretofore been interested parties, but not fully involved in management: the Chileans decided to return to their home country. And after some deliberation, in which the risks of a new adventure were weighed against the excitement of a new horizon, the Polancos decided to buy the Chileans’ stake in the businesses and commit wholeheartedly to the project. The prior years of business had made Polanco’s interests clearer, however. He would sell the cafes and the 3-star hotel and focus completely on the land development project.

This project would become the 4-star Jardín Tropical Hotel, which, for the entire decade after its inauguration in 1988, would be the unchallenged top hotel in the area, enjoying such high occupancy rates that it didn’t even have a Sales Department. The success of this 430-room, 40,000 sqm. establishment was down to deliberate choices made by the Polancos that would distinguish it radically from other hotels on the island. The first choice was to contract a renowned architect, Melvin Villarroel, who had already achieved notoriety for his work in Marbella, as the designer. Outstanding architecture and an oceanfront location did much to attract guests, but it was the second choice, to bet on quality, that made the hotel a true standout. Both in service and in dining, the Polancos insisted that the Jardín Tropical be a cut above the rest. They were the first hotel in the Canary Islands to have a Michelin-starred restaurant. This combination proved attractive to clients everywhere in Europe, with 95% of guests hailing from countries like Belgium and Germany.

Not content to rest on the laurels of their successes, though, the Polancos were already envisioning an even bigger project, one that would permanently eliminate any competition on the islands: not a luxury hotel, but a fully operational luxury resort with a strong residential and leisure component.

And so the history of Abama began, over the period from 1993-1994, when the family engaged in negotiations to buy the land that the resort now stands on, which was formerly a banana plantation. They began with 49 acres on the coast, then bought an additional adjoining 222 acres, before finally investing in the last piece, an additional 123 acres in the highest part of the terrain. The plan was presented to the Government of Guía de Isora in 1997 and approved in 1999, with the golf course and infrastructure construction beginning soon afterwards. Hotel construction began in 2003.

Once again, the Polancos opted for the best of the best, with one of their aims being to get more than one Michelin star at the resort. Villarroel was again employed to design the hotel, as well as the first community of residences, Las Terrazas de Abama. Both bear his clear aesthetic mark. Other facilities were to include a tennis center, an 18-hole golf course expandable by an additional 9 holes as the project grew, a top Tenerife spa and fitness area, a kids club, a beach club, and multiple swimming pools.

The full parcel, half a kilometer wide and 3.5 km long, was not without its challenges. The difference in elevation from the top of the resort to the hotel is 300 meters, with a 75 meter drop down to Abama Beach Tenerife from the hotel. Between 3 and 4 million cubic meters of soil had to be moved during the construction of the golf course alone.

But the results were well worth it. Villarroel created a uniquely beautiful hotel with 10 floors and 9 swimming pools, as well as a spectacular atrium and lush gardens. The renowned Dave Thomas was contracted to design the golf course, still considered one of his finest. Over 120,000 plants, including 24,000 palm trees of many varieties, were planted. Aside from the massive infrastructure project, robust enough to support the resort facilities that would be built over the coming decades, the development also included a golf clubhouse, roads, a desalination plant to produce the water for irrigation, and 5 garden nurseries for all the plants.

In 2005, the golf course was inaugurated with a visit from former US President Bill Clinton, who played a round with local businessmen. And finally, the hotel opened for the 2006 Easter holidays. The hotel operation contract with Ritz-Carlton was signed in 2007.

Development plans for the residences had already been in the works, and were approved in 2010, with specialized consulting firm Arum Group, based in Barcelona, contracted to oversee all the residential development, planning, construction, marketing, and sales. Sales begin in 2011, with three properties already sold that year despite construction not beginning until 2012. Over the next few years, sales would explode at the resort, with over 300 properties now sold to date.

It’s a fully realized vision: the hotel built, a thriving residential community, the generation of more than 1,000 jobs, two Michelin-starred restaurants (the two-star M.B by Martín Berasategui and the one-star Kabuki by Ricardo Sanz), two additional suites-only five-star hotels (Las Terrazas de Abama and Los Jardines de Abama), an educational Kids Club, a burgeoning Wellness offer, and a new commercial and dining hub currently under construction.

Quality continues to be the hallmark of Abama, with every division of the resort winning accolades. Abama Golf holds numerous quality certifications and has been named one of the top courses by Golf Digest for many years running. Las Terrazas de Abama Suites have won in several Spanish and European categories for best resort hotel at The World Travel Awards, as well as receiving several awards from Trip Advisor. The Bellevue residential community has won an architectural prize for the Best New-Build Homes of the Decade, and numerous prize-winning architects have designed one or more of our spectacular custom villas. The Abama Tennis Center plays host to professional tennis events like ATP and WTA tournaments.

The history of Abama has been almost 30 years in the making, since the Polancos first envisioned building one of the best resorts in Spain. But looking back with the knowledge we have of how all their goals have come to fruition only makes their vision more impressive. And even more deserving of respect are the decades of steady work and determination to keep pushing the resort forward. Work put in by the hundreds and hundreds of people who have contributed to make Abama Resort Tenerife one of the economic drivers of the region and an established part of the community of which we are so proud.