The Travel Magazine
Sharron Livingstone, A travel writer, experienced Sun Park for three weeks. This is what she had to say:
Lanzarote: Holiday lifestyle for over 50s
Sun Park Living is a holiday resort in stylish Playa Blanca in the Canary island of Lanzarote, Spain, that some over 50’s call home-away-from-home.
Is this a holiday resort or is it home in the sun?
This is the brainchild of Gil Summers and Patricia Domingues and for some, the concept is a tad mind-boggling.
Yes, this is a holiday resort for any social beings over 50, where you can stay for a month or three, but, as I discovered, some call this place home.
“Humans are social creatures” says Gil, “and community is valuable in keeping a sense vitality and companionship as we age. At Sun Park we are developing a close-knit community known as Sunrockers, for active retirees where every day feels like a holiday yet the members socialise, create activities and look out for each other”. To understand Gil’s ethos it helps to know that he was brought up on a kibbutz.
What is the accommodation like?
There are 220 smallish, terraced, ground or first floor one-bedroom apartments. They are rated at three-star at Canary standards which in reality is basic self-catering offered on a rental basis, as you would a villa, so there is no turn-down or cleaning service (although the latter can be arranged at a small extra cost).
In keeping with the local style, they are white with green painted window and door frames and are arranged around a huge courtyard with palm trees and flowering bushes, and a couple of large swimming pools with sunbeds and yellow parasols. There is also a small gym and tennis courts.
All apartments have a little patio with a small garden or a balcony and within hours of moving into mine, I had met and shared a glass or two of wine with my neighbours. By the third day it had become almost impossible to make a dash out of the resort without stopping for a natter with several residents along the way; unless it was yoga hour (this happens three times a week at the behest of the community) or when Barney (a local musician also invited by the community) turns up to strum his guitar, sing songs and serve coffee and cake several afternoons a week.
What are the people like?
As the week rolled on, I found myself reading the community newsletter. There were images of the preceding Friday night’s party. It flagged up two masseuse staying at Sun Park, talked of a mini-golf tournament on the resort and invited everyone to a BBQ to be hosted by married couple and long-term residents Ian and Denise and asked for volunteers to help put it together. The contribution was 8 euros.
On the Saturday night everyone was there. Including Peter, a sprightly 82 year-old Scouser who had lost his wife two years earlier and who had checked in for two months. Tonight he was on a mission to ensure nothing got burned. He was delightful, a contrast, I was told, to the way he was when he first arrived. Sun Park had mellowed his grief and his involvement in community matters was life-enhancing. Long-term resident Henry, in his sixties and never married, had put his hands up to sort out the salads and barbecued bananas. Jim and Ted, who spend most of the year at Sun Park, sorted out what turned out to be a very exciting raffle. Here’s Jim talking about his stay at Sun Park:
Everyone from ages 50 to 92 ate together, sharing their drinks and stories. Barney came along with his music and everyone danced. When dinner was over, and to my utter amazement, Stephanie (booked in for a month but coming back), an Irish woman in her late 50s – a quiet sort, I thought – got up on stage and did a turn of hilarious stand-up comedy. Then just as we thought it was all over, Bill, a 92-year-old from Surrey, hopped (yes hopped) onto the stage, told some rude stories and sang a ditty he had conjured up from nowhere. I missed his company when he left two days later after a two-week stint.
There are, as I was, newbies turning up all the time looking for great value for money accommodation (625 EUR for an entire month) only to find they have checked in to a place that offers cheerful humanity too. There is a mixed sense of stability and transience – the community continues with a mainstay committee of people who have followed the passage of time to a more mellow lifestyle. Yet there are always new people to meet and one and all are bonded by Gil’s community life ethos and his exuberant energy in keeping everyone connected.
Does the concept work?
I don’t wish to make it sound like Nirvana – it’s a community after all. Aside from the odd short-lived squabble, it’s a potent mix and some are reluctant to leave, shedding tears and hugging those they have bonded with. All say they will be coming back to experience more of this novel community holiday living in the sun.
Need to Know
A one-bedroom apartment costs £499 or 625 euros for 1 month’s rental. This includes gas, electricity, water, wi fi and maintenance and use of the pool and small gym.
More information www.sunparkliving.com
You can read the entire article on the Travel Magazine website.