Corporate information

Hotel Tigaiga - the early years  by Shila Collis - Edition 585 Island Connections

...This jewel of a hotel welcomed its first clients in December of 1958 and was inaugurated the following year, this year they are celebrating their golden anniversary. As part of the celebrations they are hosting a special folklore concert with dancing on March 1st which is also open to non-residents but it would be advisable to book.

The history of the hotel is basically the history of the last three generations of the Talg family starting with Heinz ‘Enrique’ Talg Schulz, HOTEL TIGAIGA - THE EARLY YEARS the grandfather of the hotel’s existing directors.

Heinz started his hotel career as an apprentice waiter at the Hotel Weisser Ross in Lüneburg near his native Horndorf. After the end of the Great War the young man felt the need for new challenges. He started in the Hotel Palace in Madrid, later taking over as manager and leaseholder of the restaurant in the Gran Hotel Peinador in Mondariz in Galicia. Mondariz was a spa town which attracted summer trade but was closed in winter, so he was delighted to accept the offer of leasing the Hotel Quisisiana in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which at the time only opened in the winter season. During the summer season of 1924, his son, Enrique Talg Wyss was born in Vigo to his Swiss mother, Ida Wyss. Following the early death of his mother, the young boy returned to Switzerland to live with her family, returning to Tenerife after the Civil War.

Spaniards had problems pronouncing Heinz, so he took the name Enrique. In 1934 he took over the running of the Hotel Taoro in Puerto de la Cruz, under the ownership of Gustavo Wildpret, taking over the lease after his death. He acquired some land in the Taoro Park which he used for growing plants and flowers, produce for the hotel and even raising pigs at one point, but his agricultural ventures were not a great success. In 1950 he took Spanish nationality and there is a street in Puerto de la Cruz named in his honour.

It was here that the ambition of the senior militar y governor of the Canaries intervened in his life. In the post Civil War military dictatorship, General García Escamez had power over the civilians as well as the soldiers in the Islands. He wanted to promote tourism in the Canaries and wanted to play host to General Francisco Franco, but there wasn’t a suitable venue, so he decided to build one – The Hotel Mencey in Santa Cruz.

Once it was built he needed someone to run it, he offered it to the leading Spanish hotel chain at the time, HUSA. They were interested, but worried about taking on something so far away from their base so to make it worthwhile for them, they asked for two further hotels to be included in the deal, the Hotel Santa Catalina in Las Palmas and the Hotel Taoro in Puerto de la Cruz.

Enrique was not thrilled with the decision, which left him with a handsome payoff but without a job and with a lot of now useless hotel silver he had bought for the Taoro which was engraved ‘HT’. He took over yet another landmark hotel in Puerto, the Hotel Martiánez.

His son, Enrique Talg Wyss had spent the intervening years learning his trade at the Hotel Taoro, Madrid’s Hotel Palace and then in further establishments in Stockholm, London, Montreux, Saint Moritz and Algeciras before retur ning to the Hotel Martiánez in 1957 as assistant manager. His father decided it was time they built their own hotel and the young man was given a free hand in it’s planning and building on his father’s agricultural site in the Taoro park. The father was to provide the funding, help locate scarce building supplies and lay the foundations for the stunningly beautiful gardens. Enrique Talg Schulz had been a botany enthusiast all his life, his special interest was in blossoming trees and under the Tinguaro Terrace, exactly as he planned it, is his particular favourite, a tulip tree.

The hotel was to be built on a wonderful site, like a balcony hanging over Puerto de la Cruz with views up to Teide, across the Orotava valley and down to the sea and the site inspired a wonderful hotel which started off with a modest 12 bedrooms with en suite baths.

They already had the hotel silverware of course, they just had to come up with a nameand varios were discussed. Hotel Teide, Talg, Tenerife, Turístico, but in the end they decided on Hotel Tigaiga, a name from Guanche legends which had the ring and musicality they were looking for. It is also the name of an area in Los Realejos and, typically of the family, they forged links with their namesake neighbours which continue to this day.

The first guests had to go to the Hotel Martiánez for their meals as the kitchens were not yet finished but as improvement followed improvement the hotel took shape. Sadly Enrique Senior didn’t live to see it completed, he died of a heart attack in 1962. His son continued working on the hotel, this impulse for constant improvement is what has kept the establishment at the forefront of the accommodation stakes in Tenerife for the last 50 years and will no doubt continue to do so. In 1963, an extension for 48 double rooms, eight single rooms and a dining room was built (they now have 76 double rooms and seven junior suites). The following year the mammoth task of building the swimming pool got underway. It sits on the edge of the land and sunbathers sit in front of clear windbreaks looking from the pool to the sea and mountains. It was to make history as Puerto’s first heated pool. The sauna in the mini spa, built under the pool also has wonderful views over the town to the sea.

Enrique Talg Wyss married Gisela Reineke from the German town of Paderborn in 1964 and in the fullness of time they had three children Ursula, Irene and Enrique. Since the death of his father the gardens had gone into decline a little, but Doctor Gisela had an abiding interest in plant life, she had originally planned to study pharmacy. Her green fingers soon became evident and she took over the landscape gardening. By the 1970s the fame of the gardens had spread worldwide and attracted plant loving guests to the hotel. There are more palm trees than there are hotel beds and now there is a leaflet available from reception for residents and non-residents to help them find their way around and enjoy the floral opulence and beauty without special guidance.

On Gisela Reineke’s death she handed over the task to her daughter Ursula who used her photography skills to produce a popular garden catalogue. Top Hotels specialist magazine featured the gardens in an international photography competition called The Most Beautiful Hotel Gardens in 1999, where they won 10th place in the world. The surroundings now also benefit from the remodelled Parque de La Sortija in front of the hotel which was finished in 2006 and the 3,300 square metre plot of land belonging to the Hotel Taoro which they look after under an agreement with the island council, Jardines Carolina. It is planted with species native to the islands and there is a special experience offered in the, “tickle walk” (paseo de cosquillas) a reflexology route to provide stimulus to various points on their feet, where visitors are encouraged to walk barefoot over grass, volcanic stones, wood, pebbles etc.

The family were hotel pioneers from the beginning. They were the first hotel in the Canaries to install a telex machine in 1968 and the first to use solar energy in 1982. A particular joy for Enrique Talg Wyss was to put on a rucksack and march over the trails of the Orotava valley showing his guests the hiking tracks. One of his achievements was in having the 345 bus route extended to the Caldera to facilitate access to the hiking trails and park there. He had a great love for and respect of the Islands and thought of himself as tinerfeñan. He was the first hotelier to realise the attraction of the hiking trails for prospective visitors and always strived for them to be kept in good condition and extended. He served as a local councillor, was a member of the Lions, Rotary and Tourist initiative centre and was simply a charming man who took great pleasure in listening to others and to making worthwhile things happen. On his 80th birthday he handed over ownership and management of the hotel to his three children.