In the first of our weekly destination features, we begin on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, which some of the more eagle-eyed amongst you will note is the home of the hotelpricescanner.com, so naturally it is a place we know very well.
Like many of the traditional British and German short-haul destinations Mallorca is going through tough times. The recession has hit hard of course, but you feel that the malaise actually began several years before the onset of the economic downturn.
Mallorca became a little too complacent. It was (and still is) very self-assured and confident in what it has to offer (and it does have much to offer), and consequently during the good times did little to attract new visitors assuming that by name and reputation alone it would remain the leading summer destination for British and German sun-seekers.
It was a mistake however, because people now have choice, and a great deal of it, and to stay ahead of the rest Mallorca must start to sell itself and think hard about how it might attract new visitors and compete with the plethora of new resorts in Eastern Europe, and the growing popularity of Turkey and Greece.
Mallorca is expensive, on pretty much every level, and so during a time of general austerity it is only natural that people will look to make savings wherever they can. Maybe to try to compete with the cheaper destinations directly on price will be self-defeating (but there is most definitely scope to bring prices down in many areas). Instead, perhaps it should concentrate on its many assets – the two hour flight time from the UK makes it a perfect weekend getaway destination – a market that the island has never really exploited preferring to concentrate on its core summer trade.
It needs to shout from the rooftops about its stunning landscape, the impressive and beautifully maintained built environment and public realm, great attractions, stunning beaches and so much more.
Many of these assets we explore in more detail in the guide below. Please feel free to comment and offer your opinion on this destination by using the comment form that follows this article.
Mallorca is a Spanish island located in the Mediterranean sea and is the largest of the Balearic Islands. The capital, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. To learn more about the history of the island we recommend this article.
Facts & Figures
Size: 3,640.11 km²
Languages (official): Catalan and Spanish
Population (resident): 846,000 (2008)
Largest City: Palma
There are countless resorts in Mallorca, many with names familiar to British holidaymakers. These resorts can vary enormously in what they offer and the type of visitors they appeal to. From tranquil fishing ports, to picturesque mountain villages and the more notorious ‘party’ resorts; Mallorca can cater for all markets and all age groups.
For a comprehensive resort guide we suggest you look here, and instead we will give an overview of the more popular resort destinations.
Magaluf is notorious, often for all the wrong reasons, and while there is no doubt that it is not the sort of place you go for a quiet and relaxing holiday; for those that want to party there is no better place. Magaluf is home to the famous BCM nightclub, the Pirates Adventure dinner show and other family attractions such as the House of Katmandu and two water parks. It also has a lovely beach and very well maintained beach front. Magaluf has much to offer, and you shouldn’t write it off too soon.
Adjacent to Magaluf is the resort of Palma Nova. With an attractive beach front and excellent choice of restaurants, Palma Nova is the ideal place for those who want quick and easy access to the Magaluf attractions but who prefer to stay somewhere a little less raucous. The same too applies to Santa Ponsa, just a few kilometers up the coast from Magaluf in the opposite direction. Santa Ponsa is quite cosmopolitan and manages to cater very well for all age groups and markets. Is is particularly popular with Celtic visitors and there are many bars restaurants catering for this market.
Completing the cluster of four large resorts on the south-west coast in the municipal district of Calvia is Paguera. Paguera is a charming, beautifully maintained resort with a long sweeping boulevard that runs parallel to 3 beaches. Despite being a large resort, Paguera is very laid back and is not particularly well known to British tourists. Most visitors to Paguera originate from Germany, Holland and Scandinavia, and so naturally many of the bars and restaurants are targeted at this market.
The district of Calvia is located just to the west of Palma and just a short drive from the airport and is comfortably the most visited region on the island and is home to many of the leading attractions. That’s not to say there is not plenty of other resorts on the island worthy of mention. On the north of the island you will find Alcudia, Port d’Pollenca and C’an Picafort. While a good deal more secluded that their south coast counterparts, these resorts are nonetheless very popular with visitors of all ages.
On the east coast you will find Cala d’Or, famous for its sheltered coves, and on the west coast the beautiful fishing port of Port d’Soller. In short, there are countless places to choose from, many that we haven’t mentioned here such as Andratx, Arenal, Portals Nous (not to mention Palma itself which warrants an article to itself!), and we recommend that anyone considering visiting Mallorca read through the resort guide that we linked to above in order to find your ideal destination.
A brief overview of many of the leading attractions on the island:
To see Mallorca at its most quaint and picturesque, then a trip to the town of Valldemossa is a must. Valldemossa is a beautiful town in the mountainous north-west region of the island, and is in fact the highest community in Mallorca. It has become increasinly popular with tourists in recent years, but has lost none of its original features and charm.
Valldemossa is famous for the Royal Charterhouse of Jesus of Nazareth, built at the beginning of the 14th century. Nowadays the monastery is the second most visited building on the island, after Palma cathedral. You can see Cells 2 and 4 where Chopin and Sand lived for four months, and admire his piano and some manuscripts. Elsewhere, the monastery church hosts the Municipal Museum, which has a small collection of modern art upstairs, including pieces by Picasso, Miro and Francis Bacon. The vaults contain frescoes by Goya’s brother-in-law Miguel Bayeu.
Caves of Drach
Located on Mallorca’s east coast the caves are without doubt one of the island’s most outstanding tourist attractions, extending for almost 2,400 metres and including internal heights of 25 metres above the cave floor.
Hidden within the caves is Lake Martel, considered to be one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world, (177 metres long and 230 metres wide) on which there are daily performances of classical music featuring pieces by Caballero, Chopin, Offenbach, …
After the concert one can take a short boat trip on the lake. The unequalled beauty of the caves is further enhanced by the lightning planned and set in place by the engineer Carlos Buigas.
Palma Aquarium is a spectacular marine park that faithfully recreates sea and oceanic habitats and ecosystems. Palma Aquarium invites you on a fun and exciting journey of discovery down the ages.
The park provides visitors with a unique and unforgettable experience: interaction, surprises and endless educational elements that all pursue one fundamental objective; to foster understanding and wonder for the sea’s beauty.
The 55 aquariums contain an exceptional range of flora and fauna from the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Palma Aquarium introduces visitors to this unknown world by faithfully recreating life in marine ecosystems and natural animal habitats with over 8000 specimens from 700 different species in 5 million litres of seawater.
Come Fly With Me
Experience an unforgettable night at the Gran Casino Theatre as the legendary music of Frank Sinatra and other greats of the swing era uniquely blend with some of the world’s most breathtaking acrobatics and dancing.
Chris Mann, one of the world’s foremost interpreters of the music of Frank Sinatra provides the musical narrative to the show and his voice, presence and his thrilling performances will take you on a journey of discovery and excitement as you enter the world of New York 1959; a world of style, cool, and sophistication.
The show is a feast for your eyes and ears, the non-stop action and the exceptional talent of the cast of over thirty five of the world’s best performers and artistes, will take you back to a different time and a truly wonderful place.
And if watching the island’s greatest show is not enough, why not experience the night from the comfort of your very own sofa for 2 in our world famous Diamond Club? Complimentary champagne, strawberries and chocolates and VIP parking included!
The Medieval Show is a restaurant-show that re-enacts medieval tournaments with horses, spears, swords and falconry demonstrations while guests savour a succulent banquet.
The show has been conceived to be fun for young and old alike as they are transported back to the Middle Ages and partake of lunch or dinner. A group of knights in armour face off on a jousting field to demonstrate their valour and win the hand of the damsel of their dreams. They fearlessly compete on horseback with spears, swords or any other medieval weapons to the cheers of the onlookers. The entertainment is completed by an exhibition of birds of prey guided by an expert falconer that showcases their abilities.
Lose yourself in an explosion of brilliant laser lights as dancers in vibrant costumes perform to the soulful music in a surreal setting created by fog machines and special effects.
Standing tall in the Mallorcan countryside, the 17th century Son Amar estate is home to a superbly appointed theatre that hosts well choreographed shows and serves visitors sumptuous dinners laced with fine wine. Son Amar’s night show is a magical display of lights, music and dance and is a must-see for any visitor to Mallorca.
The Pirates Show has amazed over 3 million customers over the last 21 years with its unique blend of world class acrobatics, thrilling gymnastics and breathtaking dancing.
Set sail on the adventure of a lifetime as Join Sir Henry Morgan and his band of brave buccaneers as they do battle with their evil French foes to save the treasure.
Escape to a magical world of action, thrills, comedy and fun for an experience that you will never forget.
Make a date to join the fearless pirates for an amazing adventure in their purpose-built theatre in Magaluf. For an excursion to remember the Pirates Adventure is a perfect family fun night out. For a more saucy, sexy experience choose the Pirates Uncut (18) show where anything can happen late at night.
Come aboard Mallorca’s best attraction, the Pirates Adventure – a swashbuckling spectacle which is simply live entertainment at its very best.
Situated just a short walk from Magaluf’s other water park, Aqualand; Western Park offers all the thrills and spills you’d expect from such an attraction. Where it differs is that it has more of a theme, the Wild West, and in addition to the usual array of slides and pools, there are also spectacular live shows and other themed events. Take a trip through ‘El Paso’, ‘Indian Town’ and ‘Western Land’; or simply wave goodbye to the kids and soak up the sun in this fantastic family venue.
No trip to Mallorca is complete without a trip to Marineland, a family attraction offering the chance to spend the day enjoying a wide range of animal exhibits and shows.
The highlight is a spectacular show featuring dolphins, seals and papagayos; and there is also the famous parrot show, plus a reptile centre and the chance to get up close to the marine anaimals with plenty of photo opportunities. In addition, there is a recreational area with children’s slides which is the ideal place to relax and enjoy a picnic and soak up the Mallorcan sun.
An added bonus is its location, with stunning sea views and just a short walk from Port d’Portals, home to some of the most stunning yachts you’ll see, it is the ideal place to sit with a drink and watch the world go by, and you may even see some famous faces!
Aqualand is one of the most well known of Mallorca’s family water parks. Its facilities include state of the art attractions such as the Boomerang and the Tornado. The Mini Park, the water park for children, includes the brand new Enchanted Castle among other modern attractions, which include:
Boomerang – A fantastic return trip!
Tornado – Feel yourself absorbed by the power of the Tornado!
Surf Beach – Surf our over 1m-high waves!
Games area – You can drive karts, ride in the simulator, jump on the trampolines and if you dare…try the Jumper!
Super Kamikazes – For those immune to vertigo.
Mini park – Refreshing fun for children!
Crazy Race – Embrace the speed and you’ll win the race!
Enchanted Castle – Experience an enchanted adventure!
Multi-lanes – Join the most refreshing race!
Super Slalom – Dare take those bends and slopes!
Rapids – Enjoy the ultimate rafting rafting experience!
As you can see, there is no shortage of places to stay and things to do on the island of Mallorca. For all its current problems, Mallorca looks set to remain the leading summer holiday destination for British and German sun seekers.
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