Report by the Camp de Mar Team: May 2017
Palma airport was basking in glorious sunshine and was a joy to behold after we had left a cold grey UK only 2½ hours before. Hang on, that was last year! In reality, the difference between 2016 and now was that back home was even colder and the airport here was even busier with families, stag, and hen parties.
Long queues of people waited to be directed to their transfer coach, and their wait did not stop there. Once boarded we waited some more, with one existing boarded holidaymaker exclaiming that they had already waited an hour.
Eventually, the last two passengers for the coach arrived and we set off for Camp de Mar via Palma Nova, Magaluf, Santa Ponsa and Paguera. Add in a delay due to roadworks on the motorway, and the transfer took nearly 90 minutes from start to finish.
We cannot explain how joyous it is to see the bay of Camp de Mar in the distance as the coach heads down the roads that lead towards the resort. There is something about Mallorca, and especially this place, that gladdens the heart and brings smiles to our faces. Unfortunately, such happiness does not always spread to others. Come on, you're on holiday, so no need to be grumpy.
The reception team at the Playa welcomed us and we booked in. Looking out through the panoramic window of the lobby, the sun glinted off the sea and the hillside villas, nestled in the shade of their surrounding trees, looked cool and... vacant.
Unfortunately, a yellow digger could be seen parked in front of one of them and this was used on some days to break concrete and load the odd tipper truck. It was a bit noisy when this was happening, but did not spoil our stay.
As we reported last year, the old Spar supermarket under the Playa and next to the beach which was being refurbished, was now fully open as a supermarket. And next door, a Scuba Academy was being fitted out with masks and air bottles on display in the window.
The upmarket Accana Summer Club bar and restaurant had also yet to open. Being early May, the resort was not yet fully booked. This was apparent at the Playa as only half the dining room was in use. However, two to three days later, the hotel was full and all facilities were up and running.
Down the road in Paguera, the new A11 bus service to and from the airport had commenced operation. It stops in popular resorts such as Santa Ponsa and Magalluf before expressing it to Son Sant Joan. The idea is that it is a transfer service only. So once you are on, there's no getting off until you reach the airport. Not sure if this was working in practice though, as the bus driver offered to pick us up even though we had no suitcases.
Back at the Playa hotel Chef Diego was producing his usual fine spread of fayre and was extending the ranges available to cater for our tastes. We noticed more fish on this year's menu and, in line with new EU regulations, all dishes were labelled with symbols to show if vegetarian, gluten-free, and what possible allergens they might contain.
In the bar the coin-in-the-slot computer has gone, along with the jugs of coffee (but you can request one) and the hot water samovars at breakfast. In their place were push button machines to dispense coffee and/or hot water into your cup, mug (I bring my own), or teapot. Thankfully, the hot milk remains. Breakfast smoothies are also available, with fruit flavoured chilled waters as well.
Reception now sports a large screen showing local info, and a similar one can be found outside the dining room that displays photos of the hotel from yesteryear and Chef's greatest dishes being prepared.
...and what's not
The shops and restaurants around Camp de Mar remain the same, while in Paguera some outlets have changed hands but mostly its business as usual. Not so in Palma, where Saturday's market was only ⅔ of what it used to be, and the stallholders outnumbered the shoppers. Now is this due to it being the beginning of the season, or something more serious. We think the latter, as the number of vacant shops and cafes in the city appears to have increased over the past 12 months. It's not just Palma, some of our team discovered the loss of some favourite shops in Santa Ponsa too.
Back at the hotel, the standard of evening entertainment provided by TUI remains the same - mediocre. The same acts, even some of the same questions at the daily quiz as last year. Things must be tight for them too. Thankfully Jessica did liven things up, although daytime activities seemed to have been chosen to make as little noise as possible. Gone are the days of croc racing in the pool, giant Jenga and also the arts and crafts events.
As with transfers from the airport, getting back is a lottery with how many stops the coach will be making. Some of the team were lucky with 4, we had 8. Another 90 minutes spent on the road.
The wait for our plane to arrive was not too long, and they turned it round quick. Less than 3 hours later, it was like we had never been on holiday.
This page created on Friday, May 26th 2016