Ten days in Camp de Mar - October 2006 & 2009 by David Ward
Rather than write a completely new review, I have noted any changes with a * and these are detailed at the end of this article...
After a busy 18 months, my wife decided that we needed a holiday and so we began looking at last minute bookings on the Internet and discussing where we would go. And when you want a holiday with a good location, hotel and food, you know that going back to the Playa will not disappoint. We therefore booked the last week of the 2006 season that the hotel was open.
We flew from Luton and security measures were being enforced strictly then. You could not bring liquids, gels or pastes through security, but you could buy soft drinks in duty free for the flight. It was interesting to discover that your normal baggage allowance was 20kg, but if you were on a 'Price Breaker' deal, this was reduced to 15kg. Usually this information can be found in your travel documents along with how much they'll charge you for excess. Flying back into the UK, you are asked to keep liquids etc. in hand luggage - the opposite of what was required on the flight out.
Having stayed in 2004 during early October, we did not expect to have better weather than then*. However,it was hot and sunny, but not too much that you would burn quickly if out and about without cream on and the evenings were warm. It was windy on the first couple of days there and you can be surprised to discover just how far a wind-propelled sun brolly can travel!
The resort had changed slightly. The Lacoste shop* had closed but a new boutique stocked with costume jewels and leather bags filled the gap. It had some delightful items. At the Playa, the major change was that the pool was now heated at the beginning and end of the season. The staff were mostly the same and it was good to see familiar faces. We were on the second floor this time round and I was sent off to get an extra toilet roll from the chamber maid. Imagine my surprise when, after trying to explain what I wanted in sign language and rudimentary spanish, she replied in geordie tinged with mallorcan. She has been in Mallorca for 20 years and worked at the hotel for the last 8. A similar thing also happened on a bus in Palma. We were discussing which stop to get off at when a raven-haired 'local' women gave us advice with a Cardiff accent. Again, another lady who had holidayed 20 years before, got married and stayed.
As it was very near the end of the season, there were fewer reps on duty at the hotel. Entertainment during the days was the usual round of bean bag boule, quizzes, the very popular pool aerobics and so on. At night, the entertainment was down in the Bar Veramar as the poolside stage was dismantled for the winter. I would guess that the visiting acts were also being put away for the winter judging by the number of reps' shows that we put on during the week we were there. The other acts we had seen before, including the comedian who told the same jokes... but we still laughed.
The reps promote the regular Thomson excursions that include Western Encounter and Northern Exposure tours, while the hotel offers trips such as Wild West Coast and Great Island Tour. By far the most unusual was the free Blanket Trip. At first I thought it was joke to promote the Thomson tours, but talking to other guests proved me wrong. There is a free trip to a bedding factory where they try to flog you an expensive new mattress. No, you don't have to carry it back as hand luggage, they deliver it for you and yes, everyone we spoke to enjoyed the experience.
We did not go on any trips* this year. On the Saturday, we caught the bus into Palma and did the market, the El Corte Inglés and C&A department stores and a few smaller shops*. On the Sunday, the TUI Marathon was staged in Palma so we stayed at the hotel. On the Monday, we decided to visit Festival Park, a sort of factory outlet and entertainment complex. It looked quite good in the leaflet we picked up at the hotel, so off we went by bus into to Palma and then tried to find the correct bus at the bus station to take us to the place. No luck, the leaflet was out of date, with bus 20 actually needing to be bus 330 now. Also, we had just missed the 1pm bus out and the nice lady in the bus station office told me the next one was at 4:30 - a three hour wait! Having come all this way was not going to be for nothing, so we hailed a cab.
Festival Park looked promising when we arrived. The Nike factory store had some fabulous bargains - if only they had my size - while the other stores were too trendy or expensive for my tastes. And talking of tastes, we were looking forwarding to having a mexican style lunch but were disappointed to find the restaurant closed till 8pm. I assume that's when everything livens up: when the cinema and 10-pin bowling are open. We had lunch in a sandwich place, where they gave us some free pens, spent a couple of hours looking around the shops and caught the bus back to town empty-handed.
Tuesday was spent with ex-pat family and Wednesday was put aside for Andraxt Market and this did not disappoint. The numerous colourful stalls of the 'tourist' market intertwined with local produce and goods for the residents makes for a good morning out.
A quick note about Palma station*... the main train terminus (not the Soller tram) has been demolished to make way for a new combined train, bus and underground railway terminus. This makes does make it difficult to change between buses and trains as there is quite a walk between the two and I don't think everything will be up and running in time for the 2007 holiday season.
As this is the end of the season, the shops in Camp de Mar were winding down. The Spa supermarket halfway up the hill was low on stock and the kiosk opposite the hotel had its last delivery of English newspapers on Monday, October 23rd. They also ran out of phonecards and by the Wednesday, the shop was closed and all fixtures and fittings had been removed for storage over the winter. The Playa itself did not officially close till the 31st., the following Monday, and it was still quite full up till then although I understand that on the last day there were to be only 100 guests and they were going to enjoy themselves at the closing party with all the staff*.
Finally, a couple of things to note... suites come with tea and coffee facilities in the room, but standard rooms do not. However, you can hire a kettle. It can be cheaper to stay in a suite with its double bed and sofabed rather than a standard twin room and a single.
This year (2009) we stayed for the final week. The weather during the first two days of our stay were marred by horrendous rain. A torrential thunderstorm on the Wednesday cut short our visit to Andraxt market and the local bus service - diverted for essential roadworks - only made things worse, forcing a long walk to and from the market. We took a cab and then noticed how much prices had gone up thanks to the poor exchange rate of the Pound against the Euro. Although the Euro had gone from about 1.6 to near parity, this meant an effective 50% increase in prices for the tourist. Suddenly, everything was more expensive.
The Lacoste shop in Camp de Mar had moved round the corner, but the Perfumery had closed for good. This was a recurring theme, with shops in all resorts and Palma having gone out of business due to the recession. Everywhere were signs offering premises and apartments For Sale or To Let. However, building continues apace in Camp de Mar with several large villas - although two looked distinctly apartment block shaped regardless of what the builder told me - being constructed on the cliffside opposite the Playa hotel.
When we were last in the resort, back in May 2008, we took a hotel recommended trip to the north-east of the island that included Pollenca market and Alcudia. It was reasonably priced (then) at 25 Euros each, very enjoyable and we had a superb lunch in Puerto Pollenca at a Mexican restaurant. This year we did the journey ourselves by bus from Camp de Mar to Palma, and then express bus to Pollenca. The new bus/train/metro station in Palma makes this a breeze as all transport modes are within the same building, timetables are visible and the staff are very helpful. It's cheap too.
Our stay ended on October 30th but the hotel did not officially close until the 31st. This meant that a handful of guests were around for the closing party on the Friday night, but they had to leave the hotel for alternative accomodation on the Saturday morning - a major detail their tour operator had not told them about.
For more pictures taken during this visit, please go to our Flikr photostream.
This page last updated on Sunday, May 8th 2016