Review by the Camp de Mar Team: May 2015
Warum warten wir? - Why are we waiting?
We arrived at Palma airport on time at 12:30 pm, were waved through immigration, slung our promptly arrived luggage off the conveyor belt onto the free trolley, and headed for exit 6 to get the Thomson transfer coach to CDM. Another couple were already aboard the 56-seater, so we waited for the remaining passengers as promised by the two reps outside in the warm sunshine.
Time passed. A different rep boarded to assure the four of us that more people were on their way. More time passed and another person got on and told us we would be away in at least 15 minutes as soon as 'the other people' turned up.
After a total of 45 minutes waiting, the driver threw his cigarette butt to the ground, got on board and checked his manifest sheet which plainly showed: Playa Camp de Mar - 2 persons, Gran Camp de Mar - 2 persons, started the engine and we were off. Why had we been kept back for so long?
We pulled in to the resort after a forty minute transfer, said goodbye to the other couple who were staying at the 'all inclusive' Gran, and began our seven night stay at the award-winning* Playa.
Alles in ordnung - Everything was as it should be
There were plenty of familiar faces, and new ones too. Vicki was staffing reception as usual, but we now had 'little' Jose to help with the bags up to the room on the fourth floor.
No change here, the room was as we expected and the view across the bay was still spectacular. However, the once overgrown sand dunes to the left were now prime real estate complete with seven blocks of luxury apartments in various stages of construction. There was little in the way of noise as the handful of workmen pottered around on the site.
We unpacked and I headed off to the supermarket for essentials. The kiosk was closed, which was a surprise, but everything else was open.
That night (Tuesday) there was a Gala Dinner and we joined the rest of our party of six who had arrived on the Sunday before. Chef Diego had laid on an excellent array of foods to delight us all. His roast beef and Yorkshire puddings - which were the biggest and best to date - were supplemented by a mouth-watering range of starters, other main course dishes, and desserts to suit any palate or diet.
The following morning, after a satisfying breakfast, I organised our sunbeds and popped into the kiosk to get the morning papers. Heidi was on duty and she explained that although she was ready and open for business on April 31st, she was still waiting for magazines and other stock items to arrive in. Luckily, the English newspapers were there, and the other stuff was expected that afternoon.
Herr Botschafter, sind Sie wirklich uns zu verderben - Mr. Ambassador , you're really spoiling us
Last year, the Dorint hotel had leased land adjacent to the Petit Ambassador restaurant to create a beachside bar. This year, with the Dorint now the Steigenberger hotel and the building works behind, the land was a vacant lot. The restaurant was also empty, undergoing refurbishment works that looked likely to complete sometime in June. Up on the Playa's sundeck, the noise from all this building and refurbishment work was not as intrusive as you would expect.
Around the resort, dozens of apartment blocks constructed in the last five to ten years stand empty. The monstrous office block villa across the bay was listed in the local papers as the second most expensive on island at 16M euros, and that's been empty since completion about four years ago. Further out, empty or uncompleted villas dot the land either side of the road heading towards Port Andratx, yet new ones are still being built.
The spaces under the Playa hotel, one of which is occupied by the local Tourist Information Office, were being refurbished. But I do not know what for. More shops, or on-beach guest rooms perhaps? I do know that the Spar mini-market, that was next to the ramp down to the beach, has now permanently closed.
...und ich schwitzte! - ...and was I sweating!
Temperatures in early May are usually between 20 and 25 degrees, with cloudy skies punctuated by the odd sunny day or shower. This May, the thermometer hovered around 30 degrees, the highest since records began in 1963 for this time of year. Relentless sunshine poured out of a clear blue sky, giving the die-hard sunbathers more than some could cope with. Consequently, the heated pool had to be turned off so we could cool down. You could almost visualise the steam coming off people as they lowered themselves into the water!
Around the pool there is now a strapping lifeguard on duty due to new Spanish laws. This is really a good idea, but he or she (shift dependent) is only at work during the official pool opening times. If you want to keep fit outside those hours, you can do so at your own risk or take advantage of the Playa's brand new fully-equipped gymnasium.
Improvements have also been made to the Playa's bay-side restaurant. This has had plastic decking fitted, glass balustrades, and new canopies to shade diners. Some of this work was ongoing when we arrived, but had been completed by the end of our stay.
On the beach, there was no net between the island and the cliffs, so seagoing craft were not separated from the swimmers as in previous years. And with
Wir brauchen ein größeres Boot - We'e gonna need a bigger boat
The boat trip to Palma on a Saturday has been reinstated. Leaving at 8:20 am, the glass-bottomed catamaran makes the journey in about 140 minutes via Paguera and Santa Ponsa. A return costs 25 euros, or 15 euros if you want to go one way and return to CDM by bus. You get nearly four hours in town, but sometimes, that's just not enough!
With the pound strong against the Euro, and with the local economy discounting due to their recession, shopping in Mallorca has been cheaper than in eaelier years. The nearby resort of Paguera is a really good place to start, with its long promenade of shops selling all manner of quality goods. You can walk, bus it, or get a taxi there for about 5 or 6 euros depending on where you want to get dropped off. We suggest going to the Hotel Villamil and walking back to the Casa Pepe supermarket. Here, you can get a return bus or cab.
If you go the other way, from Casa Pepe into Paguera, be aware that the bus stop for getting back to CDM that was once just around the corner from the Capri ice cream parlour opposite the Villamil has been moved 100 metres further up the hill. And taxis cannot be hailed but must found at a rank - if you're very, very lucky - in one or two of the side streets off the main drag.
So lang und Danke für alle Fische Fleische - So long and thanks for all the fish meat
Our week passed very quickly and at a reasonable time on the Tuesday morning, our coach - this time half full - collected us for the transfer back to the airport. There were no other pickups, so that journey was quick. Our rep had assured us that she would be on hand to see us on the coach, and that a recorded message would be played to assist us with getting to the correct check-in desks at the airport. Neither occured.
On arrival, a rep pointed us in the direction of the massive Thomson queue that snaked its way towards about a dozen desks, each of which had an A4 sheet of paper taped to the front of it stating that our flight was on a minimum two hour delay. It's amazing that no-one knew about this till we got to the airport. Anyway, 8 euro food vouchers were dolled about half an hour after we had already eaten, but with most 'meal deals' costing in excess of that, you needed those few cents of loose change - if you could get anything that is. Many of the sandwich outlets ran out pretty quick, leaving Burger King the only choice.
We landed back in the UK three and a half hours late. Luton arrivals was quiet. With no queues at immigration, we sailed through to the baggage reclaim in record time. Unfortunately, our luggage didn't. It took 70 minutes to get from the plane, which was only about 100 yards away, to the conveyor. Meantime, three other flights landed, unloaded, and had their passengers out through last gasp duty free while we were still standing around a dormant belt. I felt sorry for the oldies and the disabled as we stood around with our £3-a-go luggage trollies none the wiser.
You may be wondering why all the headings are in German... so am I.
* Seventeen awards and certificates presented since 2003 from Thomson, TripAdvisor, Travelife and HolidayCheck.
This page last updated on Sunday, May 8th 2016