“ Address: Coral 2 - 4 / Cala Vinyes / Mallorca / 07184 Spain „
We had been looking forward to our holiday to Mallorca for such a long time we thought it was never going to arrive. After a hard year full of ups and downs we were more than ready for the break and had built up the trip into something that had to be the perfect getaway. Of course, a vital part of our holiday would be how good the hotel was so it is with some trepidation that we arrived at the Barcelo Cala Vinas on June 14th 2008.
Booked through Thomas Cook the Barcelo Cala Vinas is part of a chain. The hotel is situated in the quite and serene area of Cala Vinyes, Calvia. Somewhat off the beaten track, the hotel is situated twenty minutes walk from Magalluf and is just over an hour via coach transfer from Palma airport. Overlooking a beautiful little cove, the hotel is one of few tourist properties in the area with only the Cala Vinas hotel opposite for company and a couple of souvenir shops. There are only two restaurants in the area Chinese and Spanish and in truth if you like nightlife you would have to taxi or trek to Magalluf.
However, as a hotel for families with children just looking for a relaxing break the Barcelo Cala Vinas is nigh on perfect. Recently refurbished this three to four star hotel (depending on the tour operator's rating system) is a large open plan complex with both self-catering and boarding rooms. We booked half-board and arrived on our coach a little weary. Entering the expansive high ceilings of the reception any fears we might have had about the hotel immediately evaporated. Booking in was very straightforward with all our details already on the computer with electronic key cards and safe deposit keys for our rooms. We asked for adjoining rooms as there were six of us (two adults and four children) and although we did not get this on arrival, we asked at reception if the rooms could be changed and were accomodated quickly and with little fuss. Despite being a predominantly Spanish speaking hotel the level of English from reception staff was more than good enough for ignorant visitors such as ourselves.
The hotel is split into three blocks. Block one is self-catering and perhaps has the worst view of a "forest" or collection of trees but blocks two and three all have expansive sea views. We were in block three on the third floor which we found great in terms of views from the balcony and accessibility to other areas of the hotel. Entering the rooms themselves we were surprised to find a full size fridge and hob which gave us the option of cooking if we truly wished to. The bathroom had both bath and a great power shower as well a clothes maiden and the beds were immaculate with two singles that could be "zipped" together and a pull out sofa bed which was very easy to set up and store away. The patio doors led out to a lovely balcony with seating and table and the view of the cove was just magnificient.
Unfortunately, despite being spotless and being full of nice touches like complimentary toilettries there are a couple of problems. In hindsight we should have asked if there was a kettle, iron and board as there is not although there is a good hairdryer and towels. You can hire these items but the costs are expensive and it is cheaper to buy them either in Magalluf or before you leave. The air conditioning is also nothing short of non-existent. Despite the hotel insisting it was working there was only a tiny puff of air coming out in both rooms and it was unnoticeable. We took to leaving the patio doors open despite this automatically turning the system off and you will need to keep the blackout curtains closed during the day. A minor gripe is also the television which has two english news channels and then a large amount of Spanish and Portugese channels.
However, despite these issues the hotel is quite magnificient. The maid service was superb with them almost over zealous in wanting to get into your room and they were very friendly despite there being a clear language barrier. As a predominantly Spanish speaking hotel it is refreshing to get away from the English/German culture found in a lot of Mallorca and we soon found ourselves picking up the rudiments of the language.
As we were half-board we spent large portions of our day in the excellent "Ses Voltes" buffet style restaurant. Now I am usually hugely cynical of anything buffet but the food was superb throughout our fortnights stay. Breakfast was very much a free for all but food was absolutely overflowing in terms of quantity and variety. Whether it was pastries, cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurts or a good old fry up the choice was endless. Fruit juices, tea and coffee are all included and the waiting staff are incredibly efficient clearing up after you. We also found they were polite to a fault and would often play with the youngest two children. Evening meals were more formal and you are served your drinks although we were surprised at a charge for this despite being half-board. The food is truly amazing however, with show cooking and pasta, salads and seafood. Refreshingly, the Spanish style of the hotel means that although they have the usual pizzas etc they also have a "featured" traditional Mallorcean section with classics such as Paella and Tumbet and Ensaimada on offer. Perhaps, our only criticism would be the desserts which although again were plentiful, were definitely mainly "bought in" and as a result an uninspired selection of gateauxs and tarts. Despite this it is a testament to the quality and variety of the food that in two weeks we never got bored of it.
The facilities in the hotel are not extensive but we found them adequate. From a practical point of view there is a big launderette and a decent shop for basics with a larger off-site Supermarket just around the corner which is very cheap particularly for bottled water. The swimming pools are great with a traditional large chlorine pool on one level and a superb saltwater pool on another. The chlorine pool is were the entertainers hang out trying to involve you in boules, rifle shooting and table tennis. As a bunch of lazy buggers we preferred to go to the saltwater pool which was quieter and had more sun loungers free (incidentally they are free to use too) and a quieter bar. This also had the advantage of being next to a great little kids pool full of slides and such and the hotels kids club.
Speaking of the kids club we found it to be absolutely fantastic for our two younger children aged five and ten. The staff were brilliant with them almost adopting them for the duration of the holiday and there were all sorts of activities for them including making T-shirts for Euro 2008, swimming and trips to the beach. We had to sign the children in and out and the staff were very hot on safety and for a completely free service it really was excellent.
The night time entertainment was very family orientated with a lovely "mini-disco" for the children which they could happily dance too. My kids still sing the ruddy "Veo veo" song almost a month after. Some of the entertainment is a bit repetitive with nightly bingo particularly irritating before you get to the far better professional shows. These shows varied in quality but some of them were very good including Flamenco and a great acrobatic African dance troupe.
We had an affection for the hotels entertainment team as despite being undoubtedly overstretched (I don't think they have days off!) they went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and involved. Despite being one of only two English families there we were made to feel included and perhaps even had special treatment as a result as we were adopted as native Mallorceans for Euro 2008. The entertainment was all outside which was lovely in the cool air of the evening and the bar had a good variety of cheap local ales and speciality cocktails for adults and children. The entertainment only went on till half eleven so if you are one of those people who want an all nighter this perhaps is not the hotel for you. On the other hand,we quite liked the fact we could function in the morning!
If you do want to get away from the hotel it is quite easy. There are buses to Palma and Magalluf and once in Magalluf you can go pretty much anywhere. Despite the hotel being considered quite remote we managed a day trip to Palma, a boat trip around the island and a trip to both the Pirates show and Western Water Park. Busses are very cheap and air conditioned although we found the drivers not very receptive to tourists and often chose the "hackney" style cabs as a more reliable and friendlier, if more expensive alternative. Of course, the beach is available to you day and night simply by stepping out of the hotel and the sea is crystal clear. However, the loungers here are expensive at three Euros each with an extra charge for an umbrella!
On leaving the hotel you have to be out by twelve which can be a nuisance if, as we did your coach transfer is not coming until late. However, the hotel does provide a storage room for your suitcases and showers although they charge you to use a towel so you may want to use your own.
Although there are a few disadvantages to staying at the Barcelo Cala Vinas I can honestly say we absolutely loved the place and will certainly be returning in the future. The location is beautiful and the hotel has so much going for it that I can only recommend it to anyone who wants a quiet, family friendly break in the sun.
N.B: Prices available at www.barcelo.com