In the summer I was lucky enough to be offered a free holiday to a four star, all inclusive resort in Majorca. The only catch? My parents and younger brother were going as well! With the remainder of my student loan already exhausted by a weekend break with my University friends it seemed like the best proposal I was going to get this summer.
My parents chose the sunny island of Majorca for our destination and the hotel Riu Palace Bonanza Playa. The island of Majorca is the largest of the three Balearic Islands and is located in the Mediterranean Sea off the south east coast of mainland Spain. The primary language spoken in Majorca is Spanish although many of the inhabitants speak English and German also to accommodate the large tourist influxes from both of these countries. The capital of the island is the cosmopolitan and fairly large city of Palma which also houses the islands airport, flight times are roughly 2-3 hours from the UK. The currency used on the island is that of Euros.
Our hotel was located in the town of Illetas (to the west of the island) which is advertised as one of the most exclusive resorts on the island. It took about 20 minutes to get to from the airport by taxi and on the numerous occasions we visited Palma the taxi took a mere 15 minutes. The town itself is in stark contrast to the neighbouring resorts of Magaluf and Palma, its calm and tranquil. This is due to it still being relatively undiscovered by most holidaymakers. Apparently the hotel staff informed us that its often compared to Monte Carlo and Marbella, offering holidays to a similar clientele. For those of you wanting to experience the shopping boutiques or nightlife of Majorca theres a bus service running every half hour from just opposite the hotel to the capital city.
There were a couple of luxurious looking restaurants located on the main street as well as a couple of boutiques and your usual tourist shops. The main bar in the area is located near the one shopping centre and called Sloanes which was a very friendly bar, designed like the interior of a ship. The only club in Illetas was called Virtual Club and consisted of a restaurant, a cocktail bar and a nighclub. It contained pure opulence inside with the restaurant occupying a heated outdoor terrace with food simply to die for. The cocktail bar was backed by relaxing music and overlooked the sea while the nightclub was built into the side of a cliff and so resembled a cliff with brilliant DJs and different rooms too. During the day there was also a daytime restaurant and what was known as the hammock area which consisted of a private beach with luxury sun loungers and waiters at your beck and call. It wasnt cheap at all but I felt like I was a film star when we visited!
The hotel itself is an eight storey cream building which upon first impact doesnt look overly appealing from the roadside. Its quite typical of most Spanish hotels however and the outside area was immaculate. The inside lobby gave a swift alteration to our impression of the hotel with marble floors, stained glass windows and antique like furniture. Check in was rapid and the receptionist was most accommodating, offering us information of the surrounding area and a guide to the public transport available to us. Porters were on hand at all times of day to carry luggage and show us to our room which was accessed via lifts.
Our rooms were on the fourth floor and overlooked the pool area and had an exquisite view of the private beach and sea. The room itself was sheer indulgence with creams and golds providing the majority of the colour scheme, double wardrobes, a seating area with a fully functional English speaking television and air conditioning at the touch of a button. To say the least the rooms were comfortable with a touch of elegance about them. The bathroom was immaculate with all the amenities one would expect to find in such a room. The balcony was of modest size and contained a table and 2 chairs to allow you to sit and appreciate the views. It was very clean and the only negative point was that you were literally only about 2 metres away from next doors balcony so could hear everything. Our room and bathroom was cleaned daily with beds being made, clothes tidied and bathrooms scrubbed thoroughly.
We were staying in the hotel on an all inclusive basis although bed and breakfast and half board were also options. The restaurant was lovely and spacious with air conditioning on at all times and waiters on hand to service your every request. It continued the theme of rich cream, gold and red colouring which was made even more elegant in an evening by the usage of candles for lighting. Breakfast was served from 7.30am to 9.30am and consisted of a varied buffet containing both cold and hot options which were cooked by chefs in front of your very eyes to ensure the freshness of the food. There was plenty to choose from with croissant, bread rolls, cereals, fresh fruit, cooked breakfast and a variety of fruit juices too. As it was self service you could eat at your leisure and make as many trips to the food as you wanted. Lunch was served in a similar fashion and contained all your usual foods such as pizzas, chips, soups, fresh meats and fishes, vegetables and a salad bar with a lovely array of desserts. The evening meal was served in quite a formal context from 6.30pm until 8.30pm and offered a starter and dessert buffet style while your main course was ordered from quite a sufficient selection and served to you at your table.
In addition to the main restaurant theres a bar which is open every evening and also a café bar which serves snacks during the day and also alcoholic beverages from midday. Theres almost every drink available that you could wish for with wine and beer being on tap as well as all your usual soft drinks and fresh water. Cocktails or other alcoholic drinks can be ordered from a barman with measures being well over the average ones you find in England.
Leisure facilities at the hotel are of a similar standard to the rest of the hotel with a fair sized outdoor pool overlooking the sea and surrounded by sun beds and parasols. I personally felt that this was the nicest area of the hotel, as there were very few young children staying in the hotel it was most relaxing to just lie by the pool and overlook the sea stretching into the distance. There was also an indoor sauna and gym which I failed to visit during my stay! 30m walk away from the hotel was the Riu Bonanza Park which boasted a terrace for sunbathing as well as a childrens play area, mini golf and tennis courts too. The hotel was fortunate enough to boast its own private beach as the main beach in Illetas is quite small and can become rather crowded in the summer months. The beach that accompanied the hotel was set back in a rounded cove with golden sands and clear blue waters, sun beds were provided for us free of charge and there was plenty to go around. The hotel staff swept the beach each morning to make sure it was clean of all rubbish from the previous day. Although there were 294 guest rooms in the hotel Id say the beach remained relatively quiet at all times with there being 50 or so people at the most on it each day of our stay.
We had little contact with the majority of the hotel staff but on all occasions we found them to be very amiable and cheerful. Throughout our holiday the bar staff were of constant entertainment to us and even knew all our names by the end of the holiday, no doubt due to my brother and Id frequent visits to the bar during the day. Each time we went theyd have a joke or a friendly smile for us and really did make our stay that extra bit more personal. The cleaners were also very agreeable and once my mum told them she loved the free body lotion (it smelt of almonds) they used to leave her an extra one every day! During our stay we didnt have a single problem but I am confidant to say that had a problem occurred it would have been sorted as efficiently and quickly as possible.
The majority of the clientele were both young and older couples and families with older children. During our entire stay we only encountered one family that had two very small children so we found the atmosphere to be quite mature and also incredibly peaceful during the day. The hotel and the resort itself are particularly suited to guests who are looking for a relaxing and soothing stay oppose to those looking for endless activities during the day and an influx of party goers at night. For those of you that do want a little more in the way of entertainment the towns of Magaluf and Palma are a short bus/taxi ride away, the cultural town of Santa Ponsa is just 10 minutes away and theres also large golf courses nearby.
Prices at the hotel range from £75 to £100 a night for 2 adults sharing a room during the summer months. We booked through Sovereign Premium Holidays (www.sovereign.com) and it cost us £2700 for the 4 of us, flights included, for a weeks all inclusive stay at the Riu Palace Bonanza Playa. Prices start at £629 for one person staying on a half board basis for 2006 summer season and at £739 for the all inclusive option.
I had a lovely time staying in Majorca, we visited in July 2005 so the temperatures were fairly high and we were lucky enough to have sunshine every single day. The hotel itself was beautiful with the rooms and facilities being decorated and maintained to a high quality while the staff were pleasant and eager to cater to your every whim. Staying on an all inclusive basis also had its benefits as drinks were free all day long and each meal time we came away feeling fully satisfied and found there to be little repetition during our week long stay. Breakfasts were the same every day but apart from that there was huge variation in the lunch and evening meals with a different meat and fish being served daily. If youre considering Majorca as a holiday destination and you fancy a fairly quiet resort and a bit of pampering then Id recommend this beautiful Riu hotel to anyone.