Well I’m back from another trip, 1 week in wonderful Majorca again. This time staying in Magalluf, somewhere I must admit a few years ago I said would never want to stay. But times and people change and I really enjoyed my time staying in Palma Nova last year and spending time in Magalluf. So when the Santa Lucia Hotel (my home last year) was not available for the dates I wanted to travel, I came across / was recommended the Sol Guadalupe hotel.
So to the trip, and I can promise regular readers this won’t be as long as some of my reviews, it won’t be short! But it won’t be quite the Magnum Opus I can sometimes produce. That phrase used with all humility, and stemming from my limited vocabulary resulting in my inability to think of another phrase for long winded review!
So the trip started at a time I don’t see too often... 2:30am Monday morning the 11th July. I awoke from an almost non-existent sleep. Having filmed a Wedding on the Saturday and a Dance Show on the Sunday, and having my holiday on the Monday there was a fair amount of brain over-ride going on.
I drove to Cardiff Airport, which for those not in the know isn’t actually in Cardiff, it’s almost 12 miles away. Well in the spirit of full disclosure actually I drove straight past Cardiff Airport, on the way to the car park equivalent of Brigadoon!
Brigadoon? Well as I approached Barry (home of Cardiff Airport ... I kid you not) I was engulfed in really thick mist. Add to this I had already cheated, driving to the car park the Monday before, a journey undertaken as the directions given had scared me a little:
“DON’T USE SAT-NAV to find us ... YOU WON’T”
and other helpful nuggets like
“...set your milometer to zero at the PC World store” ...
“ ...at 2.4 miles” do this ...
“at 6.4 miles” do that
“at 7.4 miles” do ...
When actually what they could have said, and saved me a lot of grey hairs was:
“Drive to Cardiff Airport and at the main roundabout immediately in front of the terminal building proceed straight ahead for ** miles and take a left!”
This was why I say Brigadoon! Oh yea for younger readers, “Brigadoon” is a musical about a fictional town that appears out of the mist only once every 100 years! Being impossible to find at any other time. :o)
I had booked this parking about a week earlier, for two reasons:
1 -Some bright spark has decided that you should no longer be able to book parking at Wales National Airport! You can turn up and HOPE there is space, not my idea of fun when you have a set check in time, especially when that un-bookable space is most certainly charged for at a premium.
2- It was a reasonably priced seemingly professional service, near the airport.
But hey I got there no problems on the day. Was met by a driver in the office with a mini-bus outside engine running, who took my details and my keys and drove me straight to the airport. A very professional and friendly start to the holiday from Highwayman Secure Parking. I would most definitely use, and have no hesitation in recommending their service again and again.
I enter the airport to be greeted by closed Check in desks. However, I was early, and there were about 10 people ahead of me in 2 queues. I joined the shorter queue behind a family: Mam, Dad and two ... well Barbie’s to be honest. Two young blonde ladies in black trousers, neon pink matching jackets and full make-up that would have put Jordan to shame.
When Check in opened I quickly realised I’d chosen the wrong queue. As by the time the Stag Party that had joined the other (longer) queue AFTER me, were successfully checked in and happily on their way to the Departure area, the family in front of me were attempting to get their bags accepted!
I eventually got through and got to security behind ... The Barbies! Who were going through every item in their (extensive) make-up bags asking “is this classed as a liquid?” I honestly think this was the point where I saw a Security officer lose the will to live! I mean if THEY didn’t know what was a liquid how the hell should a 50 something MALE Customs officer
I checked in, and in good time was called to my flight, a short walk, short further wait and we boarded. I had paid extra to BMI Baby to have reserved seating. I was seat 1A on both journeys, so basically I was the door man of the flight! It meant I had the extra legroom I require and the journey out was uneventful. As I like all my flights!
One observation though, actually more a question to all you larger gentlemen out there: Which system do you follow? The crouch, or the inverted lean and pray?
... I am of course referring to that minefield of trying to take a pee in an aeroplane toilet! I mean I was bending so far backwards in the toilet on this flight I kid you not I was using radar at most times!
I landed at Palma to lovely weather, disembarked, and collected my suitcase with its mangled lock, really, if they don’t want you to lock it SAY SO!
Then wonder of wonders my mobile actually worked! A first for me as I almost always have to yell at someone to get the pre-arranged access I pay for to work.
As I entered the arrivals lounge I quickly scanned to room to see a smartly dressed Gent holding a board with my name on it. At this point every cliché of James Bond arriving at an exotic location flashed through my mind. The gent was from Galitrans the firm that I had booked transfers with, based on recommendation from Majorcaforum.com (and using the discount code they offer). He took my bag, escorted me to a VERY nice silver ...Car!
Sorry not a car sort of guy, it had 4 wheels on the outside and another on this inside so fine with me!
I was delivered in good time, and air conditioned comfort to my home for the next 7 days the Sol Guadalupe Hotel in Magalluf.
Okay when I arrived I was behind two couples who were given their keys and sent on their merry way immediately, so I thought “Hey my luck may be in here”. Unfortunately when I get to the desk I am informed that my room isn’t ready, and to come back after 2pm, this being about 10:45am. In fairness this isn’t a complaint as check in is stated as after 2pm.
So I was shown where I could leave my bags and I took my trusty iPod, bought a pint, and settled down to watch my favourite current obsession “The West Wing”, a series I completely missed when it was originally broadcast, but which I am currently working my way through voraciously, the whole box set.
While I sat there I had possibly the most disturbing incident of my whole trip, I look up from the screen of the iPod just as a French gentleman wandered passed chatting to his family in a very small pair of Budgie Smugglers ... Yech!
Just before 2pm I chanced my arm asked again at reception to be told my room was ready.
One suggestion as I know they do this in Las Vegas, but a nice idea may be taking customers mobiles and ringing them when their room is ready? Or having the facility to get a message to them if they chose to wait in a specific location, Bar etc.? A Little thing but a nice touch, as for all I know the room could have been ready half hour after I initially left reception.
I then headed up in one of the lifts to the third floor, where I was lucky enough to have a pool facing room (without extra charge).
I think rather than do a day by day blow by blow report from this point I’ll review the hotel and then give highlights / observations of the rest of the trip.
So, Sol Guadalupe:
Good Points I get to my room and it is all that was promised, light, modern, functional, very nicely decorated, with a balcony, air conditioning & a ceiling fan, fridge (extra charge) and inside the double wardrobe a safe (extra charge). Also, a flat screen TV with at least 5 English channels, and what looked to me suspiciously like a double bed. I mention this as I have read some reviews that said even couples were given two singles. I paid for the safe and fridge immediately.
The Pool was massive, and, unlike some others, I managed to get a sun bed every day (although in fairness I was only looking for one). Yes there appeared to be a rush around the 8:30am mark, I first spotted this as I looked out my window first day and there were no towels on beds. I got ready, walked down for breakfast taking a towel with me, to be greeted by only a few single beds dotted around, all in the space of 10 – 20 mins.
The food was great: a varied selection, hot, when it should have been, and cold when applicable. The service I found without exception to be professional and courteous and in almost all cases friendly as well. I did not see the “No shorts” rule enforced in the dining room at all whilst I was there. I did however see one young diner turned away as he was wearing a vest and his friends allowed in wearing t-shirts.
The cleaners were exemplary, cleaning every day and changing all the towels at the same time, they were, to a person, friendly when we crossed in the corridors.
The Entertainment: During the days there were Darts tournaments, Aqua Aerobics, Boules (spelling sic?), and a Mat thing across the pool that the kids loved running along before almost inevitable ending up falling through.
The evening, now to be honest I can best describe the parts of shows I saw as “Typical Big European Hotel Entertainment”. Some tribute acts, and some shows with the entertainment staff miming to songs on a specific theme, Horror Show, Grease Show etc. I didn’t stay for any of the shows, dipping into 1 or 2 as I was heading out for the night, but the children there obviously seemed to love the staff that spent time with them, and It certainly appeared to me the staff gave their all in all aspects of their jobs.
Sol Guadalupe: Negatives - THE WALLS ARE THIN and I MEAN THIN! Although travelling alone I felt that I was part of a “Ménage à trois” with the couple next door (without the perks!). I could hear them talking, I could hear them laughing, hell I could hear them ... Well you get the picture!
Now I know people say that all Spanish hotels are like this but I must say I found it extremely disconcerting. I may have just been lucky when I stayed at other hotels around the world and specifically at the Santa Lucia last year, in that I must have been in a room next to mice. As on that occasion, with the exception of one night I never heard them.
This is basically my one and only real complaint about this hotel. Some little niggles: maybe some bar type seating in the entertainment room so us singletons don’t need to either stand or commandeer a table for 4. Maybe availability of Pool Towels? Minor niggles.
Would I personally go back? Well, based on the whole trip, and as a solo traveller no, and I’ll give a greater explanation of the overall reasons why later.
So to the rest of the trip. It followed a similar routine, get up have breakfast, go by the pool, then go for a wander, return to the pool, retire to the room, shower, change, have the evening meal, return to the room watch a movie or TV and head out about 10pm.
So here are my observations of other aspects of the holiday, places I went, people I encountered, impressions etc.
Now and I know this is gonna sound stupid, but overall impression ... people ... LOTS OF PEOPLE. I mean I regularly visit London and have been to New York, but I felt more surrounded here than in either of those places. I think the impression was caused by the groups that seem to be the norm in Magalluf, even more so than I noticed in Palma Nova. This I think for me led to a slight sense of ...unease. Which to be fair was exacerbated by my choice to enter “Magalluf Central” on a number of occasions. I mean i’m a big guy and didn’t see any actual trouble when I was there, but the overbearing feeling for me on my own was unease.
I visited a number of bars whilst I was there (who said surprise surprise at the back) and these are my impressions:
The Piano Bar – Friendly atmosphere and staff, Sangria to die for, and it’s free with your first drink! When I first went there it was on my way back to the hotel after wandering about on the first night of my holiday. It was reasonably busy with what I got the impression were regulars, and a guy doing karaoke and singing himself. The people that went up to sing were very good, “Frank Sinatra” & “Dean Martin” stood out for me. Subsequent visits weren’t quite so busy but still I was always given a nice welcome.
The Fountain Bar – visited on Mick’s recommendation. This was about the friendliest place I went, the bar staff were welcoming, without being cloying. The entertainment, I saw Lady GaGa, Elvis & a single man Westlife & Boyzone combo [... well there is a recession I suppose :o) ] were fun. Okay there were various degrees of authenticity, but Hell I enjoyed Big Elvis in Las Vegas and he’s over 50 stone with a purpose made chair!
Manos Bar – A very large, multi-bar Bar, opposite the entrance to the Guadalupe. I called in twice and it was, as most of the places I called, quiet for the time of year, at least at the times when I went. Although apparently on the nights when Pirates is showing the place goes nuts before and after. On one occasion I did manage to speak to Tracy, and she said things have changed and her busy times were now after 11:30pm when the all-inclusive hotels close their bars. I got a nice welcome and she said “Oh I know lots of people from the Majorca Forum”. A nice lady, a good bar with reasonable beer and a place I would definitely go back to.
I ventured into BCM Square a few times and it was here that I had my strangest encounter. There I was standing minding my own business pint in hand watching the ladies ... I mean world go by! When I heard the words that struck fear to the very core of my being, no not “get a haircut”, although strangely, I did get that quite a lot over there, in various forms. Screams of Barnet Barnet (slang for haircut for the uninitiated) as I wandered along. Shouted, usually at a distance, by groups of young males coming in various shades of lobster red. To which my first thought was “Well I could cut my hair and fit in, it’s gonna be a hell of a lot harder for you to grow a brain!” :o)
No on this occasion the nouns combined to elicit a prescribed response were... “You work in Merthyr Jobcentre don’t you!” to which my initial reaction was “Oh Sh*t”. I was then further informed that the whole table were from Merthyr, so to quote an oft used Journalistic phrase “our reporter made his apologies and legged it!”
Bacos – Now I’d wanted to visit this bar last time I was in Majorca but whenever I passed it always seemed empty. This time I found out why. At least to me, it appears ... IT ALWAYS IS! Inside anyway. Yes lots of people sit outside but it’s only when the acts actually start that people seem to gravitate in.
One incident I just remembered on the third day, nothing major but I was nearly decapitated! There was I lying quietly basting by the pool. The wind was a little high, and I and about 3 other people were buzzedby a low flying umbrella! Really goes to prove that people should be given lessons before they attempt to operate complicated machinery. The life guard was soon on the scene, retrieving it from the pool and showing the poor unfortunate, and very embarrassed holiday maker where to stick it! The umbrella that is ... into the stand provided!
Observation - I travelled by car a few times whilst in Majorca, primarily getting to and from the airport, and obviously crossed many roads as a pedestrian, and did come to one irrefutable conclusion, it’s best to travel with your eyes shut! The drivers I travelled with were very professional and the journeys passed without incident, but My God! As a driver, my heart was in my mouth watching the road skills of some of the people on the roads out there!
Observation – How come the McDonalds in Magalluf don’t sell box of 20 chicken Nuggets? They lost my trade when I discovered that, well come on I’m a growing boy!
So the time came to return home, I checked out and Galitrans turned up in a mini bus for one... me. They got me to the airport, and I joined the check in line from hell. It was slow, it was populated with some really quite unhappy campers, and one who was SO drunk she informed her friends the only possible way they would let her on the plane was if she kept her sunglasses on inside the airport ... all the time!
Security was worse, it reminded me of those scenes of the massive Australian sheep stations with hundreds of people (sheep) wandering up and down and up and down through crowd management barriers to their eventual destination. By the time I eventually got through I had time to get to one shop quickly collect some duty free, wander to the gate, pay a last minute Loo visit and they were boarding my flight, and this after getting to the airport the full 2 hours before departure as suggested.
So there you have it, a shorter review than previously. Maybe not quite as positive, partly due to some personal decisions I came to whilst I was there. But I do now know when I return, and I will return to Majorca, it will be to Palma Nova. It is close enough to visit Magalluf daily, but I think for me, as suggested by I think Moocher and some others, it's more my speed.
Hope you enjoyed the review folks. Oh and thanks for all your support prior to the trip answering all the inane questions of this long haired traveller. :o)