Palma de Majorca: beyond sun, sand and sea

The ghost of the deseasonalization has returned tapping his heels through the corridors of the Ministry of Tourism. Knock, knock, knock.  He is loaded down with proposals, with a bag of broken promises accumulated over the years and wrinkles on the forehead caused by a reality that runs counter to the words that fill the breast of many politicians. Without going any further, a few days ago, the Balearic Government invested 3 billion Euros for 2015 in a range of 158 projects to promote tourism in the islands, focused on showing the destination as an alternative to the traditional and hackneyed sun and beach.

While we speak of deseasonalizing, the most visited areas in the islands close the season earlier and earlier, taking advantage of just enough summer, although in years such as this 2014 the sun and heat have been present well into November. But now there is a city suggesting ways to change: Palma de Majorca. This capital is getting up to date to attract tourists seeking alternatives to the traditional sun-sea-sand.  Cultural schedule with events aimed at international audience, hotels in the centre of Palma with boutique aesthetics and close to the concept of “experiential hotels”, as is the case of Catalonia Majorica, just in front of the sea on the Paseo Marítimo in Palma. Moreover, the offer is complemented with new luxury shops, urban spa and sports centres … It is only an initiative that needs to be consolidated but, of course, it must be considered.

Palma de Majorca Cathedral

The rest of Majorca remains stuck in the sun and beach. Nevertheless, some towns like Binissalem or Alcudia have identified their strengths (oenology and sport, in order of importance) and have developed a tourism program that can give people something to talk about all year round. Moreover, this schema change entails a necessary strengthening of the most deep-rooted and home-made local industry, recovering traditions that sun and beach had eclipsed.

Gastronomic tours around wine villages of the island, golf tourism promoted by luxury resorts on the outskirts of Palma, with golf courses; cycling in the north of Majorca, the culture and nightlife in Palma, the wellness breaks headed by Adults Only hotels with top level spa services… All them can be considered signs of change to which the administration seems to want to contribute.

However, according to the Ministry of Tourism, the focus remains very much centred in major markets (German and British), and in the recovery of national tourism market. A Spanish market that, according to data provided by the Government, has already improved 10% in 2014 compared to 2013.

What is essential is not to consider tourists as part of a market based on nationalities and try to understand the motivations that may lead to a traveler, whatever his country of origin, choosing Majorca and, specifically, Palma to spend his holiday or plan his escapades.

With the advantage of being at just two hours from almost any European city, the Palma’s administration should work on attracting all those travellers who do not plan their holiday as an awesome month of sun and beach on the Mediterranean with the whole family wearing an All-inclusive bracelet. The decision is up to the travellers, those who want a destination to spend a long holiday without fixed budget, with the intention of making the most of those 4 or 5 days, trying new experiences and feeling they are part of that destination.

Majorica Convention Centre

These travelers progressively increase their expenses, they usually prefer high quality services. They often opt for booking rooms in the centre of Palma with an upper-middle category or 4 – 5 stars hotels in the surroundings of the capital, such as Illetas, Cala Major, Son Vida and Son Antem. Playa de Palma is still focused on mass tourism, but we must recognize the efforts of private industry which, in the last two years, has invested in refurbishing several hotels in the area, improving their category and specializing them. In this sense, stand out hotels such as Iberostar Royal Cupido, converted into an Adults Only hotel with beach club, brunch, cocktails with afterwork sessions and events to attract not only those coming from other countries but also the residents seeking new spaces for their free time.

Family holidays are more difficult to deseasonalize (but not impossible). Children are the ones who set the agenda and the holiday season, which is usually Summer. Therefore, although many hotels for children in Majorca have done a good refurbishing and renewal of its product, the end of the summer season usually marks the end of the holiday: if children are in school, parents cannot travel. It’s that simple. Even though, they have increased their business income by improving their hotel category: higher added value, higher price. And it seems that travelers visiting Majorca are willing to pay that extra benefit, provided that it is indeed an extra benefit.