So on attempt number 3 to get to the Spanish island of Mallorca, I finally made it. Attempt one ended in Devon, attempt 2 in only just slightly further away Cornwall. This time an actual plane took us to the actual foreign island, woohoo! Sometimes I am a wing-it kind of person, booking the night before and jetting off without a care (or possibly a hotel) in the world. This time, with a toddler and a baby, plus 2 friends with their 2 under-4’s, this was going to take some planning to avoid possible disaster. This was to be our first family-friendly, beach, package holiday and I didn’t want to do a Hotel Texas again (the worst hotel choice I ever made, dragging 5 fellow travellers along to the worst hotel in all of Italy, that I will forever feel ashamed for).
I started out with the attitude of ‘happy to go anywhere’ and then started a way over-thought out wish list: playground with shade, toddler pool with slides, an average temperature of over 20 degrees C in May, under a 3 hour flight, no coup d’etat in the past 3 years (successful or attempted), a heated indoor pool, a buffet that even Trip Advisor likes, free ice cream, All-Inclusive option, nearby resort, no where near ‘where the party’s at’, a fridge in the room (for Weasel’s 2 pint a day milk habit) and not so expensive that we won’t have to sell a kidney to get there. One resort popped up (I do wish I could input all of that criteria in Expedia!), Protur Bonaire apartments in Cala Bona, Mallorca. Woohoo!
Look, actual shorts, palm trees and a barefoot child!
Flights: I don’t know which one of us is taking the blame for the 4am check in at Gatwick, but I will try to avoid that in future. Off-site parking then required a lot of unwanted exercise to get to the gate after the enormous queue at Boots (baby formula) and left no time for breakfast. Boo. The flight itself was awesome – not for its silence for sure, but for the fact that every aisle had a kid under the age of 4 in it. Every singe aisle. My kids could scream bloody murder whilst pissing in the aisles and no one would have batted an eyelid.
She managed to keep herself busy with the iPad and nursery bear
Transfer: hadn’t put a whole lot of thought into the transfers. An hour and a half doesn’t seem like much until you have 4 tired, hungry children, 2 requiring the loo and 2 requiring nappy changes, bored after being confined to the airplane for 2 hours. And now you shove them in the coach? Good luck! Word of advice – toilets, nappy changes, coffees (not for toddlers obviously) and might have been a wise choice. Saying that, before children, the time you had after coaches dropped you off was always too long. With kids, you find yourself running around barely making it anywhere before the door shuts/the gate closes/you get shouted at.
Hotel: Pure amazingness. Having an apartment and all-inclusive meant we didn’t have to stress about how much Weasel was going to eat plus we had the kitchen to use for milk storage and microwave sterilising (although you could hire sterilisers there if you wanted). They seemed to have designed the buildings so that despite having loads of rooms and buildings, nothing was more than a short walk away. It also had awesome features like a kids’ disco after dinner every night (after which you get the hilarity of walking to your room hearing every other room have bedtime meltdown, hopefully somewhat worse than what you were about to experience) and a laundry facilities (at cost). The soft play area looked a bit small and boring, but the kids loved it and kept asking to go. It’s definitely one for toddlers though and is reserved for age 3 and under.
Despite our worries, Weasel really enjoyed sleeping on the sofa bed and it was wide enough despite some Trip Advisor reviews
Covered playground (obligatory shot with nursery bear)
Pools: The big pool was beyond too cold, and from what I heard from other guests the water doesn’t really get much warmer. There were a few little round pools for young’uns to splash around in though and a heated indoor pool letting Weasel et al have a good proper swim. The main selling point has to be the kids splashy slide pool complete with pirate ship. Weasel did need a wetsuit to cope (and still barely managed a short time in) but other hardier (mostly northern) kids seemed to spend ages in there. With a shade-providing roof over a lot of it, you can be happy about letting them run round without worrying too much and I’m sure it would feel warmer had it been over 21 degrees out in the sun. And best of all for parents is that there’s a second bar with a second free ice-cream cabinet right there. Yes, I developed a nice 8 a day habit, totally diet ruining but soooo worth it.
Food: Probably the best buffet I’ve ever seen. In addition to us parents being happy campers, the kiddos had their own little buffet with kid-friendly foods, plastic dishes and tiny forks. Weasel loved it. The Italian restaurant (one visit included in half-board or AI) wasn’t good for kids – slow, huge portions and food that made us adults ill (thankfully the kids didn’t eat the whiffy smoked salmon). Before kids I definitely would have avoided buffets if at all possible, but with fussy toddlers, choice and speed make it ideal. And if that weren’t enough, because of our flight being too early to get breakfast, they delivered food to our room the night before. Oddly, our tour rep had no idea and advised us to go to grab food quickly to take with us in the 10 minutes we would have had. It’s such a small thing, but made me super happy that they did it without any fuss.
Our food that just appeared in our room the night before
Cala Bona and Cala Millor: Stretched along the narrow beach, there are tons of shops selling tat to blow the toddlers’ spending money, supermarkets to pick up whatever you need and places to stop for coffee. We were a short walk from the lovely marina area, although never managed to really work out when the glass-bottomed boat trips were. There were no waves at all, great for toddlers, even if they were only dipping their toes in. Sadly the sand was a little dry for castles, but it didn’t stop them trying. The seaweed that washes up through the winter into rotten, smelly piles appears to be cleared on the first Saturday in May, so we had a few days where we didn’t venture onto the sand. This would definitely be a watch-out.
And poor nursery bear
Here’s a grumpy Weasel refusing to walk and stealing her sister’s pushchair at the marina
Sneaking out for spritzes at Panetosto in Cala Bona
Everyone needs a ladybird outfit for their babies, no matter how much their Husband protests
Verdict: Based on research this place was just about the best value for money and toddler friendly in the Med, and lived up to all of our expectations. The playgrounds, pools and facilities were all awesome and location was great for exploring. I do wonder what you would do on a rainy day, but I’m guessing you’d encounter that issue in most holiday destinations.