Tuesday, January 24, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 24 January 2017

Morning high (7.38am): 11C
Forecast high: 13C; UV: 2
Three-day forecast: 25 January - Cloud, 12C; 26 January - Cloud, sun, 12C; 27 January - Cloud, 16C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North-Northeast 6 to 7 easing 5 to 6 around midday. Waves to four metres decreasing.

Wind's howling again. Hopefully should be some reasonable sun at times. As for a generally improving outlook, that's taken a step back. Tomorrow may well be wet.

Evening update (18.50): Some sun. Wind's dropped. High of 14.4C.

The Unmovable Feast Of Sebastian

Remember November 2001? If not, let me remind you. There was freak cold weather in the middle of the month and there was also the hurricane. The weather caused havoc with the island's most important fair.

Weather can occur at any time. Inca's Dijous Bo wasn't a complete victim as some of it was held indoors. But a fair is there to be held outdoors, unless the weather gods decree otherwise. Which they did in 2001. The fair, most of it therefore, was cancelled. Some events are just too complex for them to be rearranged.

The recent bad weather has created havoc with fiesta scheduling, but it is possible to push much of it to a later date. Something that wasn't postponed was the big Palma night out for Sant Sebastià, but the weather was hardly conducive to creating the type of party that was hoped for. As a consequence, there is talk of holding Sant Sebastià at some other time of the year.

The councillor for youth affairs, Aligi Molina, has said the proposal for a date change is "most interesting". It may well be most interesting, but the general reaction is leave well alone, with the mayor, José Hila, to the fore in insisting that there should be no change.

Hila has had his run-ins with Som Palma (Podemos) before over fiesta scheduling. Last summer, Eva Frade (citizen participation) said that all of the Christmas/New Year occasions traditionally held in the Plaça Cort would be moved because of building work. Oh not, they won't, said the "pact", i.e. the mayor. In the end, Eva got her way, and only the Standard festival survived.

It is therefore notable that Hila should react as quickly and as assertively as he has in heading off any further Som Palma claim on fiestas. Sant Sebastià, he said, is a winter fiesta. The town hall can't do anything about the weather. At no time has the administration planned a move for the fiestas. That's the whole administration, he was implying, including Molina.

It might be tempting, given the Podemos philosophy, to think that shifting Sant Sebastià would be an example of thumbing a nose at religion and the church. Tempting, though probably not accurate. Or it may be a case of if something is fixed (as in the date), then break it, which might also be in line with Podemos radicialism. No, not even that. Rather, it's all a question of the weather.

There are dates which aren't fixed. Easter is the most obviously movable feast, and its movement means that other celebrations have to move likewise: Carnival, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi. This doesn't particularly help when it comes to scheduling, not least for tour operators, who would probably welcome the the pope fixing the date for Easter, as he has suggested he might. But everyone's been dealing with its movability for eons and has got used to therefore never being certain when Carnival is.

Everyone has also got used to fiestas taking place on the same day (or more or less the same day with some fiestas). And Sant Sebastià is one of them. Given that he officially became Palma's patron back in the 1600s and was supposedly and finally killed on the orders of Diocletian on 20 January 287, there isn't a great deal that can be done about the date.

But the problem has long been, therefore, that Palma doesn't have a summer fiesta. There are fiestas in different parts of the city, but notwithstanding the night of fire for Sant Joan in midsummer and the lame attempt at celebrating the Virgin Mary's birth in September, there isn't a summer spectacular.

No one has as yet made a firm proposal of an alternative and later date for Sebastià, and it's highly unlikely that if anyone did, it would be followed up. But a further reason, other than just the weather, has been put forward for a move, and this has to do with Sant Antoni. It is thought in some quarters that there is confusion because they are only three days apart and that aspects of Antoni have entered Sebastià, such as the demons.

While it's true that the two can seem to merge into one and so it isn't entirely certain which saint a particular bonfire might be for, it is a bit of an overstatement to say there's confusion. After all, the two saints have been at it for centuries. As for the demons, they are an Antoni legacy which is shared by all manner of fiestas, and not only Sebastià. The argument isn't strong.

But a big summer fiesta for the Virgin Mary, well that's a suggestion that should be considered. It would be a fiesta in addition not instead. Summer and winter, and winter, as in January, is where Sebastià belongs, as does Antoni.

Monday, January 23, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 23 January 2017

Morning high (8.14am): 8.5C
Forecast high: 13C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 24 January - Cloud, sun, wind, 14C; 25 January - Cloud, sun, 13C; 26 January - Cloud, sun, 14C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 5 easing 3 to 4.

There was still some distant thunder overnight. More rain can be expected today and the north wind is likely to be strong. Rather better from tomorrow, though the improvement may only be short.

Evening update (20.00): At times things weren't too bad. Some sunny spells. But wind and rain still around. A high of 14.8C.

Xe-Lo Likes Mick

Xe-Lo and her new best friend, Mick Vidal of the PP, were all smiles. Together they had placed an obstacle in the path of the coup attempt. Xe-Lo was not for leaving, other than to walk out of parliament with Mick, if not quite in hand in hand but with her reaching for a fag, as she had so unflatteringly been seen to do when her and Mick's courtship was starting a few weeks ago.

It turned out that parliament's lawyer had produced a document requiring Xe-Lo's instant dismissal. Xe-Lo hadn't seen this and nor had Mick. Right, they said, we're off, and they were, leaving the self-proclaimed Father of the House, PSOE's Vicenç Thomas, to do some explaining. Vicenç, first vice-president of parliament (there always have to be at least two VPs for pretty much anything), had taken over the meeting because Xe-Lo, reasonably enough, said she couldn't chair it given that her job was on the line. Out came the document, one with which Vicenç had believed that the blow could be struck. Alas no, where Vicenç was concerned. At least for now. He rather fancies Xe-Lo's job, allegedly.

What were the PP playing at, the "pact" demanded to know. It was obvious what they were playing at - causing mischief. Pact-ites railed against PP irresponsibility, while the PP were rolling around the floor with laughter. The greatest institutional crisis in the history of the Balearic parliament, the pact said, and the PP were to blame. Which wasn't strictly accurate. The crisis has all been of Podemos's making.

The crisis is such that a not unreasonable question was there to be asked about this document. Who had instructed the lawyer? As Xe-Lo was (still is) president, does she not get involved in such a matter? There again, she was unlikely to go all turkey and Christmas and tell the lawyer to order her dismissal.

Given that no one has a clue what's going on at present, the race to be Xe-Lo's successor was shunted into the background. And Podemos discovered, to their horror, that one of the runners and riders - the preferred one on account of her being a member of the sisterhood - was herself being shunted into the parliament presidential sidings. Marta Maicas had been cited by a judge in respect of Montse Seijas's "denuncia" for the digital signature falsification business. If not Marta, that leaves Podemos with only the Balti man, Picornell, as a front runner.

Neither Marta nor Balti curry a great deal of favour with certain pact-ites (especially PSOE). They are looked upon as being, well, too "shouty". Parliament and Podemos may live to regret the Xe-Lo crisis, given that all parties believed she was in fact rather good at her job, when not, for instance, being on holiday in Rome. PSOE would like the Father of the House to be officially anointed as daddy. And Vicenç wouldn't say no. The greater crisis would then ensue. Podemos would lose their one real hold on power not just in the Balearics but in any Spanish region. The pact would be subject to even greater pressure than it already is.

Meanwhile, the Podemos sisterhood credentials were in fact taking a further hammering. In addition to the alleged "blackmailing" of Carmen Azpelicueta - "be a good girl, and we'll look for a job for you" - it now seems that when a woman was being interviewed for a post as an adviser at the Council of Mallorca, she was asked if she has plans to get pregnant. That is a question that cannot be asked.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 22 January 2017

Morning high (7.37am): 11.7C
Forecast high: 14C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 23 January - Rain, 14C; 24 January - Cloud, sun, wind, 14C; 25 January - Cloud, 13C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East-Northeast 5 to 6.

Another storm in the night. Wind has eased but there is likely to be more rain today and tomorrow.

Evening update (18.45): More rain, occasional thunder but some sun also. High of 13.6C.

Grease Is The Musical Word

Grease, as Frankie Valli informed us, is the word. It is also, among other things, the time, the place, the motion. Just at present, as in today, the time is seven this evening, the place is Palma's auditorium, and motion is, well, "Grease".

The musical is in town, as it is from time to time and in other towns. "Frozen" has been with us, the musical versions of "Tarzan" and "Peter Pan" have been doing the rounds, and more or less at any time of the year one can find Michael Jackson stepping out in a musical format, to say nothing of course of "Mamma Mia".

While Mallorca has its imported musicals, what, if anything, has Mallorca contributed to the world of musicals? Well, if you go back to the fourteenth century, you'll find that religious musical theatre provided dance at the Cathedral. It might not have been "Grease", but Grease wasn't the word back then.

The various folk dance groups, such as the cossiers and cavallets, are classified by music scholars as having been part of this musical theatre tradition, so in the case of the cavallets - an import from Barcelona - this tradition was alive from the first half of the fifteenth century. A different form of musical theatre was that of the authorities. Hence, from the fourteenth century there were the minstrels and drummers of the Sala de la Universitat in Palma, the precursor to the Ajuntament.

Much of this early music was tied up with the church. The Cathedral was, for example, to acquire its own band of minstrels, and the church pretty much held a stranglehold through the liturgical dramas that had originated in mediaeval times. What broke the mould was the emergence of what might be described as the first genuinely popular musical theatre tradition. But one uses the word "popular" advisedly.

In the seventeenth century the zarzuela appeared. This genre of operatic drama was essentially a Spanish development of "masque" theatre that had originally been developed in Italy and been transported to Spain by the early sixteenth century. The zarzuela went further than the masque in that drama was incorporated into the music, but though it is described as having embraced "popular" elements, it was a theatre for the nobility. The first performance of a zarzuela is said to have been for the royal family in 1657 at the Prado palace in Madrid. Its lyrical content was by Pedro Calderón, attributed with having invented "old zarzuela".

The zarzuela was typically a comedy. It was to breed its own in-jokes and in-fighting, such as with "La comedia nueva o el café", a work by Leandro Fernández which mocked the efforts of another author of zarazuelas. As far as Mallorca was concerned, there were no notable authors. The zarzuela nevertheless found a place in Palma for the island's nobility. And that was at La Casa de las Comedias. Opened 350 years ago, it became the Teatre Principal, and following the "Bourbonisation" of Mallorca in the early eighteenth century, the essentially Bourbon tradition of the zarzuela took hold on the island and was to eventually be Catalanised as the "sarsuela".

By the nineteenth century, though, certain names were appearing who were to have a major impact not only in Mallorca but also on the mainland. Vicenç Cuyàs i Bores, born in Palma in 1816, wrote the romantic opera "La fattucchiera". Sung in Italian, its first performance was nevertheless to be considered one of the most important events in Spanish nineteenth century opera. Another name was a contemporary of Cuyàs, Francesc Porcell i Guàrdia, whose "El trovador" carried the subtitle "the first Spanish lyrical drama".

As for something that might be described as a musical, in the tradition of Broadway or Hollywood, there was to be no such development of any great significance. The Franco years were an era when the very Spanish concept of the zarzuela found greatest expression, and when music in Mallorca began to liberate itself in the sixties: it looked to pop, to folk and the Catalan "new song".

There is now, however, a fairly flourishing scene of homegrown musicals which pop up at local auditoriums and theatres. But there's nothing that competes with the imports, the made-over versions in Spanish or Catalan or sometimes in the original English. Grease is the word, and is likely to remain the word.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 21 January 2017

Morning high (7.58am): 12C
Forecast high: 14C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 22 January - Rain, sun, wind, 14C; 23 January - Rain, wind, 13C; 24 January - Rain, wind, 14C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): Northeast 7 to 8 with intervals of severe gale force 9 in the afternoon.

Fierce wind blowing. Some rain about. Very dodgy conditions by the coasts and at sea. Wind continuing to be strong tomorrow. The forecast suggesting a general improvement from Wednesday.

Evening update (19.00): Truly dreadful day. Loads of rain - over 50 litres per square metre in parts - high winds and no sun. High of 12.6C.

Madrid Discovers Holiday Rentals

Matilde Asián, the still new secretary of state for tourism, has got off on the right foot: where the hoteliers are concerned, anyway, for whom she's proving to be as good as her word. Soon into her new position she let it be known that the national government was considering a U-turn on holiday rentals. Having left regulation up to the regions, the time had arrived for Madrid to get involved.

This followed a meeting with the president of the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation, Inma Benito, who had herself been mentioned as a possible secretary of state. What has become apparent since that meeting is that Benito is playing a role broader than just representing the island's considerable hotel interests. Mallorca's federation is the most powerful of the hotel lobby groups, and Mallorca is leading the charge in Madrid for action.

Asián was at a gathering before the Fitur fair got under way which demonstrated the power of the Mallorcan/Balearic lobby. Globalia, Iberostar, Palladium, Piñero, Riu were all represented. Such is the strength of the hotel industry in the Balearics that an entirely different five could line up without any loss of power. She assured them that she will be pushing for state legislation that will not just remove confusion created by regional rentals' regulations, it will also control rentals.

What sort of legislation might emerge? Given some of the talk in Madrid, not least by former foreign affairs minister Abel Matutes, the boss of Palladium, one target could be Airbnb and its ilk. For Spain to introduce legislation that controls the collaborative economy (if only for accommodation) would be a giant step. It would be a far from easy step as well. There would be Brussels and the National Competition Commission to answer to for starters.

There again, no one surely disputes the rights of websites to promote accommodation, so long as it's legal. Tough legislation targeting illegal offer is a different matter. The weight of a state behind it would go well beyond regional efforts to tackle the illegal supply.

It is curious that the right and the left are basically in agreement on all this. They come from different points of view - in simplistic terms, defending the hoteliers or defending residential communities - but the objective is the same. Airbnb can defend itself all it likes by applying definitions, e.g. it doesn't offer "tourist" accommodation because it is merely a form of go-between, but if this is the case, then why did it announce an intention for business development in tourist resorts and not just in cities? Fundamentally, if it (and others) permit the promotion of illegal properties, they deserve anything that might come their way.

Although Asián says she's keen to remove confusion, it's debatable how much she will do this, given that regions either have legislated or are in the process of doing so. The Balearic legislation, the draft for which has received a bombardment of objections from all sides, will not just establish a framework for the regions it will also devolve powers for implementation to the island councils.

So as and when Madrid introduces its legislation, how will it impact on what's already in place? Biel Barceló says that it will be important for Madrid to clarify what powers the regions have, which is a reasonable observation, as the result of Madrid becoming involved could have precisely the opposite effect to that which Asián intends.

Friday, January 20, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 20 January 2017

Morning high (7.18am): 10.3C
Forecast high: 14C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 21 January - Rain, wind, 15C; 22 January - Rain, sun, wind, 15C; 23 January - Rain, sun, 13C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): East 5 to 6.

Rain and storm overnight. More rain can be expected. Tomorrow, there is an amber alert for wind, with forecast strengths at present suggesting the wind will be severe.

Evening update (21.45): Well that was a rotten day. Storm and heavy rain plus wind, eased somewhat and then storm and rain returned in the early evening. High of 12.7C.

The Consensus Of Repetition

I've been struggling to discover one redeeming feature in Donald Trump. I think I may have found it. Nonsense. His capacity for talking it (more often than not tweeting it) is matched by a capacity for making the nonsense interesting. Dangerous he may be, totally barking he almost certainly is, but at least DT possesses a perverse entertainment quality which stems from the fact that no one has the slightest idea what lunacy he's next about to utter. Off-message, I guess one calls it. And populist.

DT is symptomatic of a new breed which makes the script up as it goes along. Into this category also fall Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, for whom one might apply a collective noun for their manic musings - a barrage of Farage, a jocularity of Johnson. If only Boris had stuck to Have I Got News For You. He didn't, and so the joke wears rather thin when one realises that he actually appears to mean what he says and is a foreign secretary, to boot.

All this weird off-the-cuffness is of course designed to appeal to publics suffocated by the alternative brand of nonsense: speaking for hours without ever saying anything relevant, meaningful or remotely entertaining. Gone, therefore, are the days of Campbell-led Blairising. It might have all done the trick in 1997 (in fact did), but by the end you just wanted to reach inside the TV screen and give him a good punch.

All of this brings me to our home-grown political talent, such as it is; and by home-grown, I mean Mallorcan. It was suggested recently that former presidents Jaume Matas and José Ramón Bauzá have generated "antibodies" which will prevent there being a Trump in Mallorca. The theory is that because of corruption (Matas) and the Catalan offensive, among other things, of Bauzá, the political body can no longer be harmed by invading disease. At least I think that's the theory, as I'm not sure that it follows.

But whether there might be a Trump or not, the current lot most certainly do not display any sign of wandering off the carefully scripted path of repetitious irrelevance. This was brought home to me in the course of learning what the president had to say in Madrid about tourism, closely followed by the verbally meandering mayor of Palma. Was it possible, I was wondering, for them to ever refer to tourism without mentioning a) a lengthening of the season, b) the sustainability of tourism, and c) a quality of employment? Seemingly, it isn't possible.

Do they think anyone takes any notice of this stuff? So pre-scripted is it that in rare idle moments (and trust me they are rare), I have penned occasional news reports in advance, and pretty accurate they turned out to be when the actual copy was presented.

With President Armengol there is of course her insistence on "consensus and dialogue" - and yes, you can work this into news stories in advance without too much fear of being inaccurate. Such is the repetition that the Partido Popular now take the rise out of her by parroting it, while when it crops up - time and time again - it gives the impression of parody. Can't she think of some other vacuous remark? It would appear not.

Then we have the news management, the stuff churned out to make political parties, town halls, associations for this, that and the next thing appear to be doing something. Let's take Calvia, shall we. So, and as an example, there's a story about the town hall having an action plan for urban maintenance in order to match efforts being made by hoteliers. Which is fair enough. However, is it not the case that a town hall is supposed to undertake maintenance and improvements? Isn't this a fairly fundamental reason for its existence?

One contrasts this with Alcudia. It recently, via its councillor for tourism and public works, reeled off a list of maintenance and improvement projects which have been done or are in the process of being done. Tedious it may have been, but it was an update on what the town hall had said it would be doing some months previously. And that was all that it was. An update. There were no mentions of resort transformation or anything like that, probably because there isn't one. But in Calvia, such is the need to impress on everyone the fact that there is transformation (well, Magalluf mainly) that minor stories of what the town hall might be expected to be doing are set within this transformational context and typically appended with references to lengthening the season, quality of employment, etc., etc.

We get the message(s) because we can't avoid getting them, but do we listen and take note other than to realise that we've heard them ad nauseam?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 19 January 2017

Morning high (7.25am): 10.4C
Forecast high: 13C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 20 January - Rain, wind, 14C; 21 January - Rain, wind, 14C; 22 January - Rain, 13C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North-Northeast 6 to 7 veering East 5 to 6 during the morning. Waves decreasing to two to three metres.

Another rough old morning. Not raining though. Wind and rain, themes into the weekend.

Evening update (20.00): Grey, very grey for much of the time, and windy. High of 11.7C.

What If There Hadn't Been Tourism?

Tourismphobia appears to be a mainly Spanish concept. Indeed it seems to be almost exclusively Spanish. Put tourismphobia into Google and you don't get very far, and where you do get leads you mostly to Spain, including a scholar in Girona who's been researching the phobia. Put "turismofobia" into Google, and there's a different result: five pages convinced me that this is very much a Spanish thing.

Which isn't to say that there isn't fear or dislike of tourism elsewhere, just that Spain (certain parts anyway) is where there is an actual phobia. Despite the phobia appearing to be confined to the likes of Barcelona (and Mallorca), its existence is sufficient for the national tourism minister to refer to it. Álvaro Nadal told an audience in Madrid that there needs to be an end to talk of tourismphobia. Tourism is, after all, good for you and especially for the economy. The trouble is trying to convince everyone of the fact.

The apparent existence of this phobia prompted me to seek out evidence of its historical antecedents in Mallorca. What of phobia at the time of the great boom of the 1960s? The research will take a great deal more time than a cursory examination of Google. I am aware that there was a phobia, which then meant what it should mean - a fear rather than dislike or hatred - but documentary evidence will be thin on the ground. In the 1960s, you didn't go around announcing great protests while Fraga and Franco were overseeing things.

The phobia of the sixties for the most part wasn't a phobia. It was more a case of being jocular in a disparaging way. Dubbing someone a "turista" was used to mock. The presence of actual fear was a different thing. It's not as if everyone was blind to what was happening: the destruction of coastal environments; the assault on culture; the quasi-colonialism which tourism represented. Expressing such a fear, however, was not likely to do you any great favours.

It was during the dying years of the regime and afterwards that voices emerged who spoke of the fear. One to have done so was (and is) Miquel López Crespí, the Sa Pobla-based author. Among his output are reflections of the way in which what was once Sa Pobla's beach on the bay of Alcudia was transformed into Playa de Muro. In the process all the memories of simple August nights in the 1950s became just that - memories.

While I was hunting for some evidence, I stumbled across an article from 1984 by Climent Picornell, a professor at the University of the Balearic Islands. It is germane in the sense that tourismphobia, at its most extreme, would see tourism consigned to the bin of economic activity: a point that Nadal was making, if not in quite these words. The article wasn't written from the point of view of the fear but from a consideration of what there would have been, had there not been tourism.

Hypothetical the situation may have been in 1984 and still is today, but a fear hasn't altered over the intervening 33 years. Picornell referred to the "monospecialisation" of the economy - the reliance on one sector of activity. This is something which is widely spoken about nowadays, and within the debate there are those, such as GOB, who advance the case for greater emphasis on agriculture - a reclaiming of the land that was lost during the boom. Picornell wasn't so sure about that. He suggested that an historical emigration would have continued. People would have sought out prospects in the Caribbean and South America.

His focus wasn't agriculture, however. It was industry, and he looked at the establishment and then growth of industrial estates, such as Son Castelló and Can Valero. There were reasons why Asima, the organisation behind these estates, undertook their development. One day, tourism would come to an end, spelling economic catastrophe. There could be no waiting around for this to happen. An alternative was required. 

While the estates might have presupposed the establishment of a thriving, indigenous artisanal industry, the outcome was to prove to be rather different. Even in 1984, Picornell was able to reflect on the way in which the estates had come to serve tourism or to be littered with cash and carrys. Tourism, and all that it bred, including greater consumerism, was all-consuming, and there was of course no catastrophe.

Industry which predated tourism, such as textiles and chemicals, did largely disappear. But had it been necessary for industry, rather than tourism, to dominate, what might the consequences have been? Environmentally, they could have been more savage than anything tourism has served up. And who could possibly say that its competitiveness would have come close to that of tourism? Having a phobia is one thing, eliminating it and replacing it with something else is quite another.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

MALLORCA TODAY - Weather Alcúdia and Pollensa 18 January 2017

Morning high (7.05am): 7.1C
Forecast high: 11C; UV: 1
Three-day forecast: 19 January - Cloud, wind, 13C; 20 January - Cloud, wind, 13C; 21 January - Cloud, wind, 14C.

Sea conditions (northern Mallorca; Alcúdia and Pollensa bays to 20.00): North 6 to 7. Waves of three to five metres.

Blowy again this morning, and the wind and cloud will dominate for the next few days. Aemet reckons the current spell of weather will last another week. The snow line is up to 400-500 metres.

Evening update (20.15): There was actually some sun today. Plus cloud and wind. A high of 9.8C.

From Infinity To Infinity: Hotels

My, how hotels have changed. Those of you of a certain vintage will remember how they were. I'm not referring to the likes of the Ritz, but to the holiday hotel of yore, the first recollection of which I have is from the year that England won the World Cup. It was called, may still be for all I know, the Yelton Hotel in Hastings. I'm guessing that they considered this to be a home from home type of family hotel. They were quite wrong. By that time we lived in comparative luxury. Not every part of our home, all furnishings, all walls, all everything smelt of beef lunches. In fact, none of it did, unlike the hotel. Nor did we have Double Diamond on tap, and we most certainly did not have an "entertainment" room which failed to entertain.

Three years later came the great foreign adventure. Arenal. Here was something different: the outdoor pool, for example, which contrasted greatly with the one in Bournemouth during 1967's Summer of Love. Buried in the bowels of the hotel edifice, plunging into it gave the impression that one might disappear into the centre of the Earth. They're probably still hunting for small children even now. Arenal was therefore several notches up on the sophistication ladder, despite there having been a shanty town as a bedroom view.

Sophistication is the keyword. The holidaymaking client nowadays requires sophistication. It comes in different guises, and the appreciation (or not) of its level of sophistication does rather depend on the punter's aspirations and expectations. Generally speaking, though, Mallorca and everywhere else are straining every hotelier sinew to invest in sophistication. Take the infinity pool, for example. Whereas the pool in Bournemouth in 1967 could seemingly oblige by condemning one to an ever-downward-spiralling vortex of infinity, the 2017 model is just infinite on a horizontal plane. Where does it go? What a clever trick.

Although there are still hotels trapped in a 1970s' time warp, the great majority now conform to the demands of 21st Century Tourist Man (and family). Spas are ubiquitous, chill-out zones are de rigueur, wifi has replaced the Double Diamond by being on tap and may well be transmitted by the contemporary beer tap, given the ominous and mysterious advance of the Internet of Things. It is the latter which defines this new age of the hotel experience. Technology has advanced sophistication as much as any competitive threat from Turkey and elsewhere.

The leap is as gigantic as it has been rapid. Back in the day when some people were on the pitch, thinking it was all over, the Yelton's technological aspirations could stretch no further than the telly in the telly room. Harold Wilson may have been announcing that there was a white heat of technology, but here was the tepidity of technology, if that.

Hotel technology took an age to embrace the age of technology. Since its relatively recent discovery, however, it has moved ahead with boundless energy, powering energy-efficient systems through the computations of software, marketing offers in a constant whir of Big Data profiling, converting the real to the less real - virtual reality.

How far can all this go? The possibilities presented by technology create a new infinity, virtual reality being just one aspect but a highly tantalising one. There were those who might have scoffed when some years ago I presented a vision of hotel virtual reality entertainment (Miley Cyrus was being virtually reproduced), but scoff no more.

I am not a futurist. Perhaps I've missed a vocation and the possibility of raking in shedloads purely on the basis of blue-sky thinking, as my vision of hotel robotics and virtual Miley bears a certain similarity with someone who is a futurist and who presumably doesn't come cheap.

James Canton used to work for Apple. He has advised more than a hundred companies as well as the White House. And what does James envisage? Among other things, the current-day theme hotel will be transformed into an immersive environment. Guests will experience live events and interact with them in real time or through virtual reality. In other words, the themed hotel becomes a virtual environment, capable of drawing on imagery from wherever, such as the past. In my vision, that past imagery was of the guest being shown how resorts once were, when guests left their compounds and did things like going to a bar.

Robots, says James, will be programmed in such ways to make guests' stays exceptional and personalised experiences through the provision of information, service and entertainment. And that is not a great distance away from my RepBot and making available virtual Miley entertainment.

Infinite. The possibilities are infinite. Perhaps the re-creation of the past might even be of plunging into the infinity of the Summer of Love.