"These project innovators are going to distinguish us as a preferential tourist destination." Thus spake Manuel Onieva, mayor of Calviá, and with his words, he probably put a considerable number of noses out of joint, those belonging to mayors of other resort towns. These other mayors will already know that they are second-class tourist-resort citizens, but they don't need their noses being rubbed in it as well as being put out of joint.
Onieva was speaking in the context of the announcement of the venture between Meliá Hotels International and Katmandu Park whereby the Sol Magalluf Park hotel will become the Sol Katmandu Resort. Themed hotels have become the vogue and when you have a theme virtually on your doorstep, i.e. the House of Katmandu, why not integrate it as a theme?
Innovative it is and Meliá are going further in introducing a so-called "Sol Fun Pass", an entertainment card that will apparently guarantee the best prices for entrance to Katmandu and to Golf Fantasia to clients of its Sol brand of hotels in Magalluf and Palmanova. In essence, this is a dose of added value to guests as well an added incentive for tourists to choose Meliá, and is part also of Meliá's vision of the Sol Calviá Resort and its transformation of Magalluf.
It is a further example as well of the extent to which Meliá seems to be taking Magalluf over. I suggested from the outset, when Meliá's plans were first announced for its major upgrade, that Magalluf may as well be renamed Sol Calviá Resort. Little did I know that the town hall were thinking along similar lines, though the Nova Calviá suggestion that's been doing the rounds misses the point. It is Meliá which is providing the wherewithal for the new Magalluf, so why not indeed just rename the place Sol Calviá Resort?
To come back to Onieva's preferential tourist destination; how mayors in other resort towns must be looking on at what is happening in Magalluf with envy and probably no small amount of anxiety. The revamp, which now includes the new Katmandu theme, is going to make other resorts look tired by comparison, and some of them are tired enough without the bright, shiny new beast of Magalluf beaming lights of innovation.
The anxiety would stem from the fact that Magalluf is not only becoming a preferential tourist destination in the sense that tourists will prefer to go there than elsewhere it has also been granted preferential status in terms of the attention being lavished on it. But this is not preferential treatment as a consequence of governmental favouritism, it owes everything to Meliá.
Another old resort, Alcúdia (just to take an example), would bite the hands off a hotel chain that came up with similar plans. Meliá would be most unlikely to be that chain, as it operates only one hotel in Alcúdia. Magalluf and Meliá go together like the horse and carriage.
It is the concentration of hotels under the same ownership that has facilitated Meliá's plans. Such concentration of ownership doesn't necessarily occur elsewhere. In Alcúdia, it certainly doesn't. In its main tourist centre, that part of the resort some three kilometres away from its port centre, ownership is fragmented, but there is always the Bellevue question.
This vast complex, saddled with debt and all manner of horrors for years, would, were a visionary organisation with massively deep pockets to contemplate such a thing, make an ideal location for some transformational theming. If not on the same scale as that in Magalluf, there is nevertheless tremendous scope, which includes the fact that currently the site can accommodate around 5,000 people.
There again, perhaps simply seeking to ape what is occurring in Magalluf is not the right approach. Magalluf will end up, even if it doesn't have its name changed, as a re-branded resort with an emphasis on holiday fun of a less unsophisticated type than it is currently known for. Fun should always be uppermost in delivering the goods to hoildaymakers, but there are different types of fun, so perhaps Alcúdia really should go all out to make itself what it has wanted to, which is a centre of sports tourism, rather than do it in the half-baked fashion it has been doing until now.
Whatever other resorts might dream up, there is one aspect in which they find it hard to be competitive, and this is the level of attraction that exists both within Magalluf and close by it. These attractions are an additional means by which Magalluf has preferential status bestowed on it. And with the onset of themed hotels as attractions, it enhances this status. Mayor Onieva is not wrong.
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