Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Awards ceremonies. You know the sort of thing. Oscars, BAFTAs and the like: Gwyneth squirting tears and dear, dear David Niven sending his fridge. And then there are the annual awards given out by the "Travel Trade Gazette" (TTG). Is any awards ceremony not glittering? That of the TTG was, because they said so. All the worthies of the travel industry and Austin Healey, to boot. But hopefully he didn't boot anyone. He was there, it seems, more because he was a "star" of "Strictly Come Dancing". Was he really. Be careful with the star turn. I once attended a do where a well-known, former BBC weatherman went down like a lead weather balloon when he littered his after-dinner ents with so-called jokes of questionable racial content. At least it wasn't the Central Synagogue's annual get-together. And with that connection ... I have previously mentioned my Henry Kissinger story, but not the fact that when he made his speech in New Orleans he had to stop and ask what audience he was actually addressing. Speech-making by cut and paste, and a fat cheque, to boot. Not only if you're Austin Healey.

Be all this as it may. The TTG's annual awards, and the list is long enough to take up a weekend break, were held last week. The nominations were ... ? Among those for "trade-facing website of the year" and "travel gives back" - whatever they are - were those for hotel chain of the year. Six nominees, three of them Mallorcan. And the winner was ... ? Iberostar. Riu and Sol Melia were the two other Mallorca-based chains.

Clearly, this accolade was bestowed not solely because of Iberostar's hotels on the island - it is an international player and an important one - but the hotels in the area (six of them in Alcúdia and Playa de Muro) exude a class and distinction that is well worthy of the company being awarded the top honour. While there is some navel-gazing in respect of some of the island's hotel stock in comparison with the newer holiday destinations of Turkey and Egypt and so on, Iberostar impresses with its commitment to constant improvement. A winter does not pass without major renovation in at least one of its establishments; renovation, moreover, which has created a certain differentiation, such as the high-tech styling of the Playa de Muro Village reception, within the context of a strong and visible brand image and corporate identity: the Iberostar "star" is one of the iconic symbols of local hospitality.

The Iberostar hotels of Alcúdia bay are new by comparison with some others. The Club Macs are now almost forty years old, Bellevue not far behind. It is perhaps understandable that concerns are expressed about the general quality of the island's hotel stock - compared with that in competitor destinations - if one takes into account the fact that Mallorca (and Spain) was at the vanguard of mass tourism. Rather like Britain suffered from being the first European country to undergo an industrial revolution and thereby created an infrastructure destined for obsolescence because of the lack of a formula to apply, so Mallorca had no template to go by when it gave itself over to hotels. Those who followed could learn from the mistakes. The Iberostars, though, rather than the pack-em-in, sell-em-cheap philosophy, opted for one of built-in quality supported by that strong brand image to reflect and to convey this quality. This is not to be critical, especially given the sheer scale of some of the older stock. The investment required for the sort of improvements that might bring them up to the levels of the competitor destinations would be enormous. But having said that, the investment Iberostar puts in is far from insignificant. Witness, if you had, the total gutting and then refurbishment of the likes of the Albufera Playa.

Iberostar deserves its award and deserves to be recognised as a company which demonstrates how good Mallorca can be if it really tries. Stars? Several.

Just on travel, you might be interested in knowing some websites to visit which offer savings for a variety of travel needs. "The Times" has listed 33 such sites. Go here:

Yesterday's title - The Kinks, Today's title - ginger bloke and his group.


Index for September 2009

Alcúdia day of the tourist - 9 September 2009, 11 September 2009
Alcúdia Fair 2009 - 26 September 2009
Alcúdia old town shops - 1 September 2009
Balearic Government rationalisation - 5 September 2009, 6 September 2009
Barcarès - 4 September 2009, 10 September 2009, 16 September 2009
Binissalem Vermar 2009 - 22 September 2009
Catalan v. Castilian - 27 September 2009
Celebrities - 20 September 2009, 28 September 2009
Christian names - 14 September 2009, 23 September 2009
Diario de Mallorca - 29 September 2009
Fiestas - 22 September 2009
Guardia Civil - 27 September 2009
Hacienda scam - 4 September 2009
Holiday rentals - 18 September 2009
Hospital General de Muro - 28 September 2009
Hotels closing early - 17 September 2009
Iberostar - 30 September 2009
IKEA - 21 September 2009
Illegal street selling, Alcúdia - 7 September 2009
Internet and newspapers - 29 September 2009
Jamón serrano circuit, Alcúdia - 25 September 2009
Market value, invoice - 3 September 2009
Natural and butane gas - 24 September 2009
Obra Cultural Balear - 27 September 2009
Plastic bags - 11 September 2009
Posters - 8 September 2009
Puerto Alcudia's new terminal - 16 September 2009
Sa Pobla-Alcúdia railway - 12 September 2009, 13 September 2009, 16 September 2009
Social conflict - 19 September 2009
Status Quo - 2 September 2009
Storms - 14 September 2009, 17 September 2009
Sun, Sea and A&E - 28 September 2009
Tourism promotion - 6 September 2009
Travel awards - 30 September 2009
Travel writing - 15 September 2009

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