Sunday 26 February 2017

Boozy resort of Magaluf now a family-friendly haven, authorities claim

197 tourists 'removed' from hotels this year

Hugh Morris

Magaluf, Mallorca (Majorca)
Magaluf, Mallorca (Majorca)
Punta Ballena, Magaluf, in 2014. Photo: JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images
Punta Ballena, Magaluf in 2014. Photo: JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images
Punta Ballena, Magaluf, in 2014. Photo: JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images
Screen grab taken from PA Video of a sign on the Punta Ballena strip in Magaluf, Spain, as the town saw tough new rules cracking down on drunkenness come into force at midnight on June 15 - but the resort still witnessed the debauched scenes that have made it infamous. PA Video/PA Wire

So long, 'Shagaluf'? Majorca's infamous resort has changed utterly in just a year, its authorities have claimed.

Magaluf, the Spanish resort known best for the debauchery and alcohol-fuelled antics that gave rise to its rude moniker, “Shagaluf”, has transformed itself into a family-friendly up-market resort, just one year into a five year regeneration plan.

This is the claim made by the triumvirate of organisations - the police, the town hall and the resort’s hotel association - behind the project to shed the Majorcan town of its lewd and loutish party reputation so that it can attract more families with young children, adult couples and activity-keen travellers.

A crackdown on bad behaviour was first launched in 2015, in part a response to a film of an 18-year-old woman performing sex acts on 24 men during a pub crawl on the Punta Ballena strip that went viral.

Fines of up to €3,000 were introduced for those caught drinking, urinating or stripping off in the street, as well as new laws against “balconing” (the craze of jumping from hotel balconies), and limits on the numbers of bar crawls and the way they are run.

The rules have been added to an ambitious five-year plan to revamp the resort and its image, with an increase in the number of four-star hotels and as much as €240 million of investment.

Punta Ballena, Magaluf, in 2014. Photo: JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images
Punta Ballena, Magaluf, in 2014. Photo: JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images

“All companies, big, medium and small are extremely happy with the changes that have occurred,” a spokesperson behind the regeneration said.

“Companies established in Magaluf a long time ago believed in the destination’s potential and its capacity to evolve and become a leading tourism spot again. The launch of new hotels, infrastructures and leisure facilities have positively surprised managers at how fast the transformation in clientele has been achieved.”

The group says that the number of families in the resort, which sits on the south-west coast of the Balearic Island, has risen, as has the number of couples, while “young travellers” has fallen by 9pc compared to 2016.

In 2015 the authorities opted for an educational approach towards misdemeanours, only using fines as a last resort.

However, this summer they took a “hard line”, issuing 114 fines to tourists “for non-civic behaviour”, and penalising 12 businesses for allowing it.

The resort’s end of season statistics also showed that there were fewer accidents this year, with four tourists injured and two deaths recorded as suicide. A total of 197 tourists, up 70 per cent on 2015, were “removed” from hotels and asked to leave.

Punta Ballena, Magaluf in 2014. Photo: JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images
Punta Ballena, Magaluf in 2014. Photo: JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images

Last year the mayor of Calvia, the municipality which covers Magaluf, said that a year’s crackdown - which included the posting of British police to the resort - had been an unexpected success.

“People are quite surprised that it worked so fast,” he said. “We have improved the experience for tourists and we are now no longer in the news for bad coverage. There has been a major decrease in infractions, arrests, balconing and all kinds of illegal or anti-social behaviour.”

Travel writer Anna Nicholas visited this summer.

“I think it's going to be a long process to really bring about changes and the likes of Melia [one of the hotel groups involved in the project] has been very brave in sticking its neck out to make the first move to a more up-market and less tacky resort,” she said.

Screen grab taken from PA Video of a sign on the Punta Ballena strip in Magaluf, Spain, as the town saw tough new rules cracking down on drunkenness come into force at midnight on June 15 - but the resort still witnessed the debauched scenes that have made it infamous. PA Video/PA Wire
Screen grab taken from PA Video of a sign on the Punta Ballena strip in Magaluf, Spain, as the town saw tough new rules cracking down on drunkenness come into force at midnight on June 15 - but the resort still witnessed the debauched scenes that have made it infamous. PA Video/PA Wire

However, Nicholas added that her 20-year-old son and friends had recognised that Magaluf was changing and were considering elsewhere for their summer holidays.

He is not alone in noticing a change.

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook, which offers a number of hotels in the resort, said that the tour operator was seeing a move away from the “traditional Magaluf”.

“We’ve certainly seen a rise in demand for higher quality hotels which cater for a different kind of young traveller,” the spokesperson said.

“Magaluf’s night-time scene remains very popular but we’re catering for more people who also want to explore and take advantage of everything Majorca has to offer.”

Of opponents to the regeneration, the spokesperson for the hotel association, Calvia Town Hall and Balearic Islands Civil Guard said:

“Business centred on the night-life culture were initially hesitant to the project, however they are now fully on-board as they understand and can see the future of Magaluf.”

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