One Of Mallorca's Classier Sunshine Spots - Port Soller
If the best advert for a resort is the British couple so committed to Mallorca’s sun haven, Port Soller, that they were prepared to sell their Dorset holiday home in favour of a Spanish investment, then look no further than the wine importing duo I bumped into on the vintage train out of Palma.
I’d just spent two nights and three full days in the Mallorcan capital sampling ice cream, modern art, ensaimadas and the city’s superb cathedral but, with the prospect of a hotel move now firmly at the front of my mind, and with more bags draping from my person than a Pioneer mule, the joys of Gothic architecture and Spanish pastries, were the last thing on my mind!
“Can I help you, you appear to be struggling?” said the lady.
“I’ll be fine,” I replied, lying.
I was on my way to the Fergus Style Beach Soller Hotel at Puerto Soller but, right then, I was lugging a suitcase, neck cushion, bum bag and computer haversack onto one of the vintage carriages that formed part of the 1912 Ferrocarril De Soller vintage train.
This quaint narrow-gauge railway links the capital with Soller and its near neighbour Puerto Soller, costing between 18 and 32 euros depending on your ticket and, whilst it takes longer than a taxi or a ‘modern’ bus, it is infinitely superior if only for the stunning mountain views you pass en route, and the early 20th century carriages that you get to enjoy.
Fortunately, it was 5.30pm and the train – recommended by my Palma guide, Pedro - was fairly quiet so I was able to manhandle my bags onto the narrow carriage without too much opposition from jostling passengers.
“Where are you headed?” asked my new acquaintance.
“The FERGUS Style Beach Soller. Do you know where…………”
“I don’t believe it,” she interjected. “Michael did you hear where this chap’s heading? Sorry, I didn’t catch your name?”
“Michael, did you hear where Phil is heading? The Beach Soller!” she exclaimed without pausing for breath. “I don’t believe it. Lovely hotel. Our neighbour in the UK – she lives just two doors down from us - owns one of the apartments next door. You’ll love it. Right on the beach front and close to everything. The tram even stops just outside it. We’ve eaten there!”
Every one of my unasked questions answered in one long monologue. I was sold!
It turned out that my new friends, a couple nearing retirement, were UK wine importers from Gloucestershire, had fallen in love with Soller, and it’s port, sold their Dorset holiday home and were in the final throes of buying something in the locality from which to run their business for six months of the year.
It was like having a personal tour guide.
“The train stops two or three times en-route to Soller then you get off, walk down the ramp and wait for the vintage tram that connects you to Puerto Soller, about another 20 minutes further on.”
Before I knew it, and true to my amateur guide’s promise, a large building sporting a big ‘Fergus’ sign soon appeared on the horizon of Puerto Soller’s beautiful, curved bay. Minutes later, I was lugging my retinue of bags off the tram and walking 100 metres to the hotel check in.
Jasmine the receptionist was from Belgium and, as you might imagine, spoke word-perfect English! “I like speaking other people’s languages,” she said, “because it helps me improve.” Thank the Lord, I thought, because I can’t speak yours!
She checked me into an adjacent ‘block’, the part of the overall complex with the swimming pool, but meals were to be taken in the main building in the dining area adjacent to reception, just in front of the beach and promenade area.
The four-star FERGUS Style Soller Beach is located in the heart of the Sierra de Tramuntana mountain range on the seafront of Puerto de Sóller, and is close to all the resort’s plentiful amenities with a range of bright and breezy room options for singlets and families.
Modern and spacious, there are 80 in total, and they feature a variety of single beds, doubles, sofa pull-outs and all have TVs, hairdryers, mini bar, excellent wi-fi, a lovely shower bathroom – one of the few that didn’t actually leak onto the wider bathroom floor! – a security deposit box for the valuables and, in my case, a two-seater balcony with wall mounted drying rack, useful if you want to wash those t-shirts through. There is also an efficient daily room cleaning service and towel change.
And, whether your balcony is sea facing or not, Puerto Soller offers you some spectacular sea views and magnificent sunsets at night and, by and large, stunning weather by day with the option to decant yourself on part of the 270m beach or at the FERGUS Style Beach Soller’s pool where you can enjoy a refreshing drink from the bar while soaking up the sun in a relatively quiet enclosure.
B&B or Half Board there is a buffet restaurant which serves breakfast and dinner..
...no beach costumes at the servery please!...and the Ciales terrace restaurant serves a range of Spanish and local dishes from an a la carte menu, along with snacks, from lunchtime onwards.
And for the coffee brigade, there’s the adjacent bar salon.
“I’m 28 and began working at the age of 23,” said marine engineer Manuel.
We had struck up a conversation outside the Suculenta restaurant, just along from my hotel at Marina Tramontana but seemingly a world away from normal reality.
A slew of superyachts lined the quayside and Manuel was taking time out for a quick beer.
“Each of these yachts cost about £20m to buy, some are privately owned, others run by corporates: a day charter will cost you around £25,000 or £120,000 for a week.
"They cost £1.5m to run each year – that includes a crew of up to seven – and berthing charges in Puerto Soller are around £500 a night compared to the £3,500 it will cost you in Ibiza where I come from,” he said. His pitch was flawless and I just stopped short of buying one!
But it was the ‘tips’ that made the difference. “I’m well paid,” he added. “I have been offered two jobs this week alone. ‘They’ offer me more money and then my current employer invariably tops the new offer but, in truth, I stay because I have a great crew and we are good together. Every trip attracts a crew ‘tip’ of around £20,000 so life is good even if I never see my home!”
Fortunately his girlfriend worked on board with him!
It was a fascinating interlude and typical of the variety of people you bump into this area.
It was breakfast time once more. I was eating outside in the shaded area of the hotel’s Ciales’ restaurant.
The Ciales Restaurant by night
“Have you seen them?
“Who?" I asked, averting my gaze from that week’s copy of the Economist.
“Yes, Middle Aged Men In Lycra,” she howled. “The marketing campaign has been very successful across parts of Europe and men on bikes with figure hugging lycra can be seen everywhere,” she laughed.
It’s true, Port Soller is not only a picture postcard port but also a big cycling and hiking area and lots of people visit here with outdoor activities in mind.
You can also visit a host of less strenuous attractions from a boat trip to Sa Calobra, a hike to Cap Gross Lighthouse for beautiful views of the coast and horseshoe bay or simply a vintage tram rise to Soller market on Saturdays.
It’s only two or three hours flying time to Palma depending on your airport – Jet2 fly out of Leeds Bradford – with a 50 minute transfer to the FERGUS Style Beach Soller where you are guaranteed a warm welcome, a laid back atmosphere and little to no threat of a petrol strike in an area where shank’s pony and biking are still the favoured modes of transport with the odd vintage tram thrown in for good measure!
Jet2holidays – Balearic Islands, Majorca, Puerto Soller, 4 star Fergus Style Soller Beach, 7 nights half-board departing from Leeds Bradford on 20th October 2021.
Price: £769 per person based on 2 adults sharing, includes a 22kg baggage allowance and return transfers.
Offers a 22kg baggage allowance to Majorca from Leeds Bradford Airport along with low fares and favourable flight times. Flights start from £29 one way including taxes. For more information please visit www.jet2.com
or call 0800 408 5599. Prices and availability correct at the time
Vintage Train: www.trendesoller.com