The Madness and the Magnetism of Magaluf


It’s hard to know where to start with Magaluf. From a distance, its skyline doesn’t look imposing but up close, in the centre of its concrete jungle, many of the buildings look like hands, more often than not aggressive; clenched, fisted, giving the finger, pallid white, nicotine yellow, occasionally death-like grey. Full English breakfasts are sold everywhere with seemingly military precision and bars are named after national institutions – from Eastenders to Prince William (Prince Harry only gets a kebab shop).

Waiters wear ‘I heart Sluts’ t-shirts and football matches are screened in almost every other venue. It’s not uncommon to see sun-smacked men, women and occasionally their pets nursing hangovers whilst simultaneously sipping pints at 10 in the morning. The strip for which the town is most infamously known, Punta Ballena, is a seasick glow of pulsating neon and has to be seen to be believed, not only for its tottering, teetering revellers but the police presence that monitors them.

Rumours of a rebranding away from the vertically challenged towards the debonair seem overblown even from the beginning of this three day getaway. Certainly the two hen parties sharing one blow up doll on the outbound Easy Jet plane were oblivious to such killjoy shenanigans. That said, the globally respected Meliã hotel chain moved in five years ago and the latest, more upmarket company to follow suit is Cook’s Club, careful not to identify itself so much with Shagaluf but with the duskier, more sultry sounding Calvià Beach that the resort lounges upon.

Cook’s Club Calvià has very much an 18-30s type vibe with an emphasis on smart but simple design. Recently renovated and revamped from what used to be the Globales Honolulu, the corridors betray a 60s fatigue but the rooms are crisp, clean and sizeable enough to be welcoming. The colours and textures are natural and calming which is a prescient choice as, from my balcony, I can watch foam parties playing out to danced up renditions of John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’ Or couples screaming with shock, terror and forced joy, surely, as they’re flung through the air in a glowing bungee rocket otherwise known as the Vomatron.

The hotel’s ground floor and its rear exterior are its most impressive features. Inside is uncluttered, a tribute almost, to space and gliding through it. The Ikea lamps which hang everywhere might devalue the space’s style but the large grey tiles, Italian Concrete Project (!?) are certainly elegant. There’s a gym if you need to exercise, and a cantina and bar open til 10pm and midnight, respectively, if you don’t.

Outside, there’s a fair few palm trees, a few beach like ‘retreats’ (loungers on areas of sand), another bar and two pools, one of which is an infinity pool. The infinity pool overlooks a bunch of residential flats and isn’t so popular when I’m there meaning the non-infinity pool is where the action is: large and refreshing it’s perfect for a quick cool down, an amorous frolic or even a proper swim. DJs ply their trade all day, every day and if you’re lucky (or unlucky), a bongo player might pop up and join the party. Or a more romantic saxophonist. Should this policy (music for breakfast, music for lunch, music for dinner, music for cocktails, music for late night caps) not be your cup of tea, bring noise cancelling headphones, book somewhere else or let the Sex On The Beaches, the Pornstar Martinis calm your nerves and twiddle your toes.

The ideology behind the Cook’s Club is simple: why leave the hotel when you can, well, stay in it!? You wear a wrist band which serves as both door key and credit card so the illusion of not spending money comes easily whether at a bar or in the cantina. The food is of a decent standard even if the menu isn’t always inspiring. Traditional fish, chips and mushy peas vie with lasagna for daily specials while a varied selection of pizzas could give Pizza Express a run for its money. Poké inhabits the more exotic end of the menu but the most impressive dish I tasted was a succulent salmon, cooked perfectly and encrusted in sesame seeds with a small, if not dainty clump of rice drizzled in soy sauce.

Assuming you do venture out of the hotel’s cocoon, you’ll find yourself at a cross-roads, literally and metaphorically. Take a right and you’ll end up at Punta Ballena’s strip clubs and bars upon bars upon karaokes upon silent discos upon bars upon more bars upon night clubs; one man’s Heaven is another man’s Hell and all that. If this is not your Heaven, you can take a left and venture to the other man’s Hell, a calmer, quieter beach front, full of, mutter, mutter, cough, splutter, families.

One of the more recommended restaurants on this side of town is Siso Beach. It might have the energy of an airport lounge and a turnover to match but the staff do a stellar job keeping the orders on track, the wine glasses full, the customers’ smiles shining. The calamari crocant I had were deep-fried and crispy and maybe not as fresh as I’d hoped for but the surf and turf, half lobster, half tenderloin, was most satisfying.

If you fancy a trip even further afield, Palma might well be the perfect tonic (maybe without gin!?) and at only a 25 minute drive, Majorca’s capital is a historical surprise and a cultural antidote to Magaluf. Its Santa Maria cathedral overlooks its bay and is a Gothic beauty. Its Alexander Calder and Joan Miró sculptures are iconic art treasures. As are Richard Serra’s swathes of rusting metal outside the Es Baluard Contemporary Art Museum.

Its Gaudí inspired dentist’s building, a tribute to the man himself who spent time in the city renovating the aforementioned cathedral, is playful. Its plaque commemorating Chopin and the night he spent with his mistress almost unbelievable. The amount of contemporary art galleries is impressive. And the best one, Kaplan, laudable, not plying carbon copies of second rate pop art but promoting local artists who wouldn’t look amis on a more global contemporary art canvass.

In a post-pandemic press conference last April, Alfonso Robledo, president of Ola Magaluf, the initiative formed to improve Magaluf’s reputation, confidently stated ‘drunken tourism is a thing of the past and has no place in Magaluf.’  From my brief experience, this confidence is misfounded if not a complete white-washing of the truth. The relationship between the local economy and the guzzling of alcohol are symbiotic, a distancing from which is way more complex than this simple statement gives credence to. Nonetheless if Rome wasn’t built in a day, Magaluf will not be deconstructed and rebranded in one. The gradual appearance of brands like Cook’s Club means that ‘something’ is certainly afoot and worth keeping an eye on while still sipping from your refreshing Piña Colada.

For more information about the new Cooks Club Calvia Beach, including details of offers and events, and information about other properties in the portfolio, please visit