Fashions and trends have changed a lot – thank goodness – since package holidays got going in the 1970s. I find it really interesting to see how hotels in established resorts are being updated to reflect the tastes of today’s much more demanding travellers, so I was pleased to have the chance to stay at the Riu Bravo in Mallorca.
The hotel opened in 1980 but relaunched at the end of March following a major overhaul. This is part of a scheme to drag the resort of Playa de Palma into the 21st century, which involves the revamping of several hotels and the upgrading of standards in general. Playa de Palma is on the curving bay immediately east of Palma, the Mallorcan capital. At one end is C’an Pastilla and at the other is Arenal, but theally they all merge into one.
The four-star Riu Bravo has added a floor and now has six storeys and more than 400 rooms. The big difference is that now it is all space and light – no gloomy dark colours any more. The rooms are really spacious with wooden floors, sofas covered in natural linen and turquoise cushions to liven things up. Walk-in showers have replaced baths in the bathrooms, which have windows giving natural light – very unusual in this sort of hotel. There are proper hangers too – no nasty detachable things any more. It feels like an urban hotel really, somewhere you would go for a weekend city break.
In summer, guests stay on an all-inclusive basis although half-board is available out of peak season. There is plenty of choice on the breakfast and chefs cook eggs and whatever else you fancy for you. You can sit in the large dining room or out on the terrace. The only niggle for me was that all the smokers – and there were a lot of them – sat outside. I’d have liked a no smoking area on the terrace really.
In a large hotel, the standard of service often slips when things get busy, but I was really impressed with the staff throughout the Riu Bravo, who were working very hard to keep waiting to a minimum and were really friendly and helpful to the guests.
I had a lovely lunch of gazpacho, paella and salad at Es Pillari, the outdoor restaurant by the pool and tried dinner at the main restaurant and at the new Olé space. There are two sittings at the main restaurant. I was in the second one which starts at 8.30. I turned up a bit after nine and didn’t have to queue at all. You have to book at Olé, as it is smaller, but it wasn’t busy the night I ate there. The food there is sort of modern Andalusian and it feels like a proper restaurant rather than a hotel dining room. You help yourself to tapas from a buffet to start with and choose your main course from a menu.
Being all-inclusive, you can have a beer, a glass of wine, a cocktail or a gin and tonic whenever you like without worrying about running up an enormous bill – which makes lying by the pool even more relaxing I must say.
There are now two outdoor pools – plus a swim-up bar – and an indoor pool. The gym has really good equipment and the spa is attractive with a good range of treatments – you have to pay extra for these but the prices are reasonable, which makes a bit of a change. The hydromassage pools, sauna and steam room are free to use.
Double rooms at the Riu Bravo start from around €160 per night, all inclusive. You can read the basics on my Telegraph review.