Steakhouse Old West, Cala d'Or, Mallorca ****

The restricted street around the harbor in Cala d'Or on Mallorca is plastered with restaurants and bars of all types. One really sticks out, the "Restaurante Old West".
With places like this, it is often a risk to eat there because the place exudes "tourist trap" in every way. The decoration is cool but garish, the waiters wave to you to get your attention, etc. All signals on red. However, we decided to give it a try anyway, because - bizarrely - it seems to be one of only two restaurants advertising Tapas on their menu. The other one is a smallish place flanked in polystyrene tent walls - probably to keep the Wind out. In any case, neither the location nor the view are worth considering on that one, so we went back to the Old West.

While prices are quite high (hey, you're 1st line to the harbor in one of the more expensive places on the island, what do you expect), the food quality is excellent (we had the 3-Tapas-Platter) as is the service. Very friendly and prompt.

People next to us had more traditional fare (burgers, Tex-Mex, etc.) and that looked fantastic as well.

If you're in Cala d'Or and in for American, Tex-Mex or Tapas, this restaurant is a clear winner!

Santuari de Cura, Mallorca ****

Stayed: June, 2017

We needed to stay somewhere for one night due to our vacation rental not being available on the evening we arrived on Mallorca. At first, I checked in Palma but was dismayed to find that the only affordable hotels were all, well, not so nice. Then I happened upon this location.

The drive up to the top of the "mountain" is pretty intense and likely quite challenging during the morning (as there are quite a number of bicyclists that you need to take care about), but since we arrived quite late there was almost no traffic. Despite my expectation to find the restaurant deserted at 9PM, we not only had a table with a great view of the setting sun and the plain below, but also a superb dinner at really reasonable prices.

The room was quite simple but had everything we needed, EXCEPT bug screens. And this really takes a whole star off the rating - you absolutely need to keep the window open at night in the summer (there is no A/C), but if you do - despite keeping the lights off - you'll be eaten alive. Why screens aren't installed is beyond me and really drops the total pleasure of a stay at the Santuari a few notches.

Breakfast was nice - buffet style with seating inside or outside.

All in all a really great place to stay, though due to the steep drive a stay of more than a few days is probably not going to be a vacation solution for most people.

Blau Resort Punta Reina, Porto Cristo, Mallorca **

Since we had walked through this hotel on previous vacations to Mallorca, we decided to book it, together with a flight. Our package was breakfast + dinner and since it came with a flight it was actually quite reasonable.
Since we needed to be flexible during our visit, we opted for a rental car at the airport (much cheaper than at a hotel). Parking at the hotel is tight, the "guests only" lot is packed to the hilt every evening. Keep in mind that our travel was not high-season - I expect that parking there during high season is nearly impossible.
We alway found a spot somewhere on the side of the road leading to or from reception, but this, too was sometimes difficult during our near-off-season visit.
The ladies at reception are very friendly, the men we dealt with were all rather curt or even rude. Our room was 1122, which actually gives you a sliver of ocean view if you look out over the balcony divisions. Luckily, it was a quiet room; there is a row of rooms on the hallway to the bar, with no door to block any sound - I would have asked to switch rooms had we ended up there.
While you can get down to reception using a long ramp from the drive, I found no way to get to the elevators without using stairs. Apparently, Blue doesn't cater to people in wheelchairs.
The room was large enough and had two single beds pushed together. The mattresses were a complete disaster - extremely hard and you could literally feel the springs inside. My wife's mattress actually squeaked if she moved around. Very uncomfortable.
There is a smallish TV with a jumble of channels, some with an acceptable picture quality. Not worth watching (you're not there to watch TV anyway).
There are outlets available at the desk as well as the side of each bed. The A/C was rather too warm and apparently didn't feed fresh air into the room, as the air was like downtown Manhatten during rushhour every morning.  The AC cuts out if you open the sliding door to the balcony.
The bathroom is functional, though the shower didn't stay up (I had to wedge a hair pin into the holder to keep it from sliding down) and the tub is relatively narrow and bounded by a shower curtain. Get used to that curtain to fondle your backside while you rinse down - yuck. The sink was set back extremely far, i.e. there were a good 30cm of table from the sink to the edge. Very uncomfortable when brushing your teeth or washing your hands, as you basically have to lean into the table in order to do so.
Air was apparently not exchanged at all in the bathroom - the air in there was usually even worse than in the room.
Restaurant & Food
The restaurant turned out to be your typical, loud, bustling mass-tourism food place. Hot and cold foods were in separate rooms, which has advantages but also disadvantages. Food quality was quite good, though for breakfast the folks making fried eggs and pancakes weren't fast enough to fill demand. Forget having an omelette made to order!

Most fruit was fresh and there was always a guy making up pieces of it in one corner. Unfortunately, often the melon pieces were cut too close to the rind, making for frequent pulling of woody pieces out of your mouth.

Even though we were not there for high season, the restaurant was filled to the brink and so loud that conversing normally at a table anywhere just didn't work. We ended up just taking breakfast in the hotel and eating out for lunch and dinner as eating at the hotel simply wasn't a pleasant experience.

Also, this is the first of many tourist hotels I've been at where they expected you to bring your guest pass to meals and they would actually cross off the meal taken. Join the rest of the family 5 minutes later? Probably an issue… better all go together every time. I don't understand the need for this type of control.

Since we had a breakfast/dinner package, drinks were not included. Drinks at the bar were a bit high price-wise, but still acceptable. The restaurant is obviously not used to catering to non-AI guests, as getting and paying for a glass of wine turned out to be a bit of a nuisance.
The hotel offers free wifi - this always worked in the lobby / bar area, though the speed was spotty most of the time. Sometimes, we had good connectivity in the room, sometimes none at all.
All in all, staying at the Blue wasn't a pleasant experience, and I doubt I would do it again under most circumstances. Also, I don't plan on recommending the hotel to anyone I value as a friend.


Club Santa Ponça, Mallorca, Islas Balleares *

Mallorca is - despite much of the bad press it has received in the years past, one of our favorite places to go for a quick holiday. If you stay away from Arenal - for me a place on the same “desirable” level as Alicante - the island has some truly incredible locations to offer.
Santa Ponça isn’t necessarily one of them - it does have a nice beach, but the surrounding infrastructure is 100% tourism. Its not a bad place to go either, though, especially if you have a rental car.

Our first Mallorca vacation was in a hotel in Santa Ponça, and it was quite a nice one. When we searched for a place to go for an end-of-season week (we’d originally wanted to go to Turkey, but the club that had been recommended by a business partner decided to close Nov. 1 due to lack of business), we came across Club Santa Ponça and thought - hey, we’ve been there before, lets go!

The place has - to be fair - probably the best location in the entire area. It is built on top of the hill at the northern end of the bay and has an incredible view into the bay. The buildings themselves are traditional spanish style, not the horrid bare-concrete structures you find in town.
But really, that is where the plus points end.

I could go on and on about what is wrong with this place, but I’ll keep the list succinct and to the point. We had a chat with some folks that had been to the club five years ago, and apparently back then, there was no all inclusive package available. The two (elderly) folks were completely flabbergasted by the development and its repercussions, and I understand why. It not only pulls in a completely different crowd, but also demotes the entire restaurant crew to pick-up-dirty-plates duty.

Here’s my list of reasons you should NOT book a vacation here, in order of (my) importance:

The food is atrocious. Really. Bland, overcooked, repeat.
The walls between apartments are paper thin - apparently more so than in other mediterranean hotels I have been in. When people next door walk into their room, you think they just walked into yours.
The crowd is, at least partially, one with the “I’ve booked AI and I will use it” mentality. We had an apartment directly across from the “Comedor”, next to the pool area and diagonally across from the bar. We suffered.
I’ve never come across a hotel of this size that will have days without room service (its not uncommon in family-run pensions to not have room service on Sunday), but two days without? Really annoying!
While relatively clean, the place is completely run down. Besides the wall paint, there are no signs of renovation EVER.
Our apartment was 603, with a separate bedroom, sleeping couches in the living / eating area and a huge terrace with an incredible view. The bathroom, however, was incredibly small full of edges to hit various body parts on. I would gladly have given some terrace space to make a bigger bath!
No broom to clean up little messes, no hooks to hang something ANYWHERE!
The kids animation program consisted of Mini Disco (thanks, Geertje!). Finito. No playground, no toys, no Mini Club. The place has an unheated (but covered!) pool, but our daughter only went in it once because it was clearly too cold.
The only available internet access is three pay-per-use terminals at reception. While the rate is ok (1€ for 15 minutes), it is quite inconvenient - there is often a wait because kids are playing internet games.

Oops - so much for a short list. I think you get the picture...
GO SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR VACATION on this beautiful island!