The fiery light of sunset turns the sky an exuberant magenta, as the last Ronseal-brown sun-bathers on the beach at Playa de Muro pack up their paraphernalia and head for home.
We, on the other hand, are just arriving. We like to visit the beach at this time of the evening, when it’s quiet and cooler, but the sea is still warm as a bath.
Our four-year-old is having a wheeze going up and down the slide of a parked pedalo, whilst his big sister constructs an intricate sand edifice and we lie prone on sun-loungers, drinking in the beautiful view of the dramatic brooding mountains.
This, dear readers, is Majorca - if that word conjures up images of that fleshpot of ill-repute that begins with ‘M’ and ends in ‘F’, fear not, away from the flop and drop resorts, this jewel of the Balearics has tons of loveliness on offer as we recently discovered.
We had booked an all-inclusive holiday through Thomson staying at the Alcudia Pins Aparthotel, part of its Family Life portfolio; Family Life is a concept geared, as the name suggests, towards those with children, with everything from spacious family-sized rooms to baby and kids’ clubs and classes for adults too. From what I experienced, it’s a winning formula.
The hotel is situated in Alcudia Bay, on Majorca’s northeast coast, about 90 minutes by coach from Palma Airport.
The first thing to say about Alcudia Pins is that it’s beachfront location, with sand the colour of honey cake and clean, safe waters, is a dream. The second is that the food is superb. The third is that the rooms and facilities are fantastic; it is kept spotlessly clean by a flotilla of cheery staff, and with supermarkets and shops on site, you won’t have to schlep miles in search of ‘essentials’ like an inflatable crocodile (beleaguered parents will understand).
On arrival my children made a bee-line for the glass-covered, fish-filled pond at the front of the hotel and were in awe of the enormous spiky wonders - towering cacti, three times their size - dotted around the complex.
Check-in was swift and friendly, and we were soon in our family room which was airy and comfortable, a perfect refuge from the spiralling Majorcan heat. It had a gorgeous sea-view, plenty of wardrobe space, a safe and a little kitchenette with fridge, cooker and microwave, and a very spacious balcony with sun loungers.
As seasoned independent travellers, we had never been on an all-inclusive holiday, but, with two pernickety eaters - one with a tendency to become fractious at feeding time, I am definitely a convert.
The resort boasts three top-notch restaurants. The buffet restaurant serves a big mix of international and Mediterranean dishes; you can watch them being prepared at show-cooking stations. There’s also a buffet restaurant which overlooks the beach, as well as a beachfront taverna, which specialises in authentic Spanish tapas and a coffee shop for frappés, smoothies, and snacks.
The food was fresh and varied, with lots of options for pesctarians, vegetarians, lactose/gluten intolerants, you name it. The starters, pastas, salads, meat and fish were fresh and tasty, the mains imaginative and the deserts decadent (we all came home a few pounds heavier).
My little epicures loved the children’s buffet, where they could help themselves to a tantalising array of goodies; a clever idea which made them feel very grown up and introduced them to a range of new tastes.
But the real highlight for them was the pool complex.
It was like Charlie’s first glimpse of the Chocolate factory when they spotted the watery wonderland of splash pools, big pools, little pools and colourful slides. There’s even a partially covered pool for little water babies and sun-loungers and four-poster day beds dot the grass.
There was always something going on at the hotel complex, from people playing table tennis or in the sports court, water aerobics, or nightly entertainment. We caught the Michael Jackson tribute act, which was kitsch but good fun.
As first-timers in Majorca, we were keen to get out and about and explore the island. Car hire through a company affiliated with the hotel was easy and straightforward, arranged through reception. A smallish vehicle cost us £130 for three days.
What we discovered is that behind Majorca’s busy resorts lies a charming hinterland of Roman towns, with huddles of bougainvillea-draped saffron-coloured cottages, and a lush dramatic countryside, with the breathtaking Serra de Tramuntana mountain range forming the northern backbone of the island.
If your hair needs raising, take a spin, like we did, out to the Cap de Formentor, the northernmost tip of the island and home to some utterly stunning scenery.
The road winds for about eight miles, with serious drops, hairpin bends and varying degrees of narrowness, but the views at the end are well worth the raised blood pressure. Standing at the top, it feels like the edge of the world.
The pretty mountain village of Deia, is a tourist honeypot, but still well worth a visit, if you don’t mind tackling the epic hairpins, twists and turns to get there. The poet Robert Graves lived here for several years and you can visit his house.
We visited the pretty village of Pollenca, watching the world go by from a little bar in the square; and arty Arta, where the town slumbered in the siesta-time sunshine.
High up in the mountains between Soller and Pollenca sits the Monastery Lluc, the island’s most important place of pilgrimage since the 13th century and breathtaking for a stroll around.
But the highlight of our tour for my kids was Soller: from here you can take a clunky, wooden tram from the town to the port, it’s touristy and pricey, but I have to admit it is fun.
Majorca is handsome and frequently fascinating. When it was time to leave, my daughter was inconsolable. Through tears she said she wanted to stay at Alcudia Pins and Majorca for ever. Enough said.