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Tuesday May 15, 2012

Majorca’s still attracting the big fish despite economic gloom

An estimated one million disgruntled Spaniards took to the streets of 80 cities on the mainland yesterday to protest about the government’s new labour reforms and spending cuts in public services. As angry chants of “Trabajo, Dignidad, Derechos” meaning “Work, Dignity, Rights” rang out from town squares from Madrid to Catalonia, here in Majorca all was blissfully calm.

Much as times are tough for many Majorcans with more than 78,000 between the ages of 25-44 without work, the economy still remains buoyant thanks to a booming tourist industry on the island which, despite a few fluctuations in the past year, has hardly waned. If anything, more Britons than ever are not only choosing to visit –Palma airport handles 23 million passengers annually- but to make Majorca their home as recent figures from the Spanish National Statistics Institute confirms. According to the latest census there are officially 23,773 Britons now living in Majorca and that figure is rising steadily year on year.

Here in Soller in the northwest of Majorca, the spanking new, luxurious five-star Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa has just opened for business, bringing a touch of eastern opulence to the unspoilt fishing port. A considerable investment, the 120 room property, subtly spread across eleven low-rise buildings aloft the cliffs overlooking the port, has classy restaurants and bars, three pools and a lavish spa. Despite Spain’s fragile economy it is already receiving a mountain of bookings and locals are flocking to sample its attractions. The expat community in the locale is particularly keen to gain spa membership and so far few with whom I’ve spoken have balked at the idea of coughing up the annual fee.

Crisis what crisis? As Stephen Dight, Managing Director for Sotheby International Realty in Mallorca and Ibiza, commented, “The Balearics are a much more aspirational destination. Fluctuations in exchange rates lessening pension income or small percentage falls in property values are unlikely to affect our British Balearic expats – they are simply not living on tight budgets.” If he’s right it seems as though the Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel may well have hit the jackpot.

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