It wasn't even the school holidays, but with impending Christmas and Hogmanay festivities, we were getting pretty stressed, which is insane considering that we aren't even Christians. We are Sikhs, and happy to join in with any celebrations, any excuse for a party. Why all the stress? The logistics of family gatherings and making sure everyone is happy with their presents etc.
So Christmas 2012, we decided to take off for a week before the inevitable! And this would save all the trouble of picking presents for hubby and the children, the holiday would be their present.
We managed to pick up fairly reasonably priced flights to Palma, and our woman on the ground Dominique, helped put together a fabulous itinerary which would keep the adults and the children happy.
Our accommodation for the first part of our holiday was at the Portixol Hotel. Portixol is located approximately 15mins drive from the airport. Perfect!
As it's not peak season, and the majority of hotels in Majorca are closed for refurbishment and renovations, we got lucky with Portixol.
Upon arrival into reception the first person we encountered was a lovely young English girl! From the airport to the hotel the children had been brushing up on their Spanish! Despite this they were relieved that they didn't have to try it out immediately.
We checked into the Porthouse Suite. It stands alone from the main hotel building, off the small alleyway. Ground floor is a lounge area with wardrobes and a shower room just off to the side, and a small terrace area, which looks out onto the bay. You go up a spiral stone staircase and then reach the first floor. The staff had opened out the sofa bed and made it up, and there was also a double bed. Which meant we could all sleep on the same level, as safety is paramount when we travel with the children this suited us all fine. The wardrobe space, which is enormous, led onto a very spacious bathroom, with a corner tub and rain shower situated in a wet room.
Up another set of stairs and we were onto the terrace level, where much to the children's delight they discovered an outdoor jacuzzi! Great views from the top terrace; we couldn't wait to get in and test it out.
Portixol is located right in the port as the name suggests, in less than ten minutes in a taxi, or a forty five minute walk, you can be in the heart of Palma city.
First day at Portixol we did exactly that. It was a beautiful walk, along the promenade with great views of the beach and the ocean. We made it to the city in just a little under an hour, and took in as many of the numerous tourist sites that Palma has to offer.
Too tired to walk back we hopped into a taxi. Absolutely famished after our jaunt around town we made a fast track to the Portixol restaurant.
We had passed the restaurant at lunch time and it had been mobbed, mostly with locals, as it was off season, this showed the sign of a good restaurant.
In the evening it was less busy, just a few of the hotel guests made it down to dinner. So we more or less had the run of the place.
The chef sent out a Scrambled egg with asparagus amuse bouche. Perfect start to a lovely dinner. For starters we had Tiger Prawn Tempura, and Grilled mini scallops on the shell for the four of us to share. The Prawns came with a lovely spicy dip and disappeared from the plate before you could say eat! The mini scallops came cooked on the shell and tasted so fresh you could almost taste the sea. This is a favourite dish of ours, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
For the mains Karam (age 9) and Jeevan (age 7) both opted for the chicken breast which came with salad and French fries. It made a nice change from burger and chips! The portion was a good size, but they had seen the dessert menu and refused to finish off the fries, as they wanted to keep room for what sounded as if it would be divine the Chocolate nemesis with honey and vanilla ice cream. And who could blame them, we were all looking forward to it.
J.snr had the Portixol hamburger with bacon & cheese and a side of French fries. The burger was a good healthy size and even he had trouble finishing off his fries, not because he had his eye on the dessert menu though.
For my main I had the Sea bass, with green pea and lemon grass puree. Again I had my eye on the desserts and didn't order any side dishes.
Finally time for our eagerly anticipated dessert, the Chocolate nemesis; and it didn't disappoint. It was delicious, came with ice cream to contrast with the richness of the chocolate, too yummy for words.
To round off the night we raced back to the Porthouse suite and made hasty tracks to the third floor and dived into the hot-tub, we could hardly believe that here we were chilling in an outdoor tub mid-December. Bliss!
Breakfast at the Portixol is typical of most hotels. They have a cold buffet, with cheeses, hams etc, and also a good selection of breads. You can also order cooked breakfasts from the menu.
The children opted for cereals and bread with cheese. J.snr and I both ordered cooked breakfasts. I had eggs sunny side up with a side of grilled tomatoes, with toast. J.snr had the full works cooked breakfast. Too stuffed to move, we felt like having a quick siesta! But no time for that Dominique had arranged for us to visit The Aquarium. It was quite a distance from the hotel, so much to the children's relief, we had reception organise a taxi to take us there. Upon arrival, it was great to see that there weren't any queues; this is the great benefit of visiting during off peak season.
The Aquarium is great fun, as there are many parts of it that are interactive. We have been dragged around many aquariums in our time, yet we all managed to enjoy this one. J.snr and J.jnr got involved in all the interactive activities, feeding the fish, putting their hands in and feeling the various skins etc of the fish. Luckily I was designated chief photographer and didn't have to feel the slimy fish! Karam did her best to join in, but was also pretty disgusted by the slime! The boys being boys, really enjoyed it.
The majority of the Aquarium is housed indoors, and there is also an outdoor area, where they have a great mini-sized replica of an Amazon jungle, which was very scenic. The Aquarium was opened in 2007, and is located 500 meters from the sea. It has fifty five aquariums containing 5 million litres of salt water, more than 8,000 different specimens of around 700 different species found in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The enormous fish tank is definitely the highlight of our visit to the Aquarium. It is 33 metres long, 25 metres wide and 8.5 metres deep. The "Big Blue", is the deepest shark tank in Europe and holds 3.5 million litres of salt water. Amongst the 200 species of marine life there are four different types of shark - Blacktip Reef Shark, Smooth Hound, Sand Tiger Shark, and the Sandbar Shark. Be warned though for some reason there is a pretty bad smell in this area, and as much as poor Jeevan tried to watch as the sharks were being feed, he just couldn't stand the smell. Despite this one minor disappointment, overall we have to say that this is probably the most impressive Aquarium we have had the good fortune to visit.
Quick lunch in town, and a taxi back to the hotel for more chilling in the hot-tub.
We spent four wonderful nights at the Portixol Hotel, we were sad to leave. The staff are superb and really took great care of us and the children. It's a very child friendly hotel and we are very much looking forward to going back. It's a great location as it is not right in the tourist district, which means you can enjoy a fairly unpopulated beach, but if you take a ten minute taxi ride you can be in the heart of Palma.
Top tip: the hotel offers bikes for guests to utilise, and have a great selection of dvds if you are staying in.
Low Season: Sunday-Wednesday - 330€ and Thursday-Saturday - 380€
Mid Season: 410€
High Season: 450€
Rates are per night for 2 people (breakfast & taxes incl.)
Palma Aquarium - for a family of four to visit it costs 78€
Portixol Pool in the sunset