The joys of an all inclusive holiday: endless food, drink, and entertainment with no bills to pay and no need to leave the resort. But while these holidays allow you to completely unwind, not having to think about where the next meal is coming from or what your agenda should be, in the past I’ve also felt a little worse for wear at the end of a holiday. And it’s not unusual to leave with a smattering of guilt about the never-ending buffet blowouts and a pang of regret that I didn’t really see the country.
A five-night stay at the stunning Iberostar Collection Albufera Park was different though. Not only did I sit on the plane home from Mallorca feeling rested, relaxed and with a phone-full of dreamy photos to keep me going through winter, I also felt fitter, healthier and cultured. This was no boot camp – indulgence and Aperol Spritzes were the order of the day! But this hotel is so well situated, with so many incredible food and fitness options that while we treated ourselves to ice creams and disco nights, we also couldn’t resist signing up to endless inclusive activities like paddle board yoga, spinning and gym sessions. And with the sea on your doorstep, a national park a short cycle away and countless swimming pools just steps away, not to mention a buffet brimming with fresh fish, salads and fruit each day, the choices we made when it came to our schedule and our mealtimes ended up leaving us feeling fantastic.
Where is the Iberostar Collection Albufera Beach?
The Albufera Beach hotel is situated right on the beach at Playa de Muro, an unspoilt and very beautiful stretch of sand on the north-east corner of Mallorca. Backed by sand dunes, the beach feels very uncommercialised, with hotel developments short and largely hidden from view. The beach’ proximity to the Iberostar hotels (the Albufera Park where we stayed is right next door to the Albufera Beach hotel, and guests have free access to all facilities in both) means that many rooms have direct sea views, and my favourite morning, when I got up just before seven to pop down to the beach and watch the sunrise, couldn’t have been easier.
While witnessing the most beautiful and peaceful sunrise, and taking a dip in the warm, still waters, I also witnessed the early morning ritual of beach lounger grabbing! The hotel does not have its own beach loungers as it’s a fairly slim public stretch of sand, so those eager to secure an umbrella and a lounger jump out of bed each morning to do just that (and pay an additional €15 per day). I’d recommend laying a towel out on the pristine white sand and buying a sun umbrella from the nearby supermarket instead. But if lounger-grabbing is your thing, be up early!
What is there to do at the Albufera Beach hotel?
There is so much laid on activity wise at this Iberostar hotel that you can guarantee never to be bored. With kids clubs for all ages, we saw children from toddlers to teens learning skills like paddle boarding, beach volleyball and apparently there are even DJ classes!
For adults, the options are equally varied. Sign up for fitness classes is to the right of the stage (it took us a day or two to figure this out) and the classes, be it spinning, yoga or HIIT, take place in the same shaded corner. I’d really recommend spinning, the music and energy were great. And my teen and I signed up for morning paddle board yoga one day which was a fab experience – doing down dog while floating on a board in the pool was a uniquely challenging experience, and a very gentle and relaxing way to start the day.
The hotel puts on a variety of non-sporting activities too. From healthy snack making classes to Margarita cocktail making, there’s plenty to choose from. And of course eating is a big part of any holiday. You can keep track of your bookings, activities and restaurant reservations on the Iberostar App and I’d really recommend it as the options are so plentiful you can miss out if you don’t check in daily.
What is the food like at the Albufera Beach hotel?
The buffets at both the Albufera Beach and Park hotels (and you can use whichever you choose) serve really delicious food. The options and quality feel five star and having done some research on my return I see that all food is hand prepared, from fresh natural ingredients and there is an intention made to put veggies and fruit at the centre of the menu, alongside fresh fish, plant-based options and grass-fed meat. I think this is why, despite not entering into the holiday with an intention to eat healthily, we all (teens included) ended up making good choices at mealtimes. On my return to England, I’ve taken to a weekly chopping session at home to ensure chunks of fruit and large varieties of salads and veggies are available in the fridge so we can continue to make delicious, healthy choices without it feeling like a compromise.
As well as the buffets, there are three restaurants: a Mexican (Nopal), a Spanish (Marinete) and a Greek (Kyknos). I’d read in reviews that it was hard to get into these restaurants as they are quite small, but although our reservations were taken care of by the hotel, I used the app and found there were reservations available quite freely, so my advice would be to just book in as soon as you arrive. If you have to make a choice, the Marinete restaurant serving an unlimited choice of sensational Spanish tapas would be my choice. But all three offer a relaxing table-service experience with a la carte menu choices and all three were fab.
Where can you visit from the Albufera Beach?
Another big advantage of the Albufera hotels is their proximity to some fantastic tourist attractions. We spent one slightly overcast morning taking a bike ride to and around the stunning Albufera National Park – a wetlands with multiple bird-spotting platforms with a fantastic 12km bike path around the edge. You can hire bikes from the hotel (at extra but moderate cost – definitely do it!) and the path to the park is along a very quiet side road that goes alongside the busier main drag along the coast. It’s a good idea to grab a more overcast day to do this – in the heat of the summer sun I think we would have melted, and there are plenty of bikes so a last-minute decision is fine.
Another real highlight of our trip was a visit to Alcudia, a short taxi ride away. The city boasts two treats – a Roman city and a separate historic walled city, its walls dating back to the 13th century, and both are definitely worth a visit. The Roman city is fascinating – unusually future iterations of Alcudia were built a few minutes walk from the Roman remains, rather than right on top of them, so excavations have unearthed the unspoilt footprints of entire Roman villas, churches and market places, and even a largely intact amphitheatre. A small museum in the more modern Alcudia city shows some of the treasures found during the archeological work that still continues.
The existing walled city is utterly beautiful. We spent an hour strolling through the streets, squares and walking the walls. But a return to Alcudia for a night or two in a hotel there is firmly on our wish-list. It would be a great cultural add-on to a week at the Iberostar hotels.
What are the highlights of a stay at the Iberostar Albufera Beach hotel?
This really was a fantastic five-night trip for me and the rest of my family (not always a given with teenagers in tow!). The best thing about these two interconnected hotels is the variety and flexibility. For example, there is a wonderful kids pool in the centre of the resort with slides and a huge bouncing water trampoline that our boys would have adored when they were younger. The hustle for the best loungers looked fairly intense (although the hotel has anti-reservation rules) and the energy was high in this zone. For us, though, it was entirely possible to bypass the younger kid energy, by heading to the rooftop on our building where there were loungers, day beds and an infinity pool with stunning beach views, and a huge shaded area for an afternoon’s book reading out of the sun. Fresh fruit was brought around, wine, soft drinks and sangria were on tap and there were always plenty of loungers. Kids were welcome but the vibe was relaxed.
Mealtimes too had so much variety that it never felt hectic. The buffet by the kids pool was more family focussed, the one around the corner by the three classic pools which tended to attract an older crowd, was more peaceful. And the beach-side buffet at lunch had a different vibe too. People were checked in, you got shown to a table and the service was impeccable. We played a game of ‘how long can your empty plate stay on your table’ and we never managed to exceed 30 seconds!
The entertainment is also very impressive. This isn’t usually my scene, but even I got into the party mood at the ’90s show, and the family quiz after dinner, done via an app at the outside bar, was something the teens really enjoyed. My highlights were the White Party at the rooftop bar and the roof-top screening of Mamma Mia on our first night, with multi-lingual headphones and sun loungers to recline on.
There’s so much to do at this hotel, you’re bound to find something you love, but while the activities, food and service were stand out, it was the natural beauty of this unspoilt corner of Mallorca that means I’m already planing a girls-trip return with some of my friends. The added benefit of Iberostar’s commitment to sustainability (with no single-use plastics, solar panels and electric kitchens) means you feel good knowing this hotel is doing all it can to protect its environment too.
A family of 4 can stay at the Iberostar Albufera Park hotel from £210 per night