IT’S a pet peeve when I hear people trotting out anachronistic images of Scotland when they’ve not visited for years. So I was on shaky ground when someone asked why I didn’t write about Magaluf and I admitted it’s because I had dismissed it out of hand after a lads’ holiday in the 1990s. 

Keen not to be a hypocrite, I returned with my wife and two daughters to check out a Spanish resort that is serious about transforming its reputation.

So serious is Magaluf about ditching the ‘boozed-up Brits abroad’ reputation that it is even rebranding its name.  Xavier Pascuet, Director of Tourism for Calvia municipality, explains.

“We’ve really moved on from the big party days and today we are attracting families and people looking to relax and enjoy themselves in a less  wild way.  “Bringing in the Calvia Beach name is all part of that positive move, a move from mere quantity to more quality.”

Magaluf when I first visited was a victim of its own success. It first emerged as a resort in the 1970s, when the advent of cheap jet travel brought cold Northern Europeans to the south, in search of sunshine and an escape from their cares. 

The unerringly hospitable Mallorcans welcomed them with open arms, but by the time I visited in 1994, Magaluf was overheating; home to Europe’s largest club, which was fuelled by crowds arriving high on cheap drinks specials.  The local authorities felt compelled to intervene and new direct action legislation has come in banning pub crawls, booze cruise advertising, and cheap drinks promotions.

Walking along the waterfront, I was instantly struck by the changes. The bars are more trendy lounges now, places you would recline with a coffee or a proper cocktail rather than neck warm lager in.  I had forgotten just what a fantastic setting Magaluf enjoys.

The white sands – which are lovingly cared for – are ringed by the cobalt waters of the balmy Mediterranean, offshore isles blink back at the tree-shrouded headland and the hulk of the Tramuntana Mountains frames the scene. This natural amphitheatre is seriously blissful and quickly woos first timers like my wife and kids.

READ MORE: The jewel in the East’s coastal crown

I learned about Ola Magaluf, a new initiative coming from the grassroots, led by local restaurateurs, bars, shops and nightclubs that aims to encourage “hospitality for the climate”. I saw a visible result of the programme in the new “Hippy Market” on the waterfront. My girls flitted amongst the stalls in a family-friendly scene a million miles from my nocturnal activities the first time I descended on Magaluf.

Emblematic of this new face of Magaluf is Nikki Beach. They have brought a serious swish of Ibiza Town-style glam to Magaluf. My wife and I sipped mojitos on the poolside sofa loungers as my daughters ordered mocktails from the smart white-clad waiters. My eldest, Tara, said “this looks like a TikTok video, in a good way”.  The food couldn’t be further from British fry-ups – we tucked into lobster tagliatelle and the famous Mallorcan red prawns from Soller. 

It’s not just the waterfront that has been spruced up. Real effort has gone into making the streets more welcoming, with more greenery and pedestrianisation. There are now “green lanes” kissed with flora.  The hotel scene has changed too, with 70% of Magaluf’s hotel beds now four or five star. There is greater sustainability too – hotels are now audited on their green credentials in areas like stopping using single-use toiletries and plastic cutlery, as well as the use of local produce.

Steffano Coppola, manager of our hotel, the Sol Katmandu Park & Resort, was glad to be part of the changes. 

“Magaluf is on a journey of transformation and we are part of that. We’ve not only revamped our hotel, but our food – you can enjoy Mallorcan ensaimada buns and sweet sobrasada sausage in our restaurant. We’ve made green changes too and commitments to look after the welfare of our own staff.” 

I was impressed too at the commitment shown by massive Spanish brand Melia, which has invested in the Calvia Beach brand big time. Their roots are here, but their recent investment is staggering as they have ploughed over €200 million in. 

The National: Last time I was in Magaluf I was on a boozed-up pirate shipLast time I was in Magaluf I was on a boozed-up pirate ship (Image: Robin McKelvie)

INNSiDE Calvia Beach is the flagship with Europe’s two largest hanging rooftop pools. Just this month Cook’s Club Calvia Beach, from the swish lifestyle hotel brand, opened their hotel with an infinity pool and its own private sandy beach area.  On our last day I took a boat trip with Bladerunner.

Owner Marcel Williams explained he has literally invested in the Calvia Beach rebranding, offering a “more quality tourism experience” on his gleaming, bespoke RIB. There was no booze in sight and the rowdiest we got was blasting AC/DC on the way out.  Instead of rum punch, it was off to a quiet cove for paddleboarding, snorkelling and underwater sea scooters.

It was quite a contrast to my last Magaluf boat trip almost 30 years ago on a boozed-up pirate ship.