The end of March in Magalluf and the sun is beating down on us as we sit and chat over lunch at Siso Beach, one of the great new restaurants to have opened on the front.
What’s your origin story? How did you come to be living in Mallorca?
“I didn’t actually come here to work. I came out here in 1999 on a holiday to Magalluf with 27 other lads that I played football with. One night I got split off from the rest of the group and I was looking for them when I met a man who assumed I was a worker on the strip. He offered me a job there on the spot! I was working in McDonalds in Hull at the time, and I just laughed him off.
“Anybody who’s done seasons here will know that by the end of July it is really difficult to get staff. Everyone is bedded in to their job. But I found out later that Alvaro had figured out that he had two staff who were stealing but he couldn’t get rid of them until he had hired other people to replace them. So he was literally offering anyone a job!
“Over the following days the idea began to grow on me and at the end of the holiday I decided to stay and take the job offer. I remember telling the rest of the group that I was going to stay and the coach, Bob, told all of them to gather up all their spare pesetas and toiletries, they put them all in a bin bag and gave it all to me. I remember saying goodbye to them all as they went off back to the airport in a coach, I was just stood there with my suitcase and a binbag.
“It’s a weird feeling when you are stood there on your own. You’ve lived this highlight for two weeks, 27 of us bouncing about everywhere, like we were the kings of the castle. And then I was on my own. So I turned up at the club and Alvaro said, “You want this job?” And I said, Yeah, and I’ve got my case there. And then he just said, “Have you done it before?” and I realised that this was the interview! He put me on a trial that night. I hadn’t ever worked in a bar before. I just remember from night one, the lights: anybody who’s worked in a bar or club will know, you have the cleaning lights on when you set it up and then it just hits this transition when the DJ turns the cleaning lights off and the club lights come on, and he turns on the music. And I just felt amazing from the minute he played the music, it felt right, and I ended up working in that club, Boomerangs for eleven years. I went from bar man to General Manager.”
You were running a club in the height of Magalluf’s notoriety. It was definitely seen as the villain in the British media wasn’t it?
“I’ve heard it called quite a few things! A lot of people on and off the island couldn’t see past the drunkenness of Magalluf which is unfortunate as there are some amazing restaurants and bars, and a beautiful beach. Most of the people that cast a judgement on it have never even stepped foot on that beach! But what was happening in Magalluf was also happening in other places in the UK, and around Europe as well. You know I say that every night in Magalluf is a Saturday night. And that’s how people on holiday would behave when they were here.”
What was the starting point of the changes in Magalluf?
“Magalluf became its own worst enemy, and I don’t mean that in a critical way, I have a lot of friends who work there and run businesses there. But some things got way out of control, like the organised bar crawls which led to the infamous “mamading” incident which was filmed and ended up all over the internet. That shocked a lot of people, and got the attention of the local authorities and from there I think things began to change. Some people didn’t believe that anything could happen, but I think when the Melia Hotel Group began to invest in the area they started to pay attention, and when Nikki Beach opened that was a wake up call as well. It raised the standards of everything. I think the opinion was that the bars would lead the change, but it has been the hotels: you upgrade to four and five star hotels and you are going to get a different type of guest, and then the surrounding businesses have to respond. So the places that opened up have moved with the times, and suddenly you’ve got a better quality cocktail on the table, and an improved menu. The change is inevitable. The wealthy are coming here. And people with money are coming here.”
You’re an example of the change as well. You now run your own concierge business, Connected Mallorca. What do you do?
“After I had worked at Boomerang, and then opened and ran The Red Lion, I went back to the UK for a couple of years and then came back to Mallorca. I originally came up with the idea for Connected Mallorca in 2017, but it wasn’t until 2021 that I put it into practice. It was after the lockdowns and everyone who was coming to the island was looking to go out and get into restaurants but the demand was high and they couldn’t always get a table, so I was suddenly getting calls from people asking me to help them and I realised that it was the right time to launch the concierge business. I have clients who call me and want an itinerary of the best places to go on the island. They want to have tables booked, beach clubs organised, boats chartered, whatever they want I get it organised for them. A lot of time they want to go to places which say they are sold out, so yeah, I am working with the owners of those businesses to get my clients into the places they want to go to whilst they are on holiday here. I work with private individuals, corporate groups and large groups of people as well, like hen or stag parties. Hen parties are really interesting because they always want to know exactly where they are going a while before and they want to know a lot of details about the places. I asked a maid of honour why that was and she said, “I am in a WhatsApp group with 15 other girls, we all need to know where we are going so we know what to pack and what we will be wearing!”. That made a lot of sense to me!
“I've been here for 24 years and I have a phone full of contacts. It’s my experience in the industry and my relationships with the businesses which means I can do what I do. And, I love being with people and seeing them enjoy and love the island as much as I do.”
You can find Shane on www.connectedmallorca.com
You can listen to the full interview with Shane on the Majorca Mallorca podcast released every Monday.
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