These two redevelopments are both projected for 2023 tell you everything about where Mallorca’s tourism is heading. | PHILIPPE DEGROOTE


Ikos Resorts is a Greek company. A luxury holiday resorts brand, it was founded in 2014 by a global asset management company, Oaktree Capital Management. The Ikos website is a wonder of promotion.

You can lose yourself in its “welcome to infinite lifestyle” and the Ikos reinvention of the “luxury all-inclusive beach holiday”. Five-star service includes Michelin-starred gastronomy. This is not all-inclusive as we knew it. Certainly not seventy-one years ago.

Ikos has just announced that it will be acquiring the Blau Porto Petro. It will be the second Ikos in Spain. The current operators, Palma-based Grupo Roxa, will retain a minority shareholding in an enterprise that will entail investment of 110 million euros in a comprehensive redevelopment that will make this “the best resort of its range in Mallorca”.
Eat your heart out, Bill Gates and Hotel Formentor investors, in 2023 you’ll be up against this luxury complex on the other side of the island.

That these two redevelopments are both projected for 2023 tell you everything about where Mallorca’s tourism is heading. The history of the Formentor, eschewing (one presumes) all-inclusive, meets the latest incarnation of the Portopetro hotel - a five-star luxury all-inclusive in the general vicinity of the Mondragó Nature Park.

“Infinite lifestyle”, the Ikos website also extends a “welcome to a World of Freedom, now open with the Infinite Care Protocol”. Apt but at the same time somewhat ironic.

In an article of June 26, 2015, the French paper Le Figaro carried a quote from Gerard Blitz. It’s hard to say when this was uttered, as Blitz died in 1990. Whenever it was, it went thus: “Individual tourism is no longer moving towards freedom but towards perpetual setbacks. Comfort has changed the meaning. The boat and the spearfishing instructor is more important than the braided porter. Luxury is in space. A quiet, secluded beach is worth more than a large room with carpeted floors.”

His words seem somehow prophetic in a Covid era. The need for space, perpetual setbacks. What did he have in mind? Surely not a pandemic, but rather the notion that the freedom of holidaymaking was being lost - its spirit of adventure replaced by an overly packaged comfort.

Something like that, I’m guessing, for Blitz, although he handed the reigns over to Gilbrt Trigano, was convinced that Club Méditerranée had proved him right. Modern life, more modern than 1950 certainly, presented the proof - no longer moving towards freedom.

Gerard Blitz, if you are unaware, was the founder of Club Méditerranée - Club Med. There is a connection, a Mallorcan connection, between Blitz and Ikos. In 2002, the Grupo Roxa, in the guise of Blau Hotels, took over what had been the Club Méditerranée de Portopetro complex.

It was a messy end. The UGT union filed a lawsuit against Club Med and the owners of the property. Employment contracts, some 250, were being terminated. Such was the row at the time that the union hoped that the Balearic government would demonstrate some political will and step in.

Gilbert Trigano became president of Club Med in 1963. Gerard Blitz wished to pursue a passion other than holidays - yoga. He was to become the president of the European Union of Yoga in 1974.

It was Trigano who really developed the business, but initially he had been the partner in charge of supplies - tents specifically; army surplus tents. The Mallorca connection went back much further than Club Med’s association with Portopetro. It was 1950. Beach with pine trees in Alcudia was the setting for the first ever Club Med.

There is a poor quality black and white film that shows this tented village on the beach. Blitz is in it. He’s one of those catching fish. You can see club members - and that was exactly what they were (from France and Belgium) - on boats. “The boat and the spearfishing instructor is more important.”

Blitz got the idea for Club Med and for holiday villages having experienced the Olympic Club tent village in Corsica. It was on that island where the Club Méditerranée name was originally registered.

Yet it was Mallorca which played host to the first, a development which wasn’t looked upon with total favour. The church raised questions about the morality. Women wore bikinis. Franco had yet to be persuaded by the mayor of Benidorm that bikinis should be allowed.

It’s difficult to know what happened as the information is so scant, but the Alcudia club certainly didn’t survive. There’s a suggestion that it was there for two summers and that was that. Eventually, though, Club Med was to re-emerge in Portopetro. And now, Ikos is to give the site all-inclusive infinite lifestyle treatment.

It’s said that the Alcudia Club Med was the first ever all-inclusive. And Blitz had his views on this. “Money is anti-vacation. You are wasting it (vacation), if you have to put your hand in your wallet all the time.”