Checking in to INNSiDE Calviá Beach, Mallorca

Can the harmony of design, architecture and style really turn an entire destination’s image around? Editor Hamish Kilburn touched down in Mallorca, Spain, to check in to INNSiDE Calviá Beach, located in the heart of Magaluf, to answer that question…

Guestroom inside INNSIDE Calvia Beach with sea view of Magaluf

The last time I was here, in Mallorca, I was eight. It was only my second flight and the thought of landing on an island, in the middle of the sea, felt hair-raising – as well as frightening – as we descended from the clouds towards the sea.

Together with my family – mum, dad and two older brothers – after being mesmerised by the ragged coastline seen from the transfer bus winder, we made ourselves home in some all-inclusive resort. The hotel itself wasn’t anything special, but the family experience was. At the time, it felt like a magical concrete kingdom that came to life at night with live performances. The resort had insane pools, and it was set back from the edge of the warm and inviting Mediterranean, where we hired pedalos and broke each other’s snorkels.

In and amongst the beachside memory making, I remember catching a poster advertising a talent show. As a young, over-confident (and fearless) gymnast at the time, with a one-track mind for the Olympics, it was my time to shine. So, the extravagant, attention-seeking, cartwheeling runt of the litter signed up to get his fix of applause. Backflipping on a floor area smaller than most peoples’ living rooms took some skill, and after adding in a few twists, I was claimed the winner. “I’m the most talented person in May-or-ca,” I teased to my brothers who were more focused in who could give each other the deadest arm until one gave in during a contest of their own, determining who among them were going to concede to sleep in the dodgy camp bed in our room.

Needless to say, island life hits different as an adult. Beachside cocktails help. The ‘strip’, located just a minutes’ walk from INNSiDE Calviá Beach, is alive and kicking. The beach also full of travellers determined soaking up the dregs of summer, in balmy mid-20-degrees temperatures – not a cloud in sight. Make no mistake, this is Magaluf, but while the hotel’s position geographically is in the centre of the action, entering its glass automatic doors feels like walking through a port key that takes you away from the noise, the questionable fashion and, well, the drama. Instead, INNSiDE Calviá Beach shelters a more muted style, somewhere between lifestyle and luxury – think more smart-cas’ than formal wear.

Glass exterior of modern hotel in Magaluf

Image credit: Meliá Hotels International

The building itself is striking – a modern, white arch-like structure with buildings either side, dominate the skyline. The rooms are located in the buildings on either side, and they are connected by a bridge on the top floor that features two glass pools (more on those later). Interestingly, before INNSiDE’s significant takeover, the former resort was one concrete block, not too dissimilar to other properties nearby. “We decided to sacrifice rooms in order to create this walkway between the street and the beach so that we connect people in the city,” Alberto Lalinde Fernaud, Area Manager Director at Meliá Hotels International, told me during my stay. “This decision allowed people to move between areas freely.” The power of architecture never ceases to amaze – by creating a vortex through the structure, the whole plot now feels open and almost attached to the beach itself.

Inside (pun intended), wooden-cladded walls, contemporary design-led artefacts and books together with comfortable, and deep, furniture together with soft furnishings create an inviting ambiance in the lobby – the arrival experience is one that immediately evokes a sense of calm in a city not famous for serenity.

From the public areas to the ground-floor restaurant, the design team have made each space to reflect beachside rustic, a kind of laidback approach to interior design, but it doesn’t feeling dated or thrown together meaninglessly. Nothing is quite matching, but that’s its all part of its boutique charm.

Elsewhere, in the rooms, the Mediterranean motif continues. They are clean, crisp in design with a clever injection of natural materials, such as wooden structures creating a light boundary between the bedroom and the living area without the space feeling at all shrunken. The wetroom bathrooms feature quality brands such as GROHE (flush plates) Roca (basins), and Duravit (basins). As tranquil as the guestrooms and suites feel, though, where the hotel scores its points is on the rooftop.

Contemproary guestroom in Magaluf's INNSIDE Calvia Beach

Image credit: Meliá Hotels International

“I think this is the model to follow, hotel brands that contribute and projects that add value to the public spaces of the city of Magaluf.” – Álvaro Sans, the designer INNSiDE Calviá Beach

For people arriving with preconceptions attached to their stay, there is indeed more to Magaluf than people might expect. A rugged coastline, golden sand and crystal-clear Mediterranean waters – it’s surprising that the wellness scene, aside from cycling in the north of the island, hasn’t claimed Mallorca, as it has other Balearic islands, for its own. The destination, which feels ready to change its image, is screaming out for more hotels that feature one-off experiences instead of ‘all you can eat (and drink)’ lodgings. Cue the arrival of INNSiDE Calviá’s best kept secret – or worst, considering it’s not exactly inconspicuous.

Glass pool on roof at INNSIDE Calvia Beach

Image credit: Meliá Hotels International

“The transformation of cities is a global phenomenon,” Álvaro Sans, the designer of the hotel, told Hotel Designs. “All cities are converting to ]become] more human-centric spaces, where the car loses prominence and the passer-by becomes the king. Cities like Liverpool, Manchester or Bilbao have been humanised and why not Magaluf, a typical holiday city from the 70s of the last century, which has become out of date at the urban level but which has a magnificent bay and many possibilities to be reborn as a model city? This project breaks the existing model with an innovative brand like INNSiDE and provides a very important urban value to the city. I think this is the model to follow, hotel brands that contribute and projects that add value to the public spaces of the city of Magaluf.”

Not one, but two outdoor long and narrow pools – or as Sans describes them, “balconies to the sea” are poised on the fifth floor, both featuring glass sides and glass bottoms, which makes swimming here not for the faint-hearted. “This was a fantastic way to unite the two buildings,” he added. The power of the rooftop offering should not be overlooked, for the potential of this elevated nook could indeed take the hotel – and quite possibly the entire destination – into the wellness sphere. With ample space available, the bars and restaurant could easily be transformed for sunrise or sunset yoga sessions, or indeed wellness sessions.

Image credit: Meliá Hotels International

Evolving with the mood is something INNSiDE is innately gifted at, perhaps because of its easy-going style. Flexing its muscles in this area, and putting this ethos to the test, the hotel recently, for the second year running, became the venue for the culture and literacy festival called FLEM, allowing it to open its doors to a plethora of cultural talks, while sheltering live music sets from noon until late. The result was a mix of locals and travellers coming together to immerse themselves in the experience, learning one or a few things new during their stay.

> Since you’re here, why not read another Meliá Hotels International hotel review

Main image credit: INNSiDE by Meliá