In an effort to squeeze in as many trips as possible before the arrival of our second child, my partner and I had been thinking about a short holiday in Ibiza for some time. It's a place he's always wanted to go and it's somewhere I was keen to return to with my nearly three-year-old. So, we did some research and narrowed down a short-list of family-friendly hotels in Ibiza to just one, which seemed to offer the best value for money; Grand Palladium Palace, on Playa d"en Bossa beach, near Ibiza Town.
Before we go any further, I feel the need to apologise for the photos in this review. They were all taken on my phone because I forgot my camera (a rookie mistake, I know!) and because my phone (which is this one by the way) was only a day old I hadn't quite figured out the settings on it. So, I want to apologise for them not being quite the same standard as in other posts.
FURTHER READING: Also, if you're heading to Ibiza for a less toddler-focused holiday and want to know what to wear on this famous party-island, here's an Ibiza style guide you can check out! And if you fancy touring around the Balearic islands from Ibiza you can get a ferry to nextdoor Mallorca, a beautiful island which is well worth visiting, as demonstrated by this guide to Mallorca.
Review of Grand Palladium Resort, Ibiza
If you followed my Instagram during our five-day trip to Ibiza you'll know that we had a wonderful time. The weather in mid-June was perfect (around 25-26 Celsius every day with some cloud coverage but no rain). The resort was busy but didn't feel full to capacity, and we really couldn't argue with how close it was from the airport - a ten minute, €10 taxi ride away - which was a real treat with a toddler who was itching to get in a swimming pool after the flight from Amsterdam. Personally, I'd had mixed feelings about picking a resort so close to the airport. I knew there would be a lot of air traffic - and I was right - but I can honestly say it didn't bother me. If anything, it was another thing to enjoy with my boy searching for the planes taking off as they roared into the sky. They were so close that I even had a chance to (try!) teach him some of the aircraft liveries we saw; "That one's British Airways so flying back to where your grandparents live!", and "That one's flying back to Amsterdam! Say hi to all our friends!". Of course, if you're not travelling with young children, you may have an alternative view on the noise of planes taking off very close by (it happened maybe once or twice an hour during busy times, a a little less at other times of the day).
Besides, the welcome at Grand Palladium Palace, even after such a short transfer from Ibiza airport was very warm. Our son was handed a balloon, we were given (non-alcoholic) fruit cocktails as the layout and set-up of the resort was explained, and everyone smiled as we walked through the resort to our room.
An all-inclusive resort with lots to do!
Grand Palladium Resort & Spa is actually spread out across two hotels that share facilities; Grand Palladium Palace and Grand Palladium White Island. We stayed in the former, which itself had two large swimming pool areas and a separate kids' swimming and play area. Grand Palladium White Island had at least another swimming pool and another kids' area. I say this tentatively because believe it or not we didn't actually make it over to the White Island part of the resort during our five days there. This was because there was enough for us to do in the grounds of Grand Palladium Palace, including enough places to eat.
Both resorts share restaurants so you can eat at any of them, and everyone staying in both hotels in the Grand Palladium Resort is there on an all-inclusive basis, i.e. all your drinks and food is included (yes, including alcoholic beverages!). Each hotel has a large restaurant which serves buffet-style food at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in the Grand Palladium Palace there were three other a la carte restaurants for dinner service. One of these restaurants, Portofino, was also open for lunch and this was again a buffet style meal. We went there most days for our lunch as it was close to the swimming pool we liked to camp out at. Also in Grand Palladium Palace was the so-called Sports Bar which was indeed a place to watch the World Cup games which started during our stay, and this is also where you could order bar- and fast-food style meals 24-hours a day. They also had a buffet of snack-style food, like nachos, pizza and some salad bits. This was great for us when we had a hungry toddler at random times of the day!
The standard of the food was generally pretty good with some local foods being excellently done, and others less convincing! We especially enjoyed the variety on offer in the buffets, though we tried to eat at the a la carte restaurants at night because we definitely wanted a break from buffet food by the evening - we don't have much self-control when it comes to a buffet dessert table! We enjoyed the Italian restaurant the most, though Portofino and the Mexican restaurant were still very good. All the restaurants had kids' menus and the buffet options included plenty of choice for little ones. I particularly loved the fresh fruit and salad bars at every buffet, as at 18 weeks pregnant I was keen to keep eating as healthily as possible, though I did allow myself more than a few treats! Everywhere was very family-friendly with high chairs and staff who were eager to try and make our boy laugh. You did have to book tables for the a la carte restaurants and they only allowed you to do this one day in advance so it was a risk that they would be booked up if you left it too late, but we found as long as we made a reservation in the morning when we went for breakfast we were fine.
Yes, Grand Palladium Palace is very family-friendly
In addition to staff being warm and welcoming to our little man, we also loved that there was a whole area catering for kids, including a swimming/splash pool area with slides and water features to run around in, and a kids club where we could actually leave our son for up to two hours at a time. While it was small and a little tired looking, the kids club had everything our boy wanted in terms of toys, a playground area, and lots of fun activities. I also have to praise the kids club staff who were always so happy to see our son and he would actively ask to go there most days. The kids club was a definite highlight for all three of us!
There was also a "mini disco" at 8.30pm every night in the large theatre style performance area. While it took our boy a while to warm up to all the loud music and actually fairly complicated dance moves required of some songs, he did really enjoy this and it was a great way to tire him out after dinner. There were also an abundance of high chairs at each restaurant and the whole resort area was buggy-friendly!
We never actually went to the beach as a family during our time at Grand Palladium Resort because we're not really a beach-loving kind of family (and the swimming pools were entertainment enough for all of us) but I did go for a few morning walks along the seafront by myself to get some exercise. I was amazed how clean the beach was, with beautifully clear, blue water and really not that many people there either. I think that's another bonus of Grand Palladium's location at the very end of the beach as you don't get as many people there as you would closer to Ibiza Town. There is also a natural park area just outside the beach exit to the resort, where you can go for walks or even mountain bike rides if you fancied something a bit more active.
It should (hopefully) go without saying that because the resort is family-friendly, there were a lot of families staying there, especially those with young children (and I imagine during school holiday time periods there are more older kids) so if you want an adults-only holiday, this is perhaps not the place to go though we did see several couples of all ages and groups of adults on holiday at Grand Palladium Palace. I think it depends what your tolerance for kids running around everywhere is!
A few highlights of Grand Palladium Resort & Spa
In addition from being family-friendly, having a convenient location (if you want to avoid a long transfer) and some great food options meaning you're not always eating from a buffet, there were some other highlights of our stay at Grand Palladium Palace.
It's hard to describe getting sick as a highlight but when I woke one morning with severe dizziness we had great service from the hotel in organising an emergency doctor to come to our room, which happened very quickly. All we had to do was call reception and the doctor was knocking on our hotel room less than 30 minutes later. None of the staff then followed up with us, but we din't really expect them too. I would also see this as a side effect of the hotel being a huge resort. We estimated that there were easily over 1000 guests in the resort so while we did have some regular "banter" with some of the staff, I wouldn't say it's a place you go if you like personal touches and to be remembered by name by all staff. Personally, I prefer a resort where you can be left alone for most of the time and like I said the staff were certainly helpful and professional when we needed them to be.
The second highlight for us was the spa. We enjoyed some massages for a Father's Day treat on the Sunday morning while our son was happily playing at the kid's club and we were a little annoyed we'd left it until the last day to go there. There was an indoor-outdoor heated swimming pool (it was like a bath!), two different jacuzzis, a steam room and a sauna. Outside there were no fewer than four different "experience" showers (including a "Scottish shower" - not for the faint-hearted!) and it was also an adults-only area. Guests have to pay to use the spa facilities (unless having a treatment) so this meant it was a lot quieter than the swimming pools and other areas of the hotel. It was a really luxurious, quiet and calm place to hang out for a few hours. Our treatments were also very good, and they accommodated my pregnancy well!
A few things to note if you're staying at Grand Palladium Resort, Ibiza
Now because I'm trying to do an honest review, here are some things we didn't like so much about our stay at Grand Palladium Resort.
Officially Grand Palladium Palace is listed as a 5-star resort, and in many ways on face value the prices reflect this, however, if I compare it to other five star hotels and resorts we've stayed in around the world (like Kandima Maldives, COMO in Phuket or the Selman in Marrakech) I have to say it's not quite up to the same standard, and actually for some the price in Ibiza-terms (which is an expensive destination!) was also more four-star. It was mostly obvious in small things like the quality of the food, the level of service inlcuded, and complimentary extras, but also in the general feel of the place and yes, I have to say, the all-inclusive nature of the resort made it lack a certain special-ness that I expect from 5-star destinations.
Our room - a suite with a bedroom, adjoining living area and a huge bathroom - was very adequate for what we needed and wanted but it wasn't particularly, err... cosy. It felt very basic and a little dated in the decor. This was completely fine for us as we were only ever in there to sleep, but if style and decor matter to you then this isn't a design hotel by any stretch of the imagination.
The pool bar was fantastic - and my partner reported that the measures for his cocktails were generous - and we could have as much bottled water as we wanted as well as other drinks (including mocktails for pregnant me and my son!) but the pool service was a little hit and miss. On more than one occasion I ordered some water or a juice and it just never appeared. It was always more reliable to go up to the bar yourself, or you would maybe get a bit thirsty.
Talking of swimming pool problems... This was the first resort in a long time where I encountered sun lounger wars! We woke early on our first morning in Ibiza (because toddler!) and when my partner looked out of the window he saw people putting their towels out onto sun loungers around the swimming pool.
Mosquitoes! Now, we know this isn't the resort's fault but our poor son got eaten alive one night and so we did our best to keep our room free of mosquitoes from then on by keeping doors and windows closed as much as possible, but then we realised that the housekeeping team were actually leaving the door and a few windows open while they cleaned. Again, this is no bad thing but it meant that every evening before we went to bed my partner would go on a rather grim killing spree around the room. It made for a semi-fun game for our son, but it did mean our room was something of a mozzie graveyard by the time we left. We sprayed him every evening before going out for dinner and there were some of these plug-in gadgets in the room (but maybe they were empty?) but a family we met recommended these special mosquito repellent bands for kids, so we may try those in the future. Just something to think about if you're heading to Grand Palladium. If you are heading somewhere with mosquitoes, I also highly recommend getting some After Bite for kids (and some for adults!) as this did seem to stop him scratching his bites when they were itchy.
And finally, we feel the amount of time we stayed at Grand Palladium Palace was just right - i.e. five days and five nights. We found it enough of a break for our usual routine, enough time to settle into a little rhythm in the resort and enough time to mix having fun with some relaxing. Had we stayed longer we probably would have tried to explore other restaurant options or done a few day trips as cabin fever was creeping in a bit (and the resort was getting busier) but that was just our feeling. Other people we met had been there were staying for a week or even two weeks and they were very content with that; we also met a lot of people who return year after year so that suggests good things!
Before I go, I want to suggest you sit on the left hand side of the plane (at a window seat) if you're heading back towards Northern/Western Europe when you take off to leave Ibiza, as I was treated to some of the best views EVER. I could see almost the whole island at one point...
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Frances M. Thompson
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