Archive - April 2013

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Purple Pick: Mexico Honeymoons
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Off the beaten track: Heaven’s Gate
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A night less ordinary: inside a capsule hotels
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The world’s sexiest holidays
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Purple 10: What to pack in your beach bag
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Purple Tips: 6 Secret Greek Islands
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Purple Hearts: the best beaches in Gran Canaria
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Off the beaten track: Birdwatching in the Kruger National Park
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Purple Tips: Jimmy Choo High Tea in Hong Kong
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Epic Summer Parties: Ibiza Rocks & Mallorca Rocks

Purple Pick: Mexico Honeymoons

Mexico is a firm favourite of honeymooners – its chic credentials even stretch to being featured in the SATC movie (where Carrie spent her post-wedding ‘Mexicoma’). But why has this seemingly unromantic location become such a honeymoon hotspot?

Honeymoon

The secret to a great value honeymoon is not just being entertained, but engaging in activities that allow you to work and play together. Very much a diverse travel experience, Mexico honeymoons fully cater to this need.

In Cancun, couples can tour through ancient Mayan ruins and bask on the palm tree-dotted beaches; in Riviera Maya, they can learn how to salsa dance and some discover some top luxury resorts; in Los Cabos, adventurous couples can dabble in water sports, lavish retreats and romantic beaches, and in Acapulco, couples can enjoy the bustling nightlife, excellent dining scene and stunning landscapes. And that is without even mentioning the remote islands that offer completely secluded getaways.

Whichever area you choose, you can rest assured that Mexico honeymoons have all the required tools to make your post-wedding holiday extra special – the people are wonderful, the food varied and superb, and its storied history has left momentous architectural and cultural pawmarks throughout the land. Expect ancient temples, white beaches that are out of this world and a rich cultural smorgasbord that provides for honeymooners of all dispositions. The only question is… where to stay? That’s why we’ve put together this guide to gorgeous hotels for Mexico Honeymoons. Enjoy!

Mandarin Oriental, Riviera Maya

Situated on a heavenly stretch of the Yucatan coast, set within 36 acres of jungle, mangrove reserves and natural lagoons, this super-cool hideaway feels private and exclusive although not far from tourist hub, Cancun.

Each of the 128 ultra-luxe, minimally-decorated villas comes complete with its own secluded garden bathroom and some offer individual plunge pools. A haven for total privacy, it is no surprise that the Asian-inspired guest rooms have been frequented by stars including Sir Paul McCartney and Christian Louboutin himself.

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental sets a new standard of holistic well-being that embodies the riches of Mayan philosophy, intermingled with traditional Asian healing rituals. Spend an afternoon enjoying its special Mayan Tzolkin Ritual for a quintessential renewal experience, or take some time to explore the second largest barrier reef in the world, or perhaps head to the Mayan ruins close by in Tulum, Chichén Itza and Coba.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba

Also on the Yucatan Peninsula, the Banyan Tree Mayokoba, which opened in 2009, is a five-star resort of 132 villas, set amongst the mangroves. Each villa is completely hidden from the next, making it a firm favourite romantic escape of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas – they can count on privacy when leaping out of bed and straight into the pool.

Aside from unparalleled luxury and a staff that brings a sense of Asian hospitality to the Mexican Caribbean, the resort’s Romance Manager is its real selling point. On hand to arrange one-off romantic experiences, whether it is a candlelit dinner on the beach, a private cruise at sunset or a couple’s spa treatment at your villa, the Romance Manager adds that little bit extra.

And with a seven-course tasting menu available from the Tamarind restaurant, Banyan Tree Mayakoba feels as if it were created just for honeymooners.

Las Alamandas

With the slogan ‘paradise found’, Las Alamandas, a luxury boutique hotel in Costalegre, forms its own lost world of seven sorbet-hued villas and 1,500 acres of unspoilt tropical bliss.

Each of the fuchsia and orange-coloured room has its own theme that incorporate a pleasing mix of designs, fabrics, and crafts, selected from all over Mexico, including Rattan sofas upholstered in canary yellow or shocking pink and Mexican folk art hand-painted artifacts.

The candlelit Oasis restaurant serves fresh and healthy cuisine including sushi, vegetables picked from their own garden and guacamole and huevos rancheros for breakfast, but any wish is the kitchen’s command. In fact, the hotel can organise almost anything. In response to anything you request, the staff will simply say, ‘Of course, this is your home.’ From horse riding and hiking to an ocean-side massage, this is the most relaxed you’ll ever be.

Rosewood San Miguel

Tucked away on a cobbled side street, the Rosewood San Miguel appears to be a beautiful old haçienda, although it is actually brand new. You’ll drive through real cowboy country to get there and be greeted with a margarita at the door, to aid your step into the past.

Situated in the enchanting artists’ village of San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World heritage site, the hotel is decorated with a fusion of traditional Mexican artwork and furniture, complemented by modern luxuries such as Frette linen and poolside cabanas.
The world-class Sense spa sanctuary follows a similar theme, offering a full range of therapies that integrate Mexican healing traditions and indigenous ingredients, with state-of-the-art facilities and an extensive treatment list.

The high altitude slows the pace, so fill your days with Pilates classes, Mexican cookery class or watch the sunset on a star-studded sky while enjoying amazing cocktails and moreish nibbles at The Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar.

Las Ventanas Al Paraiso

As its name implies, Las Ventanas is a window to paradise. Perched on the Baja California peninsula on the west coast of Mexico, the desert beach hideaway in Los Cabos mesmerises couples with huge suites, inspired cuisine and a fantastic spa that’s a sanctuary of renewal and revitalization.

The huge bedrooms all have a plunge pool and a wealth of famous fans (Kate Beckinsale honeymooned here and Jennifer Aniston is a regular).You will be greeted by an in-room tequila welcome and fresh fruit that’s replenished daily.

Las Ventanas offer some innovative honeymoon services, in fact, they have a whole ‘romance department’ dedicated to meeting your needs. Services include requesting a handwritten love letter that would be discovered amongst household bills telling your intended about a surprise getaway, an Aphrodisiac Dinner menu for private diners, salsa classes for two or even a message in a bottle to appear whilst bathing at the beach.

From a dinner by the sea to a movie for two on the beach, Las Ventanas makes romance happen.

Image via @ Aplomb

Off the beaten track: Heaven’s Gate

The Door to Heaven is a cave in the middle of Heaven’s Gate Mountain, which towers over the Zhangjiajie area in China. It is the biggest natural cave in China and was used as a place of worship by the ancient Chinese. The mystical gap in the rocks is a whopping 122m high and was formed when a rock between the two mountains collapsed.

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Image via @ Wikicommons

Image via @ Wikicommons

Image via @ Wikicommons

To actually see the gaping hole in the cliffs up close, visitors will have to make a gruelling trek up 999 steps. The number of the steps was chosen wisely, since for the Chinese number nine means ‘eternal’ or ‘perpetual’. The highlight of a visit is when the clouds shroud the mountain, offering a really mystical experience.

Alternatively, for visitors that won’t think of climbing all those stairs, there is a cable car (the longest in the world) running and a bus that follows a risky mountain journey with continuous bends.

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 Image via @ SeemingLee

For the full experience of Heaven’s Gate, check out this amazing video of a skydiver flying through the mountain cave:

YouTube Preview Image

A night less ordinary: inside a capsule hotels

We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels. From panda-themed hotels to converted airplane cockpits expect the unexpected. This week, it’s the infamous capsule hotels of Japan.

027006-capsule-hotel-china  Image via @ www.theaustralian.com.au

Would you ever think of staying in a capsule-shaped hotel room? If not, then no need to feel bad, we’ve heard it’s not all that pleasant, but everyone has their wants!

Although capsule hotels have become popular in Japan, they haven’t really caught on in Europe, as it’s a bit like sleeping in a sort of slight larger coffin! However, the true purpose of this weird accommodation is rarely mentioned, so most people seem to think it’s a widespread trend in Japan.

Why stay? This type of tiny room with (usually) just a bed was developed to save money and time in case commuters missed their last train home (taxi rides are crazy expensive) or for travellers seeking a cheap overnight stay.

You Should Read… A Night At The Cake Hotel

What’s included? A night’s stay usually costs around £13, while there are some others around £17. The prices will get you ship shape in as much luxury as you can find on a tiny, capsule shaped mattress and, if you’re lucky a tv over the door. The big thing about these hotels though is admission to the  ofuro a spa style bath, just remember to take a shower before entering, the water is not changed too often.

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 Image via @ commons.wikimedia.org 

 capsule hotel

Capsule Hotel via @ Clango

Capsule Hotels might not suit absolutely everyone, but if you use your imagination and see it as a space station, it could be quite an interesting experience!

The world’s sexiest holidays

If you’re looking to let it all hang out, feel the passion and generally get up to as much mischief as possible, check out our sexiest holidays. As always, whatever we’ve missed leave it in the comments.

Sexiest Holidays from Purple Travel

Hedonism Resorts, Jamaica this place really lives up to its name. Au naturel accommodation (including mirrored ceilings), singles opting to share rooms, and nightly parties, this is where grownups go to lose every inhibition.

Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas Sin City was bound to appear on this list. The Moorea Beach Club is an over-21s ‘European Bathing Experience’ offering poolside massages, a waterside casino, and some of the best and most attentive staff in the city. Just remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Thermal Baths, Budapest Hungarians are known for a bit of a lack of inhibitions so why not join the party and strip off like the locals in one of the gorgeous thermal baths. Filled with saunas, whirlpools, plunge pools and men and women in various states of undress. Getting all hot and naked is as good a way as any to get a party started.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands Eh, there’s the Red Light District, that famous relaxed atmosphere and reputation for free-spiritedness all combining to make Amsterdam an excellent getaway particularly if you’ve only a few days to do it. Head for a burlesque club, or the famous sex museum to really spice things up.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans The infamous carnival is easily one of the biggest street parties in the world, there’s nothing quite like the seductive rhythm of Mardi Gras to spice up your holidays. There’s the odd flash of flesh in exchange for beads, but be warned, it’s not exactly legal, hundreds are arrested each year for public nudity.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil It’s got everything you need for a sexy holiday. It’s exotic, has the ultimate party reputation, the hottest guys and girls vying for space on the unbelievable beaches and a thumping club scene. Head for the Copacabana to soak up the atmosphere.

Paphos, Cyprus has good credentials when it comes to loving. It was the home of an actual love goddess in the form of Aprhodite, who tempted the mighty Adonis with lust. It may not have all worked out, but you can still recreate that summer romance on the perfect party island.

Temptation Resorts, Mexico A themed hotel designed with an adults-only atmosphere, Temptations has its focus on relaxation, with a casual attitude to all aspects of your holiday. Go topless, enjoy a themed night, party for 24 hours, or simply chill out in this all inclusive resort.

You should read… joining the mile high club

Image via @ Temptations Resorts, Mexico.

Purple 10: What to pack in your beach bag

Purple 10: What to pack in your beach bag

Get beach ready in no time, with our handy list of the top 10 things to pack in your beach bag. As always, if we’ve forgotten something, head on to our comments section and let us know!

1. A colourful and sturdy beach bag to fit your stuff

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Image via @ Tina Lee Studio

2. Your perfect bikini to impress the crowds

bikini from purpletravel.co.uk

3. A light sarong to match your swimsuit

sarong

Image via @ Learning Machine

4. A soft summer-themed beach towel

towel

Image via @ Greger Gronroos

5. A pair of comfy (not comedy!) flip flops

Flip flips

Image via @ Woodlouse

6. High SPF sunscreen

sun block

Image via @ Andre Bernardo

7. Sunglasses with dark lenses to protect your precious eyes from the bright sun rays

sunglasses

Image via @ Faded Vision

8. A hat for excellent coverage…and style

hat

Image via @ robyriker

9. A book to keep you just the company you need…whenever you need it!

Reading on the beach

Image via @ Victoriapeckham

10. An iPod to listen to your favourite music while the gentle sea breeze affectionately touches your skin

ipod

Image via @ jonnybeanos

Purple Tips: 6 Secret Greek Islands

Ok, we know about Greece’s fantastic islands from the variety of Crete to the buzzing atmosphere of Kos, but what about the other smaller islands? We mean the secret Greek Islands, that locals are reluctant to share. Well, we’ve managed to convince some of our Greek friends to tell us which are their favourite hidden Greek Islands and why. And remember, if you know of any secret Greek Island escapes that you don’t mind sharing, let us know in the comments below!

1. Fournoi: An island of unique untouched beauty, Fournoi, between Samos and Ikaria, in the Aegean Sea, is the ideal destination for anyone looking for absolute peace and quiet. There’s not much happening on this island, but that’s all part of the charm. Ditch your phone and switch off on a perfect beach that you can call your own. The only way to get to Fournoi is by ship from Piraeus in Athens, or island hopping from Samos or Ikaria.

Fournoi

Image via @ Wikicommons

2. Koufonisia islands: These are so small you have to look hard on a map just to find them, but it’s well worth it, Koufonisia Islands will leave your jaw on the floor. The beaches are here are pure golden sand, the waters are crystal clear, the architecture is rich and the sunshine is warm. There’s a reason it’s hard to share Koufonisia!

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Image via @ antifa

3. Gavdos: Freedom, nature, seclusion. We think these are the top three words that describe this small island opposite Crete. In the winter, the island only counts about 50 permanent residents, but in the summer this Greek secret Island fills with holidaymakers looking for a magical atmosphere, perfect beaches and loads of fun. One to watch for 2013!

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Image via@ Maciek 1955

4. Ammouliani: One for nature lovers, this island is found in a natural bay across the Athos peninsula in Halkidiki Its warm, turquoise waters offer a seabed with plenty of marine life, so it’s ideal for scuba fans. The island is filled with lush olive trees and there are lots of hiking routes to soak up the island’s natural habitat on foot. This is one of the best secret Greek Islands.

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Image via @ Horia Varlan

5. Ereikousa: Amazingly lush greenery, endless beaches, sparkling warm waters and sea caves are the well-kept secrets of this island to the north of Corfu. If your idea of a holiday is a desert island adventure, then look no further than exotic Ereikousa.

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Image via @  sidralblog.blogspot.gr

6. Chalki: Some say when you look at Chalki, you are a looking at a genuine piece of art. The island’s neoclassical buildings are a thing of beauty and it’s no wonder they feature on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Days in Chalki are spent diving in crystal clear waters, relaxing on secluded beaches and the eating delicious local food.

ChalkiImage via @ Francesco Sgroi

Purple Hearts: the best beaches in Gran Canaria

Maspalomas Possibly the most famous and one of the best beaches in Gran Canaria, the rippling dunes of Maspalomas are an absolute must-see. This area is well kept and has something for everyone. If you’re into surfing, fishing or sailing you can do it from here, there are walking and hiking routes across the dunes and lots of bird watching available. For the beach part it’s well divided to suit all tastes… including nudists! It’s very popular thanks to its extensive facilities and location. Stay at the 4* Tabaiba Princes Hotel right amongst the dunes. It has excellent facilities and offers a great holiday experience.

Maspalomas

Flickr/El coleccionista de instantes/Creative Commons

Taurito A smallish beach, Taurito has great snorkelling right passed the cliffs on either side of the beach and is know as one of the best beaches in Gran Canaria. Days on the sand here offer the best of both worlds; have a go at some water sports, dive into the sea or sunbathe on the sand-free lido. The sheltered resort offers safe waters for children and any less confident swimmers as well as a large swimming pool nearby which looks more like a lake and should definitely be discovered! Stay at the 4* Hotel Taurito Princess in the heart of Valle del Taurito, there are fantastic views, great entertainment and it’s right on the beach. Hard to ask for anything more than that.

taurito

Flickr/Vitamindave/Creative Commons

Read more: best beaches in Tenerife

Mogan After a few years as a rocky outcrop, Mogan has become one of the most popular beaches on the island thanks to a huge delivery of sand from the Sahara. Now the relaxed, sheltered beach, is edged by tasty fish restaurants, its warm waters are great for children, and it’s known as having more hours of sunshine than any other part of the island. Stay at the Cordial Mogan Playa. This 4* has a wonderful Spanish feel, built in a traditional architectural style, the rooms are comfortable, the grounds are filled with lush greenery and you can’t beat its location, a stone’s throw from the beach.

You Should Read… Purple Hearts: the best beaches in Lanzarote

mogan

Flickr/El coleccionista de instantes/Creative Commons

Puerto Rico could be called the ‘people’s favourite’ such is the popularity of the area. A specially built resort, you’ll find Puerto Rico slap, bang in the middle of two beaches with lots of nearby shops, bars and restaurants. The beach itself is made of soft, golden sand and the waters are ideal for paddling in; there aren’t many waves and the water is quite calm so it’s a nice choice for families. Yachting is probably the most popular water sport choice here but there are also surfing or banana boating options. Stay at the 3* Altamar Aparthotel which offers delightful sea views and pretty garden surroundings. It’s just 400 metres from the beach and has a golf course a stone’s throw away.

Puerto Rico

Flickr/Redeo/Creative Commons

Meloneras Right in front of a couple of the big Maspalomas hotels, Meloneras is in a great location, meaning you can get from bed to beach in no time. And of course in a place like that you’ll find top notch facilities. The beach is well organised with lots of loungers and the best bit? It’s usually not too busy! Stay at the H10 Playa Meloneras Palace. A top choice for families, (it’s also right next to an exclusive golf course) and has been recently revamped so you can be sure of an enjoyable holiday.

Meloneras

Flickr/El coleccionista de instantes/Creative Commons

Arguineguin From the ancient Guanche word for ‘quiet water’ Arguineguin is a slightly quieter alternative to the big resorts like Playa del Ingles. A good choice for couples, it’s small and almost private. The sand was replaced in recent years and there are plenty of delicious restaurants serving daily fresh fish so you can enjoy a romantic meal. Check the weather forecast for the waves as surfers usually descend in good conditions. Stay at the 3* Dorada Beach apartments, with gorgeous views, an outdoor pool, and direct access to the beach. There you’ll find great value for a great holiday!

ArguineguinFlickr/shnwsk/Creative Commons

Find out more about the great hotels on the best beaches in Gran Canaria from the expert team at Purple Travel, click for our site or call us directly on 0207 993 9228.

Off the beaten track: Birdwatching in the Kruger National Park

For a family break with an adventurous twist, why not grab your binoculars and go bird-watching Off the Beaten Track.

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For keen ornithologists, the vast Kruger Park in South Africa with over 500 bird species, some of which are native only to this area is the ideal place to be. The rich birding (shorthand term for birdwatching) especially in the very northern part of the Park, along with the numerous water points, rest camps and picnic sites create the perfect setting for get up close and personal with some of the most unique feathered friends on the planet.

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Kruger National Park 2



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The best place to stand and watch all the weird and wonderful happenings of birding in the Park is in the bushveld camps, a woodland eco region which attract a huge amount of birds, as there is a dense concentration of trees and shrubs and they are usually next to rivers or dams.

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All images via @ wikicommons

Visitors to Kruger Park birders can expect to see birds like the  saddle-billed storks, kori bustards, martial eagles, lappet-faced vultures, pel’s fishing-owls, ground hornbills and many more.

Find out more about amazing places around the world, in our Off the Beaten Track series.

Purple Tips: Jimmy Choo High Tea in Hong Kong

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If you love your shoes as much as we do, then this tea for Choo package is one to watch. Visitors to the fashionable Landmark Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong can now indulge in a high end shoe themed afternoon tea party. This is not just any old tea though, its served with exquisite smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches, traditional scones with jam and cream and mango macaroons. However the pièce de résistance is that all the food is served as a miniature dedication to fashion, in the form of handbags or high heels.

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Images via @ Mandarin Oriental

Guests can also enjoy an extra special gift – as long as stocks last. If you decide to stay over in the luxurious L900 Suite, a special pair of Jimm Choo shoes, from the signature 24:7 collection worth HKD 5000 will be yours.

Sidney Schutte, Executive Chef at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental says: “We are excited to be working with Jimmy Choo. The sexy stiletto heels, glamorous designs, great sense of style and colour, and exceptional Italian craftsmanship serve as excellent inspiration for our culinary team.”

The Jimmy Choo Afternoon Tea experience costs around £22 and is available at the MO Bar, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 15 Queen’s Road, Hong Kong. For further information visit MandarinOriental.com.

Epic Summer Parties: Ibiza Rocks & Mallorca Rocks

Fancy a summer holiday rocking out where Tulisa spends her birthday parties and where Jessie J likes to top up her tan? Head for the fabulous Ibiza Rocks and Mallorca Rocks hotels. Packed with the best in summer gigs, both in great locations and bathed in buckets of sunshine, make 2013 the year you pack your Ray-Bans and bikini and head off for a holiday you’ll never forget.

Ibiza Rocks

Ibiza Rocks via @ flurdy

Ibiza Rocks

Made up of three hotels, two hostels, two bars with its own fashion label and a whopper list of headline music acts in the sunshine, you’d be crazy to miss out on Ibiza Rocks in summer 2013. Stemming from slightly more humble (!) beginnings in 2005 in one of Ibiza’s most legendary club nights, Manumission, Ibiza Rocks has grown to become one of the must-see gigs of the summer. Drawing the likes of The Prodigy, Florence and the Machine, the Specials and LCD Soundsystem to its poolside stage in San Antonio, Ibiza Rocks really knows how to pack them in. There is 17 weeks worth of Rocks gigs in each hotel over the summer, every Wednesday night. Since last year, there’s an added DJ led night every Friday with the best in electro acts taking to the stage.

Ibiza Rocks Lineup June highlights: Rizzle Kicks and The Vaccines. July highlights: W.A.R! with Example & DJ Wire, Ibiza Rocks 8th Birthday Party with Special Guests. September Highlights: Franz Ferdinand, Closing Party with Foals.

Read more: Purple 10 European Cities to Party In

Mallorca Rocks

The little brother to the Ibiza Rocks gig nights, Mallorca Rocks in Magaluf is going from strength to strength. It’s become one of the must see gigs of the summer. Not only will you find weekly parties, but one of the best clubs on the planet: BCM is right on your doorstep, Magaluf beach is a stone’s throw away and the Magaluf Strip is where to go to indulge in all sorts of “i’m on holiday” behaviour! Throw in Western Water Park a five minute ride away and you have all you need for a week of partying and debauchery.

Mallorca Rocks Lineup June highlights: Opening Party with Jake Bugg, The Vaccines. July highlights: Tinie Tempah, Example & DJ Wire. August Highlights: Katy B, Ellie Goulding, Dizzee Rascal.

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