We landed at Palma Airport to be greeted by a friendly cab driver who revealed fast facts about the island as he sped through the city and towards our hotel. Located on the coastal island of Mallorca, the place was packed with Swedes and Germans looking to catch the summer sun early and escape from their cooler northern climates. Whilst Palma is arguably beautiful, the 27 million tourists which visited in 2019 explain why the island feels tainted; like a washed out house in need of a new paint job.
In our conversational Spanish, we conversed with our driver about the influx of tourism, the impact of covid-19 on the island, our reason for being there (work) and the best restaurants to visit. Within 10 minutes, we had arrived at our hotel and soon after had checked in. The clear pool below, parallel to the marina, lured me in and I enjoyed a quick swim before we embarked on a kayaking adventure. With a paddle in one hand, I quickly grew familiar with the notion of rowing and within minutes found myself exploring the coastline of Palma. Any blank spaces had been filled with hotels long ago and the island looked more like a real estate showroom on a large scale than the meditarranean. Regardless, I kayaked to a nearby island, secured it on the sand, popped on my goggles and dove into the unbelievably clear green water.
Kayaking back was easier than the journey there thanks to an onshore wind. We retreated to our hotel room, woke up as quickly as we had fallen asleep and headed into town. Dinner was a nightmare due to the swarm of tourists which crowded the street and left restaurants completely full so we settled on an Indian restaurant which proved better than anticipated. We didn’t get to taste the local cuisine but by that point, sunsick and sleepy, we didn’t mind.
At the Palma International Boat Show
The next day we enjoyed fresh sandwiches from the Swedish bakery across the street which were simply sublime. After 2 coffees and a relaxed morning, we headed off to the Palma International Boat Show.
The energy was contagious with eager exhibitors, interested attendees and an overall feeling of elation as the show represented one of the first in-person events since the pandemic. The relaxed island vibe of Palma was also present at the show and made for a lovely experience. Speaking to industry experts and taking in the event whilst filming and documenting was a wonderful experience and took the better part of 3 hours.
Speaking to the Experts
With a welcoming and friendly tone, we were thrilled to speak to an array of industry-related professionals.
One such company which we had the pleasure of interviewing was the Austrian-based Belassi, who specialise in building state of the art jet skis. Their team explained Belassi’s brand story, their finesse and their utter passion for the industry which we found equal parts inspiring and insightful.
We also spoke to the founder of Yachting International Radio, Rhea Rouw who livestreamed the event from the Superyacht Moonraker.
When we asked Rhea to share her experience of the show, she explained, “After a little over a year of no shows whatsoever in the med, no one really knew what to expect. This show did not disappoint!”
“Aside from the masks and the limiting of people at the entrance, you would not have been aware that anything had changed. I think that people were more open, and more friendly than in past years, and keen to get on with business!”
Rhea’s comments echo a wider sentiment which underpinned the show; business is slowly but surely returning to a new kind of normal. Whilst health and welfare issues are more carefully tended to including the use of face masks and a focus on social distancing, the Palma International Boat Show marked the start of what we can only hope will be another exceptional season.
Takeaways from the Show
Sitting in the taxi on the way to the airport, I reflected on the show and pondered the following;
As we return to in-person meetings, live shows and more, I hope we take with us the lessons that we have learned from the pandemic; the power of human connection, the benefits of slowing down and the simple joys of conversations with strangers. If we can do that, the industry’s future might look even better than it did in a pre-covid world.
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Australian journalist and writer, Sophia Llewellyn, is the Chief of Content and Marketing for Yacht Informer. Driven by the power of storytelling and a wholehearted belief in applying an innovative, forward-thinking and sustainable approach to all that we do, Yacht Informer is the fresh breeze that the industry has been looking for.