Mallorca may be a small holiday island, but Palma de Mallorca is anything but a small holiday airport. Last year it was named the best European airport in the 10-25 million passenger category by Airports Council International • Europe for ‘defying the seasonality associated with its status as a holiday destination’. In laymen’s terms, for being busy all year round • and while that may be true, if you can defy seasonality and avoid the few summer months in which Palma de Mallorca becomes Spain’s busiest airport, you will have a much better experience.
Mallorca is home to an interesting blend of heritage crafts and modern fashion. Its pearl industry is thriving and glass-blowing, first recorded on the island more than 2000 years ago, remains an important contributor to the local economy. Better known to most will be the shoe company Camper, whose stylish designs and comfortable, hard-wearing products have gained international recognition. Its sister company Lottusse, which makes stylish dress shoes for men and women, is less well known but equally highly regarded by shoe connoisseurs. And while the airport shopping offer is relatively international (read ‘uninspiring’), there is at least a nod in the direction of these traditions.
The Camper/Lotusse shop at Palma de Mallorca airport is a fitting and striking tribute to the style and craftsmanship epitomised by the two brands. Some brands flounder when they try to set up shop in an airport; Lottusse and Camper have clearly refused to compromise on their editorial integrity. The shop is spacious, bright and pleasant to browse although, as so often in Camper stores, the display is so roomy and products so sparse that you have to wonder how they make a profit. That seems to be a secondary concern here; this is classic ‘airport store as brand window’ territory. Given the prices • especially compared to the factory outlet just a few miles down the road • that is probably just as well, but the store is still worth a visit if you are at all interested in what you wear over your socks.
For distinctive glassware in the Majorcan tradition, look no further than Lafiore, which has two shops • one in the main terminal building and one in Module D. This local company produces brown glass artefacts for the home, including dishes, vases and ashtrays. Like Camper/Lottusse, the shops are well presented and spacious. Prices here are reasonable, although if you really are a fan of glassware you would be better off visiting some of the local studios. However, if you are short on time this is a good alternative.
Majorcan pearls are famous, and one of the biggest jewellery brands to use them is Majorica. You can find a good selection of their products in Big Apple, a jewellery and giftware shop that deserves a better location than its site in Module A. The shop also hosts a wide range of other Spanish giftware products, in particular the famous porcelain figures of Valencia-based company Lladró, as well as other multinational brands.
The main terminal’s duty free shops are well designed and spacious • testament to the long tenancy of retailer Aldeasa at the airport • but hold few surprises. And despite the space, the shops, like the whole airport, can get so overcrowded that thoughts turn more towards mass murder than shopping. However, if you only have a short time in the airport, head for the main multi-category duty free shop, which also houses a selection of Majorcan pearls and glass items, as well as a decent range of Spanish delicacies and an impressive beauty department with reasonable prices if you’re flying out of the EU.
The surprising scale of the airport can cause problems for passengers not accustomed with the long walks to the gates • or, worse, bus transfers for many charter passengers • but the organisation of the central retail area is clear, and there is a decent range of shops in the main modules. But if you are flying from Modules B or C, make sure you fulfil your shopping needs in the main terminal before moving to the gates.
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