North London to North Mallorca

Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
Sunday 17th July 2016

Matthew Dean is a relocater and arrived in the Soller Valley twelve years ago with Jay, his wife and two daughters.  He is one of those people who was introduced here by his wife’s family who had a holiday home on the Repic Beach of the Port. A Londoner with North London roots and an affinity for The Arsenal Football Club.  He was used to the sea as his holiday playground.  His parents had a chalet on the beach in Hayle in Cornwall and Matthew’s memories were of term times in Kentish Town and all school holidays in Cornwall.  The beach, sea and windswept Cornish coast were his playground and his football pitch.

His career path took him into the corporate Marks and Spencer world based in the flagship store, in London, of Marble Arch.  Family life and babies were augmented by his passion for Tennis and an ambition to be the best tennis coach he could possibly be. He trained at the Tennis Academy and filed the experience under ‘something that might be useful’.  He played tennis and taught children the game and wondered if there would be a tennis life for him one day.  Marriage, mortgage and fatherhood worked its magic and his future looked steady and he was content.  Except that holidays, at that time, were no longer taken in Cornwall but here in the Soller Valley on the Repic Beach.

The Montemar Apartments have the most spectacular view of the bay of the Port of Soller.  The mountains turning pink in the setting sun were a frequent view when the babies were tucked up in bed. It was there, in holiday weeks that the notion started to take root that North London could be exchanged for North Majorca.   Maybe it was time to think about going for the tennis in Majorca and leaving the corporate world behind.

In 2005 the Webbs removal lorries came to collect his families North London life and deposit them in the Port of Soller. A dream, an opportunity and an adventure were waiting for this young family and tennis was the key.  So they thought…
The first year passed and the extended holiday phase of relocation took over the families lives big time.  The beach at their doorstep, which turned into their own private universe as the visitors returned home, was the ultimate pleasure for a boy who hated going home from Cornwall when his holidays ended. Children settled, wife at work and now the tennis career was set to begin, at least that was the master plan.
Tennis tuition is a skill that many residents and visitors to the island want and Matthew was soon in demand.  The problem was the ad hoc nature of the work and the black economy. These were two things that even industrial optimism couldn’t cure and so it was soon back to the drawing board. The options for work in the Majorca of the recession years were daunting and sometimes the secure world of Marks and Spencer and a house in Finchley seemed infinitely preferable.

Matthew realised that unless he was going to open a business here himself he would have to be as flexible as possible in his quest for work.  This took him to his experience in the cruise ship check ins and the operations departments of holiday companies.  He then ran an import export business in Calvia before finally deciding to go back to his roots.  He had been trained by the best in the UK to be the ultimate customer service professional.  This was his core strength and he joined the team of the boutique Hotel L’Avenida in Soller that has set the gold standard for service.

Over seven years have passed since that career move took place and L’ Avenida has gone from strength to strength.  The beautiful décor of one of Soller’s palaces is augmented by all the latest gadgets and toys that today’s traveller requires.  The attention to detail that Matthew leads his team in is extraordinary.  Trip Advisor have a hotline to the name Matthew Dean which is synonymous with outstanding service.
Matthew has seen many people who arrived when he did to the Soller Valley pack up and leave.  The naivety they arrived with proved too much and it was altogether easier to go home.  He is often asked his story by many who are looking to relocate and his view is that you just have to keep on working.  When the chips are down you do whatever it takes to support your family.  There is no room for pride, it is all about sheer hard work and tenacity.
A few months ago the writer Hunter Davies arrived as a guest at L’Avenida.  He was writing travel articles for the Daily Mail and was checking out the Avenida. It only took minutes for them to realise that they had occupied the same North London world and that Matthew had been at school with Hunter’s daughter.  The reminiscing began and the North London and North Majorca worlds merged over coincidence.  The Beatles biographer gave Matthew a signed copy of his book and forgave him for supporting Arsenal and not Tottenham. He was also very complimentary about his stay and the outstanding service he received.
Many guests of the hotel are looking for their own properties here and they love to talk to those who have made the transition.  It helps them validate their own experiences and expectations.  This is particularly true right now when so many people are here to buy. So many arrive with all their ducks in a row and secure jobs in other parts of Europe which are going to fund living the dream in Majorca.  They might be right but many find that things happen after they move and they have to mentally prepare for what they would do if they were thrown on their own resources.
Matthew has become a local guru for this kind of conversation because he has lived through it.  From his perspective he would rather play tennis or football with the Soller ex pats team on a Wednesday night and include the seekers in that.  Life in all its manifestations is for getting on and living. Only so much can be sorted by talking about it. Everyone that comes to live here has a reason for their choice and a set of skills which they can offer to their new country if they have the courage.
The last eleven years have brought Matthew to a great place.  Another daughter arrived and all his family are enjoying their lives as Sollerics.  The opportunities to live an outdoor life surrounded by beauty is something he is proud of bringing them to.  His daughters never have to have the sinking feeling he had when it was time to leave the beach and go back to London.
North London to North Majorca has worked for him even when he had to readjust the master plan.  That is his best advice to all the people that ask. Nothing is set in stone and you might have to follow a few paths before you get to where you should be.  Enjoy the journey, the hard work, the ride and all that Majorca has to offer – but don’t stop working…

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