Maria of the Marina Hotel in the Port of Soller
Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin on
Sunday 27th November 2016
Written by Shirley Roberts
Photographs by Rachel Fox
When you are part of a Soller Hotel dynasty you have to make your individual mark. The crown has been created by others and its your job to keep it brightly polished. At least that is the sentiment of the President of the Soller Hotel Federation Maria Frontera. Maria is the daughter of the Marina Hotel’s owners Bodil and Miguel. Miguel’s life was the Marina Hotel in the Port of Soller from a very young age. He was joined by Bodil after a beautiful love story that brought the cheeky girl from Denmark to be the pioneering face of Tjeareborg in Majorca.
Bodil’s story started in Denmark in 1950 with a man who was a revolutionary in so many ways. Elif Krogager was a man of the cloth – a Pastor, a resistance fighter and an entrepreneur. His work with the Danish people after the war made him realise that they were a depressed nation that needed their spirits lifted after the austerity of the war years. He believed that the key to life was in rounded exciting travel experiences and then he set about making this possible for so many. Elif and a friend in small town Denmark set about organising travel for the villagers to places they had never heard of. Tjaereborg Holidays was born in Denmark and its father was Elif Krogager. Majorca was the number one destination for them to bring the adventurous and pleasure loving Danes. They arrived from the 1950’s and beyond in their hundreds and then in their thousands.
Go back now to the small town Denmark where Elif was in charge of the Church to a cheeky young girl named Bodil who, whilst grateful for her childhood in Denmark knew that she wanted to leave and travel the world. An intelligent linguist whose family had the academic route already mapped out for her decided that Tjaereborg might be worthy of her interest. Elif was amused by the 17 year olds cheek and told her to go and refine her language skills and then come back and see him. Bodil already spoke Danish, French, Swedish and English (having learned in her year as an Au pair in the UK) but her German needed work. Her travels began by attending a language school in Germany, passing all exams with flying colours and driving her tutors mad with her incessant questions. Job done, at age 18 back to irritate the life out of the priest and tell him that she was now ready to give of her skills to Tjaereborg.
Bodil arrived in the Port of Soller and took up residence near the Hotel Marina. Her guests were accommodated there and she was very important to them. She loved her job and enjoyed every day. The guests filled in their questionnaires and Head Office began taking notice of this young girl doing such a fine job in the Port of Soller. They were also intrigued about how much she was earning. This was a rep you didn’t say no to so all the guests were going out on trips and seeing the early delights of the Tramuntana long before UNESCO got involved. The days were long and busy and the nights full of moonlight and music. Miguel the Don Juan of the Port of Soller was staying home more and spending time with the girl from Denmark. Wedding bells happened…
Maria is the daughter and Majorcan Dane who is now the Boss of the Marina Hotel. She, like many who enjoyed the privilege of growing up in this paradise wanted to go and see the world, work in other cultures and get off the island. Her development of the tourism model and experience was gained from years away in the UK and USA and only coming back to the Soller Valley for holidays. The call back to Majorca came for her when she started to have her own family and wanted to give them the glorious life and opportunities she had as a child growing here.
This coincided with Bodil and Miguel’s retirement from the day to day running of the Hotel. Although they just love to be around the place and pop in frequently for lunch and to visit their guests who are more like family to them. Bodil busies herself with the annual refurbishment of rooms and Maria is content that the guests are looked after by Mum in this way.
Maria runs the Marina Hotel in her way, incorporating all she has learnt from other cultures and styles of hospitality. Under her guidance the development of many apartments within the Hotel have gained in popularity. The creation of a roof top spa and ground floor gym were all under her watch. The Marina Hotel is a landmark hotel in the Port of Soller and has stood proudly in its place alongside the beach for the past 85 years. In its early days it was a hostel with shared bathrooms and today is worthy of each of its four stars. The Hotel is still open as you read this as Maria is at the forefront of the concept of year round tourism. The Marina Hotel is one of the hotels open for the longest season. They will close at the beginning of December and reopen after staff holidays in February 2017.
Maria’s role as the elected President of the Hotel Federation of Soller is a very important one. The Port of Soller has undergone a huge transformation and there is still work to do. The re-siting of the Soller Tram away from the waters edge allowed the development of the perfect horse shoe bay and the possibility of walking end to end by the sea.
The new beach created in the centre of the resort brought in tons and tons of new sand and a new place for the next generation of children to play. The development of the Food Culture of the Port has created an arena of fine dining for the visitors who arrive on their yachts and on the tram to sample the finest Soller Prawns and much more. The Hotel Federation support all the developments and are the thinkers behind what is next for the resort. This winter work begins in the Marina lands where the fishing boats park. This is a very important change for the area and to start with will include a new fish market and storage facility. Next on the list is the high end retail choices for the yachts as they arrive here. Shopping in the Port of Soller has already undergone a huge change and more in this area is to come.
The future of the Port of Soller as a destination and a holiday resort is by no means finished and the smart young Hoteliers of the area have a huge voice in all this. Maria represents the area at trade shows and is often invited to speak on the radio and television about her visions for the area.
Maria of the Marina is returning the hotel legacy that her parents gave her and making it fit for purpose in 2017. The Hotel is in safe hands and the resort will keep on developing under her inspirational leadership. Her parents are a hard act to follow but Maria has found her own route to make a difference and she is loving every minute.