The Sol Wave House Hotel in the Majorca beach resort of Magaluf is part of an plan to bring a bit more class to the resort. The main attraction at the hotel are the two wave machines that make learning to surf and even ride barrels a reality in the flat calm of Mallorca's beaches.
The machines are built by Wave Loch and the hotel in Magaluf has two of them, a "Flow Rider double" and a "Flow Barrel 10".
When we visited the hotel this week to try them out the staff were running some maintenance on the Barrel so we opted to ride the smaller, and honestly less intimidating, Flow Rider.
The machine works by creating a constant stream of water that flows over a shaped plastic membrane. This generates a surface similar to the face of a wave and that is what you ride. After a brief introduction and explanation from the staff you start your one hour session on a body board. With no balance required this is an easy way to get a feel for the flow of the water and the sensation of steering.
Everyone in our group, which included some young kids mastered the body board in after a couple of attempts so our instructor moved us all onto the standing, surf-style board. These are much smaller than a normal surf board and look a little like Marty McFly's Hover-board in Back to the Future, something which had me very excited.
Stance, body position and balance are all explained to you at the side of the machine before you are nudged out into the flow. Straight away it's clear that this is easier than surfing. With no paddling and no jumping to your feet you just have to concentrate on keeping your balance and then steering. All the adults in our group managed this first time, but that's not to say we didn't all fall.
Falling in a traditional surf environment with the chances of being dragged over a reef or held under by the force of the water is a truly unpleasant prospect but with these machines falling becomes a ride in it's self. The surface membrane of the wave pool is a foamy plastic that is covered in constantly flowing water. When you fall, you bounce and then the water washes you up the face of the "wave" and onto a soft platform. If you like water slides you'll actually quite enjoy the sensation, as I did.
By the end of our hour on the beginners machine were were all getting the hang of riding the water and controlling the board but I'd probably recommend another session before we tried the Barrel. This machine is an entirely different beast. The principal is the same but instead of the water flowing over a flat incline the Barrel shoots water over a three metre high curved wall creating a wave with a curling lip and hollow centre.
I'll definitely be going back, if only to try and master the control enough to try the big machine, which was up and running by the time we left. A session on the small wave machine costs €25 and lasts an hour. You share your time with a group of about six people which makes the ride all the more fun and at the end of the allotted time I felt I had enjoyed good value for money. The Barrel sessions are also an hour long but cost quite a bit more at €40.
The machines are open to the public daily from 9am 'til 10pm and once you have finished surfing you can enjoy the pool, bar, restaurant and sun loungers in the fun and relaxed atmosphere of the hotel. Perfect day out for everyone from families on holiday to stag parties. The Wave House is a great addition to Magaluf, cool, fun, friendly and definitly a step in the right direction.