SUPdate : The Feedback Sandwich


The ‘feedback sandwich’ is a technique for giving constructive evaluation by ‘sandwiching’ the criticism between two pieces of praise/compliments.  Apparently the recipient feels more positive and motivated about their improvements – Vela Portals, this one’s for you.



My last SUP was on 23 November, a SUP à deux between myself and my BFF.  Good old Accuweather informs me that it was 13 degrees and a shade of drab in London that day, Portals Nous on the other hand was 22 degrees and sunny, unbelievably sunny, so sunny that we made weather the topic of conversation for at least the first 500 metres afloat (wonderfully British).  How could it possibly be that people were lying on the beach, stripped to their smalls, occasionally venturing in for a dip, with December just a few days away?  It was unreal and made us feel like the luckiest twosome on the planet. 


We set off from Vela Portals largely for beauty and convenience.  Beauty, as Playa Oratorio, Portals Nous’ largest beach, best known for having German-inspired Beach Alm one end and Ibiza-inspired Roxy Beach the other, is a great launchpad for absorbing the stunning beaches and coastline of Bendinat and Illetes, and the water gives the Caribbean a run for its money in the turquoise department.  Convenience, as Vela Portals is open rain or shine, seven days a week, from 9am to sundown (or thereabouts), has a fixed fair SUP rental fee of ten euros per hour for residents and  creature-comfort essentials such as lockers, loos and (essential in winter, not that 22 degrees is exactly winter) hot showers.  It’s pretty clear why we keep returning like boomerangs (oh, and my house is three minutes’ walk up the hill).  Beauty, convenience – praise and compliments…


…now for the criticism.


The problem with Vela Portals is I always (without fail) leave feeling, at best, frustrated and, at worst, angry.  I really truly do not want to be the AA Gill or Jan Moir of The Islander, that is neither the purpose of this column nor my style (as I mentioned, I am British, even if the hairdresser entirely destroys my life with a haircut from hell, I still say ‘wonderful’ as they hold the mirror behind my head, pay in full, and leave a tip, before heading home in floods of mascara-streaked tears), but on this occasion I have just got to commit my vexation to paper.


With the odd fabulous exception, the staff at Vela Portals appear to be interested in anything and everything but customer service.  I swear if they could leave the keys under the mat and an honesty box for payment they would, such is their lack of desire to serve and assist.  Not even in the early days, a couple of years ago, did anyone ask if I knew how to SUP or if I wanted any tips on where to stand or how to paddle, in fact most of the time they don’t even bring me a board – I take one off the rack and help myself. 


The equipment is dire, with a capital D.  While I agree that ten euros an hour is a great deal, bargain in fact, plenty of other SUP rental places across Mallorca charge the same and manage to supply a board that is still intact and a paddle that was designed for SUP rather than kayaking (albeit with one end taped up).  Some of the boards at Vela Portals need voluntary euthanasia to be put out of their misery.  I am no surf-school expert, but I can’t help thinking that with bulk-buying power and a constant stream of willing renters, it must be economically viable to provide better equipment. 


(I was going to go on to mention the death-trap marine flora-covered slipway (I will never forget the day my BFF telephoned my house to say “can you come and help me, I have fallen and smashed my face and prescription glasses on the slipway at Portals while launching a sailing boat”) but then I would a) really sound like AA Gill and b) need to locate a lawyer.)


I’ll close by saying that if you look at our GoPro pictures from that 22-degree Sunday you’ll see that the overriding emotion was one of happiness and gratitude.  Flat calm crystalline water, great company,  good gossip, some core training, a swim (yes, at the end of November!) off a tourist-free white-sand Illetes beach and several locals out enjoying their motor- and sailing-boats to shout a friendly ‘buenos dias’ to.  Life is good.  Mallorca is great.  And thank you Vela Portals for giving
me the opportunity to make my Northern European Facebook friends green with envy – keep up the good work.  


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