Whether you’re a romantic, a purist, or a fan of being spoiled, Mallorca’s got it. Who would have thought?
The almond tree blossom was the pull this time round, and whilst my heart sang with those gorgeous, elegant little blooms popping out so early in spring, I saw other equally beautiful things. Mallorca offers such a variety in experience that I’m determined to go back soon.
I started in Palma de Mallorca, and loved the Old Town. Beautiful buildings, lovely squares and elegant boulevards. And best of all, it's a town the perfect size for a long weekend, with restaurants aplenty.
Of course tapas was required, and I was pleased with the creativity, freshness and presentation at the chic Tast. Fresh, white crabmeat arranged on an oh-so-tiny bit of toast was wonderful. And while we know and love spicy potatoes and cod croquettes, it pays to try something else, like oxtail with poached egg on top. Tuck in, surrounded by local Mallorquin, but not on Fridays when they are crammed.
The Palma Cathedral is hugely impressive, especially the St. Peter's Chapel, redeveloped by Miquel Barceló, who has just been appointed to design an equally huge ceramic mural for the National Library in Paris. Just beside this impressive ancient building is an equally astonishing modern one: The Museum of Contemporary Art – a fantastic place with a super restaurant to match. Relaxing after seeing such great works, looking out over the harbour, is a great way to spend a few hours. Mallorca brims with modern art; it’s astounding – every roundabout seems to sport a sculpture!
But you need to decide what type of traveller you are to be able to chose where to go next.
Will you have time just for a few days watching the almonds on lovely drives around the more northern part around Bunyola, Alaro, St. Maria del Cami, and Selva in direction to the well-known Soller/Deia corner of Mallorca? There used to be huge plantations full of almond trees; sadly they have shrunk substantially. (The usual story of cheaper, bigger ones in California.) But they are still gorgeous and plentiful in many places, and might just return in time in greater numbers; with global warming, California is out of the picture at present – too hot!
The need for a new approach to almond harvesting fostered an amazing alliance between Swiss entrepreneur, Ivan Levy, and Mallorcan Franciscan monk, Father Tomeu. They got together to form a charity called Dignitat I Feina, organising work around the almond tree harvest and producing very fine Mallorcan turrón, or almond sweets.
Or are you more of a purist who wants to live like the locals (albeit the well-heeled ones)? Then there is a perfect way: just talk to Cati at Santanyi Rentals, a new agency specialising in luxury properties and local houses where the professional Mallorquin spend their summer months. Cati, who has been working with planning authorities for the past 15 years, knows the ins and outs of everything on Mallorca. The area around Santanyi is very different form the North, much flatter, great for easy walking, with amazingly beautiful dry-wall roads. You’ll have little coves to swim from rather than huge beaches, but that adds to the charm. Cati is also very keen to project manage your new home in Mallorca, so talk to her if you want that dream to come true. Can you see yourself in a village house with two bakeries and a restaurant just an hour from the airport? Or a modern, light-filled house with all the mod-cons in that same quaint village?
For people who would rather have everything accessible, organised, and served on a beautiful plate, this spring will see the opening of the Park Hyatt Mallorca Cap Vermell Estate, the first Park Hyatt resort in Europe. Additionally, they have hid a few top-end houses, the Cap Vermell Villas, for sale right now. All the luxury we would expect from a Hyatt resort will be there: a huge spa, very big rooms with large. The Scottish General Manager, John Beveridge, is supervising the planting of huge old olive trees, one which is 750 years old, so this should be a project full of wonders.
I stayed at the Cap Vermell Beach Hotel, a little jewel of a place that will act as the beach club once the resort opens. For now it is all an experienced traveller could want: it’s directly on the beach, has twelve comfortable rooms with balconies where you smell the sea, comfy lounge-beds on the outside terrace, and a super restaurant with huge terraces.
What more could you want? A chef trained by Adria? Done! I still have the taste the fig compote on vanilla/croquant ice-cream flambé with me now. A General Manager who looks after you like a long lost relative? Done! Tomeu Llull will move mountains for you. And even though I didn’t book an appointment, Jennifer spruced up this tired traveller easily.
Cap Vermell Beach Hotel is the sort of place you’d rather not write about, lest you don’t get a room or dinner reservation, so count yourself lucky I’m in altruistic mode.
The most amazing thing, however, is that none of this is much further than an hour from the airport. So what will you be? A romantic, a purist, or just plain spoiled? I say make time for all three.