Emyr Thomas from Bon Vivant, a London
-based concierge service, shares his thoughts on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.
With 554km of coastline, Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands, situated off the East coast of Spain. Most of its estimated 10m annual visitors don't venture further than the high-rise hotels and over-populated beach resorts, but travellers are becoming increasingly aware of the idyllic charm and beauty of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains and its quaint villages. When you also consider the revitalised cobbled streets of Palma, the world-class golf and the excellent gourmet restaurants scattered around the island, it's easy to see why Mallorca is emerging as one of the chicest destinations in the Mediterranean.
La Residencia, a charming and elegant sixteenth and seventeenth-century manor house in the heart of the village of Dei?, is one of the most exclusive hotels on the island. The rooms are spacious and elegant, with Mallorcan antiques and modern art from local artists blending seamlessly. The beds are extremely comfortable and you are never far away from truly spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the coast in the distance.
La Residencia is a part of the Orient-Express group, therefore it offers all the amenities you could hope for, including two outdoor and one indoor swimming pool, a large gym, a spa and two tennis courts with a resident professional coach. You can also learn to paint, hike in the hills, explore the surrounding area on a mountain bike and dine in an exceptionally romantic setting under the olive trees at El Olivio.
Deia also has many excellent restaurant a few minutes' walk from the hotel, including the Michelin-starred Es Raco des Teix.
A short journey from Deia is the equally picturesque village of Valldemossa and the rustic chic charm of the Mirabo de Valldemossa. Mirabo has only eight rooms and one suite, all of which are simple, comfortable and elegant, and most of which have a private terrace. One of the best features of the hotel is the peace and tranquility it offers, with nothing but the view from the pool to cause a distraction. Styled as an 'agroturismo', Mirabo is designed to be a home from home, where you can have home cooked traditional Mallorcan cuisine for breakfast and dinner, but all other snacks and drinks are self served, in the style of an honesty bar.
Palma, Mallorca's capital, has itself seen a resurgence in recent years, with cool boutique hotels, trendy restaurants and funky bars popping up on its historic labyrinth-like streets.
Hotel Tres is perfectly located in Palma's old town, in the shadow of the gothic cathedral, and only a few minutes from the port. The cathedral can be admired in style from the hotel's rooftop terrace, which also has a highly coveted plunge pool. The rooms are cool, crisp and white, with consistent modern design accents throughout, and a few rooms have terraces overlooking the central courtyard. Service is sleek and unobtrusive, and make sure you're up in time for the vast buffet breakfast.
For those who would rather be slightly removed from the city, the Hospes Maricel is a mere ten minutes West of Palma. The hotel has a striking design of stone archways, marble pillars and contemporary furniture. The Senzone restaurant has a beautiful setting on the water's edge, with contemporary Mallorcan cuisine to match the view.
In June 2010, a former military fort near Llucmajor was unveiled as Mallorca's newest luxury hotel, Cap Rocat. Each of the 24 suites has its own patio, terrace and sun loungers, offering glorious views of Palma. The Sea Club restaurant has a beautiful sea front setting, and serves dishes from a traditional firewood oven. At night, Cap Rocat is beautifully lit, which adds its romantic charm. Across the bay of Palma, the Son Vida development can be seen, which is home to some of the best golf on the island and arguably the best view of Palma from the terrace at the Castillo Son Vida hotel.
Other notable restaurants on the island include Simply Fosh, from British chef Marc Fosh, in Palma's old town, and Es Fum at the St Regis Mardavall Hotel, a true gastronomic experience with exemplary service. For a "see and be seen" lunch, join the yachts and the designer boutiques at Flanigan's in Puerto Portales.
Bon Vivant is a bespoke concierge service that advises on and arranges every travel, lifestyle and leisure need. For further information, visit their website at www.bonvivant.co.uk