Ravishing beaches, azure views and soulful hill towns make Mallorca the star of the Mediterranean
Words Jessica Shaltout
Discover a different side to Mallorca…
Mallorca, the largest island in the Balearics, may make you think of beach resorts, but there is so much more to the island, as we discovered on a recent trip. Once viewed as an 18-30’s style getaway, the island has undergone a transformation, making it a great cultural yet affordable break.
Beginning our trip in Palma, where we stayed for three days, we immediately took to wandering the magical winding cobbled streets, strolling along the port, breathing in the sea air, drifting between the shops, and stopping off in the many cafes and eateries. Palma has a very cosmopolitan feel, much like Barcelona or Madrid. Too often overlooked as the airport gateway to Mallorca, the island’s capital city is a hotbed of architectural diversity, whose rich historical heritage is matched by stunning examples of architecture which places the city amongst the very best of Spain. From the quaint crumbling remnants of the city’s Moorish past embodied in its tiny Banys Arabs (Moorish baths) and the imposing grandeur of the vast Gothic Cathedral (La Seu) to the startling modernity of the concrete and glass slotted seamlessly within the old renaissance walls of Es Baluard (home to the Museum of Contemporary Art), Palma hosts some exceptional examples of architecture.
For shoppers, Palma offers a mix of quality shopping, designer boutiques, high street favourites, artisan and antique shops. It is the perfect size for shopping, big enough to have the variety of shops you’d expect from a capital city but small enough to walk around. We also took time to enjoy the multitude of markets largely offering residents fresh local produce including recently caught fish. Mercat de L’Olivar is the largest market selling most produce and is located towards the train station.
Previously viewed as perhaps a little old-fashioned, Mallorca has undergone a fresh wave of design-savvy hotels and Puro Hotel is proof of that. Situated in the Old Town, it is converted from an 18th-century palace hotel in the former fish-market district, keeping its charm. Inside, the hotel has a modern and contemporary feel, while also paying homage to many cultures. Centred around a courtyard with white stones, palms and fountains there is an instantly tranquil feel allowing you to be taken away from the bustling city vibe.
There are 51 rooms at Puro, most overlooking the courtyard, some the cobbled streets of Old Town, all with nods to different designs inspired by Marrakesh, Bali and Miami. Ours was a wonderful mezzanine suite that featured all the latest mod-cons from the likes of Bose, a large luxury bathroom and king-sized bed. As I lay relaxing in the pool-sized white washed bath I was able to admire the design, which is different for each room. The many textures and fabrics, of ropes, white stone, linen and cotton, wicker and carved wooden doors, simultaneously create a sense of grandeur and minimalism.
Beyond the rooms, there is more to Puro, which has a rooftop terrace featuring a small pool surrounded by Balinese beds, while those seeking a slightly more upbeat tempo will find it at OPIO, the hotel’s clubby DJ-hosted bar. We took ourselves off to one of the beach clubs that Puro owns, PuroBeach, where you can’t help but feel like you are a cool beach club in Ibiza as you lay on your bed listening to music and drinking cocktails. This is one of six beach clubs Puro own around Europe, where they create an oasis experience. Book beds in advance as they get busy peak period. We didn’t make it to the spa, but this, along with the events facilities that Puro offers, just adds to their array of services.
Having enjoyed the city for a few days, my husband and I decided to take ourselves off for a more rural retreat on the east coast in the Cap Vermell estate overlooking Canyamel valley staying at Park Hyatt. This hotel is only two years old and laid out like a traditional Mallorcan village. Despite it being fairly new, it still has an authentic feel supported by all the flowers, streams and paths that meander around the hotel.
We found the facilities here excellent, with two pools (one for adults and one for families), a gym, tennis courts and of course the sumptuous Serenitas Spa. For golf lovers there are also many golf courses close by. Being six months pregnant I could not help but indulge in a luxury massage, so we treated ourselves to a couples room, where you are able to enjoy your treatments together, as well as relax in the facilities after. A visit to the spa is well worth it.
It’s a fairly big hotel with 142 rooms and an understated taupe and stone decor throughout. All have terraces and some a small garden. Ours had a beautiful view overlooking mountains rich in vegetation. Much like our previous hotel we were spoilt with all the latest mod cons, there was even a TV in the mirror.
There is plenty of variety in terms of food and drink, with four restaurants to chose from, meaning you can easily last a few days without even leaving the hotel. The Balearic restaurant serves traditional Majorcan food while Café Sa Plaça is also good for a light lunch. In Asia restaurant, the menu changes according to the countries that visiting chefs are from. The Tapas gastrobar is home to chef David García, who won a Michelin star at Albora in Madrid.
The hotel provides a shuttle service to Canyamel Beach, a three-minute drive away. Here, you can spend the day basking in the sun, or try water sports from snorkelling to sailing, before grabbing refreshments from the restaurant at Cap Vermell Beach Hotel, where the bill can be directly transferred to your Park Hyatt room.
For visiting this hotel, I would definitely recommend hiring a car. While you can relax in the serenity of this resort for a few days, there is plenty to do around the island of Mallorca, as we discovered. Not only are there beaches and coves to explore, but there are many small fishing towns and markets around the island. My favourite site was when we stumbled across San Salvador, Mallorca’s second most important place of pilgrimage. Although the drive up is somewhat of a challenge the views at the top are well worth it as you overlook the whole island. So whether it’s a city break, beach resort or a sightseeing holiday you’re after, Mallorca has it all.