Mallorca: Magic In The Med

Pine forests and citrus-scented hillsides cover the craggy shoreline of Mallorca, the Balearic belle whose cerulean shores have lured travellers and traders since time immemorial. From pretty Palma and its glamorous nightlife to the verdant hillsides of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains and a ribbon of sun-soaked beaches on the crystal-clear Mediterranean, this enchanting island is an essential summer escape for well-heeled travellers.

As an island, Mallorca developed its own unique culinary culture over the centuries, borrowing from the myriad traders, merchants and conquerors who have laid claim to its territory, underpinned by recipes from the mainland of the Iberian Peninsula. Today, homegrown produce, time-honoured recipes and artistic inspiration comes together in Mallorca’s vibrant culinary scene, from ocean-fresh seafood in palm-thatched chiringuitos (beach shacks) to high-end tapas in fine dining restaurants and sundowners in glitzy beach and yacht clubs.

A blanket of Michelin stars now shines above the island, spotlighting those restaurants that have elevated traditional flavours and ingredients to new heights, and the far-sighted chefs that have brought them to life. From the depths of the ocean to the orchards and vineyards that cover the island’s hillsides, Mallorca is blessed with an abundance of natural produce. The land provides a wealth of ingredients including almonds, olive oil and the indigenous Sa Pobla potato, as well as man-made treats such as Mallorca’s delicious wines. The Mediterranean, for its part, generously supplies an encyclopaedia of fish and seafood, and Mallorca’s famous sea salt, which has been traded since the Phoenicians arrived in the 8th century.

Travellers looking to explore the island’s natural landscapes may delve into a patchwork of orange groves and pine-covered hills, where centuries-old olive trees and sleepy towns and villages like Valldemossa, Sóller and Deià lay frozen in time, peppered with charming churches and pretty plazas.

Inland, the UNESCO World Heritage Serra de Tramuntana mountain range stretches for 90 kilometres across the island, home to mountain lakes, emerald valleys and towering peaks gathered around Puig Major, which dominates the scenery at 1,445m. A network of hiking trails and ancient cobbled pathways criss-cross the landscape, which is dotted with monasteries, castles and country estates, while scenic ribbons of well-kept roads wind across the island’s forested flanks and rolling hillsides, making it one of the most popular destinations in Europe for cyclists.

The island’s fringes are dotted with sublime coves and hidden beaches like Caló des Moro, where shimmering sands spill down to gin-clear waters and picturesque sailboats bob offshore; secluded havens reserved for those who dare to explore. Mallorca’s most popular beach escape is two-kilometre long Es Trenc, a scything stretch of sublime sand, vivid turquoise water and grassy sand dunes on the south of the island that backs onto Salobrar de Campos, a protected wetland reserve, where a kaleidoscopic collection of seabirds live among the salt marshes alongside colourful flamingos.

Long a magnet for well-heeled travellers thanks to a collection of exceptional escapes Mallorca’s lustre has been enhanced in the last 12 months with a flurry of new luxury openings. From bohemian boltholes and off-grid escapes to big-name resorts and home-grown hideaways, this Mediterranean isle is making a compelling case for the top spot on our travel wish list. On the quiet northwest of the island in the Serra de Tramuntana, two 19th century heritage houses have been transformed into Valldemossa Hotel; a picture-perfect manor house nestled on the olive-covered slopes in the outskirts of the village overlooking La Cartuja de Valldemossa.

Set in 1,300 acres of lush landscape in the foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana, Son Bunyola Hotel & Villas became the latest addition to Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition last June, a 16th century finca (farmhouse) that’s now home to 27 rooms and suites overlooking a bucolic landscape of vines and citrus orchards and Mallorca’s iconic Sa Foradada rock formation.

Back in Palma, ZEL Mallorca is the debut property born from the collaboration between Meliá Hotels and tennis superstar Rafa Nadal; a private Mediterranean home-style hideaway on Palmanova Beach.

As Mallorca’s legend continues to grow, so too does its hotel collection. In the coming years, a trio of new properties from established and upcoming brands will make their mark on the Balearic Isle.

At the northern tip of Mallorca, the Formentor Peninsula juts out into the Mediterranean, flanked by pebbly calas (coves), hillside forests and soaring cliffs; soon to be the new home for Four Seasons Resort Mallorca. On the southern side of the island in Calvià, Mandarin Oriental will also make its Balearic debut on a picturesque promontory with three hectares of gardens that cascade down to the Med. – tourspain.es

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