Gina Baksa heads to Mallorca for a stay at Hotel Formentor on the island’s idyllic north-west coast.
Mallorca’s reputation as a tourist package nightmare of epic proportions is unwarranted. Sure, you’ll find Dante’s Inferno at Magaluf and Arenal, but elsewhere this enchanting haven ‘twixt Ibiza and Menorca has much to attract the more discerning and sophisticated visitor.
The largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Mallorca is largely unspoilt and offers stunning coves, superb beaches, great driving and cycling roads – and beautiful luxury hotels. Head to the picturesque UNESCO-protected northeast of Mallorca to Cap Formentor and you’ll find yourself – as I did – among scented pine forests atop limestone cliffs that drop majestically into the azure blue waters below. A yachting haven, there are plenty of hideaway inlets to explore far from the madding crowd.
The Serra de Tramuntana mountains meet the Med here on this 20km peninsula just northeast of Pollenca, the local fishing port. Its main beach, Playa Formentor, is a stunning cove on the peninsula, with a gorgeous mountain backdrop.
We’ve arrived by car from Palma – just an hour’s drive via a mix of zigzag mountain roads and a motorway – at the award-winning Hotel Formentor – A Royal Hideaway Hotel. Winner of the Best Leading Boutique Hotel (World Travel Awards) 2016, the Formentor boasts an extraordinary elevated setting, with breath-taking Mediterranean gardens and stunning views out across the Bay of Pollença and the mountains.
Attracting celebrities and the cognoscenti since 1930, this idyllic hideaway has hosted luminaries such as Charlie Chaplin, Churchill, Princess Grace and Audrey Hepburn. Now run by The Barceló Hotel Group, the Formentor has retained its understated elegance and feels like a luxury holiday villa – albeit on a super grand scale. All the hotel’s 121 double and double superior rooms and suites have mountain or garden views that overlook the well-stocked terraced gardens and pergolas, leading to the two large swimming pools and then down to the pine-fringed sandy beach.
My suite on the third floor has stunning 180-degree vistas of the Bay and Illa de Formentor, the backdrop to the resplendent gardens and swimming pools. There’s no balcony here due to the hotel’s design, but the windows open (heaven!) allowing a cooling sea breeze even though the air con is sufficient. I notice generous balconies on the second floor below me.
My suite has a dressing room area with his and hers wardrobe, two TVs and a lounge with a sofa bed. The suites are homely – no super bling here – and are in keeping with the vintage feel of the hotel. To be honest, they could do with a little refresh, but the superb grounds and amenities – and proximity to the sea – means you will rarely be in your room.
Fridge, Nespresso, kettle, ironing board and iron – all check. And a selection of different sized pillows atop the most comfortable bed. There’s a lovely turndown service with chocolates. And some of the best towels I’ve ever used, along with White Company amenities. After a taste of the very welcome local cake thoughtfully placed in our room, we walk through the beautiful grounds (imagine lofty pine and palm trees) down to one of Formentor’s four restaurants – the smart beachside Bar Platja Mar. Open air and inside dining here is just steps from the sandy, pine-fringed beach – pure bliss.