Thursday 29 September 2016

Mallorca: An exquisite island in the sun

Sun holidays in Europe

Elle Gordon

Published 30/05/2016 | 02:30

A view of the coastal village of Deia.
A view of the coastal village of Deia.

Elle Gordon is in holiday mode the minute she sets foot on Majorca.

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The first thing that comes to my mind when contemplating a holiday destination doesn't usually start with questions about the weather but has more to do with the general feel of the place, in short, 'does it have a good atmosphere?' I put this question to people who had been to Mallorca before and was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who shouted 'yes' and  'you're going to love it'.

Bolstered by these glowing accolades, I couldn't wait to get out there. The moment I stepped off the plane, noting as always the delicious warm burst of air that signals the beginning of a trip to the sun, I felt myself slip into holiday mode, relaxed and ready to take it easy.

Well, relax I did, but take it easy? Not so much. The few days we were there our schedule was jam-packed full of breathtakingly beautiful sights and exciting activities. But even with every minute on the go, I was aware of the chilled feeling that any stress had been left at Dublin airport, as it should be.

I was blown away by just how much I loved it. Mallorca has so much more to offer that goes beyond one or two parts of the island known for the nightclub scene. Its beauty, the flowers, the greenery, the picturesque houses with their stone faded a golden honey by the sun, are what my eyes feasted upon over the coming days.

We stayed in Hotel Mon Port nestled in the mountains giving it that secluded hideaway feel. And yet although tucked away, it's only a two-minute walk from the harbour town of Andratx, again with more scenic views. There are grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, bars, ideal if a trip into the city of Palma, about 30 minutes drive from the hotel, doesn't tickle your fancy.

On the first night, jaded post-flight, and appetites sated after a delicious dinner in the hotel accompanied by a glass of cava (what else?), I fell fast asleep. The next morning it was a joy to wake up in a deliciously comfy bed with the sun streaming through the window. After a buffet-style breakfast offering everything under the sun and a strong coffee or two. (even the coffee tastes better) it was time for our first day of exploring.

We arrived in Palma mid-morning to a city centre that was buzzing with activity and people on the go. If it's shopping you're after than get yourself to 'the golden mile' which looked heavenly. I admired it from afar as we made our first stop-off at the segway tours. A segway tour of the city is a novel way to explore; it is also a nice break for tired feet. The tour was an hour long and passed by some of the cities major attractions like The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma.

Be warned you will have to wear a dodgy-looking hairnet under your helmet, but it is a small sacrifice for seeing all the sights.

Lunch was at the Santa Catalina market for a cheese and wine tasting at Sagla stall. Sebastia Rojas runs the family business. Their ethos is to offer the highest quality and widest variety of cheeses and hams. I'm not a big meat eater and rarely eat dairy (yes I'm one of those), but two minutes in , I was devouring the wonderful products.

Fed and watered, it was on to the village of Saint Elm located at the foothills of the Sierra Tramontana range in South West Mallorca. If your ideal break entails white rolling sands, exquisite scenery, authentic cuisine and water activities to keep the whole family entertained, then this is for you. We opted for sea kayaking and I am so glad I did it. Splashing around in a kayak with another person trying to synchronise and failing miserably is so much fun. We rowed/flapped our way to an island out in the bay, getting out on a small beach to survey the beauty (and catch our breath).

Then it was back to land to tuck into dinner, a dish unique to the island and loved by locals called pa amb oli. So tasty, but a tip - unless you are training for a marathon, order the half portion. We finished off our day on another happy note, sipping cocktails in the sunset and drinking in the views.

The next day we spent the morning walking around the royal cathusian monastery at Valldemossa Palace, where famed composer Frederic Chopin and novelist George Sand rented a cell and spent a winter together. This was an amazing place to visit especially if you are a fan of Chopin's work, you will enjoy the exhibition which acts as a window into his life.

After this we visited the charming coastal village Deia for lunch at Belmond La Residencia hotel and spa. I cannot emphasise enough how exquisite this place was. There were flowers everywhere, an in-house artist and gallery, an in-house sculptor, divine pools, including an adult pool and exquisite rooms. Whatever you can think of, they've thought of it already. You can even adopt one of their olive trees, in return for your contribution to its upkeep, a plaque with your family name will be hung on it. A sweet gift idea perhaps.

Deia is known as a bohemian village and a popular favorite among artists and creative types. As we sat on a leafy verandah, with its soft lull of chat, mixed with wonderful food and even better views I could see why. Deia is somewhere I will most definitely return to visit.

The next morning we embarked on a golf clinic at Alcanada Golf course. Golfers will love it and non-golfers will get a good laugh. John Verhappen, who gave us a lesson was to play with Rafa Nadal the next day. Even so, he was gentlemen enough to praise our rookie attempts, always a plus for first-timers.

Another sumptuous meal at the course and we went on to visit the brilliant museum of Fundacion Yannick Ben Jakober and picturesque playo de muro beaches.

Finally it was back to Palma to Puro beach club. This was one of the highlights of my trip, if it is possible to choose. There is a pool in the middle of the club with all sides surrounded by ocean. We ate dinner to the side and everyone was giddy with happiness at this stage. It was the perfect end to a visit to an island that I can't wait to return to.

Getting there

Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) operates a daily service from Dublin to Palma, Majorca, and a three-times-weekly service from Cork. Lead-in fares, including taxes and charges, start from €79.99 from Dublin and from €71.99 from Cork. For further information visit aerlingus.com

Hotel Mon Port rates (per night based on two sharing): prices start at €130 including breakfast (low season); Prices start at €300 including breakfast (high season).

Segway: nine bot Segway tours in Palma (funrunpalma.com) from €35 for one hour.

Kayaking: Keida sea kayaking in Saint Elm (keida.es), €15 for one hour double kayak, and €35 for three hours double kayak. Single kayaks and bike rental are also on offer.

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