The five star island
Mallorca. It is quite simply whatever you choose to make of it. Sun, sea and sangria? If that’s what you are looking for then that’s what you can find. For us, since we’ve been travelling as a family, it has been about beautiful days and nights in stunning surroundings. Less crazy golf and more lazy days.
We’ve been back time and time again, enticed by the variety to be found and the type of welcome that says the island is happy to have you.
Whether choosing villa, apartment or hotel (we’ve done all three with varying degrees of success!), hiring a car gives you the freedom to roam and is highly recommended. Traffic is light, in the main, and nothing is more than an hour’s drive and exploring all corners is a pleasure not a chore. We could reel off hundreds of Mallorcan highlights but for a five star island we’ve boiled it down to our personal top five:
Anyone travelling to Mallorca by air arrives in Palma – the crying shame is only a tiny portion get the chance to see past the hustle and bustle of the airport or the smooth efficiency of the network of roads which dart out like spiders legs, stretching to all corners of the island. It is a city of 380,000 people, the beating heart of an island that has a strong sense of independence, but has the warmth of a village. On a similar note, it’s as accessible on foot as a village too – with shady lanes, sprawling beaches and enticing marinas all within easy reach. Then there are the parks, lots of them … from children’s play parks to outdoor gyms aimed at those of, shall we say, more advanced years. For a spot of retail therapy, Palma has a contemporary twist but there’s never far to look for reminders of the city’s rich and proud history, from Roman times right through to the construction of the simply breathtaking Gothic cathedral and beyond.
Clinging to the western coast, a diamond on the cliff face of the island, is the small but beautifully formed Port de Soller. With the Puig Mayor providing a stunning mountainous backdrop, the winding roads and tunnels are worth enduring for the shining light at the end. Sitting in a picturesque half-moon bay, Port de Soller has an old world charm and not surprisingly has been enchanting artists, musicians and writers for generations. A stay at the retro Esplendido Hotel is on our wish list, so far we have had to settle for a walk-by and envious glances. Whilst us oldies wonder at the innate beauty of the bay, there are more youthful attractions – including the fun tram which runs from the port to the hillside village of Soller. There is also a train service running to Palma, although for little travellers the novelty may well wear off before the final stop!
Images courtesy of http://www.visitsoller.com
Puerto Portals isn’t so much a hidden gem as a shining bit of bling. There’s no hiding its target audience – with multi-million pound yachts bobbing at their berths, high end shops peppering the neatly designed marina complex and a smattering of high end restaurants to cater for the tastes of the jet set. But behind all of that, there’s actually a pretty lovely spot to be enjoyed. Side by side with the internationally acclaimed eateries are more relaxed and family friendly restaurants, down through the years our favourite has been the delicious and delightful Lollo Rosso. On one side is the marina with views out to sea, on the other seats overlooking the enclosed squares where kids can play in the Balearic sun. There’s also a lovely beach tucked away at the far end of Puerto Portals which is well worth seeking out. When night falls, there’s a relaxed but lively feel.
The old town of Pollensa, just a few miles inland from the port and popular beach resort sharing the same name, is a long-time favourite of ours. Why? It’s difficult to pin it down to one reason or another, more just the general feel and many happy memories of chilled out afternoons and evenings spent eating in the square that life in Pollensa revolves around and strolling the atmospheric lanes that criss-cross the town. It’s a chance to sample Mallorcan life, albeit far too briefly, as young and old come together to chew the fat, play, laugh and generally be merry. Yes the weather helps, but we’ve been in Pollensa outside of heat of summer and there’s the same lovely vibe. It’s a lovely place to daydream. Along the road at Puerto Pollensa the pace of life is slightly quicker with a more touristy feel, but it remains one of the more reserved resorts on the island. The Pine Walk – tracing the beaches along the front – is the perfect place to stretch the legs and there are some fantastic restaurants to be found (IRU is one we’ve been back to time and time again, with a modern take on the island’s traditional culinary delights).
Puerto Andratx completes the top five. Punctuating the south-west tip of the island with specks of white from the boats moored in the harbour and the villas peppering the hillsides, it is another picture postcard part of Mallorca which is as far removed from bucket and spade stereotypes as you can imagine. A traditional fishing village which has embraced its new-found place as an escape for those in the know – including stars from the world of sport and the big screen who have chosen the region as their holiday hideaway. We first visited long before we were a family of three, never mind five, but still make a point of returning whenever we’re on the island. An ice cream watching the last of the Andratx fishermen repairing their nets may not register on the excitement scale but sometimes the simple pleasures do just fine.
That’s where Mallorca comes into its own. Away from the bright lights and the 18-30 resorts there’s a whole island waiting to be discovered and we’ve only just scratched the surface.