The Good Life on Mallorca

Palma, Mallorca - Olarty/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Photo by Olarty/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Jumeirah Port Soller HOTEL & SPA is built on a cliff overlooking the fishing village of Port Soller and is surrounded by the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range.
Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa is built on a cliff overlooking the fishing village of Port Soller and is surrounded by the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range.

For a half century, Mallorca conjured images of mass tourism and raucous holiday-makers looking for a good time. Today, Mallorca appeals in equal measure to families, adventurers and jetsetting bon vivants. The island’s top-tier luxury hotels are a real draw, as we found on a spring trip to the island. Here are our recommendations.

Few hotels can rival the magnificent setting of the Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa, clinging to the sheer rock cliffs above the Mediterranean. From this soaring vantage point, the sea and sky seem to merge into one seamless infinitude of turquoise. This is a privileged perch, adjacent to the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where new construction is prohibited. Jumeirah was able to open on this spot in 2012, because the property was built on the existing footprint of an old (defunct) hotel. The precipitous views aren’t the only wow factor.

Hotel Sant Francesc’s terrace offers views over the tiled rooftops and consists of a pool, a solarium and a bar.
Hotel Sant Francesc’s terrace offers views over the tiled rooftops and consists of a pool, a solarium and a bar.

This was the first European resort for the Dubai-based brand, and, simply put, it’s heaven on earth. Jumeirah has created a luxurious aerie with pampering service, a sunset bar, a glorious restaurant (named Cap Roig after the popular local fish) and one of the best spas on the island. With low-rise buildings constructed into the hillside to follow the natural contours of the land, the hotel sprawls across multiple levels, so it’s uncrowded and blissfully quiet; you often feel like you have the run of the place. Marble terraces are planted with citrus trees in terracotta pots, and the sound of fountains and birdsong drift across the gardens.

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This luxury of space is also found in the 121 generously sized guest rooms. Our Deluxe Seaview Room was filled with luxe extras: a Nespresso machine, a Mallorcan straw bag to pack for the pool, a generous supply of Penhaligon’s bath amenities and discreet technology. (A flip of a bedside switch alerts housekeeping staff to “do not disturb.”) And those views! Imagine soaking in a tub in front of a wall of glass that frames the Mediterranean for as far as the eye can see. The bathrooms are like mini spas, decorated in precious marble, with both tubs and rainshowers. Room service arrives in less than 30 minutes, and you can enjoy breakfast or a bottle of wine on your furnished terrace, staring out to sea.

Booking Tips: The Observatory Suite is the highest in the resort, perched on the top floor with a spotting telescope and a vast terrace to revel in the panoramas. Perks include Bvlgari bath amenities, a Jacuzzi, complimentary round-trip airport transfers and a private kitchen, where your own chef can prepare custom meals. Also highly requested by VIPs is the Lighthouse Suite, resembling a duplex apartment with an outdoor Jacuzzi on the terrace directly facing the Cap Roig Lighthouse. Last but not least: the Mar Blau Suite is like its own stand-alone house. For VIP bookings, reach out to Maika Huertas ([email protected]; 011-34-691-038-592), director of sales and marketing.

The Talise Spa is a stay awhile oasis with an outdoor heated Hydropool overlooking the Tramuntana valley. The pool deck is beautifully landscaped with lavender and you could sit all afternoon and sigh over the views. Leave ample time before your treatment to indulge in the facilities, including a sauna, hammam, salt bath and ice fountain. Spa treatments — like the Olive Seed Scrub and the Mediterranean Orange Wrap — showcase local ingredients and Mallorca’s natural bounty. Don’t miss the Talise signature massage. For bookings, contact the helpful spa staff ([email protected]; 011-34-971-637-810).

Jumeirah Port Soller’S Observatory Suite is the highest in the resort, perched on the top floor with a spotting telescope and a vast terrace.
Jumeirah Port Soller’S Observatory Suite is the highest in the resort, perched on the top floor with a spotting telescope and a vast terrace.

Note: Jumeirah Port Soller is kid-friendly without feeling like a child-centric hotel. In fact, the number of child guests is limited so that couples’ privacy isn’t infringed upon. There is one family pool and a separate infinity pool for adults, thereby a serene resort environment is guaranteed. Thoughtful kids’ amenities include pint-sized bathrobes, bath toys and sweet treats drizzled in icing that spells out your kids’ names. Offering excellent activities and games, Barbaroja’s Kids Club is complimentary for two hours every day (3-12 years old). Susanna, who runs the club, genuinely adores children and designs activities based on their individual interests.

It’s these service standards that really set this hotel apart. Another example is the restaurant staff. At breakfast, waiters materialize with pitchers of freshly squeezed juice the second you take a seat. (The buffet is a cornucopia of treats; don’t miss Mallorcan specialties like ensaïmada pastry and zesty marmalade made from local oranges.)

These days, the travel zeitgeist exults authenticity, with jetsetters seeking out local experiences in global destinations. This is another reason that Jumeirah’s Mallorca location is a huge draw. The town of Port de Soller was historically isolated from Palma until a tunnel was built through the mountains in 1997, creating a direct access road. In fact, the town had closer ties to France because the fishermen would trade with Marseille. (The export of the prized local oranges was big business.) Hence the town has preserved its authentic culture. Fishermen still use traditional methods: hand-blown glass lanterns attract fish to the sides of their boats in the pre-dawn hours. For adventure-seekers, the concierge staff can arrange fishing trips (and the hotel’s chef cooks up your catch back at the hotel). The concierge can also book yacht charters, rental cars, private jets, sailing excursions and hiking treks into the mountains. To contact the concierge team, e-mail at [email protected], or call 011-34-971-637-888.

A trip to Mallorca shouldn’t bypass the capital of Palma. Often travelers are so eager to get to the island’s beaches or hill towns that they skip Palma, but this is a mistake. The old town is almost impossibly atmospheric — winding alleys are lined with mansions adorned with wrought iron balconies, lorded over by the colossal sandstone cathedral that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Large tour groups from cruise ships visit the cathedral in the morning, so consider buying a ticket at lunchtime.)

Hotel Sant Francesc is housed inside a restored 19th-century nobleman’s mansion, in the heart of Palma de Mallorca.
Hotel Sant Francesc is housed inside a restored 19th-century nobleman’s mansion, in the heart of Palma de Mallorca.

In the heart of old town, the Hotel Sant Francesc made a splash when it opened in April 2015. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Hotel Sant Francesc was opened by a member of the family that owns the Majestic in Barcelona. Housed inside a restored 19th-century nobleman’s mansion, the hotel takes its name from the picturesque basilica, which it faces on Sant Francesc Square. Careful attention was paid to restoring original architectural features like wood beams and painted frescoes.

THE Sunset Lounge Bar at Jumeirah Port Soller offers nearly 360-degree views of the Tramuntana mountain range, the port and the Mediterranean sea.
 
The Sunset Lounge Bar at Jumeirah Port Soller offers nearly 360-degree views of the Tramuntana mountain range, the port and the Mediterranean sea.

The rooftop pool terrace boasts amazing views over the tiled rooftops. When we visited, a cool crowd was sipping bowl-sized G&Ts at sunset, gaping at the cathedral as it glowed orange in the waning light.

Design is a real focus at the Hotel Sant Francesc — you’ll find a carefully curated art collection adorning the walls — as is the food. Chef Simon Andreas Petutschnig has worked alongside some of the world’s best Michelin-starred chefs, and it shows. Our dinner in the QUADRAT restaurant — which occupies the former stables — started with a beautifully plated salmon tartare with a wasabi emulsion. The hake came with pumpkin purée and a beurre blanc sauce, while the oxtail was plated with confit mushrooms. Local wines were carefully chosen by the sommelier to complement the meal. It was so good, in fact, that the couple seated next to us remarked that the food outshined the Michelin two-starred meal they’d just enjoyed in the U.K.

Hotel Sant Francesc is small — there are only 42 rooms, including 10 suites — but it’s big on style and character. Each of the rooms has a unique configuration because of the distinctive layout of the historic house. Facilities include Nespresso coffee machines, free Wi-Fi and Heeley bath amenities. Of the suites, La Torre has the added bonus of a sublime rooftop terrace; note that it’s a triplex so there are lots of stairs. The Sant Francesc Suite is our favorite because of the gorgeous ceiling frescoes and the private balcony overlooking the square.

Hotel Sant Francesc has 42 rooms, including 10 suites, and each of them has a unique configuration.
 
Hotel Sant Francesc has 42 rooms, including 10 suites, and each of them has a unique configuration.

For VIP bookings, contact Xisco Martinez ([email protected]). Insiders tell us that many guests have been reserving week-long stays and renting a car to enjoy excursions around the island. The concierge team can help arrange a rental car, and also plot your itinerary. Send an e-mail to [email protected].

Advisor Insight

Virginia Irurita, the founder of Made for Spain, recently won the “best local ground operator” in the Luxury Travel Advisor Awards of Excellence. Passionate about the Spanish lifestyle and the country’s history, culture and art, Irurita specializes in custom travel itineraries and unique experiences in Spain.

“In choosing hotels in Mallorca, the Jumeirah is amazing if clients are looking to be by the water. Their suites are out-of-this-world! If you’d rather stay inland, I love Hotel Castell Son Claret. A real gem with beautiful rooms, a fantastic spa, great gardens and a pool. In the city of Palma de Mallorca, the newest addition to the great hotel collection is Hotel Sant Francesc. Lastly, if you’re looking for accommodations that are rural and truly authentic, I recommend the Hotel Agroturism Possessió Binicomprat, which has been in the same family’s hands since the 16th century. Now, it’s open to the public for overnight stays, and they have amazing vineyards and a winery.

“In terms of restaurant recommendations, the following places offer fantastic local food: Las Sirenas in El Arenal, Casa Manolo in Ses Salines, Sa Sinia in Porto Colom and S’Amarador in Sa Rapita.”