Tuesday, May 30, 2017

HIDDEN MALLORCA AT BELMOND LA RESIDENCIA


Long before mass tourism, artists, writers and composers hid away on Mallorca to create masterpieces. We have sought out some of their hideaways – where refined five star hotels offer an indulgent escape in stunning surroundings…far from the madding crowd.



First stop will be Deia, an enchanting village at the foot of massive rocky mountains – home of artist’s since the sixties. 

Here lies Belmond La Residencia. Stepped up the slope in the same honey coloured stone as the village, it blends in harmoniously, surrounded by lush gardens erupting with gigantic roses, lemon, orange and olive trees. 



One of the must-dos is to sit on the terrace waiting for the moment the sun sets and suffuses the soaring cliffs with a red glow. For the occasion we definitely had to try a Miro cocktail – named after Joan Miró, whose original artworks decorate the Miró Café bar and bistro.

The very moment that the  rosy hue begins to glow on the crags 


Miro cocktail, Miro art
Miro's Archipel sauvage V, 1970

Art is a passion at Belmond La Residencia. The hotel has three resident artists, the gorgeous grounds contain a sculpture garden, and the walls are hung with 800 curated artworks – including the impressive collection of 33 originals by Miró in place until September 2017. 

 Belmond La Residencia’s resident sculptor, Juan Waelder, knew the artist personally and recalls: 
“Joan Miró illuminated the world of art, and the spirit of millions of people...”

Art workshops are offered by the hotel including sculpture sessions with Juan Waelder, and you can also join art walks with a guide to meet the village artists - more about that later.


The loving touch


The hotel welcomes you warmly and pampers you in style. Originally an olive oil farm or finca, the farm mansions have been converted artfully into guest rooms of every size and shape, all enlivened by original paintings and antiques, and a refined rustic style with terracotta tiles and wooden beams.

This junior suite superior lies closes to the breakfast restaurant and has a narrow garden curved around it with sunbeds and table and chair, with the mountain peaks rearing up behind vegetation 
The hotel’s caring touch extends up the mountain through its own centuries-old olive groves. La Residencia spends a considerable budget on restoring the archaic stone walls that terrace the steep slope, and in removing unwanted plants for the sake of the precious olives and the beauty of the surroundings.

As allies in this effort they keep donkeys that nibble away between the olive trees. These beasts of burden add colour and authenticity to what is already a hotel full of Mallorcan atmosphere.

Sharing their passion for their environment with guests is in itself a passion for hotel management and staff. Once a week they organize a walk up the slope with donkeys carrying your drinking water to a stone shed high up with views of Deia and the sea. There you sit down at a rustic table to hear about local ways and eat rustic food – a range of Mallorcan sausages and “pa amb oli” with fresh made bread, which you rub with wild tasting Mallorcan tomatoes, various salt mixes, and olive oil of various local varieties.

Towards the beginning of the stiff walk we saw a new platform with stunning sea view – destined for romantic private dining. The velvet blue of the sea peeps between the gnarled trunks of olives.


One of our companions - families can hire him for a walk with the kids to make them really happy



The hotel in reviving its large olive plantations is grafting fresh olive plants onto the old rootstock of well adapted Mallorcan olives. The higher we walked, the more sea we saw

Sea and mountains

Glimpsed way below the hotel, the sea is not really so far away. It’s a mere 5 mins drive or some 20 to 30 mins walk down a rustic path from La Residencia to Cala Deia. Nestled in this rocky cove with sparkling seawater is a small beach strewn with kelp and pebbles. Cosily it has two tapas bars, where you can sit in the sun and drink gin with hibiscus tonic – which went down very well with our party who were now wondering how to get hibiscus tonic back home.

At a rustic bar at Cala Deia with Kate from the Belmond team

In the summer the hotel offers boat trips along the coast to other sights and beaches. Or for hikers, you can stride for some 2 hours over mountain passes to Port Soller to enjoy its beach and bars, feeling you really deserve it.

Back at the hotel swimming is a pleasure from spring to autumn. The main pool is heated, and there are two more pools including a spa pool.

Deia  and the Tramuntana mountains beyond the heated pool
One of the golden stone villas of Deia beyond the hotel gardens - backed by those mind blowing mountains

Tapas and village culture

With their stunning backdrop of towering mountains and gardens simply erupting with flowers, the hotel terraces are sublime spots for breakfast, lunch and cocktails – and of course for tapas.

Both Miro restaurant and El Olivo are worthy F&B destinations with guests coming from far afield. In the picturesque village there are 8 restaurants so that creates a bit of competition which helps to keep a high standard all round.

Other boasting points in Deia are a museum and a lovely church with the churchyard where the English poet Robert Graves was buried. He lived here for decades from 1929 until his death in 1985 and his home can be visited.


Steps  past a drinking fountain leading up towards the church
Narrow one ways and mellow stone backed by the Tramuntana mountains


Intimately part of Deia, La Residencia gives easy access to village life. You can buy Mallorcan gins and olive oil, browse in a few arty shops, and interact with local artists in their studios (most of them simply homes stacked with art for viewing and for sale). No artists will hassle you to buy (however happy they will be if you do). They will tell you why they painted x or y, revealing their dreams or their loves and disillusions. 

On our art walk with one of La Residencia’s art gurus:

Some artworks by David Templeton outside his home - which is packed with paintings and collages from floor to ceiling, lounge to kitchen


Arturo drifted in to Deia on his travels round the world - and stayed decades. No pose of arrogant intellectual mystique - he will tell you a story behind every painting - true if you want or pure fantasy. Vermeer's lady with the pearl earring pops up in various paintings - here she has the background of Cala Deia.Behind is Blind Date - based on a failed date of his own - which lead to the next painting....

Women bear a huge burden of romance - his amusing perhaps sardonic explanation for the flowery lady bearing Cupid on her breast. 

In the gardens at the hotel at least once a week you find local art on display. A big party in the summer that invites the villagers is another high point of interaction with the locals. The band is likely to contain a few of the expat artists who discovered Deia decades ago.

A place of your own

At Belmond La Residencia most rooms have views of mountains soaring heavenward, the lush gardens or the stone village. 

The building lowest down – virtually in the village –  is the oldest mansion (16th century) and some rooms have a more medieval feel ladled with nostalgia. Next tier, the Son Fony wing is where we stayed in an 18th century mansion above the main pool area. Finally, perched high on the slope, is the new Tramuntana wing – recreating the old style but with stunning open views and a number of plunge pools.

The news is that in June 2017, six new rooms will be available high up in the Tramuntana section, with a special attraction for extended families. On two levels you have the possibility to book three interleading suites as two Exclusive suites (each with plunge pool and separate lounge) interlink and interconnect with a Junior Suite Deluxe on each level.   


Summary of a great hotel - worth your bucket list

In short, Belmond La Residencia is a hotel with soul, with refined and cultured atmosphere yet warm and relaxing. It radiates the authentic feel of old stone, original art and antiques – and is wrapped in beauty with tall mountains and exuberant scented gardens, within easy reach of the sea. Hotel arranges activities to put you in tune with Mallorca, its olive groves, artists, and tapas…or just head off on your own.

View at breakfast - the terrace of Son Fony restaurant

Who to stay

They go out of the way for families and have a kids club to keep them active, but it is basically an adult hotel, with generally sophisticated guests who would not really welcome too exuberant children. As it is so up and down with sometimes uneven stone steps it does not suit those with mobility problems or unwieldy baby carriages, but there are a few rooms that enable the guest to get to meals and the lobby without climbing any or many steps.

Quick facts

No. of rooms: 72, 1 villa
Distance from airport: 45 mins
Distance from shopping: The hotel lies in the village of Deia, less than 5 mins from a liquor store, a few arty shops and local restaurants
Pools & spa: Lovely heated pool with fabulous views of the mountains and some hideaway terraces for suntanning. A quiet pool further up the slopes.  The spa: pool Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, 6 treatment rooms 3 with terraces – complimentary use of facilities.
F&B:  El Olivo with a stone courtyard with olive trees and indoor dining - Mediterranean cuisine. Popular with outsiders. Café Miro bar and bistro. Adorned with Miro paintings. Spills out onto the terraces. Son Fony – in beautiful position above the main pool with terrace and indoor area. Breakfast with usual choices on the buffet table, a fair selection of Spanish style sausages and other cold cuts on separate table, eggs and pancakes to order.  Pool restaurant/bar – in summer – a generous buffet offering good value.

In Deia there are 8 restaurants. Especially recommended is Nama (tip from a local artist) and Es Racò Des Teix -  family run restaurant with one Michelin star.  
Excerpt from menu at Café Miro
Guijuelo bellota Spanish ham 31 euros. Beef carpaccio with Cipriani sauce and rocket and parmesan  24 euros (I  had a wonderful tuna version – totally first class). Grilled Soller prawns and salad 38 euros.
Excerpt from the menu at El Olivo
Filete de lubina salvaje confitado en aceite de la finca, calamares e hinojo 38.00
Fillet of wild sea bass in confit of the finca's olive oil, squid and fennel

Degustation menu 128 euros: “El Olivo classics” – 7 courses. “Chef Méndez will surprise you with some of his most acclaimed signature dishes such as Sóller prawns, Monkfish fillet sautéed with citrus fruits from our garden or roast suckling-pig and more.”


Our lovely lemony dessert
New platform for private dining



Sports: gym, 2 tennis courts  


Read more about our Mallorcan hotels see the Select Collection website HERE


Blog text and  images by Select Collection & Gillian Stanbridge -   image of a Miro artwork by Belmond.







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