Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Treated like a celebrity in a seaside hideaway with sophisticated Italian charm, Ulrika Thelander reviews a few magical days at Il Pellicano…

If you want a hideaway by the sea with excellent food and service – where celebrities and “normal guests” are given equal attention – this is the place for a long weekend, a week or longer.

Il Pellicano has the glamour of Costa Smeralda without the beaches and without the crush. There is crystal clear water and plenty of sun lounging for the beautiful people to see and be seen poolside and by the sea. An elevator and stairs lead down to the water and to lounging platforms lined with sunbeds. 

Looking down on the seaside platforms
From around the resort the views are wonderful – and so are the sunsets. At the restaurants you enjoy both captivating vistas and very good Italian food: The Pellicano Restaurant (breakfast & Michelin star dinners), The Grill, and The Pool Bar. The Chef is from Puglia.

Beautiful gardens around the gourmet restaurant

Pool bar
Complimentaru dessert from Pellicano restaurant, with some other delights

The ambience is pure sophisticated luxury. Service is a very high level. I forgot my mascara at home and they went and bought me a new one – put the charge on my room bill. Of course the beach boys clean your glasses and you get small treats around the pool and sea.

Situated on a cliff, the hotel is reached by serpentine road from Porto Ercole (about 5-10 minutes). It lies on Monte Argentario, a peninsula connected with the mainland by three spits of land. In the immediate surroundings enjoy scenic mountains, castles, forts and the amazing coast line. 

If money is not a problem – rent a boat! A lot of other activities can be arranged by the hotel – wine tasting, tours, hiking etc.

There are many small local restaurants in Porto Ercole but since the hotel has two very nice restaurants you will not want to leave Il Pellicano if you are only there for a few nights like myself.

This is a wonderful property in an amazing garden.  I could easily spend a week  or more here – explore their surrounding areas, play golf or tennis, spend time on the sea and of course take excursions further away. But so nice to come back to this little gem each evening.

View from my room
Gardens and seawater pool
Argentario golf course


No. of rooms:  50
Distance from airport:  90 minutes from Rome Fuimicino intl apt.
Distance from nearest town/shops/restaurants:  5-10 minutes by car (Porto Ercole & Harbour)
No. 1 reason to choose this hotel: For a ultra luxury/romantic/hideaway small boutique hotel experience. Without too many children and without the the hustle and bustle of popular areas like Capri & Amalfi Coast in high season.
Who to stay: Honeymooners, couples, families with well behaved kids.
The pool: saltwater pool heated to 26-27 degrees, a lot of sun chairs and lovely view.
The spa: Lovely, small but very professional.
F&B The Grill Restaurant. Il Pellicano Michelin star restaurant.
Sports: water activities, tennis court, golf course 15 minutes away. Hiking, biking and a lot more.
Excursions are offered for a fee.
Room tip: For privacy for honeymooners the garden rooms are probably best, but for those of us who love sea views, a room in the main building. I stayed in room 6 in the main building with a patio (a table and 2 chairs plus 2 sun chairs). I did have neighbours next to me but I never saw anybody though the hotel was fully booked.
Prebook: pre-book dinners and excursions -  especially think ahead for the Michelin star restaurant.
Why choose this hotel: For a ultra luxury/romantic/hideaway boutique hotel experience. Without too many children and without the the hustle and bustle of popular areas like Capri & Amalfi Coast in high season.

Images by Select Collection & Ulrika Thelander

Pellicano restaurant

Pleasant bar

Monday, June 12, 2017


The fourth in our series on Hidden Mallorca, Sant Francesc Hotel Singular is a jewel of a hideaway – peaceful, soothing and discreet – with some unexpected pleasures.

Sant Francesc Hotel Singular 

Facing the quiet square of Sant Francesc, this little charmer occupies a former aristocratic residence in the maze of narrow streets that make up the old medina of Palma, a short winding walk to the Cathedral and the shopping honeypots.

Here, in its stone-carved city setting, the hotel offers a magical rooftop pool and bar. The poolside view  has the haunting charm of terracotta tiled roofs, the age worn Sant Francesc basilica and the rearing form of the Cathedral. 

Sofa, deck chairs and sunbeds offer lounging in the sun or the magical sunset and cooler evening. This is the spot for tapas in summer, cool Red Sangria or perhaps “Holy Water” surely pure heaven at 15 euro – gin, chartreuse, lavender syrup, green apple, lime.

Some lovely rooftop images were published in our earlier guest blog by one of our clients. To see them, hear her views of the hotel and some excellent tips on where to eat and what to do in Mallorca follow this LINK.

Feeling at home

Service at the hotel is friendly and helpful. You feel at home in this old century mansion which has been renovated with understated elegance, contemporary flair and respect for the original building. 

From the demure entrance step into the lobby and over a stone courtyard, which opens into a sleek bar, a spot to have a serene drink and check your mail.

In the former stables, the tiny Quadrat restaurant rewards you with a pleasing buffet breakfast including home made items and eggs to order. You should pre-book for dinner here as it is popular with outsiders.  

Rooms at Sant Francesc are spacious and decorated in warm yet demure and soothing colours like palest grey with delicate touches of dusty pink. Many rooms do not have balconies so you may want to upgrade if that is important to you.

Privilege twin
Rooms to covet include San Francesc junior suite with frescoes and a balcony overlooking the square. There are two special suites of 60 sqm: La Torre  with its additional 30 sqm rooftop terrace and San Francesc suite with a frescoed  ceiling and private balcony with views of Sant Francesc Square.

The corridors enhance a contemporary feel with an interesting collection of photographs.

Looking back
The building of Hotel Sant Francesc once belonged to the Alomar Femenia family. This Spanish historic landmark is an architectural treasure built in the neoclassical style of the 19th century.

The hotel is situated in one of Palma’s oldest quarters, which dates to the Arabian Medina Mayurqa settlement. After James (Jaime) I of Aragon was crowned King in 1229, many of the Muslim lands were deeded over to religious orders. Under his son, King Jaime II, Franciscan monks erected the Sant Francesc Basilica and Monastery after which the square and hotel are named.

The time-worn Sant Francesc basilica seen from Sant Francesc rooftop pool area

Quick facts

No. of rooms: 42
Distance from airport: 15 mins
Distance from nearest town/shops/restaurants: Situated in the old city close to restaurants and about 7-15 mins walk from the Cathedral or main shopping street.
Why stay: Quiet, classy hotel with central position in the old city.
Car hire: You need a special permit to enter this heritage area and there is a c. 30 eur per day parking cost paid via the hotel.
Beaches & Beach Clubs: You walk some 10 mins to Anima Beach club placed right on the sea on Palma’s boards walk. Portals Nous has a pleasant beach next to Puerto Portals yacht marina – nice area for shopping, restaurants and amazing yachts. 20 mins by car. Es Trenc – often called the best beach on Mallorca – is a natural beach with a rustic bar and no hotels – 45 mins drive from Palma.


Stylish, understated and serene hotel with attentive service in a converted mansion on the quiet square of Sant Francesc in the old medina, only 10 mins walk from the Cathedral and main shopping areas. Enjoy a pleasant rooftop pool and bar with views of the Basilica of Sant Francesc.  Upgrade to be sure of a private balcony with view of the square.

Last word - romance

With its charm, calm understated elegance and perfect position,  Sant Francesc is not just for intellectuals, shoppers and foodies. It is also for romance.  One of our sales advisors was popped the question on a weekend visit to San Francesc. So the weekend turned into their engagement and the perfect time for Sangria de Cava.

For the Select Collection web page on Sant Francesc, FOLLOW THIS LINK.

The wonders of Palma Cathedral

Images by Select Collection, Sant Francesc and Per-Olov Broddeson. Words by Select Collection and Gillian Stanbridge


Thursday, June 8, 2017


The third in our series on Hidden Mallorca, the legendary Castillo Hotel Son Vida brings us closer to Palma…

Palma. the Cathedral and the bay as the sun goes down - telescopic view from the hotel 

Moments of magic on the terraces at Castillo Hotel Son Vida as the sun sets over Palma
Away from the tourist masses, the classic hotel has stunning views of the city and bay from its vast terraces. Celebrities and dignitaries have sipped cocktails and partied here since the Sixties and the hotel still has an aura of glamour and distinction.

Inside, the castle is packed with antiques, paintings and historical features that give it an authentic Mallorcan character, while outside you feel the island’s natural ease.

Palma is only some 10 to 20 mins drive, depending where you want to go – but golf is literally next door and your tee times and transfers are taken care of.

If history adds a romantic twist to your sense of place, this castle is a good spot to honeymoon or get married. Various members of the deceased Royal family adorn the walls in gigantic oil paintings to show you are in elevated company, and frescoes distinguish a room that is suggested for wedding ceremonies.

A room wrapped in history

Galleries or ante rooms are lined with antique items and velvet sofas where you imagine dowagers sat in the Sixties heyday when the hotel opened with a trumpeting of fashion reporting.  More about that later…

In a less worldly frame of mind, the dome or cupola is an amazing art work worth gazing up at from the lobby and higher floors. 

The cupola was produced by a German artist Nils Burwitz in stained glass based on the philosophical musings of a Mallorcan writer, philosopher, mystic Ramon Llull (1232-1316). In “Ars Brevis” Llull (also known as RAIMUNDUS) is seeking a way to calculate universal truth.

A lighter touch vs traditional style

The corridors between the rooms are adorned with lighter Mallorcan paintings, water colours washed with pastels and Mediterranean joie d’vivre.  

More than 60 newly renovated rooms in the Classic category have picked up that light hearted mood, with tropical lagoon coloured curtains in lightweight almost transparent fabric.

Classic room goes aquamarine and pale grey

The higher room categories remain embedded in the old sense of quality with carved and darkly lustrous hardwood furniture.  If you really want a bit of the past, try a suite in the Tower….

Round desk to match the round tower and style to match grand tradition

A medieval peep at the view through the castle turrets

Or perhaps a Grand Deluxe room peeping between a froth of palms to the sea?

Noble wood and traditional style

In a Grand Deluxe Room

And palms and sea from your balcony 

Where to dine?

There are two well respected restaurants at the hotel, both with windows where you can admire the view. We had a splendid buffet breakfast in Es Castell with everything we could dream of.

But in the evening early we began a transfixing sojourn on the terrace that changed our dinner plans. 

The mesmerizing terrace
We felt rooted to the magical spot as the sunset glow tinged the pale buildings of Palma and the sea. 
Having discovered the world’s most amenable barman, who remade my margarita three times to get it perfect, we felt this was the place to eat Mallorcan tapas. 

The tapas bars of Palma are a short ride away but it would be hard to beat the fare and the ambience at Castillo Son Vida that evening. 

If in the mood to hang all day at Castello Son Vida, you can enjoy the spa, pools and terraces but if you want a beach not far away, a good suggestion is Portals Nous (15 mins), which has nice diversions like posh restaurants and designer shopping. 

You can also indulge in some shopping at the hotel. In keeping with the glamour of the establishment you find some high quality shopping downstairs – a jewellery boutique with items up to over 40 000 euro – priced the same as their sister outlet in Palma. Most choices will be tailor made.

This sweet little piece was c. 2500 euro

Looking back

The deeper history of Castillo son Vida began in 1229 when King James of Aragon conquered Mallorca and gave this cherry-on-the-top piece of land to a loyal combatant. In 1900 the buildings were combined into a castle with inner splendor to match.

The days of news flashes and glamour began on 23 June 1961 when Steve Kusak launched the noble residence as a luxury hotel. Within a week the world’s most talked about celebs started arriving and Prince Rainer and Princess Grace hosted an extravagant society party.  The festivity bubbled over with people like Veuve Cliquot magnate Crovetto and filmstar David Niven. Prince Rainier and Onassis held a picnic in the grounds that afternoon while Princess Grace walked around photographing guests!  

Later Rainer was the first person to try out the new Son Vida Golf. Royals were also frequent visitors, including the Spanish Royal family, Belgian and Thai.

The A to Z of visiting celebrities, magnates and world leaders includes a long list from Arafat to Zamin, via Brigitte Bardot, Baron Rothschild, Christian Barnard, Sting and the 13 most important shipowners in the world.

The final Z goes to Zsa Zsa Gabor who attracted curious publicity when she made an eccentric exit without paying.  


No. of rooms: 164
Distance from airport: 15 mins
Distance from nearest town/shops/restaurants: 10-20 mins from Palma depending which area
Dining: Es Vi modern tapas, Es Castell int. and Spanish cuisine with fine view, Pool restaurant/bar Snacks and drinks, Indoor bar serving the beautiful terrace.
Facilities: 3 outdoor pools. Spa: sauna, steam bath, indoor heated pool. Kids club for 3-12.  Gym, 3 18-hole golf courses.
Reason to stay

Golf, history, art and beautiful terraces overlooking Palma – easy access to the city

For the Select Collection web page on Castillo Hotel Son Vida FOLLOW THIS LINK.

Especially designed lamps for the newly done Classic rooms with a Mallorcan touch

Table with a view
Hanging with the Royals

Golf, spa and so on as younger companions enjoy the  kid's club

Images by Select Collection & Per-Olov Broddeson; words by Select Collection & Gillian Stanbridge

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


The second in our series on Hidden Mallorca – Castell Son Claret is a refined hideaway with a two-Michelin star restaurant – Mallorca’s only...

People make the pilgrimage all the way from Palma to Zaranda just for the evening or overnight to taste their way through the long menu from two-Michelin star executive chef Fernando Arellano. Other guests stay longer at Castell Son Claret to combine good food, exercise and quiet relaxation.

Tranquility surrounds Castell Son Claret – you can almost hear the silence between birds and crickets calling. Wrapped In beautiful landscaped gardens at the end of a palm lined driveway in the foothills of the Tramuntana range, this small castle became a private boutique hotel in 2013.

Apart from Zaranda, the hotel offers restaurant Olivera, also mentioned in the Michelin guide, where you can dine in a winter garden or out on a charming stone terrace graced by  olive trees and lavender.

Mediterranean ambience. Lovely spot for breakfast with bread and cakes from their own bakery plus lots of healthy items
Between mealtimes guests can be seen sunbathing silently by the sparkling garden pool, but most seem to disappear for spa treatments, hammam rituals, self-drive touring – or sporty activities.

Exercise is a very important drawcard at Castell Son Claret. There are two rambling trails on the estate totaling some 7 km. We saw a couple striding back from their circuit with Nordic walking sticks – not surprising since the quiet and tasteful hotel has a strong appeal for Northern Europeans.

You can walk the trails alone or with a guide, or keep on walking into the mountains. Cycling is a very important sport on Mallorca – and Castell Son Claret is well sited for a scenic road trip to Valldemossa along the astoundingly beautiful northern shoreline and back through the mountains...

Stunning views from the northern coastal drive
Historical Valldemossa

View from Es Grau, a popular pitstop for cyclists on the picturesque north coast

If the hills sound intimidating, you can get help in the form of an e-bike set to your capabilities – book at least a week in advance. Another sport is tennis on site.

In tune with its country setting, the décor at Castell Son Claret is a contemporary interpretation of old Spanish country style. Earthy and soothing elegance featuring oak panels, leather headboards and wooden beams.

Our room, a deluxe room, looked out over a Juliet balcony to the white garden paths and the impressive driveway. 

But our hotel inspection had us hankering after a very appealing room with a vast terrace (if you want to book, ask us for the magic number)...

For those who at all costs must have a big balcony we also recommend one of the Tower Suites.

 Then again – for those who love gardens there are demi-suites with exuberant flower filled garden terraces, set away from the main building. Or for more space and private pool – consider a pool suite.

Come evening it's time to gravitate towards the bar – a gentleman’s club feel  under centuries old Gothic arches. Here we had some of the most delicious cocktails ever...

We simply had to flash the iPhone at our Tramuntana cocktail that looks good, tastes amazing and reflects the environment – a perfect suggestion before an environmentally friendly (and curious) tasting dinner at Zaranda. 

Tramuntana cocktail: Local liquor palo containing herbs, fresh lemon juice, mint,
home made syrup of the estate’s flowers topped with ginger beer.

A delightful gastronomic Olive Daiquiri. Their Sollers Orange Mojito
was another masterpiece.

To dine at Zaranda needs forethought – booking months ahead. Otherwise Olivera offers tastes from the same master. Some examples:

Pesca del dorado, 30 eur – delicious fish with bulgar and carrot creme, well presented. But try to sip your wine as you wait instead of eating too much of the”pan y apretivon” (dangerously delicious fresh made farm bread and virgin olive oil and dip).

The outside entrance to chef Fernando Arellano's creative domain - in the restaurant castle-style slots see through to the magic kitchen 
Zaranda's locally made table ware. It is like the thrill of hearing the orchestra tuning up as you wait for the two-Michelin star masterpieces from the kitchen. This is surely worth it. Zaranda’s 5 course meal with wine pairing 190 eur, 10 course with wine pairing 215 eur. items included waygu beef brisket and suckling pig – along with adventurous sea urchin, cuttle fish, congereel canelloni, artichoke with black truffle and foie gras roasted pigeon breast. Many other wonders of the earth may be on the menu

Another option is local dining in the village Es Capdella which is only 1,6 km – quite walkable. We ate well at Bar Nou (it's popular and should be booked ahead). Other local dining options are Rocamar and Flanigan.

Those hankering for a swim in the ocean and a beachy relaxed mood can enjoy a recommended beach club some 20 minutes away.

Quick facts

No. of rooms: 38
Distance from airport: 40 mins
Distance from nearest town/shops/restaurants: 1.6 km to village Es Capdella
Dining: 2 restaurants & bar, incl. 2 star Michelin restaurant
Facilities: Outdoor and indoor pools, spa, gym, hammam, tennis court, 2 hiking trails on the estate, tai chi, yoga, cycling guides and trainers.

Who to stay

Foodies,  seekers of peace and quiet, and those who would like some nature-blessed exercise.  There are a few accommodations for families but it's so blissfully quiet that it would be better to stay  only with older children who want to join in a cycle tour and keep a low profile in adult company.


A tranquil boutique country retreat with the island’s only 2-Michelin star chef. A spot for superb  cocktails, walking, cycling, tennis, hammam rituals and spa treatments, and resting  by the quiet pool or in the beautiful garden. The small castle has been decorated in a contemporary interpretation of old Spanish country style. Earthy and soothing, fresh and new.

The driveway to Castell Son Claret and Zaranda
For the Select Collection web page on Castell Son Claret, FOLLOW THIS LINK

Images by Select Collection and Per-Olov Broddeson, words by Select Collection and Gillian Stanbridge