An unspoilt estate and gardens offers a luxurious Majorca break, writes Wendy Gomersall
The first time I visited Majorca many moons ago, I was a sun, sea and sand-seeking teenager heading for the package holiday resort of Magaluf.
With its massive hotels and neon-lit bars, it’s still a must for young fun lovers. A cultural hot spot it is not, however, nor will it appeal to travellers who enjoy a quiet, secret escape in luxurious surroundings.
For that you need to head for a rather gorgeous five-star retreat that’s not all that far from the aforementioned resorts geographically but a world away in terms of service and experience.
Castell Son Claret lies tucked away in 326 acres of unspoiled park and gardens at the foot of the UNESCO-protected La Tramuntana mountains, yet it is only 20 miles from Palma International Airport.
This is particularly handy as British Airways is launching a new summer service from Edinburgh to Palma once a week on Fridays, running until 22 September.
Castell Son Claret is also only 17 miles from the centre of Palma, capital of the Spanish island. Palma these days is an incredibly arty place – it has more art galleries per square metre than any other European city, according to our guide, and a host of new art studios. There are mouth-watering homeware boutiques, too.
Sightseeing should include the beautiful cathedral and its stunning stained-glass windows. There’s the controversial Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, created by Majorcan artist Miquel Barcelo and inaugurated in 2007. Love it or hate it, it’s at least interesting. The incredible March Palace is packed with masterpieces too, including works by Rodin and Moore.
And this year represents the 25th anniversary of the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation. Though he was born in Barcelona, Spanish painter, sculptor and ceramicist Joan Miró spent much of his life in Majorca, and many works are on display at the foundation. To mark the anniversary, there will be special events, from 23 June to the end of January 2018, including a new exhibition of Miró’s work, Miró Nunca Visto.
If you’re more a fan of opera than art, Castell Son Claret presents al fresco opera events each summer in association with European opera houses and festivals.
This year, on 8 July, the hotel welcomes the soloists of the Milan-based Accademia Teatro alla Scala, who will perform the fairy-tale opera, Hansel & Gretel; on 29 July, soprano Sonya Yoncheva presents her summer favourites; and on 19 August, the Young Singers of the Salzburg Festival perform highlights of their 2017 programme. If you can’t make those dates, the hotel has plenty of other indulgences to enjoy.
Castell Son Claret estate was founded in 1450 and the sun-kissed, caramel stone castle in its current form dates from 1888. Carefully restored, it opened as a luxury hotel in 2013 housed in seven listed buildings from different eras; 23 guest rooms are in the main building, 15 suites and rooms are in six former stables, and many rooms have their own private gardens or pools. The gardens are filled with lavender, almond trees and agapanthus, and there is a panoramic swimming pool.
Guests can make use of the personal fitness instructors, gym, tennis courts, jogging trails and bikes for rent. Instructors in meditation, yoga and Qi Gong can be arranged. The resident cycling coach, Guido Eickelbeck, can take beginners and experienced cyclists on trips.
The resort’s Bellesa de Claret spa is splendid. Treatments on offer include massages using ingredients found in the gardens. The spa has an indoor pool, sauna, steam, hammam and two private treatment rooms, one equipped for couple’s treatments – the Son Claret’s 30-minute Relaxing Aromatherapy massage, €70, is money well spent after a day’s cycling.
The hotel is also surrounded by lovely walks – in addition to paths running all over the estate, there is a 4.5-mile course with slight inclines through unspoiled countryside.
Castell Son Claret is home to Mediterranean-inspired Olivera restaurant, serving delicious fare such as roasted octopus and salt cod.
And if you did that longer trail, you deserve Zaranda, the only two Michelin-starred restaurant in the Balearic Islands.
Fact box: Estate double rooms at Castell Son Claret cost from e295 euros (from £256) per night including breakfast, book on www.castellsonclaret.com. British Airways’ new summer service from Edinburgh to Palma will operate once a week (on Fridays) until 22 September. Fares start from £140 return, including taxes and charges. Visit www.ba.com