Mallorca Travel: The Best Places and Ways to Unwind on the Celeb-Loved Spanish Island
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The skies over Mallorca last summer were so busy that only the banking hub of Geneva bested them for private jets. So says Elliot Krauze, who runs the high-end local concierge firm Milagro. Since moving to the island from the U.K. seven years ago, he’s watched it transform from a fly-and-flop spot for package-holidaying Brits and Germans to the Mediterranean’s discreet, elite island, equal parts Sardinia and Capri. “It’s a real mixture of new and old money,” Krauze explains. “Our business is catering to all those people.” Just don’t go there for a showy getaway, cautions London-based fashion exec Daisy Hoppen, who has long had a family home in the countryside. Mallorca is upscale, chic and understated. “It’s not flashy here and you don’t ever see anyone in high heels. Everyone’s in jeans and a T-shirt,” she says. “There’s no real nightlife — this is a day island.”
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It’s also a huge one — about 1,400 square miles — so choosing the right base is vital. Skip the capital, Palma, which can be overrun with cruise visitors, and instead burrow north toward Deià on the west coast. It’s long been a favorite with bold-faced stars and creatives. Ava Gardner was a regular visitor, Andrew Lloyd Webber summers there, and Triangle of Sadness director Ruben Östlund and Fantastic Beasts star Mads Mikkelsen reportedly have second homes there. Michael Douglas bought an estate in nearby Valldemossa in the 1980s: The 250-acre S’Estaca was rumored to be on the market until he bought out his ex-wife Diandra Luker’s share so he and current wife Catherine Zeta-Jones could continue visiting. If you can’t score an invitation to stay with them, opt instead for a suite at the honey-colored Belmond hotel La Residencia (rooms from $1,682 a night; more booking options at Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com). The grand pile was first opened by Richard Branson but is now operated by LVMH-owned Belmond. Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford are all past guests.
This summer, British photographer Kate Bell and her friend Magnus Reid, a chef turned artist, will open their own project, Hotel Corazon (rooms from about $500 a night), just between Deià and nearby Sóller (pronounced SOY-uh). Book the El Corazon suite, with a vaulted ceiling and private terrace.
Last year, English restaurateur Rory McCoy moved to Sóller with his Spanish wife to open Mister McCoy’s Island Ices, an old-school ice cream shop that also sells organic wines. Idle over a long lunch at the Patiki Beach cafe, on the sand in Port de Sóller on the coast, and don’t be surprised to see the likes of stylist Camilla Nickerson or photographer Gray Sorrenti at the next table.
If you want to follow the lead of Hoppen and fashion designer Katharine Hamnett, who has long owned a home there, note that the best location to buy is inland, nestled within the mountains — that’s where Joseph Fiennes bought a home more than a decade ago. Think close enough to Deià to visit for dinner, but still secluded. The area’s fincas, or old farmhouses, “stay really cool in the summer,” according to Hoppen, who adds, “but an outdoor shower is a must” to beat the heat. Among the brokers to know are Max Gennel of Gennel Properties, The Agency’s Alby Euesden and Eddy Barrera of Engel & Völkers. Among Engle & Völkers’ current listings on the island is a $69 million residence, Villa Solitaire, where Nicole Kidman stayed earlier this year while filming the upcoming Taylor Sheridan series Lioness.
Mallorca is a sporty, outdoorsy destination, with superb canyon-like hiking in the interior — the Tramuntana mountain range is a UNESCO World Heritage site, all rolling hills, olive groves and charming mountain villages. There’s a superb walk, the Cami del Pintors or Route of the Painters, between Soller and Deià — it’s named after the fact that the route inspired so many local creatives. Book a day exploring on horseback with Naturacavall, which offers various itineraries, including pit stops on barely visited beaches along the coast. And don’t miss the chance to finesse your backhand at Rafael Nadal’s academy; the Mallorca-born superstar has his own tennis school in the east of the island. The best base from which to focus on all things outdoorsy is one of the towns in the hills — try the 43-room hotel Castell Son Claret, just outside Es Capdellà (rooms from $473; more booking options at Expedia and Hotels.com), which has its own fleet of e-bikes ready for loan.
And make time to get out on the water — chartering is relatively affordable versus scoring a superyacht in St. Tropez, according to Krauze (prices vary widely depending on the size of the boat but many run in the low- to mid-four figures). “Day charters are really common, and smaller yachts are easy to book. You can pop over to Ibiza for a couple of hours or Menorca,” he recommends. Look out for yachts owned by Laurene Powell Jobs and Jack Ma, which regularly moor in Mallorca. The main marina in the island’s capital, Palma, is undergoing a major renovation, adding more bars and restaurants and upgrading facilities; the year-long project is near completion.
A version of this story first appeared in the May 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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