The terrace of Cafe Miro at Belmond La Residencia; all of the property’s restaurants offer alfresco dining. // © 2017 Ken Shapiro
Feature image (above): Guests at Belmond La Residencia's main swimming pool also enjoy views of the town of Deia. // © 2017 Ken Shapiro
When most people think of Mallorca, Spain, they imagine beautiful sandy beaches along the Mediterranean. While that can certainly be found on the island, there is more to this destination than sun and sand. On the island’s west side, the Serra de Tramuntana mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the small towns and villages found here offer visitors an opportunity for unique historical and cultural experiences. And for those who choose to stay in this area, they can’t go wrong with Belmond La Residencia.
This luxury property is located in the tiny village of Deia, on the grounds of a former olive plantation. It incorporates two manor houses, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, with most of the 73 guestrooms and suites located in four buildings scattered along a hillside. Many rooms provide stunning views of the distant Mediterranean Sea on one side and steep mountain peaks on the other.
The accommodations have the ambiance of tasteful and sophisticated mountain villas. In addition to all the expected amenities, my Exclusive Suite had a seating area with a fireplace; a four-poster king-size bed; a large bathroom with a separate bath and walk-in shower; a private terrace; and a plunge pool. The tile floors, wood accents and plush throw blankets gave the sense of being in my own private lodge, and there was nothing better than watching the sun set behind the mountains from the comfort of my terrace.
If I wanted company, the property also has two outdoor swimming pools — one just for adults — along with a gym, a spa and tennis courts. During the summer, the hotel provides complimentary shuttle service to and from the beach (about a 15-minute drive), as well as the use of mountain bikes and Vespas for those who want to explore the countryside on two wheels. There is also the option of a complimentary two-hour boat excursion along the coast during the summer.
The property includes about 30 acres of farmed olive trees, and guests are welcome to hike through the grove on their own or accompanied by the property’s donkeys. Guests can also arrange a private picnic among the olive trees.
There are four restaurants on site, all of which have the option of dining al fresco. El Olivo restaurant offers a dinner service featuring gourmet Mediterranean cuisine with a local touch (including suckling pig, a Mallorcan favorite). Cafe Miro is a bar and bistro serving lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. It features tapas along with live piano music on some nights. The Pool Restaurant offers casual outdoor dining next to the main swimming pool, and Son Fony serves breakfast on a beautiful terrace.
If La Residencia has an overall theme, it is fine art. There are more than 900 original works of art on property, including about 30 pieces by Joan Miro in Cafe Miro. The property also has its own art gallery with rotating exhibits, and there are two professional artists in residence — a painter and a sculptor — and art enthusiasts can book time with them.
The Tramuntana range is dotted with numerous small towns, and visitors could spend all their time exploring these unique villages. Deia, where La Residencia is located, is known for its culinary offerings. The town has a population of about 750, but there are at least a half-dozen exceptional restaurants here, including one with a Michelin star.
Valldemossa, a neighboring village, is a must-visit for tourists. It features a palace and monastery that date back to the 14th century, and its charming medieval streets are perfect for a stroll — especially after purchasing helado (ice cream) at local favorite Giovanni L.
I’ll be the first to defend a good “do nothing on the beach” vacation. But for those looking for a trip that incorporates luxury, culture, gastronomy, art and adventure, Belmond La Residencia is well worth leaving the beach chair behind.