While travelers converge on the beaches lining Mallorca, it’s in the mountains that the dazzling charisma of this Mediterranean gem can truly shine. Castell Son Claret sits just below the Puig de Galatzo in the heart of the UNESCO world Heritage Site-designated Tramuntana Mountain range. Other places of interest inlcude the Gothic-style Bellver Castle and Palma Cathedral (photos courtesy venues).
The scent in the air changed from a salty sea breeze to a perfume of sweet almond blossoms and ripe orange orchards as I wound my way up higher along a one-lane road lined with olive trees and wild vegetation. Although the much-talked-about beaches of Palma were in my rear view mirror, I had no regrets about leaving the coastal scene behind and trading late-night yacht parties for sensual sundowners as the light dripped into the ancient crags of the Serra de Tramuntana and cast a glow atop the 15th-century villages that sat atop Mallorca’s hilltop hideaways.
Travelers come from all around the world to lounge luxuriously on the more than 262 beaches that line the coast of Mallorca, where many are often regarded as the best beaches in Europe, but it’s in the hills and mountain villages of this Balearic Island that the dazzling charisma of this Mediterranean gem can truly shine.
Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands, an autonomous region of Spain, and it shares space in the Balearic Sea with sister islands Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Earliest settlers on the island date back to 3000 BC, long before the Greeks and Phoenicians began setting up trading posts. The Romans took control of Mallorca in 123 BC, turning the two cities of Palma and Alcudia into luxurious holiday destinations for wealthy Romans. The island fell under Byzantine rule in 534 AD, and for 400 hundred years Mallorca was the Moorish home for the Kingdom of Aragon, an era that gave rise to some of the island’s most popular sites, including the Castell de Bellver, the Almudaina Royal Palace, and the Sant Francesc Church. Mallorca became part of the European Union in the early 1900s, and has since become the choice for luxurious vacations for many Europeans.
The island measures roughly 50 miles from one end to the other, with mysterious coves set beyond sandy beaches, picturesque villages dat- ing back to the time of the Moors, and soaring mountains often used to train the country’s elite cyclists and climbers. Despite the fact that the mountain region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, it is still one of the island’s best-kept secrets, where the region’s easy blend of modern luxury and ancient history make it a perfect destination for soaking in Mallorca’s magical mystique.
As a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the Castell Son Claret is an elegant addition to the mountainous terrain below the Puig de Galatzo and in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site designated Tramuntana Mountain range. The hotel dates back to 1450, when early records described the property with five separate buildings. In an effort to create a home out of the detached dwellings, 19th century aristocrat Don Gabriel Claret purchased the 132-acre property and consolidated the buildings into one grand castle that would act as a private residence until current owners Klaus-Michael and Christine K?hne purchased the property and renovated it into a luxury hotel.
Today rows of lemon trees and palm trees line the property, guiding guests along a landscaped corridor that leads dramatically to the castle entrance where two 200-year-old olive trees (named “El y Ella,” or “He and She”) greet guests before they’re presented with a refreshing welcome of homemade lavender lemonade made fresh from the gardens.
Castell Son Claret opened in 2013 with 14 suites and 24 rooms, each varying in size and layout throughout seven different buildings ranging from the beautifully renovated former stables to the main castle itself. All of the accommodations at this luxury hotel boast spectacular views of the surrounding vineyards and manicured grounds, where heated floors and balconies are standard, as is the warm earth tones that grace the walls and lead up to wood-beamed ceilings. The artwork throughout the entire hotel was curated to include works from major international artists as well as some of the island’s most pronounced painters to offer the chance to sleep and dine among Mallorcan masterpieces.
This Leading Hotels of the World property is home to the only two-star Michelin restaurant in the Balearic Islands, Zaranda, where chef Fernando Perez Arellano has maintained this prestigious dual honor since 2016. Chef Arellano sources all ingredients locally—most from the Castell’s own gardens—where his standout creations include the Four Seasons of the Mallorcan almond, the “Majorica” Oyster and his infamous Black Egg made from caviar of calamari.
Although Castell Son Claret is a gastronomic paradise, the mountainous terrain it sits within make it a great home base for exploring the hundreds of miles of cycling routes that have made Mallorca one of the top destinations for cyclists. Each year pro teams like Sky and BMC use the trails to train during the winter season. The routes are well marked as they wind through the rugged terrain that range from challenging mountain passes to breezy, flat stretches overlooking the sparkling waters below. The team at the hotel will provide bikes and/or guides for guests looking to take to the trails, planning everything from leisurely picnic rides through the nearby vineyards or long-distance treks through the most difficult passes.
The beaches are all within driving distance, but the outdoor pool within the olive groves at the castell provides all the sun without the com- mute, where attentive pool butlers can prepare a poolside picnic with lavish spreads of fresh made pasta and refreshing cocktails. The indoor pool is an entirely different experience, where the ambiance takes on the serenity of its neighboring spa. The Bellesa De Claret Luxury Spa centers around Mallorcan wellness practices and beauty rituals, where local remedies and herbs are blended to incite relaxation through the spa’s signature treatments like the herbal pindas massage, seasonal body rituals, and aromatherapy garden massage. In addition to a small exercise room, the spa also boasts a hydrotherapy circuit and relaxation area, along with a Moorish Hammam.
The resort is just a 30-minute drive from downtown Palma, where most of the top beaches are located, and the hotel can help arrange a car service to head downtown for the day and explore the historic old town, white sand beaches, and vibrant nightlife that have made Mallorca such a popular destination over the years. If out after hours, make sure to head to La Lonja to see the world-famous cafes and bars come to life as the sun sets, including Jazz Voyeur Club and Abaco Cocktail Bar or over to the old district of Santa Catalina where the scene at the brand new Brooklyn Club and Kaelum Dance Club last until the wee hours of the morning.
No matter if you’re spending the entire time in the mountains or head downtown to the beach, don’t leave Mallorca without sampling the island’s famous pastry, the Ensaimada. This traditional sweet bread is eaten for breakfast, similar to a cinnamon roll, where a flaky and buttery dough spirals into a snaillike form beneath a generous dusting of powdered sugar. Some bakeries will serve a more decadent version called the “Cabello de Angel” that adds a filling of cream, chocolate or candied pumpkin within the spirals.