ELLE Escapes: Mallorca

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It’s easy to see why Mallorca is called “la isla de la calma.” Off the coast of mainland Spain, the serene Mediterranean island charms you the moment you arrive, whether it’s with its dreamlike beaches, delicious food, or warm, laid-back atmosphere. And in these times, who among us couldn’t use a bit of calm?

Mallorca, also called Majorca, has long been a popular holiday destination for Europeans, especially those from the U.K. and Germany, but it’s a growing hotspot for Americans, too. Travel from the U.S. got a lot easier this year thanks to United Airlines launching an inaugural direct route from Newark to Mallorca’s capital of Palma. It’s the first and only nonstop flight from the states, making it a more feasible getaway for vacationers in the New York area, and for fliers across the country who can transfer at EWR. The flights operate three times a week—Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday—running through Sept. 22. So if you’re looking to squeeze in a summer trip anytime before the first day of fall, this could be the one.

For the unfamiliar, Mallorca is one of the Balearic Islands, along with Ibiza (perhaps the most famous of the group), Menorca, and Formentera. While known for its crystalline waters, there’s much more to enjoy during your stay: wandering through the storybook-like streets of Valldemossa and Deià or checking out the island’s growing restaurant scene, which now holds 10 Michelin stars total. Nature lovers can hike, cycle, and adventure in the Serra de Tramuntana, a majestic mountain range and UNESCO World Heritage Site running along the northwestern part of the island. History buffs can muse over landmarks like the cathedral in Palma, one of the tallest Gothic buildings in Europe, or various Roman ruins outside the northern city of Alcúdia. And shoppers will love perusing local markets in towns like Santanyí and Soller (woven baskets and leather goods abound). Below are just some recommendations of where to go on your Mallorca trip, though lounging on the beach all day is a good alternative to all.

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The Coves

mallorca

Eric Rubens/Courtesy of United Airlines

If you’ve caught a glimpse of Mallorca on Instagram, it very well might have been one of its coves, or calas, with their semi-secluded locations and unbelievably clear, turquoise waters. Most of these spots are on the southeastern side of the island, like the popular Calo des Moro (watch out for crowds in the high season); Cala d’Or, which has five beaches of its own; S’Amarador, which is located on a nature reserve; or Cala s’Almunia. There’s also Cala Pi and the white and sandy Es Trenc in the south, as well as Cala Mesquida in the northeast. Other beaches worth checking out are Illetas to the west or Playa d’Alcúdia on the north side of the island. Why not try every one of them? All beaches in Spain are public.

Tip: You might want to bring comfortable shoes or sneakers if the trek to the water is steep and rocky. Some of the more hidden gems require a bit of a walk—but you can always change into your chic sandals when you get there. Some beaches are pebbly instead of sandy, so be careful where you step.

Museo Sa Bassa Blanca

museo san bassa blanca

Courtesy of Museo San Bassa Blanca

Run by artists and collectors (and couple!) Ben Jakober and Yannick Vu, this Alcúdia-based museum has so much to offer. Its ever-changing collection features pieces from around the world and all throughout history, from classical portraits of European children to ancient African masks, Yoko Ono-approved gifts, and a 10,000-piece Swarovski crystal curtain. There’s also an installation by James Turrell (“Juke blue,” circa 1968) and a Siberian woolly rhinoceros fossil in the mix. On the expansive museum grounds, you’ll find a sculpture park featuring many of Jakober and Vu’s own works, a rose garden, an observatory, and the stunning main building, which was designed by Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy. On top of all that, the space is located on an ecological reserve.

Salinas d’Es Trenc

salinas des trenc, mallorca

Hartmut B. / 500pxGetty Images

In the Es Trenc nature reserve in southeast Mallorca, the conditions are just right for harvesting the perfect sea salt—and apparently, people have been doing that since the 4th century B.C. Today in that region, just off the coastline, you’ll find Flor de Sal, a renowned producer of natural sea salt that was first built in the 1950s. While the brand can be found in shops across the island, its products are made organically here in the salt flats within the nature reserve. A tour of the site takes visitors through towering white mounds of salt and amongst the shallow pools from which the salt is extracted organically. You may even catch some of the local birds—like flamingos—during your visit; there are over 160 species in the area. On your way out, be sure to grab a can of sustainably made salt to take home. Your cooking will likely never taste the same.

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Es Fum

es fum

Courtesy of St Regis

One of the island’s best restaurants, Es Fum has boasted a Michelin star since 2011. The newly renovated restaurant is located in The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca, with a luxe but welcoming atmosphere and seating that spills onto the terrace with spectacular views of the ocean. But the real focus is on the food, courtesy of executive chef Miguel Navarro. The filet of sea bass, black squid ravioli, creamy rice with smoked octopus, and marinated loin of tuna on the petit menu are too good to pass up. Even the assortment of toasted butter and breads are something to talk about. While on the pricier side, every bite is worth it.

Ocre

ocre can ferrereta

Arturo+Lauren

This restaurant and bar can be found in Hotel Can Ferrereta, a boutique hotel transformed from what was once a 17th century home, tucked in the picturesque streets of Santanyí. Ocre’s menu focuses on “honest and uncomplicated” Mediterranean dishes from chef Alvar Albaladejo, all made with locally sourced ingredients. There’s even a market menu available on Saturdays from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m., with exquisite local wine pairings to match each course. (Ask for the Estel rosé if it’s still available.) The impressive vino collection is no surprise, considering Ocre’s space was once a former wine cellar. Much like the rest of Can Ferrereta, which opened in 2021, the restaurant has preserved much of its original structure, such as its wooden beams and stone arches, adding to its sophisticated yet rustic feel.

Vandal

antonio martinez payan

Soni Martinez/Courtesy of Vandal

Found in Palma’s happening Santa Catalina neighborhood, the edgy eatery serves “food with attitude.” Globe-trotting fare from chef Bernabé Caravotta invokes flavors from Spain, across Europe, Latin America, and Asia. The menu also suggests a drink to pair with each dish. Why not order the Pisco Bloody Mary Oyster with a glass of cava? Or a suckling pig curry with a Tiki Thai Mule? Even the desserts have beverage matches, such as the crystal cheese cake with a glass of kombucha, or the chocolate mousse partnered with a “coffee banoffee” cocktail. Attitude sounds pretty delicious, if you ask me.

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Bodegas Son Puig

son puig winery

Courtesy of Son Puig Winery

The Mallorcan wine scene has a number of under-the-radar gems. One of them is this family-operated winery, which produces limited-edition wines in Puigpunyent, in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. The company produces around 40,000 bottles of wine each year, all handpicked, bottled, and labeled on its own estate, which boasts nine hectares of manually-planted vines. The building itself is rich in history, believed to be constructed in the 12th century and served as an ancient defensive tower for the Puigpunyent valley. Today, the bodega is managed by Isabel Alabern de Armenteras, whose grandfather bought the property in 1926 and passed it down to his son, Raimundo Alabern, in 1967. Raimundo and his wife moved in two years later after they wed. The vineyard is his “dream come true and his retirement hobby,” according to Isabel. It’s that kind of care and passion that help make Son Puig wines so special.

Nikki Beach Mallorca

nikki beach mallorca

Courtesy of Nikki Beach

The famous beach club has locations across the world, including Miami, Dubai, and even nearby Ibiza. In Mallorca, the beachfront complex, open from April to October, includes an award-winning restaurant, a VIP ultra-lounge on the second floor, and an expansive, breezy patio on the third floor. While enjoying a view overlooking Isla de sa Porrassa, guests can sip on a glass of bubbly, local Mallorcan wine, or a wide range of cocktails. (The “world famous mojito” is a signature of Nikki Beach.) Bottle service is available if you want to go all out.

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Hotel de Mar Gran Meliá

gran melia de mar mallorca

Courtesy of Gran Melía

If you’re staying at a seaside city in Mallorca, you’ll probably want to wake up to a clear view of the Mediterranean. That’s no problem at Hotel de Mar, which has 137 rooms that face the water. Credit the architectural genius of José Antoni Coderch, who designed the modern structure in 1963. The rooms are lined up on a slant so that the balconies (each residence has one) don’t overlook each other, allowing each guest to lounge in privacy. And it’s an adults-only resort, ages 15 and up, for an exclusive, mature feel. Relax at the on-site Clarins spa, entertain yourself with movie nights on the grassy public spaces, take a nap on a day bed by the sea, indulge at any of the hotel’s three restaurants—Arrels, Bardot, or Amaro, and feel free to take a dip in its private cove, open 24/7. Just a short drive away from Palma, this is a great spot for people who want both access to what the city offers and a quiet, beachside feel. Plus, you’ll feel at ease with the welcoming staff.

LJs Ratxó Eco Luxury Retreat

ljs ratxo mallorca

Courtesy of LJs Ratxo

This eco-luxury resort is somewhat of an oasis: nestled between mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana, it welcomes visitors in a serene valley at the end of a long, winding road. Travelers seeking relaxation will be at peace here—either at the spa, complimentary rooftop yoga, the waterfall-accented pools with breathtaking mountain vistas, or the airy suites. The 2.5 million-square-meter establishment is serious about being environmentally conscious, down to its name. Ratxó is derived from the Arabic-inspired Spanish word, la ratcha, for irrigation. Sure enough, the hotel sources all its water from the mountains and repurposes it throughout the resort. It’s plastic-free and uses paper sparingly, the garbage bags are compostable, the pool umbrellas are solar powered.

There’s also an organic garden on-site from where chef María Salinas sources many ingredients for the house restaurant’s seasonal menu. Leftover food is used as compost for the garden or to feed the animals in the nature reserve, which includes hundreds of goats and dozens of peacocks. Staying true to the theme of well-being and empowerment, over 60 percent of Ratxó’s staff is comprised of women. It’s a marvel that it was only built last year, refurbishing what was once an abandoned hotel. As the business continues to grow, it’s continuing to include more sustainable practices. Not only is it a getaway in the geographical sense, but also the mental sense. You will never want to leave.

La Residencia, A Belmond Hotel

la residencia mallorca

Nando Esteva

What makes La Residencia shine is its location. Part of the idyllic bay-side town of Deià, it was built along the mountainside of the Tramuntana, lending to breathtaking views of the town, the Mediterranean, and towering cliffs in the distance. La Residencia is connected to the artistic spirit of Deià, which is considered an artistic hub on the island. On the hotel grounds there’s a local art gallery, a permanent collection of 800 artworks, a sculpture garden, and two artists in residence. There are even art shows and concerts that are open to the public. Perhaps the crown jewel is the 33-piece assortment of original Joan Miró paintings, all located in the aptly titled Cafe Miró at the center of the hotel. You can grab a meal, cocktail, or afternoon tea at this restaurant, or opt for dinner at the romantic El Olivo just a few steps away. Nature-loving guests can hike or cycle in the mountains above, while beachgoers can easily reach the bay with a shuttle service. There is also a complimentary activity every day, like boat rides or a cava master classes. To really paint the proverbial picture for you: There are 1,500 olive trees, 17 pools (indoor and outdoor, for families and for adults only), and three donkeys. The residences feel equal parts cozy and elevated, and suites are warmly accented with wood beams and terra cotta tile floors. If you look out at sunset, you’ll catch Deià and the mountainside swathed in a golden glow. Everything about this place feels like a fairytale, and after the two-plus years we’ve had, don’t we all deserve it?

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