Hidden hideaway Hotel Formentor mixes art with a touch of Hollywood
As if the sea view from my exquisite room is not enough, looking through Hotel Formentor's plush coffee table book about its history lays out its Romantic beginnings with a capital R.
In 1928 an idealistic arts patron, Adan Diehl, decided that this spectacular spot on the northern coast of Majorca on Pollenca bay would make an ideal location for a hotel to attract artists, writers and performers. And he was right. Charlie Chaplin, Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill and royalty have stayed here. Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier honeymooned at the Formentor, and a special suite is named after her.
A connection with the arts remains, with the annual Formentor Sunset Classics open-air concerts that have attracted artists such as Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Daniel Barenboim and Lang Lang. Rock royalty such as Lionel Richie have also performed and Mick Jagger stayed here, too.
Looking out over the now lush and verdant gardens with their palm trees and vivid flower beds – not least the most fantastic wisteria arbours I’ve ever seen – it’s hard to realise that this hillside was once completely bare.
The Spanish hotel group Barcelo, the current owners, have thankfully paid great attention to the Formentor’s history while adding the luxury facilities and service that 5 star guests expect. I felt like I was staying at a millionaire’s luxury villa with just a few select guests, despite its 122 bedrooms and suites.
Getting to the hotel takes an hour by car from Palma airport through the spectacular Sierra de Tramuntana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with many hairpin bends and jaw-dropping views to amaze along the way. It attracts cyclists from around the world and you can join them if you have the energy, or go on a guided trek off the beaten track.
But enjoying the hotel’s beautiful surroundings was a more attractive option for me. There are two outdoor pools, tennis courts, mini golf and it’s an easy stroll down to the beach where two of the hotel’s four restaurants offer everything from pizzas and burgers to a full-blown, laid-back lunch of paella washed down with the tipple of your choice.
It’s a public beach but you can hire comfy loungers serviced by the hotel with towels and umbrellas where you can enjoy some quiet moments. The sea is sparklingly clear and a delight to swim in. I can also recommend hiring one of the new, indulgent Balinese cabins near the hotel pools with a double bed, changing room, shower, robes, towels, sun loungers and even a TV.
Book a massage to get the full luxury feeling. Sheer bliss.
I also enjoyed a special few hours on a traditional Majorcan fishing boat around the bay before enjoying a snorkel session then cheese and snacks washed down with local wine produced by captain Damia and fascinating visits to a local artisan textile company and olive oil producer.
But it’s the hotel itself and dining beside its spectacular views that are the true stars of the Cap Formentor show. Enjoy your pick of a plush breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet on the hotel balcony at the El Colomer restaurant or choose an exquisite a la carte meal at El Pi.
Finish off the night being serenaded at the piano bar and you’ll never want to leave.
Rates at Royal Hideaway Formentor start from £197 (223 euros). Price based on two sharing on a complimentary B&B basis.
For more information or to book please visit http://www.barcelo.comNorwegian serves Palma-Majorca year-round with up to six flights per week from London Gatwick on modern aircraft offering all passengers free Wi-Fi. Fares start from £29.90 one way / £62.50 return at http://www.norwegian.com/UK or dial 0330 828 0854 (opt. 1).