Review: Five-star Majorca is holiday heaven
- Credit: Archant
The popular Spanish holiday island of Majorca has a more exclusive side
Cruising into ritzy Palma marina, the catamaran skipper pointed to by far the biggest yacht there and casually told us it belonged to U2 singer Bono.
It wasn’t entirely surprising – there must have been hundreds of millions of pounds worth of boats moored up – but it was enough to show another side to the popular holiday island of Majorca.
It may be high on the list of holidaymakers who want “lively” resorts such as Magaluf, but it’s also the island of choice for the rich and famous.
Michael Douglas, Sir Bob Geldof and Andrew Lloyd Webber are just some of the stars who currently have homes on the island, which has been a magnet to the wealthy for decades.
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And canny tourists looking for a luxury holiday have always known to look past the sometimes brash headlines – knowing there are plenty of little hideaways to cater for their tastes.
If you want a taste of the high life on the highly accessible Spanish island, then look no further than Thomas Cook’s Ultimate Style choice of holidays.
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We stayed at the five-star Hotel Bon Sol in the resort of Illetas, just a few miles to the south west of the Majorcan capital of Palma.
Run by husband and wife team of Martin and Lorraine Xamena, the hotel has been in the same family since it opened in the 1950s and prides itself on superb service and a luxurious family feel.
And after chatting with many of the guests – many of whom who have made multiple visits over the years – it seems they are certainly doing something right!
The hotel is built on a steep hillside overlooking the Bay of Palma and over the years has been extended and improved until the accommodation stretches from the top of the hill down to a small rocky cove below.
There are more than 200 steps between top and bottom winding their way through beautiful gardens all the way. However, in 1984, a lift system was completed which links the various hotel levels giving access to the beach for all guests.
The hotel’s lounges, traditional-style furniture, beautiful paintings, and decorative Spanish porcelain make for an almost medieval appearance – and the liberal use of stone throughout the hotel ensures the building stays cool even on the hottest days.
What makes this hotel stand out, though, is the attentive service from staff, many of whom have chalked up many years of service at the family-run business.
Waiter service in the two restaurants – one by the beach, the other at the top of the hill – is fast and cheerful and a considerable step up from “buffet-style” service which seems to be the norm nowadays.
Away from the superb food, there are three swimming pools, two tennis courts, a squash court, mini-golf and fitness classes for the more active guests, while there is never a shortage of beach loungers and parasols for those who just want to relax.
Rooms have air conditioning, satellite TV, wi-fi, mini-fridge, tea/coffee making facilities, bathrobes, hairdryer, pool towels, full bathroom and balcony. The Bon Sol also offers a number of beach villas.
Thomas Cook’s Ultimate Style holidays aim to deliver exceptional standards, attention to detail and an impeccably discreet level of service.
Illetas is only around 30 minutes by taxi from the aiport, so the journey from Suffolk, via Stansted, to the Bon Sol is as stress-free as it’s possible to get.
The hotel’s location is another plus point, with the capital city of Palma just a short bus ride away.
Buses to the capital are fast, frequent and cheap, and the bus stop is just 100 yards from the hotel entrance.
We visited Palma three times during our visit and got to know this exquisite and historic city a lot better, having only made a fleeting trip in previous holidays.
There is plenty of shopping – much of it designer – if that’s your thing, but it’s the jumbled and delightful old town which really fires the imagination.
Extending out from the cathedral is a maze of medieval streets where a new delight can be found around every corner. Tapas is the thing to eat here, so make sure you leave time for a meal... or two.
Being so close to Palma also gives visitors the chance to head further afield using the excellent, and presumably heavily subsidised, public transport service.
We took the little train to Soller, up, over and through the island mountain range of Serra de Tramuntana and took in the wonderful views looking down on this jewel of a town.
Also easily accessible, without the need for a hire car, are the lovely towns of Valldemossa, Andratx and Calvia if you find the exploring bug stronger than the lure of the lounger!
Aside from exploring the island, we also enjoyed a day out on a catamaran in the Bay of Palma and, by night, a trip to one of Majorca’s big set-piece entertainments.
Come Fly With Me at the Globo Balear Teatro Salida was a step back in time to the music of the Rat Pack and comes highly recommended. One tip though, take a taxi back if you find yourself at the end of the hotel pick-up line, as we were.
However, as tempting as Majorca’s attractions are, I suspect many people opting to stay in the lap of luxury at the Bon Sol will not venture too far from the hotel. And who could blame them? It’s a gem and long may it continue to offer a touch of originality in a market dominated by chain hotels.