Formidable Formentor'¦ a spectacular location!
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 Spanish Royalty have stayed here. Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier honeymooned at the Formentor and a special suite is now named after her.
Even today 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. This is a truly spectacular event and worth booking early for as tickets go fast.
Music royalty of a different kind, including Lionel Richie have also performed at the hotel and Mick Jagger has 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. It’s really beautiful and a haven of tranquillity.
The Spanish hotel group Barcelo, the current owners, has thankfully paid great attention to the Formentor’s history while adding the luxury facilities and service that 5 star guests expect. It forms part of the group’s Royal Hideaway collection of top hotels.
I felt like I was staying at a millionaire’s luxury villa with just a few select guests despite its 122 bedrooms and suites. If you really want to feel you are the only ones enjoying this luscious location there are six villas in the hotel grounds to choose from.
Getting to the hotel takes an hour by car from Palma airport through the spectacular Sierra de Tramuntana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along a road with many hairpin bends and jaw-dropping views to amaze along the way.
It attracts cyclists from around the world, a group of US enthusiasts were staying at the Formentor, and you can join them if you have the energy. Indeed there are many activities you can book here, including a guided trek off the beaten track around the rugged coast.
There is a popular lookout point as you climb up towards the hotel – Mirador Colomer. If you don’t like heights it’s not for you, but a great place to really appreciate the landscape.
While my intrepid companions donned walking gear and set off exploring this area on an organised trek on one day of our weekend away, I felt that 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 small 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.
Many activities both on land and sea are easily accessible from the hotel and I spent a special few hours on a traditional, wooden Majorcan fishing boat trip around the bay before enjoying a snorkel session then cheese and snacks washed down with local wine produced by our captain Damia.
Another daytime outing to a family-run, artisan textile company Teixits Vicens, established 160 years ago was fascinating. We were given an insight into an ancient art as we watched the handmade linen/cotton cloth being made in many different designs.
In the shop you can buy anything from cushions, to bags to deck chairs in the bright and bold Mediterranean colours, www.teixitsvicens.com
Next on the agenda was a visit to another family business, this time an olive oil producer. Solivella, which offers tours and tastings, produces several different flavours from its crops and exports around the world, www.olisolivellas.com
But it’s the hotel itself and dining beside its many 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.
The hotel prides itself on using local produce as well as vegetables from the hotel’s garden and, of course, fresh seafood. Then finish off the night being serenaded at the piano bar and you’ll never want to leave.
Rates at Royal Hideaway Formentor start from Â£197 (223 euros), price based on two sharing on a complimentary B&B basis. For more information or to book please visit www.barcelo.com
Norwegian 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 Â£29.90 one way / Â£62.50 return at www.norwegian.com/UK or dial 0330 828 0854 (opt. 1)