THE ISLAND FOR WHICH THE HOLIDAY IN THE SUN WAS INVENTED PROVES IT’S STILL NUMBER ONE.
Majorca keeps bouncing back. The most famous holiday island in the Med has taken some knocks over the years but it just refuses to lie down.
It’s taken the criticism on the chin, gone away, reinvented itself and come back stronger than ever. It is, quite simply, indestructible.
Ever since it became the number one target for our first package-holidaymakers, Majorca has maintained its status as a top holiday hotspot.
It now offers something for everyone – from the cheap and cheerful for those who just want sun, sand and nightclubs to the high society world of Palma Old Town and beyond, with its multi-million pound holiday villas and historical treasures.
It’s amazing to think that it’s now over 50 years since we first fell in love with the idea of going to Majorca for our summer holidays. Then, in those early “holiday abroad” days of the 1950s, it was a few hundred adventurous souls who boarded a BOAC Comet airplane and headed off to this newly-discovered island paradise.
The numbers were small because the idea of travelling abroad for a summer break was new and also because you needed a few bob to be able to afford it.
It was in the late 60s and 70s that holidaying abroad came within the reach of most people and established destinations like Majorca made sure they were ready for them.
Up went the towering hotel blocks along the coast and the revolution in holiday travel was well and truly under way.
From then until now, Majorca has been constantly re-positioning itself. It still needs the mass tourist spend of Palma Nova but just a few hundred yards away on the other side of its border with Old Majorca, you can mingle with the rich and famous at Palma’s swish marina, where the King of Spain’s fortified superyacht is often a visitor.
Inland, reasonably-priced modest villas and apartments share orange groves with some of Spain’s most luxurious properties.
The further you venture away from Palma the further back in time you go – and this is the secret of Majorca’s success. It has developed a side for everyone – if you want a taste of the Old Island you never have to put a foot near a high-rise hotel or English bar.
Apart from Palma, this is the most important tourist spot on the island, a favourite haunt for British tourists who prefer their Spanish experience a little more relaxed.
It lies at the western end of the magnificent Bay of Alcudia, which runs for over seven miles through the secluded resort of Playa de Muro to C’an Picafort – the main tourist resort in the district of Santa Margalida.
Away from the town centre Alcudia is surrounded by beautiful, secluded mediaeval villages where life has remained unchanged for centuries. The heart and soul of Old Majorca.
On the west side of the island lies this important port, home to some of the island’s most important religious buildings. The steep mountains, laden with acres of olive and almond trees, plunge down to the shore here, making a series of coves and inlets to explore. The port itself has maintained many of its old fishing traditions and is renowned for the quality of its fresh fish and local produce.
It has an ancient monastery used by Cathusian monks between 1399 and 1835. Chopin was a regular visitor and there’s a special collection of the composer’s memorabilia in the monastery museum.
Wonderful scenery, beautiful sandy beaches and a laid-back friendly atmosphere. The sheltered horseshoe shaped bay is set against the stunning backdrop of the Tramuntana mountain range.
Originally a fishing village, Puerto Pollensa is the perfect place to enjoy that most Spanish of traditions, the evening stroll or paseo. On warm, balmy evenings everyone wanders up and down between the marina where the yachts are moored, past the pavement cafes and along the celebrated Pine Walk. The Museum of Pollença is worth a visit – it has collections of Gothic art, contemporary art and ceramics.
Jewel in the crown of this fabulous island is the spectacular Roman Catholic cathedral commonly known as Le Seu. Work began on this cathedral in 1230 almost immediately after Palma was claimed by the Christians under Jaume I and is built on the site of an old Arab mosque. It took about 300 years to build and is breathtakingly stunning inside as well as out. There are three ornate entrances to the cathedral, the most spectacular being the 14th century Portal de Mirador.
An unusual circular castle built by King James II as a royal residence but used for many different purposes since, including a coin mint and a military prison. It is now home to Palma’s Museum of History. Its shape is unique in Spain and believed to have been inspired by a similar structure in the West Bank. It has three round towers and a keep divided over four storeys. Inside the castle there is a circular bailey over two storeys and a chapel on the second floor.
THE ALMUDAINA ROYAL PALACE
This Palace was the hub of the independent kingdom of Majorca during the reigns of Jaime I, Sancho I and Jaime II, until it became part of the kingdom of Aragon under Pedro IV. The Moor castle dates from 1281 and is currently used as the royal residence for the King of Spain on his official visits to the island.
THE ARTA CAVES AND DRACH CAVES
The Artá Caves and the Drach Caves are located on the east coast of Majorca. The Arta Caves, near Alcudia in the north-east of the island, include the chamber known as the Vestibule or Entrance Hall, where huge stalactites in a variety of different shapes hang from the high arched roof.
Further south, the Drach Caves, or Dragon’s Caves, are a complex of beautiful prehistoric caves in Porto Cristo.
Inside there is an underground lake – Lake Martel – which is one of the largest underground lakes in the world. Coloured lighting illuminates the stalactites and stalacmites creating a magical display.
CABRERA ARCHIPELAGO NATIONAL PARK
Just an hour’s boat ride off the south coast of Palma lies an island paradise bursting with nature. This protected set of island outcrops are a protected zone, due largely to the incredible unspoiled ecosystem that exists there. The deep quiet water surrounding the islands are an ideal breeding ground for turtles, dolphins, sperm and pilot whales, the carnivorous Goby fish, massive fan mussels (up to one metre in length) and coral. The quiet environment also makes it an important area for seabirds and birds of prey. Boat trips are available from the south coast towns of Sant Jordi and Porto Petro.
THE ROYAL BENDINAT
The Royal Bendinat Golf Club offers the perfect combination of beauty and comfort.
The course designed by M. Hawtree (1986) in a sweeping wooded valley, consists of 18 holes (Par 70) where players enjoys the perfect combination of beauty and nature with views of the bay of Palma, Cabrera and the Bendinat Castle.
Facilities include a driving range, putting green and chipping area. Earlier this year all the greens were renewed and a new putting green built next to the 1st Tee with Bentgrass L93.
The Club House offers stylish decor and a distinctive area to relax, with the restaurant delivering a complete and varied menu offering the best examples of national dishes, and views over the 18th hole.
GOLF SANTA PONSA I
Golf in exclusive surroundings can be experienced at Santa Ponsa I, six times venue of the European Tour.
The course, designed by Folco Nardi (1977), is long with wide fairways. Consisting of 18 holes (Par 72), the 10th hole (Par 5) is one of the longest in Europe with a length of 590 metres. Ballesteros, Woosnam, Clark, Olazabal, Langer have all played on this course.
Facilities include a 250m driving range, a short play area and two putting greens. In addition, there are two courses (Santa Ponsa II – III) for members only.
In the clubhouse players can stay in one of the 12 rooms of the exclusive hotel and relax in the modern restaurant.