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Travel & Holidays in later life

BREAKAWAY TO RURAL MALLORCA

The village of RadaQuite apart from reasonably-priced entertainment, drinks, transport and meals, Mallorca has plenty of other plus points. Bulk of the holiday business is scooped by a string of beach resorts west of Palma. 

There it seems that every cliff face and sandy cove is lined with huge shoe-box hotels and apartment blocks. That's the prime area for holidays packaged by the big-time tour operators who deal in big numbers and charter flights.


Looking for something different, Reg Butler discovered old-time Mallorca still drowsing away only a few miles from the main tourist streams. 

 Most of the island is rural, and agriculture is very strong. There is fabulous mountain scenery. And there are plenty of small villages and towns where the Mallorcan lifestyle still exists - modernised but very traditional. 

Travel Facts

 

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TRAVEL FACTS

Reis de Mallorca: All 32 hotels can be viewed and booked online.     Tel: +34 871 949 767. E-Mail: info@reisdemallorca.com


Classic Collection Holidays, Wiston House, Wiston Ave., Worthing, West Sussex BN14 7QL. Tel: 0800 008 7299.


More information: Spanish Tourist Office 

Travelsphere escorted holidays

 

How to find high-standard accommodation in these off-trail areas? 

An association of 32 'hotels with character' is marketed under the title of Reis de Mallorca ('Kings of Mallorca'). The establishments have grouped together to make joint publicity, which they couldn't manage alone. 

They are independent manor houses, rural retreats and designer hotels. They range from a few beachside hotels with 100 rooms, down to boutique guest-houses with only seven rooms.

These are upmarket properties, traditional in style, mostly of historical or architectural interest, oozing with old-time service and charm. All have a strong reputation for good food.

They are pricier than the shoe-box hotels. But many of their guests book direct and save money by flying on a no-frills airline. In the UK there are 12 airports in winter and 26 in summer with almost daily low-cThe restaurant wing of Hotel Monnaber Nouost flights to Palma.

During a survey of the hotels, our first night was spent at Monnaber Nou, in the north mountain area of Mallorca. Perched in the foothills, it was an old manor house, stone built in the 14th century. 

Seated on the terrace, with a wide view over the 300-acre home farm with cascading swimming pools in the foreground, I felt it was like living the life of an old-time Spanish grandee. 


Look down on olive trees from the hotel terrace Olive groves were tenanted by sheep who did nothing but eat and bleat, and there was the sound of cow-bells. Cycle and bridle paths were laid out among the oak, almond and carob trees, and the management had trekking routes to suggest higher in the hills. It all made a tranquil base for exploring the lesser-known northern end of the island.
Bedrooms were furnished entirely with antiques, except for TV and bathroom. Dinner was largely home grown, including the roast lamb, while the wines came from the central plain a few miles away. 

We visited one of Mallorca's biggest wineries, near the town of Inca. The Finca Bordils has produced wine since 1433. Current output is 200,000 bottles a year, red and white.
On-the-spot tasting
Most of the good Mallorcan wines never find their way to Britain because the locals drink it all. From the best vineyards, 85% goes to restaurants, and hardly any travels abroad. But Mallorca is now growing more wines than in former times, and - using modern technology - the quality is high.
 

The largest areas of farmland are dedicated to olive and almond trees, vineyards, orange and lemon groves, carobs and figs. In late January and throughout February, the almond trees are in full bloom. It makes a beautiful time to escape the English winter. The almonds are harvested in August. 

The olive harvest starts in October and continues for another two months, using machines that shake the trees and automatically collect the falling olives. 

On the upper mountain slopes, helicopters transport the workers and the machines, and return with the crop. Pack mules are no longer in business. It's all part of the fascination of Mallorca beyond the beaches. 

One of the smaller hotels we visited - Can Furios - was owned by an Englishman and his Spanish wife. They had operated a restaurant in Buckinghamshire until they had an offer they couldn't refuse. 

A November view of the entrance to Can Furios hotel So they sold up and migrated to Mallorca, buying the converted 16th-century manor house complete with two original Arabic towers. With capacity of 7 guest rooms - 4 suites and 3 doubles - meal service is very personalised, like in a private home. 


Another charming lunch stop was called Es Reco de Randa - a reconstructed manor house with 14 rooms. The terraces and restaurant overlook the virtually deserted village of Randa. 

Some of their guests are keen on walking, with three historic 15th-century monasteries in the area - Cura, Gracia and Sant Honorat. It's a good way of working up a healthy appetite for the good food.

Our final night was at the Punta Negra Resort, the second largest in the group with 112 rooms. Although it was a beachside hotel on the heavily-developed coastline southwest of Palma, it still kept a secluded character on its own small peninsula with two private coves.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu A fellow guest, enjoying a short break after an intensive conference, was Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who stopped for a chat en route to the dining room. 

How to book these hotels? 

Book through the Reis de Mallorcawebsite or direct with the hotel and make your own no-frills airline reservation. 

An alternative is a specialist company called Classic Collection Holidays which features several Mallorcan hotels on its website. They can also book the lower-cost flights with a price promise to match the cost of any package containing the same components.

 

Some other suggestions on where to go in Spain

CATALONIA - the inland and coastal riches

COSTA BRAVA - finding peace along the coast

MADRID - why you should go off-season

MALLORCA - Breakaway to the Spanish grandee rural life


"Books to read - click on cover pictures" or click on the links below

Essential Mallorca (AA Essential S.) by Tony Kelly - A pocket spiral guide to the island, with good coverage of the rural scene, and describing many of the Reis de Mallorca hotels.  Good photos, and must be rated as the best choice.

Walk! Mallorca West (Walk) - Ideal for walking enthusiasts, contains 30 well-mapped itineraries to the Western areas of the island. A parallel guide is available for  Walk! Mallorca: North and Mountains. If you're exploring both areas, there's a special deal if you buy both books together.

Viva Mallorca!: One Mallorcan Autumn by Pater Kerr - If you are looking for a book which gives a true feel and insight into rural life in Mallorca then look no further. An entertaining account that gives you an appetite to explore the countryside.

Mallorca (AA Island Maps) - Make sure you have a decent map before you travel, especially if you plan to go a little off the main traffic stream, or are planning to use some of the cycling or trekking trails.


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