Eat and drink afloat in north Mallorca

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Eat

If you’re on the Spanish island of Mallorca and hear the seductive siren call of the Mediterranean, taking a boat trip is the perfect response. Mallorca has plenty of excursion boats operating out of various ports around the island but, if you prefer a motorboat and not being with dozens of other holidaymakers, chartering a captained boat could be a more appealing option.

A Dutch-built beauty

AlcudiaMar in Puerto Alcúdia is the home of Silver Fox – a classic motorboat that has just started offering trips in the north of Mallorca. Silver Fox is a Prins van Oranje Rapsody 40 Offshore Dutch-built motorboat, which its Mallorcan owner Juan Carlos Pujadas lovingly restored over the last winter. It’s a beautiful vessel combining classic features – all that varnished wood! – with modern facilities and conveniences. She takes up to eight people in comfort.

Although a lawyer by profession, Juan Carlos has had the sea in his blood since he was a little lad in short trousers, spending summers with his family in Puerto Alcúdia. You’ll find him in shorts today too for his duties as the captain of Silver Fox. His passion for boating and the sea becomes obvious as soon as you meet him.

Tailor your Silver Fox trip

Silver Fox offers a few charter options – from a full-day trip to a sunset tour – all with Juan Carlos at the helm. However, everything is flexible – including the choice of food and drink you may wish to have onboard – so this can be a tailor-made experience. During our sunset tour, we sipped the high-quality fizz, Raor Reserva Brut Nature (Parellada and Chardonnay) from the Mallorcan DO Pla i Llevant. I even learnt a few new things from Juan Carlos about the Puerto Alcúdia area.

The friendly Juan Carlos speaks excellent English and has plenty of stories to recount to his charter clients. We really enjoyed his company – and his beautiful boat. Apparently there are around only eight of these classic motorboat models in Europe and Silver Fox is the only one in Mallorcan waters.

Juan Carlos Pujadas was my guest on ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio on Saturday morning, June 23rd, shortly after 11am CET. Find the interview on the podcasts section here if you missed it and would like to listen.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Hotel Mama in Palma, Mallorca – review

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Cafes and bars / Drink / Eat / Hotels / Sleep

Palma’s newest boutique hotel is also the most central: Hotel Mamá is in Plaza de Cort – the most important square in the heart of the city’s old quarter.

The 32-room 5-star hotel is opposite the distinctive town hall building and close to the iconic ancient olive tree known as Olivera de Cort. With its huge trunk sculpted by nature, this magnificent tree is a well-known meeting point in the city and most visitors to Palma probably pass through Plaza de Cort during their stay. They’ll now find an impressive new meeting-place rival for that olive tree, in the shape of Hotel Mamá.

Grupo Cappuccino’s first hotel

I’d watched the development of this hotel from a 19th-century building with interest, knowing that it was to be the first hotel for the Mallorcan Grupo Cappuccino, which has high-quality restaurants and cafes in several locations in Mallorca and in Ibiza, Madrid, Valencia, Marbella, Jeddah, and Beirut.

Cappuccino cafes are known for their unique architecture and design and for high standards; prices for drinks and food reflect the quality, but it’s worth splashing a little extra cash to appreciate the setting, surroundings, and smart service of these unique places. For years, we have been taking our visitors to the rear courtyard garden of Cappuccino Grand Café – a former palacio in Palma’s C/ San Miguel; this oasis in the city, with its central fountain and colourful bougainvillea, never fails to impress.

A Cappuccino Grand Café is just one of the attractions of the new Hotel Mamá, where we spent one night last week in a superior room (room number 37 on the third floor). The hotel offers eight suites facing Plaza de Cort, eight deluxe rooms, eight superior rooms, and eight standard rooms.

On arrival

When we arrived late afternoon, the terrace of Hotel Mamá’s Cappuccino Grand Café was busy with people enjoying the best-possible spot for some serious people watching as they sipped drinks and ate their food.

As we entered the hotel, we were greeted by a smiling reception staff, standing in front of an impressive and colourful display of Mexican fighting masks. These unusual features hinted that we were in for a treat in terms of interior design.

While check-in formalities were being completed, we were invited to have a complimentary coffee, tea, or iced tea in the Grand Café – where we happily sat taking in our surroundings. Art is everywhere and reflects the artistic tastes of Juan Picornell, the Grupo Cappuccino owner.

Picornell’s eye for the aesthetic can be seen in all of the group’s properties, but it’s writ large here at Hotel Mamá, where the Parisian interior designer Jacques Grange could express his bold vision and attention to detail over five floors and a basement.

Design by Jacques Grange

Jacques Grange is considered one of the world’s best interior designers and decorators: his clients include actress Isabelle Adjani, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Alain Ducasse, Francis Ford Coppola, and Karl Lagerfeld. He was responsible for New York projects such as the decoration of Paloma Picasso’s jewellery store, the Mark Hotel on Madison Avenue, and the Barbizon Hotel.

As Grange had already designed a Cappuccino Grand Cafe (in Madrid), it was not surprising that  Picornell wanted Grange to design his first Cappuccino hotel in Palma. The hotel’s director, Cati Crespi, told me the two men respect each other’s work.

Room 37

Our superior room was spacious, comfortable, and with plenty of natural light from two sides of the room. One window looked down over the central courtyard, the other had views across rooftops, giving us a different aspect of Palma – a city we know well.

The facilities and features of the room are as you would expect in a 5-star hotel, but there’s a lot of attention to detail and Grange’s design made the room feel homely and luxurious. We loved the attractive tiled floor and the shutters on the courtyard-side windows.

We particularly liked the bathroom, which had a large walk-in shower (with logical controls) and a large white traditional-style sink. Although some of the contemporary shallow sinks often found in new hotels look wonderful, they can sometimes be impractical for wet-shaving (I’m told). We loved the Floris toiletries and the attention to detail: a small glass ring tree on the bathroom shelf – for keep rings safe when you’re washing your hands – is something I don’t remember seeing before in a hotel here.  And some people will appreciate the fact that the door to the bathroom is solid and not frosted glass.

The room safe was in a low drawer with the controls on the top. Easy to operate, it had a top-opening lid which made it easy to see what we had stored inside. We appreciated the Illy coffee maker (capsules) in the room too.

Other little details included a pale-green leather-clad waste bin and a round coaster-size trays in the same leather on each bedside table. The do-not-disturb signs here are written with ‘Siesta’ on one side and ‘Fiesta’ on the other. Sounds like the perfect holiday.

Hotel Mamá’s other facilities

The  Cappuccino Grand Café is not the only place to eat at Hotel Mamá: the hotel also has a Japanese restaurant called Tahini (another Tahini is located in Mallorca’s smart Puerto Portals marina).  We didn’t eat here as we weren’t in the mood for Japanese that particular evening but shall check out the special lunch menu they offer for 27€ on a future visit to Palma.

The hotel is the only one I know in Palma to have its own private cinema – Cappucine – where up to 30 people can sit in comfort, enjoying one of the hotel’s collection of classic movies. Screenings take place twice a day and the facility is free for hotel guests and Tahini customers.

Cappucine

Hotel Mamá also has a health club and spa, SPALMA – a name that is a neat combination of Spa, Palma, and alma (the Spanish word for ‘soul’).  Guests can be assisted by the hotel’s personal trainer and wellness expert Ivan Toscano (who will, if you wish, take you for a jog around Palma. No. We didn’t wish, but plenty of guests would!).

Treatments include a choice of massages (including couples’), treatments, and rituals – for women and men. SPALMA – like Cappucine – is in the basement. Oh, and do check out the unusual wall clock in the spa area. Never seen one like it before!

Seating in the basement area near SPALMA

Like quite a few luxury hotels in Palma, Hotel Mamá has a roof terrace, with small pool. It offers stunning views of the centre of Palma and is open only to hotel guests – to respect their privacy.

Breakfast

Breakfast is served in the central courtyard. It’s gorgeous in there. Look up and beyond the walls of the tall building that surround you is the sky. It will be a glorious place to sit in the heat of summer and, at night, a canopy is pulled across to make the area feel a little cosier. And imagine what must have been involved in planting the palm trees in there!

What we particularly liked about the delicious generous breakfast was that everything is served to you. There’s no getting up and down from your table to go to the buffet table. It made a relaxing start to the day. And I loved my spelt bread toast and generous helping of perfect avocado (I asked for mine without the poached egg usually included).

Now that’s what I call breakfast!

Our verdict of Hotel Mamá

We loved Hotel Mamá in Palma and had only one small issue: in the evening, housekeeping delivered two bottles of Evian water to the room (which was much appreciated). However, the bottles were plastic and we hope that they – and other hotels – will find an alternative to offering water in single-use plastic bottles. Juan Picornell – Grupo Cappuccino’s owner and founder – will, I am sure, be looking for a way to address this issue.

©Jan Edwards 2018

A Japanese dining experience in Campos, Mallorca

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Drink / Eat / Sleep

If you love Japanese cuisine and unique experiences, Kairiku restaurant is for you. This intimate cellar restaurant, in southeast Mallorca, is in the quiet agricultural town of Campos. From Palma, this market town is effectively the gateway to Mallorca’s southeast and south coast. You’ll pass through it on the way to the virgin beach of Es Trenc, resort and port of Colonia de Sant Jordi, the town of Santanyí, and Ses Salines but, as you’ll read, it’s worth breaking your journey in Campos.

Find Kairiku in the town centre, within the 5-star Sa Creu Nova Art Hotel & Spa. The property is a conversion of three adjoining traditional Mallorcan townhouses, with a hideaway courtyard garden (with pool) at the rear. The result is a harmonious blend of contemporary styling and traditional features, such as arches and the sandy-coloured local marés stone; this and the original art throughout the hotel are sure to please aesthetes. Another must-mention is that street parking in the hotel’s vicinity is plentiful and free of charge.

The hotel is owned by Teresa Artés de Arcos Queralt and her husband Enrique Picó – the couple behind the successful Japanese restaurant Minato in Barcelona.

“I trust you…”

Back to Kairiku; I shall certainly go back, having been delighted by my first ‘omakase’ experience – unique in Mallorca to this restaurant. The word ‘omakase’ comes from the Japanese verb for ‘to entrust’: diners trust the chef to deliver delicious dishes of his own choice. You won’t find a menu here (or at any ‘omakase’ restaurant) but if you love the flavours and textures of Japanese cuisine, that shouldn’t be a problem. Just enjoy each dish as a surprise as it arrives in front of you.

Kairiku is also the only restaurant on Mallorca offering a tasting menu matched with premium sakes. Sake is heady stuff and booking a room at Sa Creu Nova Art Hotel & Spa would be a good idea if you want to take full advantage of these Japanese rice wines, but don’t have someone to drive you home from Campos!

Table for 10

One long table in Kairiku accommodates just ten people, in one sitting; you don’t have to go as a group, but can be one (or more) of the ten people who share not only the table, but also an interest in Japanese cuisine and unique dining experiences. It’s an interesting way to meet new people and perhaps make new friends.

From the hotel’s ground-floor Mediterranean restaurant – Tess de Mar* – you go down a few steps to a smart minimalist Japanese-style dining area. Here, the ‘itamae’ (chef) César León prepares delicious authentic Japanese dishes in the smallest of open kitchens, in front of diners.  He’s actually Argentinian but has certainly mastered the Land of the Rising Sun’s cuisine.

For the next couple of hours, my fellow diners and I ate a series of dishes bursting with freshness, creativity, and flavour. Bruno Peixoto is the sommelier – very knowledgeable about sakes – and also in charge of the dining space. He explains each dish as it’s presented and, if you don’t speak Spanish, he’ll detail each one in English. Our dinner began with a Japanese cocktail and included three different sakes, and a glass of Mallorcan Sincronia (from Bodega Mesquida Mora in nearby Porreres).

Shhh…it’s a surprise

A miso ramen soup, niguiris, futomaki, and sashimi were among the dishes we ate. And that’s all the information I shall give you, as the point of ‘omakase’ dining is that you should be surprised. And, at Kairiku, pleasantly surprised too.

However, I am sharing a few photos of some of the dishes and hope they will whet your appetite for a visit to this unexpected restaurant find in Campos.

You can trust Kairiku to provide a memorable Japanese dining experience…

Kairiku is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, for dinner only. This experience costs 70€.

*NOTE: Juan Ocampo, chef de cuisine at Tess de Mar restaurant, was one of my guests on ‘Table Talk’ May 26th on Mallorca Sunshine Radio.  You can hear the interview here.

Juan Ocampo

Juan Ocampo, chef de cuisine at Tess de Mar

©Jan Edwards 2018

Travel safely through Palma Airport

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General
Suitcase and sunhat

Ready for a holiday…Mallorca here we come!

Mallorca is generally a safe island but, as in any destination that attracts a lot of tourists, it pays to be vigilant – particularly at times when you are most vulnerable or distracted. One such time is at the airport: you may arrive tired, be thinking about the onward journey to your holiday accommodation, or distracted by others travelling with you (“Mum, Dad, are we nearly there yet?”)

When I received an offer of the following infographic from Nicola Griffin, senior editor of the Palma Airport website team, I thought it was worth sharing the information here. The advice is, of course, applicable when travelling through any airport around the world – not just Palma.

One scam worth mentioning in more detail is that of imposter security officers in the vicinity of the airport. If anyone looking official in a uniform stops you and demands an on-the-spot fine for whatever, insist on seeing their official identification. If necessary, call the local Palma police on +34 971 789 245 or demand to see someone from the Guardia Civil.

Over the past 14 years we have made countless trips to Palma Airport in connection with friends and family visiting us and none of these have had any problems there. But it never hurts to be extra careful when you’re in a busy airport…

For more information about Palma Airport, check out their comprehensive website here.

Safe travels and happy holidays!

Matthew Williamson designs for Belmond La Residencia

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Hotels / Sleep

Deià – one of Mallorca’s picturesque mountain villages – is renowned for attracting creative people, including musicians, writers, artists, and designers. One such person, who bought a home in the village last year, soon put his creative stamp on his new neighbourhood: the renowned British designer Matthew Williamson created the vibrant interior for Deià’s Nama Bar last summer.

The 5-star Belmond La Residencia, in the heart of the village, also commissioned Williamson to work his design magic on their new Suite 67 – which was inaugurated last week. When it comes to hotel suites on the island of Mallorca, this is surely one of the stand-out offerings.

Botanical escapism

The one-bedroom Suite 67 has an outdoor snug, private pool and garden, luxurious living space, and vibrant bathroom. Williamson took his inspiration from the hotel’s superb gardens and created an interior space where guests can feel connected to their natural surroundings. His signature wallpaper, Rosanna Trellis, and decorative upholstery fabrics feature in the living space, and a vintage roll-top bath is a feature of Suite 67’s bathroom. Think rustic decadence and romance.

Here are a few glimpses of what awaits guests staying at Suite 67 at Belmond La Residencia (photos courtesy of hotel). However, Matthew will not be relaxing on your sofa!

Matthew Williamson’s interiors projects include the courtyard garden at London’s Blakes Hotel and the romantic bridal suite at Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire. He designs wallpapers and fabrics for Osborne & Little, furniture with Duresta, and rugs for The Rug Company. Look out for his range of room scents (floral, I imagine) and candles, launching this summer.

Hear Ulisses Marreiros of Belmond La Residencia talking about Suite 67 on my show ‘Table Talk’ on the Mallorca Sunshine Radio website podcasts section, dated June 2nd.

Jan Edwards ©2018

Olive oil in a cocktail? Try this one from Andreu Genestar

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Drink

 

Vent de Gregal at Gremium cocktail bar

Vent de Gregal

Mallorca’s best-quality extra virgin olive oils have the Denomination of Origin Oli de Mallorca and every year the regulatory council of the DO chooses a mixologist on the island to create an exclusive cocktail, with olive oil as an ingredient.

This year the honour fell to Andreu Genestar, the charming mixologist at Gremium – the cocktail bar at Es Princep hotel in Palma. Oli de Mallorca invited me to the launch of the new cocktail – an event held in the new bar. Just a week after we’d stayed overnight in the hotel, I was unexpectedly back for a few hours, with other members of the local media and invited guests, to taste the cocktail.

Andreu named his creation Vent de Gregal (this northeast wind is characteristic of the Balearics) and blends Mallorcan extra virgin olive oil with local ingredients, including orange and lemon juices from Sóller and honey. It was surprisingly delicious and, if you’re in this area of Palma, I can recommend a visit to try this well-balanced cocktail now on offer at Gremium.

A winning oil

On the subject of Mallorca’s choice of delicious extra virgin olive oils, Es Roquissar – produced on the Son Moragues estate in Valldemossa – recently won a silver award at the prestigious New York International Olive Oil Competition. The organic oil is made with the Mallorcan olive variety known as empeltre, which grow in the highest parts of the Serra de Tramuntana estate. This  year’s competition featured 905 oils from 27 countries.

Jan Edwards ©2018

Review of new Palma boutique hotel Es Princep

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Drink / Eat / Hotels / Sleep

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the choice of boutique hotels in Palma. Five new ones have already opened in the city this year; two more are scheduled to open by the end of 2018 – by which time Mallorca’s capital will have 28 boutique hotels.

The largest of the new boutique hotels is in the Sa Calatrava district of Palma’s Old Town – a mainly residential area. The independently owned 5-star hotel Es Princep has 68 rooms and suites and opened on February 1st. It’s Palma’s closest boutique hotel to the Mediterranean Sea, with a privileged elevated position alongside the restored ancient city wall known as the Baluard del Princep. And it’s the only Palma hotel that’s a member of the prestigious collection The Leading Hotels of the World.

Reception team at the hospitable Es Princep in Palma

Warm smiles to greet us – and check out that floral arrangement!

We stayed for one night – our 14th anniversary of moving to Mallorca – in a ‘double premium’ room on the third floor. Our first impression of the place was the reception team’s warm greeting on arrival. This impression of warm hospitality was reinforced by every other member of the hotel’s enthusiastic young team during our one-night stay.

The staff member who checked us in offered us a welcome drink and we accepted a glass of cava. Sitting in the elegant lounge area – where there are velvet-covered chairs, leather Chesterfields, and shelves of gorgeous coffee table books – we sipped and took in the details around us.

Lounge Es Princep, Palma

Take a seat…there’s plenty to read here

Flowers. Abundant floral arrangements grace Es Princep, bringing a touch of nature into the building. The hotel décor is elegant but not fussy; natural materials – wood, leather, and stone – are key elements of the interior and are typically used in Mallorcan country properties. This largely residential area of Palma was once the location of leather workers and there’s evidence of that within the hotel. I’m not going to reveal in this post what it is, but I can tell you I was absolutely fascinated when I saw it.

Welcome to room 310

Our room was everything we’d hoped for and would expect in a 5-star hotel: high-quality stylish furnishings and fittings; all the conveniences that you need when staying away from home; Bluetooth connection if you want to play music from your own device through the room’s speaker; bathroom scales (I left those untouched), and a super-duper rain-style shower. The bed was huge and exceptionally comfortable, but what made the greatest initial impression was the astonishing view.

The full-length window provides a panoramic view of the Bay of Palma and the pleasant area between hotel and the seafront road. Although we’d expected to experience some traffic noise from the latter, we were pleasantly surprised. With the window closed we couldn’t hear the traffic and, even when we opened the window, the sound was muted by the trees down in front of the building.

Up on the roof

We then explored the ‘Amaq’ roof terrace, which must surely be the largest in Palma (apparently 800 sqm) – with a bar for snacks and drinks, plenty of places to sunbathe, parasols, tables and chairs, and a pool for refreshing dips. The entire terrace has a wrap-around glass barrier which ensures that the view is uninterrupted and reduces sound from below. The view from here is breathtaking and we sat for some time gazing out over the Bay, along the seafront itself, and at the higgledy piggledy patchwork of rooftops in the old town. It almost feels as though you’re floating above Palma…

Eats and drinks

Es Princep has two restaurants: Mura and Bala Roja. The latter is destined to become a dining-out hotspot in Palma because the culinary maestro behind it is the Mallorcan chef Andreu Genestra (whose eponymous one-Michelin star restaurant is in Capdepera). Unfortunately Bala Roja wasn’t due to open for a few days so we missed the opportunity to try it, but we did have dinner in Mura – and enjoyed it (particularly the chocolate dessert!).

After dinner, we visited Gremium – the hotel’s smart but comfortable cocktail bar – where the mixologist whipped up an alcohol-free version of ‘Red love’, one of the signature cocktails by mixologist Andreu Genestar (not a spelling error – the two maestros have almost identical names!).

Breakfast the next morning was a generous and varied buffet, with visual appeal. A freshly cooked breakfast was also available. I particularly liked the variety of breads and preserves on offer, the table of tempting sweet pastries, and the individual portions of breakfast cereals in cellophane bags. Fresh local orange juice flowed generously too.

During our visit we didn’t visit the Coco spa or, of course, Bala Roja, but now we have the perfect excuse to return. Not that we need one.

What is a boutique hotel?

Out of interest, I researched a definition of ’boutique hotel’ and, according to Xotel, the international hotel management specialists, the following are a few of the characteristics – quoted from their website:

  • 10 to 100 rooms, with a sense of privacy and intimacy.
  • Architecture and interior design are unique and upscale, with décor, aesthetics, and attention to detail typical of these properties.
  • True to their heritage, they celebrate the local flavour.
  • Exceptional and highly personalized service is crucial.
  • High-quality, locally sourced, authentic cuisine.
  • Clientele as individual as the hotels themselves: from Baby Boomers to Millenials – smart, fashionable, and chic.

All of the above apply to Es Princep – the ‘new kid on the block’ that satisfies all my requirements of a perfect boutique hotel.

Hear Ilka Karl, general manager of the hotel, talking to me on Mallorca Sunshine Radio here: ‘Table Talk’ edition 1.

 

Jan Edwards ©2018

Where to have lunch in tranquil rural southwest Mallorca

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Eat / Hotels / Restaurants / Sleep
Front view of Castell Son Claret

Destination Olivera restaurant at Castell Son Claret

Palma is currently enjoying a lot of attention as a gastronomic short-break destination, but you don’t have to be in Mallorca’s capital to find great cuisine. How about lunch out in a stunning rural hotel in the southwest of Mallorca?

The 2018 season looks set to be another good one for the tourism industry. In 2017, the number of overseas visitors to Mallorca increased by 5.3 per cent – with the largest increases being recorded in visitors from northern European countries such as Finland, Holland, Norway, and Sweden.

If you want to escape the bustle of Palma for a while and find a peaceful place to enjoy a leisurely lunch, I can recommend the 5-star hotel Castell Son Claret, located in open countryside near the village of Es Capdellà.

Restaurants at Castell Son Claret

The hotel has two restaurants: the superb 2-Michelin-starred Zaranda (open only for dinner and offering a choice of three new tasting menus for this year) and Olivera. If your budget won’t stretch to Michelin-starred dining (like mine at the moment), Olivera is a great option because Fernando Arellano – the culinary genius behind Zaranda – has overall responsibility for both restaurants.

Chef Pep Forteza leads the kitchen brigade at Olivera and has worked with Fernando since the latter moved Zaranda from Madrid to Mallorca. The Boss and I have stayed quite a few times at this hotel for personal celebrations and have always eaten dinner in Olivera. The restaurant itself has simple but elegant décor, the service is attentive and friendly and, in fine weather, you can eat on the gorgeous terrace with its views of the pool and Serra de Tramuntana mountains. Oh, and the food’s delicious and makes good use of some of the large estate’s fresh produce.

One of my favourite things about this hotel is the in-house bakery, which produces the wide variety of breads and rolls offered in the hotel. I have a huge weakness for good bread – and breakfast after an overnight stay in the hotel is a real treat!

A look at some of the new Olivera dishes

Several new dishes have been added to the Olivera menu for 2018 and you can see some of them below. The cuisine is mainly Mediterranean with some international influences and several of the dishes are presented on tableware created especially for the hotel. Eat from the lunchtime à la carte menu or opt for the chef’s three-course lunch menu for 35 euros (available Monday to Friday).

Castell Son Claret has an excellent wine cellar, with around 600 references, curated by sommelier Sebastián Longo – who won an award earlier this year. During my recent visit I tried some new Mallorcan wines that were not yet on the general market, from Selva Vins. If you’re driving or don’t want to drink alcohol, do try one of the hotel’s exclusive alcohol-free cocktails. You can feel pretty smug drinking these: not only are they good for you, they also taste fresh and delicious – and make an impressive addition to any Instagram account!

 

New at the hotel for this season

Castell Son Claret hotel celebrates its fifth anniversary this year and, during its 2017/18 winter closure, made a number of improvements. New terraces and balconies have been added to a number of suites, the outdoor bar on the Olivera restaurant terrace has been upgraded, and a new refreshment bar and enlarged sunbathing area have been added at the outdoor pool. In addition, three new pool suites are being constructed in the grounds of the estate, although these may not be ready for guests until 2019.

CASTELL CLASSICS 2018: 

For the past two summers we have attended one of these memorable operatic events at the hotel. This year’s Castell Classics are as follows:

June 9th – Accademia Teatro alla Scalla

July 5th – Young Singers of the Salzburg Festival

August 11th – A summer evening with Egyptian opera star Fatma Said (performing for the first time in Mallorca) and Puerto Rican tenor Joel Prieto.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review: Spanish Sunday lunch in Palma

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Eat / Restaurants
Slogan about Sunday lunch

Sounds good to me!

Soon after moving from the UK to Mallorca, we realized the importance here of Sunday lunch. Families eat together on Sunday lunchtime, either at home or in a restaurant. Our valley sees little traffic during the week and Sunday is probably the busiest day, because grown-up offspring return to their family homes for lunch.

Tip: if you’re coming to Mallorca on holiday and want to eat lunch out on a Sunday, it’s best to book a table in advance to avoid disappointment.

We recently tried the new Spanish Lunch served on Sundays at the 5-star Gran Meliá Victoria hotel in Palma. We had stayed at the hotel for one of our first holidays together quite a few years ago, so it was something of a nostalgic visit.

Pre-lunch drink and snacks with a Bay of Palma view

The new Spanish Lunch at the Gran Meliá Victoria hotel begins on the huge terrace where you’ll find the open-air Dry Bar by Javier de las Muelas. It’s above street level, with spectacular views over the Bay of Palma. We sipped a glass of cava and enjoyed a generous platter of charcuterie and cheeses as we relaxed on plump-cushioned sofas, listening to a musician playing Spanish guitar music. It made me wish I’d kept up my guitar lessons…

Lunch itself was indoors – although I imagine it will be on the terrace dining area once the weather warms up. We began by helping ourselves to the array of starters on display. I don’t mind going to choose from a buffet if the food looks good and the spread is maintained in pristine condition; it was here.

The main course is ordered from the menu and is cooked to order on the grill in the kitchen and served at your table. We had a meat choice of 45-day-aged 1kg T-bone steak (for two) or 45-day-aged 200g fillet steak, served with a choice of green peppercorn or blue-cheese sauce (in my case, no sauce). Fish choices were BBQ’d cod fillet or grilled Galician octopus.

I can highly recommend having a dessert here. The dessert buffet includes some exquisite patisserie from talented pâtissier Lluís Pérez, whose business at Palma’s C/ Bonaire (no. 14) opened in 2015.

Tip: If you’re not in Palma on a Sunday for the new Spanish Lunch at Gran Meliá Victoria, be sure to call at Lluís’s gorgeous shop. You can have a coffee or tea (the latter served in pretty bone china) on the premises and indulge in something that’s been made in the kitchen at the rear of the premises.

Spanish Lunch, but English spoken

The hotel’s international clientele includes a lot of British people and there’s no problem if you don’t speak Spanish. In fact, the executive assistant manager here is English and worked at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London before moving here last summer. One of the charming Spanish waiters told me they call him ‘the professor’ because he is helping them to improve their English!

The elegant Gran Meliá Victoria has an impressive location and it’s usually possible to find a parking spot along the Paseo Marítimo (free of charge). As we did, you may want to follow this thoroughly enjoyable lunch with a leisurely afternoon stroll along the waterfront. Or you may prefer to do what the Spanish call sobremesa: relaxing and chatting with your companions at the table after lunch is finished. It’s what Sundays are for.

To book your table for the Spanish Lunch at Gran Meliá Victoria, phone +34 971 732 542. The cost was 45€ a head, including cava and appetizers on the terrace, the lunch, water, and coffee. You can have Mallorcan wines/soft drinks included for 56€.

Jan Edwards ©2018

Review of lunch at Baiben in Puerto Portals

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Chefs / Eat / Restaurants

 

Snacks at Baiben Cocktail Bar

Colombian cheese and yuca bread buns and crispy tacos of spicy confit suckling pig – moreish snacks from Baiben Cocktail Bar

Puerto Portals has been described as ‘the Puerto Banús of the Balearics’ – though I can’t comment on the accuracy of that, as I haven’t visited the famous Andalusian marina.

Built in 1986, the smart Puerto Portals marina in the southwest of Mallorca is a magnet for boat owners and other nautical types. It offers 639 moorings – from eight to 60 metres in length – which means you’ll always find plenty of gleaming vessels to lust over. It’s also a good place to spot luxury-marque cars parked dockside when the boat owners are on board.

Baiben restaurant in Puerto Portals

Join the smart set at Baiben

The glamour of Puerto Portals’ setting and the impressive ‘hardware’ moored and parked here are enough to attract even the most-committed landlubbers. But there’s also an array of high-end fashion boutiques, jewellery stores, real-estate offices, cafes, bars, and restaurants – making this Mallorcan marina a luxury destination for visitors who want to spend, spend, spend…or simply fantasize a little.

Everything you’ve read here so far may suggest that Puerto Portals is not a place to find a bargain lunch. But if you know where to look…

Fernando Pérez Arellano’s Baiben

Last week we were in the Portals area on Monday and went to the port to try the weekly-changing lunchtime menú de la semana at Baiben restaurant. Opened in October 2016, Baiben is owned by Fernando Pérez Arellano – best known as the creator and chef of the Balearics’ only two-Michelin-starred restaurant Zaranda. Fernando originally opened Zaranda in Madrid but the restaurant has been located at Mallorca’s rural 5-star Castell Son Claret (which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year) since the hotel opened.

Here at Baiben – awarded one Sol in the Guía Repsol 2018 – the accomplished French chef Jerome Rohner runs the kitchen. The distinctive interior design was by Andrea Spada and Michele Corbani of Madrid-based company ILMIODESIGN.

Considering Baiben’s prime waterside location, its marina-and-Med views, and the attractive design of the spacious restaurant, cocktail bar, and terrace, you could be forgiven for thinking that eating here would be expensive. And you probably could run up a sizeable bill if you took full advantage of the excellent à la carte menu and the dazzling choice of around 700 wines.

But the lunch menu is, in my opinion, a genuine bargain: a satisfying three courses (with choice of three dishes for each course), water, glass of wine or beer, and coffee…all for 22€ (including tax).

Our lunch

Here’s what we ate in pictorial form:

The choices included vegetarian options and I was tempted by the main course of wok-cooked vegetables and mushrooms. Instead, I chose a dish that wouldn’t usually feature on my radar, as a test: Mediterranean-style fried chicken focaccia ‘sandwich’ with chips. The chicken was tasty, the bread wasn’t soggy with grease (a pet hate of mine), and the chips were crisp on the outside but fluffy inside. That’s a big tick from me, then!

If you fancy a taste of luxury lifestyle – without the associated high cost – head to Baiben for this superb-value lunchtime menu.

To drive into Puerto Portals, take a ticket from the machine at the port entrance barrier and then drive through. As long as your stay is less than four hours, parking is free. A large parking area can be found near the distinctive tower known as Torre de Capitanía (turn right to follow the Capitanía sign just after entering the port).  Baiben is the first eatery you’ll come to from your parking place. The restaurant is open every day, all year for lunch and dinner; Baiben Cocktail Bar is open daily from 12 noon to 23:30h and offers a menu of appealing snacks.

Price correct at time of writing.

Text & photos ©Jan Edwards 2018