Mallorca is synonymous with mass tourism, but the family-run Mar i Vent Hotel, nestling between mountains and sea, on the island's West coast, delights with its personal touch.
The story goes that these were once two houses, and a romance blossomed between the neighbours and they eventually married. The buildings became one and, in 1931, were turned into this luxurious hotel which has gorgeous sea views. The Mar i Vent is still owned and run by the Vives family and nothing seems too much trouble. Each room has a balcony or terrace with wonderful sea views and there's free Wi-Fi, an outdoor swimming pool and a tennis court.
Banyalbufar is a tiny fishing village, perched on the slopes of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, overlooking the sea, not far from Valldemossa, where Chopin once lived. It's a sleepy little place and it makes a great base for exploring the many hiking trails into the mountains. Indeed it's about halfway on the GR221, the long distance dry stone route, which runs from Port d'Andratx, in the South West, all the way to Pollença in the North. If you just fancy pleasant rambling, the hotel supplies a walking map and offers advice on where to go, depending on your level of fitness.
The coastal paths are dotted with small coves, their clear waters perfect for a refreshing dip. For something more strenuous, you can climb from sea-level up to 900 metres between forests of pine trees and holm oaks. The landscape is dotted by evidence of human occupation through the centuries - terraces dating from Roman times, constructions for storing snow and ice, wells and water fountains made out of stone.
Of course, I'm completely over ambitious and spend two days exploring the forests and losing my way in the mountains when I wander off the tracks. It's not all disaster as I'm always greeted by a cold beer on my return and an excellent dinner. In fact the food is a star attraction here, good rustic home cooking prepared with ingredient from the hotel's garden, and washed down with local wine. Breakfast is a sumptuous buffet and there's always plenty of fresh fruit, ripe figs being my favourite.
Unlike many other Mallorcan hotels, the Mar i Vent is open all year round and the mild climate of the island means that walking in winter is a definite option. Cycling, whether road or mountain bike, is also on offer, and the hotel can provide bikes, information on routes and provisions. Access is easy and it's less than an hour from Palma airport. If you crave tranquillity and need to get away from it all, then I urge you to book a stay at the Mar i Vent.
Balearic Islands Tourism has information about Mallorca.
Turespaña has information about Spain.
All pictures copyright Rupert Parker
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