Experiences today are an essential component when differentiating luxury-category from any other type of hotel. At Belmond La Residencia in Deia, there are all the usual Mallorcan activities, hiking and biking, and sailing, and studying history. Coming up October 22-27, 2017, is Memoir Writing with Allegra Huston, biological daughter of John Julius Norwich who was brought up by her adopted father, John Huston (her siblings include Artemis Cooper and Anjelica Huston). At least once a month there are BodyTalk global healing sessions with forever-young German Anja Burkhard, who uses BodyTalk Association methods and an astronauts’ TimeWaver machine. At any time, just immerse yourself, says the gal, in what is going on here, on-site. The gigantic swimmer oil painting, seen above, hangs outside the entrance of Alan Hyde’s studio: he is artist in residence, and will teach, or paint to commission.
More experiences. There are 46 sculptures, by such names as Miró, scattered around the grounds – I walked extensively, past two good-quality tennis courts, and two permanent roofed-over ping-pong tables (there was not time, alas, to take donkey rides, with picnics carried along too). I loved the scarlet metal sculpture that looks like a giant arrow soaring upwards. I love some of the gnarled bases of centuries-old olive trees: this year there will be a good harvest, to produce even more of the excellent oil that is offered at all meals, in the evening-only courtyard El Olivio, next to an old olive press, or in the all-day Son Moragues, specialising in tapas, or the delightful pool-side Grill, where the salad buffet is a must. Breakfast, by the way, is in its own setting, Son Fony. Look across from there at some olive trees with labels showing they are sponsored by hotel guests.
I could have taken a bicycle, a Scott of course – only the best, for GM Ulisses Marreiros. I could have done so many things. I DID have an amazing art walk, another complimentary offer. Cecilie Sheridan, who came here on holiday from UK in 1964, knows all the 50-or-so artists who call Deia home. We went to her own home, lined with her own angle-intensive works (she uses bold blocks of colour, but never any green). We walked and talked, visiting Leila Ward, whose large oils of local olive trees and fluffy sheep are addictive, and we climbed about a hundred steps to see Arturo Rhodes. Yes, said Cecilie, he even has to carry his gas containers up there. The outside of his house is, not surprisingly, a museum of past-their-sell-by-date items not carried down. Inside is a treasure trove of paintings, standing ten-deep against walls. I was fascinated by his 3-D sequence of ‘bookshelves’ – see the video below.
Arturo Rhodes and Leila Ward were both among 60 of the local Deia community and an equal number of hotel guests at Belmond La Residencia on Tuesday October 26th, 2017, for the biennial €1,000 George Sheridan Art Prize, in memory of Cecilie Sheridan’s late husband. Five professionals from all over Spain, led by Cecilie Sheridan, assess local artists’ entries for theme, composition and execution. The 2017 theme was The Kiss in Art and it was won by Alice Meyer Wallace, concidentally currently exhibiting in the hotel’s art gallery. Alice Meyer Wallace, I found out later, similarly came to Deia on a short trip back in 1965 and it was Robert Graves, no less, who persuaded her to stay. Deia is still a centre of artists but sadly the new generation cannot afford to live here as landlords prefer putting apartments in Airbnb, but the recent arrival of designer Matthew Williamson should now propel Deia into a fashion oasis. Williamson has already decorated Nama bar, in town, and it is rumoured that he will do a Belmond La Residencia suite for the 2018 season. This is a luxury hotel that never stands still. NOW SEE A VIDEO, BELOW, OF ARTURO RHODES, AT HIS HOME/STUDIO, SHOWING HIS 3-D LOOK ‘CUPBOARD’ PAINTINGS