Belmond La Residencia literally, and artistically, grew. Axel Ball took two of Deia’s adjacent ancient manor houses, Son Canals and Son Moragues, and turned them into a 12-room hotel. He needed cash and his wife Christie’s former husband, Richard Branson, helped out (so, financially at least, Branson did formerly own this luxury hotel). In 2002, it was bought by what is now Belmond, and it has expanded, to 30 acres of terraces, olive and citrus trees, working gardens – and a 73-room hotel. As with some other Mallorca properties, it is near-vertical in some places: the gal, who arrived in a 1961 Porsche could look down at such a typical scene, people breakfasting by the lower pool, the family-friendly one (see above).
People quickly develop their own routines here, and they like the place so much they come back again and again (40% overall are repeats). 50% of visitors are from the UK, but the US has grown 68% this year over 2016, and there are lots of Germans and Swiss, and Scandinavia is noticeably up, perhaps partly because there is Danish and Swedish investment coming into the island. So, the daily schedule could be to check on investments, or to laze by pools – the upper outdoor pool is adult-only, and the indoor pool is welcome at the extremities of the annual season, which runs from fourth week of March to mid-November. The sensible visit the spa, say for a superb Aromatherapy Associates muscle massage from Alexandra: the Technogym, which is 24/7, cleverly has photos of actual scenes behind ‘windows’, so you think you are looking out. And, regardless of what has been accomplished everyone, it seems, gathers on the terrace for a sunset gin and tonic.
Here, explains GM Ulisses Marreiros – who personally came to pick me up in that Porsche (and he even had a brand-new Hermès scarf to wear, Dolce Vita-style, to stop my hair blowing) – here, he says, it is not only gin but tonic that is offered in plenty of variety. My blue-hued cocktail, in a C&S goblet, was a local Mare gin, the bottle as always brought to the table, and poured in front of me, with a blue Nordig tonic, and rosemary from the organic garden here. They carry local products with pride. Some foods are on Villeroy&Boch, others on hand-decorated ceramics by Joanna Kuhne, an American who has her studio in Deia, three minutes’ walk from the hotel. During my too-short stay I adored, among many other dishes, Soller prawns, simply grilled, and Mallorcan suckling pig with divine crackling, and a lemon sorbet over which olive oil from local trees was poured.
Every room is different, and the latest to be unveiled, for the 2017 season, included 82, the Galera Suite. It was, admittedly, 148 rough-stone mule-steps up from main reception, going past both outdoor pools enroute, but I could have taken two elevators, and the staff – the guys in fetching olive-coloured striped loose trousers, taupe cummerbunds and white shirts – nipped up and down with suitcases, room service and requested English newspapers as though they do it all the time, which of course they do. Designed by Michel Jouannet, it certainly has the sense of place which today’s high-spending but value-conscious travellers want from their luxury hotels. Tiled floors and patterned tiles on bathroom walls, local modern oil paintings (behind one the safe was hidden), and a simple eight-light Scandinavian-type chandelier in the sitting room were all complemented by the view out to my private plunge pool. This place is never-ending experiences… read on. BUT FIRST SEE MY SUITE, BELOW