7 sunsets to die for…

September 1, 2019 in AUSTRALIA,MALDIVES,MALLORCA,SOUTH AFRRICA | Comments (0)

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21 Nettleton above Cape Town’s Clifton beaches

In radiant luxury

For romance, inspiration or simply instagrammability we love sunsets. All the more LUSCIOUS if there is a luxury resort behind the scenes, with sensitively attuned staff ready to place a sundowner in your hand at the right moment. Here are some rewarding havens i have seen or researched.

I have been to the first four – and now they are ticked off my Bucket List – but I would love love love to return. The other three are still on the list – until I get there there will be no images, as all mine are original.


1. Mesmerizing Cape Town sunsets – 21 Nettleton


This artful boutique hotel perches high on a plunging slope above the dazzling white dots of Clifton’s beaches on the Atlantic side of the Table Mountain range. A handful of guests gathers before sunset on the verandas for sundowners …

As the sun circles overhead and plunges into the sea, the sky and ocean are flooded with red, purpole and gold. If you are lucky, as we were, the local hang-gliding club hops one at a time from Lions Head to hover above you with wings pink in the sunset, and land way below on one of the beaches. As the bubbles in your Graham Beck wink, lights begin to twinkle in Camps Bay, and the Twelve Apostle range is black velvet against a delicate sky.

With only 6 rooms, including a penthouse often occupied by the owner, 21 Nettleton makes you feel like his privileged personal guest. Helping yourself at the generous bar, you wander around the opulent villa lounges as if all this is yours – art and sculptures brimming over to the grand piano and sunset verandas.


2. Savage safari sunsets – Londolozi


Sunsets in safari country are fiery and short lived – eclipsed by savage nights, when lion and leopard are likely to steal out of the shadows and slink past your open safari vehicle with luminous eyes.

Londolozi lies in South Africa’s best game watching area along the Sabi Sand River – and is famous for leopard spotting. This exclusive lodge offers Relais and Châteaux cuisine, artful safari decor and suites to die for with wide decks and jewel like pools. But you will not be bathing there at sunset – you will be on safari.

Driving out after a satiating High Tea, your ranger will park the Land Rover with a view, perhaps hippos soaking in a dam, and out comes the hamper to provide sundowners and nibbles (like G&Ts and biltong – raw dried meat). Your ranger drives off again before dark, when the tracker is armed with spotlights to catch predators prowling…


Note: I could have given any of my favourite safari lodges in South Africa – all will take you out into savage sunsets for wild life camera shooting. 


3. Barefoot Maldivian sunsets – Soneva Fushi

Watching out for dolphins in a golden peachey satin sunset

Calm lagoons sheltered by coral reef amplify sunset magnificence with 50 shades of blue shifting to 50 shades of red, gold and purple. Since every luxury resort in the Maldives consists of only one hotel on a private island there is always a sunset side and there is always a sunset bar to enjoy a Tequila Sunset. And there are always sunset cruises…

For those who adore sundowners barefoot, Soneva Fushi is a dream – with its relaxed lifestyle soothed by intuitive service and tinged with the mystique of its owners Sonu and Eva Shivdasani.  Apart from the resort’s sunset bar and glossy sunset cruises, cocktail parties on the sandbank provide a chance to share sunset adulation with other coolly chic guests cradling glasses of bubbly, with toes in the white sand.

The charming Crusoe quirkiness of Soneva Fushi includes beach villas in recycled wood, cycling though living jungle, and multiple flavours from their own organic gardens. As a rehydrating health measure, choose a hairy coconut with a straw through a hole as your sundowner.

4. Surrealistic Mallorcan sunsets – Belmond La Residencia

 
A delicate, trembling sunset – and yet dramatic – as the audience of guests in the know  pulls out chairs from Miro Bar and gazes up at the towering rocky peaks of the Tramuntana mountains, waiting.

Miro cocktails are a desirable way to while away the time – though gin with hibiscus comes a close second.  There is expectant silence – and then comes a murmur. It has happened. The peak has become almost transparent, emitting rosy light – before disappearing into dusk.

If this valley is a long way to travel for such an ephemeral sunset, don’t miss the rest. The hotel is has it all from Michelin starred cuisine to exquisite decor celebrating its finca history, “Pa Amb Oli” lunches high in the ancient olive groves, and art. The hotel holds art classes and art tours in the Bohemian village of Deia. The citrus-scented garden is adorned with sculptures, and the hotel walls hung lavishly with original works including Miro – hence Miro bar.

5. Awe-struck Australian Sunsets – Longitude 101

A massive hunk of rock sitting in the middle of Australia, Uluru is the continent’s most mystical spot, revered by the Aboriginal people, with sunsets beyond belief. The naturally rusty red rock of the monolith seems to come alive and glow from within.

With 16 tents on the dunes offering views of the rock, Longitude 101 gives sunsets and more with the intelligent luxury of the Baillie lodges. Their lavish all-Inclusive includes small group tours with sundowners and canapés close to  Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) to see the supernatural light displays of purple, red and psychedelic orange, and learn about the Anangu beliefs.

Sunsets can also be viewed from the tents, sophisticated billowing white spaces with decks, from the highly rated restaurant, and the plunge pool – where you help yourself from the open bar. Or, for that not so little bit extra, a private dinner set up for sunset worship.

6. Extreme Atacama sunsets – Awasi Atacama


Dust is a perfect prism for creating magnificent sunsets, absorbing the blue light and scattering red and gold – so deserts inevitably come into the top lists of sunsets for the bucket list. Where else dustier and drier than the Atacama desert in Chile?

At the small Relais & Châteaux property Awasi Atacama in the small tourist town of San Pedro  you are in exclusive company with only 10 rooms hidden behind Adobe walls and your very own guide to take you on excursions, walking, cycling, and driving  in a 4×4  to salt lakes, fluted mountains, and arid wastes.

The excursion to one of the most awe-inspiring sunsets on the planet goes into Salt mountain range. Looking down on the lunar landscape of the Moon Valley and knife-edged mountains, you wait with an aperitif and nibbles. Otherworldly shapes of the time-weathered landscapes reflect different shades of red as the sun goes down, and turn ghostly in the cold air of night, especially when the moon rises.

7. Spiritual Balinese sunsets – Six Senses Uluwatu

A soul-stirring sunset in Bali draws the spiritually minded to Uluwatu Temple, one of Bali’s six key temples, perched on a 70m cliff. Hindus come here to worship Siva Rudra. Tourists come to see the nightly traditional dance performances imbued with exquisite Balinese grace – and the sun dropping into the sea, splashing radiant gold.

Just 10 minutes away is Six Senses Uluwatu, one of the newest luxury resorts on “island of the gods”. Perched 74m above the sea on the cliff top, the resort’s views are breathtaking. Because of the angle of the sun’s rays, the sunset spills gold over the sky while waves surge below. 




In synch with the natural beauty and spirituality of Bali, the whole resort is designed to revere nature and the views – from sea-facing villas to tiered cliff edge pools and breathtaking dining venues.

The best place to immerse in the sunset’s changing colours with a signature cocktail in hand is the Cliff Bar, or if willing to splash out for sunset privacy  – the infinity pool of the Presidential Suite, which perches right in the cliff edge







Discreet, hidden, close to it all in Palma

February 5, 2019 in MALLORCA | Comments (0)

The fourth in my series on the OTHER Mallorca, Sant Francesc Hotel Singular is a jewel of a hideaway – peaceful, soothing and discreet – with some unexpected pleasures.

Sant Francesc Hotel Singular… rooftop views

Telescopic view from the rooftop pool deck of the Cathedral

Here, in its stone-carved city setting, the hotel offers a magical rooftop pool and bar. The poolside view has the haunting charm of terracotta tiled roofs, the age worn Sant Francesc basilica and the rearing form of the Cathedral.

Facing the quiet square of Sant Francesc, this little charmer occupies a former aristocratic residence in the maze of narrow streets that make up the old medina of Palma, a short winding walk to the Cathedral and the shopping honeypots.

Sofa, deck chairs and sunbeds offer lounging in the sun or the magical sunset and cooler evening. This is the spot for tapas in summer, cool Red Sangria or perhaps “Holy Water” surely pure heaven at 15 euro – gin, chartreuse, lavender syrup, green apple, lime.

Feeling at home
Service at the hotel is friendly and helpful. You feel at home in this old century mansion which has been renovated with understated elegance, contemporary flair and respect for the original building.

From the demure entrance step into the lobby and over a stone courtyard, which opens into a sleek bar, a spot to have a serene drink and check your mail.

Wifi, drinks and quiet


In the former stables, the tiny Quadrat restaurant rewards you with a pleasing buffet breakfast including home made items and eggs to order. You should pre-book for dinner here as it is popular with outsiders.

Home made pastries adds to the luxury feel / if luxury is comfort, seclusion and caring


Rooms at Sant Francesc are spacious and decorated in warm yet demure and soothing colours like palest grey with delicate touches of dusty pink.

Gracious, demure rooms

Many rooms do not have balconies so you may want to upgrade if that is important to you.


Privilege twin
Rooms to covet include San Francesc junior suite with frescoes and a balcony overlooking the square. There are two special suites of 60 sqm: La Torre with its additional 30 sqm rooftop terrace and San Francesc suite with a frescoed ceiling and private balcony with views of Sant Francesc Square.

The corridors enhance a contemporary feel with an interesting collection of photographs.

Looking back
The building of Hotel Sant Francesc once belonged to the Alomar Femenia family. This Spanish historic landmark is an architectural treasure built in the neoclassical style of the 19th century.

Surrounded by ageing terracotta rooftops like a sea of charm

The hotel is situated in one of Palma’s oldest quarters, which dates to the Arabian Medina Mayurqa settlement. After James (Jaime) I of Aragon was crowned King in 1229, many of the Muslim lands were deeded over to religious orders. Under his son, King Jaime II, Franciscan monks erected the Sant Francesc Basilica and Monastery after which the square and hotel are named.

A meander through austere narrow medieval streets to other narrow streets alive with colour / Palma is great for shopping
Palma Cathedral, 10 mins walk from Sant Francesc
Relics of saints in the must visit Palma cathedral…




Quick facts
No. of rooms: 42
Distance from airport: 15 mins
Distance from nearest town/shops/restaurants: Situated in the old city close to restaurants and about 7-15 mins walk from the Cathedral or main shopping street.
Why stay: Quiet, classy hotel with central position in the old city.
Car hire: You need a special permit to enter this heritage area and there is a c. 30 eur per day parking cost paid via the hotel.
Beaches & Beach Clubs: You walk some 10 mins to Anima Beach club placed right on the sea on Palma’s boards walk. Portals Nous has a pleasant beach next to Puerto Portals yacht marina – nice area for shopping, restaurants and amazing yachts. 20 mins by car. Es Trenc – often called the best beach on Mallorca – is a natural beach with a rustic bar and no hotels – 45 mins drive from Palma.

Summary
Stylish, understated and serene hotel with attentive service in a converted mansion on the quiet square of Sant Francesc in the old medina, only 10 mins walk from the Cathedral and main shopping areas. Enjoy a pleasant rooftop pool and bar with views of the Basilica of Sant Francesc. Upgrade to be sure of a private balcony with view of the square.
Last word – romance

With its charm, calm understated elegance and perfect position, Sant Francesc is not just for intellectuals, shoppers and foodies. It is also for romance. One of my friends was popped the question on a weekend visit to San Francesc. So the weekend turned into their engagement and the perfect time for Sangria de Cava.

Images by Sant Francesc and Per-Olov Broddeson. Words by Gillian Stanbridge, Select Collection


Sixties glamour & Palma views

February 3, 2019 in MALLORCA | Comments (0)

The third in my series on the other Mallorca, the legendary Castillo Hotel Son Vida brings us closer to Palma…

Castle with a history of medieval kings and sixties movie queens

Palma. the Cathedral and the bay as the sun goes down – telescopic view from the hotel



Moments of magic on the terraces at Castillo Hotel Son Vida as the sun sets over Palma

Glamour and distinction


Away from the tourist masses, the classic hotel has stunning views of the city and bay from its vast terraces. Celebrities and dignitaries have sipped cocktails and partied here since the Sixties and the hotel still has an aura of glamour and distinction.

Inside, the castle is packed with antiques, paintings and historical features that give it an authentic Mallorcan character, while outside you feel the island’s natural ease.

💕

Palma is only some 10 to 20 mins drive, depending where you want to go – but golf is literally next door and your tee times and transfers are taken care of.

If history adds a romantic twist to your sense of place, this castle is a good spot to honeymoon or get married. Various members of the deceased Royal family adorn the walls in gigantic oil paintings to show you are in elevated company, and frescoes distinguish a room that is suggested for wedding ceremonies.


A room wrapped in history – used for special events

Galleries or ante rooms are lined with antique items and velvet sofas where you imagine dowagers sat in the Sixties heyday when the hotel opened with a trumpeting of fashion reporting. More about that later…

In a less worldly frame of mind, the dome or cupola is an amazing art work worth gazing up at from the lobby and higher floors.

Otherworldy dome depicting the musings of Raimundus


The cupola was produced by a German artist Nils Burwitz in stained glass based on the philosophical musings of a Mallorcan writer, philosopher, mystic Ramon Llull (1232-1316). In “Ars Brevis” Llull (also known as RAIMUNDUS) is seeking a way to calculate universal truth.

The corridors between the rooms are adorned with lighter Mallorcan paintings, water colours washed with pastels and Mediterranean joie d’vivre.

More than 60 newly renovated rooms in the Classic category have picked up that light hearted mood, with tropical lagoon coloured curtains in lightweight almost transparent fabric.

The renovated Classic room has gone aquamarine and pale grey…

Hotel inspection – self with zebra look or something


The higher room categories remain embedded in the old sense of quality with carved and darkly lustrous hardwood furniture. If you really want a bit of the past, try a suite in the Tower….

Round desk to match the round tower and style to match grand tradition
A medieval peep at the view through the castle turrets

Or perhaps a Grand Deluxe room peeping between a froth of palms to the sea? And palms and sea from your balcony

Where to dine?

There are two well respected restaurants at the hotel, both with windows where you can admire the view. We had a splendid buffet breakfast in Es Castell with everything we could dream of.

But in the evening early we began a transfixing sojourn on the terrace that changed our dinner plans.


The mesmerizing terrace



We felt rooted to the magical spot as the sunset glow tinged the pale buildings of Palma and the sea.


Having discovered the world’s most amenable barman, who remade my margarita three times to get it perfect, we felt this was the place to eat Mallorcan tapas.

The tapas bars of Palma are a short ride away but it would be hard to beat the fare and the ambience at Castillo Son Vida that evening.

If in the mood to hang all day at Castello Son Vida, you can enjoy the spa, pools and terraces but if you want a beach not far away, a good suggestion is Portals Nous (15 mins), which has nice diversions like posh restaurants and designer shopping.

You can also indulge in some shopping at the hotel. In keeping with the glamour of the establishment we found some high quality shopping downstairs – a jewellery boutique with items up to over 40 000 euro – priced the same as their sister outlet in Palma. Most choices will be tailor made.


There was a sweet little piece for c. 2500 euro

(which I should have bought?)

Looking back

The deeper history of Castillo son Vida began in 1229 when King James of Aragon conquered Mallorca and gave this cherry-on-the-top piece of land to a loyal combatant. In 1900 the buildings were combined into a castle with inner splendor to match.

The days of news flashes and glamour began on 23 June 1961 when Steve Kusak launched the noble residence as a luxury hotel. Within a week the world’s most talked about celebs started arriving and Prince Rainer and Princess Grace hosted an extravagant society party. The festivity bubbled over with people like Veuve Cliquot magnate Crovetto and filmstar David Niven. Prince Rainier and Onassis held a picnic in the grounds that afternoon while Princess Grace walked around photographing guests!

Later Rainer was the first person to try out the new Son Vida Golf. Royals were also frequent visitors, including the Spanish Royal family, Belgian and Thai.

The A to Z of visiting celebrities, magnates and world leaders includes a long list from Arafat to Zamin, via Brigitte Bardot, Baron Rothschild, Christian Barnard, Sting and the 13 most important shipowners in the world.

The final Z goes to Zsa Zsa Gabor who attracted curious publicity when she made an eccentric exit without paying.

QUICK FACTS

No. of rooms: 164
Distance from airport: 15 mins
Distance from nearest town/shops/restaurants: 10-20 mins from Palma depending which area
Dining: Es Vi modern tapas, Es Castell int. and Spanish cuisine with fine view, Pool restaurant/bar Snacks and drinks, Indoor bar serving the beautiful terrace.
Facilities: 3 outdoor pools. Spa: sauna, steam bath, indoor heated pool. Kids club for 3-12. Gym, 3 18-hole golf courses.
Reason to stay

Golf, history, art and beautiful terraces overlooking Palma – easy access to the city

Hanging with the Royals


Golf, spa and so on as younger companions enjoy the kid’s club


Gourmet hideaway

February 1, 2019 in MALLORCA | Comments (0)

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More about Hidden Mallorca – Castell Son Claret is a refined hideaway with a two-Michelin star restaurant – Mallorca’s only…

Towering amidst lovely gardens

People make the pilgrimage all the way from Palma to Zaranda just for the evening or overnight to taste their way through the long menu from two-Michelin star executive chef Fernando Arellano. Other guests stay longer at Castell Son Claret to combine good food, exercise and quiet relaxation.

A sublime cocktail worth crossing the world to sip again with a wildflower float and a wildflower syrup along with the rest

Tranquility surrounds Castell Son Claret – you can almost hear the silence between birds and crickets calling. Wrapped In beautiful landscaped gardens at the end of a palm lined driveway in the foothills of the Tramuntana range, this small castle became a private boutique hotel in 2013.


Between mealtimes guests can be seen sunbathing silently by the sparkling garden pool, but most seem to disappear for spa treatments, hammam rituals, self-drive touring – or sporty activities.

Apart from Zaranda, the hotel offers restaurant Olivera, also mentioned in the Michelin guide, where you can dine in a winter garden or out on a charming stone terrace graced by olive trees and lavender.

Mediterranean ambience. Lovely spot for breakfast with bread and cakes from their own bakery plus lots of healthy items

Exercise is a very important drawcard at Castell Son Claret. There are two rambling trails on the estate totaling some 7 km. We saw a couple striding back from their circuit with Nordic walking sticks – not surprising since the quiet and tasteful hotel has a strong appeal for Northern Europeans.

You can walk the trails alone or with a guide, or keep on walking into the mountains. Cycling is a very important sport on Mallorca – and Castell Son Claret is well sited for a scenic road trip to Valldemossa along the astoundingly beautiful northern shoreline and back through the mountains…

Historical Valdemossa


Stunning views from the northern coastal drive


View from Es Grau, a popular pitstop for cyclists on the picturesque north coast

If the hills sound intimidating, you can get help in the form of an e-bike set to your capabilities – book at least a week in advance. Another sport is tennis on site.

In tune with its country setting, the décor at Castell Son Claret is a contemporary interpretation of old Spanish country style. Earthy and soothing elegance featuring oak panels, leather headboards and wooden beams.


Our room, a deluxe room, looked out over a Juliet balcony to the white garden paths and the impressive driveway.

But our hotel inspection had us hankering after a very appealing room with a vast terrace (if you want to book, ask us for the magic number)…

For those who at all costs must have a big balcony we also recommend one of the Tower Suites.

Then again – for those who love gardens there are demi-suites with exuberant flower filled garden terraces, set away from the main building. Or for more space and private pool – consider a pool suite.

Come evening it’s time to gravitate towards the bar – a gentleman’s club feel under centuries old Gothic arches. Here we had some of the most delicious cocktails ever…

We simply had to flash the iPhone at our Tramuntana cocktail (the cocktail image above) that looks good, tastes amazing and reflects the environment – a perfect suggestion before an environmentally friendly (and curious) tasting dinner at Zaranda.

Tramuntana cocktail: Local liquor palo containing herbs, fresh lemon juice, mint, home made syrup of the estate’s flowers topped with ginger beer.
A delightful gastronomic Olive Daiquiri. Their Sollers Orange Mojito
was another masterpiece.

Soller orange mojito – still struggling iwth new version of WordPress

To dine at Zaranda needs forethought – booking months ahead. Otherwise Olivera offers tastes from the same master. Some examples:
Pesca del dorado, 30 eur – delicious fish with bulgar and carrot creme, well presented. But try to sip your wine as you wait instead of eating too much of the”pan y apretivon” (dangerously delicious fresh made farm bread and virgin olive oil and dip).

The outside entrance to chef Fernando Arellano’s creative domain – in the restaurant castle-style slots see through to the magic kitchen

Zaranda’s locally made table ware.

It is like the thrill of hearing the orchestra tuning up as you wait for the two-Michelin star masterpieces from the kitchen. This is surely worth it. Zaranda’s 5 course meal with wine pairing 190 eur, 10 course with wine pairing 215 eur. items included waygu beef brisket and suckling pig – along with adventurous sea urchin, cuttle fish, congereel canelloni, artichoke with black truffle and foie gras roasted pigeon breast. Many other wonders of the earth may be on the menu

Another option is local dining in the village Es Capdella which is only 1,6 km – quite walkable. We ate well at Bar Nou (it’s popular and should be booked ahead). Other local dining options are Rocamar and Flanigan.

Those hankering for a swim in the ocean and a beachy relaxed mood can enjoy a recommended beach club some 20 minutes away.

Quick facts
No. of rooms: 38
Distance from airport: 40 mins
Distance from nearest town/shops/restaurants: 1.6 km to village Es Capdella
Dining: 2 restaurants & bar, incl. 2 star Michelin restaurant
Facilities: Outdoor and indoor pools, spa, gym, hammam, tennis court, 2 hiking trails on the estate, tai chi, yoga, cycling guides and trainers.
Who to stay
Foodies, seekers of peace and quiet, and those who would like some nature-blessed exercise. There are a few accommodations for families but it’s so blissfully quiet that it would be better to stay only with older children who want to join in a cycle tour and keep a low profile in adult company.

Summary
A tranquil boutique country retreat with the island’s only 2-Michelin star chef. A spot for superb cocktails, walking, cycling, tennis, hammam rituals and spa treatments, and resting by the quiet pool or in the beautiful garden. The small castle has been decorated in a contemporary interpretation of old Spanish country style. Earthy and soothing, fresh and new.
The driveway to Castell Son Claret and Zaranda

Note: this was written as a continuation of the series on Hidden Mallorca – not published till now


Deia, art & olive groves

January 25, 2019 in MALLORCA | Comments (1)

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Flowers and lemons, olives and mountains seen from La Residencia

Long before mass tourism, artists, writers and composers hid away on Mallorca to create masterpieces. But it became one of those “‘suburbs” of northern climes where you were more likely to meet a sweetheart than in your own home town, so you didn’t miss a chance, partied till dawn and lay limply uncovered in the sun.

Now it is back as a first class destination. We never once made the beach, and found a beautiful island full of mountains, stone villages and hidden corners, overflowing with cultural interest. We had no time for sunchairs, even by the pool though we had the privilege to stay in four luxury hotels, hidden from the crowds.
The first lies in a picturesque mountain village with a good number of expat artists. The second takes you to the foothills for a 2-Michelin star restaurant and a quiet stay devoted to spa and exercise – perhaps e-biking. The third overlooks Palma with sublime terraces, historical paintings and a vivid retrohistory of celebrities. The fourth is right in Palma, but gently hidden.

1. Deia

Deia, an enchanting village at the foot of the massive rocky Tramuntana mountains  has been home of artist’s since the sixties.

Here lies Belmond La Residencia, occupying the land and buildings of a 16th century finca or farm. Stepped up the slope in the same honey coloured stone as the village, it blends in harmoniously, surrounded by lush gardens erupting with gigantic roses, lemon, orange and olive trees. I had seen pictures but was unprepared for how gigantic the mountains are, looming up into the sky.

At sunset something amazing happens. It’s as if they catch alight for a short intense moment. Guests and those in the know sit on the terraces of Miro cafe waiting for the transformation. Preferably with a Miro cocktail. And I did the same, in the company of the ravishing Eva, svelte Kate and others.

Art is a passion at Belmond La Residencia. The hotel has three resident artists, the gorgeous grounds contain a sculpture garden, and the walls are hung with 800 curated artworks – including an impressive collection of 33 originals by Miró in place until September 2017.

Belmond La Residencia’s resident sculptor, Juan Waelder, knew the artist personally. Juan runs one of the hotel’s art workshops (which I joined that weekend). You can also join art walks with a guide to meet the village artists – more about that later.

The loving touch

The hotel welcomed us warmly. The farm mansions have been converted artfully into guest rooms of every size and shape, all enlivened by original paintings and antiques, and a refined rustic style with terracotta tiles and wooden beams. I had a junor suite superior, which enclosed me sweetly in an earthy mood, and gave visions through the glass doors into a small garden that had a sunbed round the corner and a table, from which you could see the incredible mountains
The hotel’s caring touch extends up the mountain through its own centuries-old olive groves. La Residencia spends a considerable budget on restoring the archaic stone walls that terrace the steep slope, and in removing unwanted plants for the sake of the precious olives and the beauty of the surroundings.

As allies in this effort they keep donkeys that nibble away between the olive trees. These beasts of burden add colour and authenticity to what is already a hotel full of Mallorcan atmosphere. They also encourage guests to adopt olive trees for a price.

Sharing their passion for their environment with guests is in itself a passion for hotel management and staff. Once a week they organize a walk up the slope with donkeys carrying your drinking water to a stone shed high up with views of Deia and the sea. There you sit down at a rustic table to hear about local ways and eat rustic food – a range of Mallorcan sausages and “pa amb oli” with fresh made bread, which you rub with wild tasting Mallorcan tomatoes, various salt mixes, and olive oil of various local varieties.

Towards the beginning of the stiff walk we saw a new platform with stunning sea view – destined for romantic private dining. The velvet blue of the sea peeps between the gnarled trunks of olives.
The hotel ,in reviving its large olive plantations, is grafting fresh olive plants onto the old rootstock of well adapted Mallorcan olives. The higher we walked, the more sea we saw

Sea and mountains You can see the sea way below but it’s not so far away. It’s a mere 5 mins drive or some 20 to 30 mins walk down a rustic path to Cala Deia. We arrived at a rocky cove with sparkling seawater and a small beach strewn with kelp and pebbles. We chose one of two tapas bars, to sit in the sun sipping gin with hibiscus tonic – a drink that our party were now wondering how to get back home.
In the slide show you see a  rustic bar at Cala Deia with Kate from the Belmond team

In the summer the hotel offers boat trips along the coast to other sights and beaches. Or for hikers, you can stride for some 2 hours over mountain passes to Port Soller to enjoy its beach and bars, feeling you really deserve it.

Back at the hotel swimming goes on from spring to autumn. The main pool is heated, and there are two more pools including a spa pool, where one of our party trained before breakfast.
Deia and the Tramuntana mountains add enchantment beyond the heated pool

Tapas and village culture

With their stunning backdrop of towering mountains and gardens simply erupting with flowers, the hotel terraces are sublime spots for breakfast, lunch and cocktails – and of course for tapas.

Both Miro restaurant and El Olivo are worthy F&B destinations with guests coming from far afield. In the picturesque village there are 8 restaurants so that creates a bit of competition which helps to keep a high standard all round.

Other boasting points in Deia are a museum and a lovely church with the churchyard where the English poet and writer Robert Graves was buried. He lived here for decades from 1929 until his death in 1985 and his home can be visited.

Intimately part of Deia, La Residencia gives easy access to village life. You can buy Mallorcan gins and olive oil, browse in a few arty shops, and interact with local artists in their studios (most of them simply homes stacked with art for viewing and for sale). No artists will hassle you to buy (however happy they will be if you do). They will tell you why they painted x or y, revealing their dreams or their loves and disillusions.

On our art walk with one of La Residencia’s art gurus:

Some artworks by David Templeton outside his home – which is packed with paintings and collages from floor to ceiling, lounge to kitchen

Arturo drifted in to Deia on his travels round the world – and stayed decades. No pose of arrogant intellectual mystique – he will tell you a story behind every painting – true if you want or pure fantasy. Vermeer’s lady with the pearl earring pops up in various paintings – here she has the background of Cala Deia.Behind is Blind Date – based on a failed date of his own – which lead to the next painting….
Women bear a huge burden of romance – his amusing perhaps sardonic explanation for the flowery lady bearing Cupid on her breast.

In the gardens at the hotel at least once a week you find local art on display. One of the managers told us about a big party in the summer to which the hotel invites the villagers – another high point of interaction with the locals. The band is very likely to contain a few of the expat artists who discovered Deia decades ago.

A place of your own At Belmond La Residencia most rooms have views of mountains soaring heavenward, the lush gardens or the stone village.

The building lowest down – virtually in the village – is the oldest mansion (16th century) and some rooms have a more medieval feel ladled with nostalgia. Next tier, the Son Fony wing is where we stayed in an 18th century mansion above the main pool area. Finally, perched high on the slope, is the new Tramuntana wing – recreating the old style but with stunning open views and a number of plunge pools. I liked the Son Fony wing best for its balance of old and newish.

In June 2017, there were six new rooms high up in the Tramuntana section, with a special attraction for extended families. On two levels you have the possibility to book three interleading suites as two Exclusive suites (each with plunge pool and separate lounge) interlink and interconnect with a Junior Suite Deluxe on each level.

in a nutshell – worth your bucket list In short, Belmond La Residencia is a hotel with soul, with refined and cultured atmosphere yet warm and relaxing. It radiates the authentic feel of old stone, original art and antiques – and is wrapped in beauty with tall mountains and exuberant scented gardens, within easy reach of the sea. Hotel arranges activities to put you in tune with Mallorca, its olive groves, artists, and tapas…or just head off on your own.

Post from 2017 that somehow escaped publication…


TENERIFE LUXURY HOTELS

July 3, 2010 in Spain | Comments (14)

Sitting here with a view of a glistening streams among Swedish hills, I have finally put my notes of Tenerife hotels in writing.

Some 30 representatives of luxury tour operators were invited on a familiarization trip this June to see that the Canaries island of Tenerife has much more to offer than mass tourism…

LUXURY IMPRESSIONS IN TENERIFE

The glorious year-round warmth of Tenerife has not just nurtured charter beach holidays. It has proved fertile sunny ground for luxury too. There are 20 five star hotels on Tenerife – more than there are in Barcelona.

Self taking note from the presidential at Abama

We viewed the following properties, dining or lunching at some, and stayed at the Sheraton. I give some bare facts and a few personal impressions of each property.

Hotel Villa Cortes

Playa del Camison, Costa Adeje – 5 stars, 129 rooms and 22 suites, heated seawater pool, 5 restaurants, 3 bars, beach club, kid’s pool area and miniclub, tennis court.

Comment: The group’s favourite, until we saw Abama. I loved Villa Cortes for its sunny joyful colours daringly splashed in sienna, burnt sienna, terracotta and purple. I was thrilled with its exciting objets d’art, carved wooden furniture and the feel of a Mexican hacienda. I fell for its multilevel Canarian rooftops, and its courtyard using lustrous ceramic tiles and sizzling mixes of siennas and violet. The architect is the very one who designed Abama and Sheraton La Caleta. He creates magic environments playfully inspired by ethnic villages or colonial past, by dreams and fictions…

The only negative I can name is spotted wall to wall carpets all over. The space I dream of occupying is the Presidential suite’s Jacuzzi (as usual).

The pool area is pleasant and different (surrounded by the colourful village style hotel skyline). That is where the guests were, not at the beach club with its own manmade beach of soft sand, just off the path along the rocky shore. Surfers walk past quietly bearing boards. The rocks offer a tidal pool that looked less inviting. Near the hotel is millionaire’s mile – a palm lined road with mighty brown mountain filling the skyline. Here there are are designer shops.

Presidential jacuzzi with view, Villa Cortes

Hotel Jardines de Nivaria

Playa de Fanabe beach, Costa Adeje – 5 stars, 175 rooms and 91 suites, 2 pools, kid’s pool and playground, 3 restaurants, 3 bars, spa, lift to the beach.

Comments: Extraordinary glass cupola over the lobby with grand stairs lined by sculptures bearing lights. The promised garden of the hotel name blossoms in the lobby area with greenery and another beautiful glass cupola over a bar. The rooms we were shown (superior suite) and double room (with sitting area) were of modern design – newly renovated. In a hotel with such magnificent art nouveau features, the minimalism of these rooms, fringed with Thai, did not work. The hotel has apparently realized it, and plans to renovate in more fitting style in future.

Living up to its name with gardens and art nouveau

Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque Resort

Playa del Duque, 2km to Adeje, Costa Adeje – 5 stars, 356 rooms including 47 suites and 40 villas

Comments: This is a vast property running down the hill to the beachfront promenade, full of charm and surprises. Bahia del Duque brought a feeling of déjà vu, a dreamlike sense, with its conical witch-hat towers scattered here and there, and its vast lobby like a film set full of props set for different scenes. In fact I kept puzzling: where have I seen it before? In a movie? In a dream? The resort paths wind around bringing sudden views of blue sea, ornate garden balustrades, swimming pools and restaurants. The vast spa seems miles away, and so do the villas … but every step you take is a pleasure. The two bedroom villa invited one to luxuriate in its outdoor living area and its own infinity pool (with mountain view). In the main hotel area the standard double room sea view, with pleasant café latte tiles and a couple of bright cushions, was restful in hues but rather small. I think a special kind of person will like Bahia del Duque – not your orderly person who wants straight lines – but someone who finds adventure in irrationality. Direct access to the promenade, and two beaches.

Garden of dreams and discovery at Bahia Del Duque

Iberostar Grand Hotel El Mirador

Playa del Duque and Playa del Bobo, Costa Adeje – 5 stars, 120 sea view rooms including 70 superior junior suites, 3 restaurants, bar, gym, access to spa at Anthelia 5 min. walk

Comments: A truly interesting Spanish hotel – with the feel of a medieval castle. The outer walls and towers are in a mixture of grey and faded terracotta. The lobby is entered through a tunnel like arch into an austere atrium with a round pool, fountain and clear symmetry. The deluxe junior suites and higher categories got far away from austerity to romance or spring-like frivolity, with four poster beds draped in gauzy white fabrics. The deluxe junior suites open into the VIP area, where 11 suites share a pool, a pagoda or two and an appealing view of the sea and the non-VIP pool area below. A wedding was to take place that night costing quite modest sums for 66 people to occupy that pagoda to enjoy disco and food. Obvious place for the wedding couple is the Royal suite, which offers amazing views from its plunge pool on the terrace surrounded by sun-loving flowers. It was more romantic and open in feel than the Presidential suite. The hotel stressed that the Presidential is the most private with a 136 sqm terrace among the rooftops, dining table, kitchenette, plunge pool, view of the sea.

Deluxe suite opens onto Mirador VIP area

Grand Hotel Anthelia

Fanabe Beach, Costa Adeje, Tenerife South – 5 stars, 391 rooms, spa

Comments: The feeling was not five star. The hotel was brutally empty as Amway was in town for a conference, and all the guests were away at the congress centre. So the huge size and long corridors were somehow echoing with silence and emptiness. However, one of our party, from a Belgian luxury tour operator, said she had just spent a week at Anthelia with her family and enthused that it was a marvelous family hotel, with a nice kid’s area. One pool area was right at the beach with a pleasant backdrop of blue sea. There is a special VIP area with its own restaurant – but one structure there did look a bit time worn – metal rusts by the sea.

Pool by the beach at Anthelia

Hotel Botanico

Puerto de la Cruz – 5 stars, 252 rooms and suites, 3 heated pools, 3 restaurants, bar, tennis courts, putting green.

Comment: Traditional city hotel, cross-dressed with Thai features, uplifted by gardens full of glistening gold fish and extensive secluded spa area. Our lunch went on and on…with a degustation ice-cream between the main courses, and again desert at the end. We saw the ambassador suite with maroon “poshness” comfortably worn in.

Senator or ambassador suite

Hotel La Plantacion del Sur

Costa Adeje, 5 freshwater pools, 3 restaurants, 3 bars, disco/jazz, kid’s club, 500m from beach with free transfer

Comments: Beautiful blue views from the terraces, looking over a built-up area to the sea. Very nice standard rooms with sea view made this hotel memorable (affordable luxury?). The spacious and tasteful room has a seating area, terracotta tiles, rich mellow wood, orange touches. However, the lateral sea view rooms were disappointing as on one side they look over the road and the sound does rumble and float upwards. The Junior Suites had bigger bathroom and lounge with sofa and easy chairs, balcony with sunbed. The villas (for couples) were really romantic with a terrace on the roof with Jacuzzi and view. Finally the spa was superb with a terrace opening out to a pool with view, and a big bubble pool opening onto the terrace too. The interior of the spa was created as a volcanic cave, with all the thermal features surrounding a cold plunge pool and candles burning. A really nice place for someone who wants a sunny break and a beautiful spa but is not mad about lying on the beach.

Spa terrace by pool and bubble pool

Villa romance for couples at Plantacion

Hotel Sheraton La Caleta Resort & Spa

Near Caleta, quiet end of Costa Adeje – 5 stars, 284 rooms including 20 suites, 3 outdoor pools, kid’s club, minigolf, 4 restaurants, 2 bars, spa/health club, set on the sea shore 5 to 10 minutes walk from a beach (Playa del Duque and another).

Comments: I have written lots in my earlier blog posts. A beautiful hotel with a playful design in desert village forms and colour (my interpretation) plus marvelous glossy marble spaces, attractive gardens with pools and palms against backdrop of sea. The superior rooms are spacious with plenty more marble stretching across floors and bathrooms, warm colour and delightful private balconies embraced by the intense ginger or terracotta walls (an indescribable colour). I liked the pool restaurant, admired the Japanese restaurant, but was disappointed (being vegetarian) in the Spanish restaurant. My pasty paella was given some very stringy beans in lieu of the missing meats. The hotel is five star but not top luxury – some kind of lag in the otherwise pleasant service.

My spacious room at Sheraton

Quaint lookout on the terrace of premium suite

Abama Golf & Spa Resort

Guia de Isora, Southern coast – Top luxury, 476 rooms (328 in the Citadel and 148 in villas), 7 open air swimming pools, secluded beach, 10 restaurants, 4 bars, kids club spa, gym club, 18-hole golf course, tennis academy

Comments: We were shown Abama last as a grand finale and had dinner there on the final night. All the luxury tour operators were blown away by this Ritz-Carlton hotel. It’s by the same architect who created the Sheraton La Caleta and Villa Cortes, evoking fantasies of a village that is somehow an oasis in North Africa, or a lush futuristic biosphere on a desert planet in outer space, with its domes, wide terraces, terracotta walls, and exuberant glossy green gardens. Part of the surrounding beauty is its very own golf course.

The rooms were rather plain yet they felt luxurious, uplifted by the cream marble floors, the terracotta balconies and terraces, and small things that count. The 1-bed room suite in the Citadel, with a big breath of light whiteness, was embraced by an L-shaped balcony with a marvelous view of the lush “Abama village” and the sea. I would be happy with that little suite – but then how about the presidential with big lounge and dining room, 2 bedrooms (the master bedroom like a Junior suite) and a wrap-round balcony that opens to all rooms, bearing a sofa under canopy. Ok even the standard double is gorgeous in its whiteness and balcony. Over now to the villas. We saw a deluxe room which connects with a 1-bedroom suite in a villa, by now our heads brimming with so many impressions they mixed together in places…

Enjoying the 1-bedroom suite terrace at Abama


The spa, as everything else in this vast property, seemed far away – in fact we were happy to get a ride there.

Some might find Abama a little far from everything – but there are 10 restaurants – with dollops of romance, style and tropical well-being. It is not far from a white fishing resort called San Juan. Abama is surrounded by banana plantations which can sometimes bring insects (I heard this unverified complaint from another operator). The truth is lush tropical areas always have some insects – wherever you go.

The beach is wedged between two cliffs bearing banana plantations; one of them was covered for agricultural reasons, creating a flat box. You can reach the beach on a funicular if you choose to walk way down to the bottom of the Abama property, or you can drive down. The sand has been brought all the way from the Sahara desert (which is actually not so far away just a few hundred kilometers). On this pale desert sand the waters glisten turquoise and peace reigns.

This is top luxury, far from the madding crowds…

We ate in a balmy subtropical atmosphere with a  table laid for romance.

For a worldwide collection of luxury resorts see  Select Collection


Day 5 – Whale watching off Tenerife

June 20, 2010 in Spain | Comments (52)

We skimmed over gentle waves looking out to sea for the tell-tale blow fountains of whales. It took only 30 minutes and we found them – pilot whales.

Pilot whales communing with our yacht

The waters between the Costa Adeje and the neighbouring island of La Gomera are really FULL of pilot whales, and they offer a 100% guarantee you will see one. We saw a big family of them – the family of a nice 7-m-long guy dubbed India by the state-sponsored marine conservation effort that is trying to study and restore balance in the ocean along the tourist areas. (They have a project where you can help them.)

India’s family became our delight and our friends. They came rather lovingly up to the boat as it were a fine aquatic mammal, and floated by it tenderly, drifting in their whaley way, and doing things like floating upside down with whale tail sticking out. A mum with babe floated by too, just below the surface.

Our pilot whale friend does whaley things

The bronzed, sea-grizzled captain of our catamaran Eden told us about these wonderful creatures – after we had seen them.

The male whales live 40 years and the females 65, he told us. The male lives are shortened by deep-sea diving. They go down to 1000 metres deep to catch deep-sea squid, whom they kill by dragging them up to 800 m where they explode…They are cut into bits for the family including the  “toddlers” with teeth.

Later bottle nose dolphins came and played around us – too quick to make the loving contact we did with the whales.

Wonderful. The water IS real off Costa Adeje, uplifting the Canaries over many Med destinations…


Day 4 – Discovery tour of Tenerife

in Spain | Comments (2)

From desert to forest, from coast to coast


We drive from the dry and sunny Costa Adeje over extraordinary mountains reaching to 3700 metres in Teide National Park and descend to the northern coast which is greener – and is where the local people really live.

On this triangular island the Southern coast is dry and deserty, and is where the tourists are assured of what they most want – sun. This is where hotels stretch along a 14 km string of volcanic beaches from serene La Caleta to Playa des Americas (where you find McDonalds) and beyond to quieter beaches, slow dining and exclusive shopping.

Looked at from afar, parts of Costa Adeje are elegant or showy and parts have a fast building feel with lots of new apartment blocks, some stretching up the brown slopes of the mountains that rise dramatically behind.

But today we will discover Tenerife. Beyond the beaches and hotels…to the uplifting experience of Teide National Park.

Up – and up – the winding road heads towards ridiculously pointed peaks – almost fantasy mountains in blue haze. You feel a quiver of anticipation or is it trepidation?

It turns out to be a beautiful drive; as we leave behind the dry crumbling slopes of the eroded semi desert, the prickly pears get thicker and entwine with other fleshy leaved species (xerophytes), creating a denser green. Now we see the first pines.

These are endemic/found only on Tenerife. They have extraordinary long roots into the volcanic soil and extraordinarily long needles to get moisture from the clouds that the trade winds drive against the mountain barrier. This is explained by our excellent tour guide as our bus trundles up the slopes.

It is a pity we cannot stop in this big bus. For now we are in these thick and luminously green pine forests – and one sees that picnickers are in there under the graceful, unusual pines.

But now we are getting up towards Mount Teide and other volcanoes – and we stop to see lava fields dotted with smaller pines … stretching over to a sea of cloud from which emerge two peaks of the distant island La Palma.

Lava flow and the distant sea of clouds

The Teide National Park was an uplifting, soul-stirring experience though a little dense with tourist buses near the famous outcrops that once adorned a Spanish peseta note.

Mt Teide 3718 m - and a rocky outcrop

I loved the vegetation, the sweep of greens and greys, and the flowers in pink, yellow and white. It grows on a dry volcanic earth, and has a special something, a feel of wild untarnished spaces, if you walk just 50 paces or so away from the other tourists.

After a short stop we met at the Parador (state owned restaurant) and continued our journey.

We drove into the caldera, a tumble of volcanic rocks and plains of pumice, ringed by mountains.

Our guide explained there is a cable way up to the peak of Mount Teide. Walking up it is a popular activity these days. But once up the view is a little flat our guide confessed – as it is so high the view resembles that from plane – height causes flattening. He recommends reaching the top at sunset or sunrise – for then the view is wonderful. To do that you can overnight at 3500 m from where there is a 200 m climb to the top for the sunrise.

Walkers in this area have to be aware that distances and heights are distorted in this strange landscape – this alien place.

Now our bus continuing north was descending again into pine forests – and a layer of cloud called the “sea of cloud”. Vapour brought by the trade winds forms clouds that lie like a lake with one side meeting the mountain.

This is the source of horizontal rain. Water condenses on the vegetation – hence the extra long pine needles – and condenses and drips down into the earth.

Richly green, unusual pines - and the sea of cloud

As we got further down we wound into rainforest-like vegetation, facing North (and the stray cyconic weathers from Europe?).

La Orótava

The bus parked at the town square of this delightful old town on the slopes facing north to the sea. Every town in the Canaries has  a little square like this, where people meet, our guide explained.

Orótava was a world away from the intense modern buildup of hotels and apartments on the sunnier southern coasts. The St Augustin church near the square had a very Mexican look – as did the whole picturesque town. Our guide, born and raised in Tenerife, said that much of the Central and Southern American colonial architecture seen on the Canary islands was not a copy, but had been tried first on these Spanish islands.

San Augustin church Orotava - a Mexican feel

Our walk was steep – and took us past bright flower beds and views.

Next stop was Monje winery. There was one cellar with a very old feel and oak barrels 40 to 200 years old. Then one of these moe boring spoltess ones with stainless steep vats. Then deeper to a gallery, that was part of the entrepeneurial develpment including a wine club, conference faciliteis and restaurant for groups – created by the dashing Mr Monje and his “hard working companion” (as she was called in a coffee table book on display).

We got to taste the wine – which reminded me somehow of wine on Cyprus. Very enjoyable but perhaps lacking a few of the flavours of my South American and South African favourites. I should add I am no connoisseur of wine.

All these activities took so long that when we got to our planned hotel inpsection and  lunch stop at Hotel Botanico it was more like evening than lunch time.  I was ravenous. It was a very leisurely lunch. We got dessert after the first course – but then came the next course. Of course that was not really dessert explained Jill from Belgium – it was for degustion to´”make a gap”.

This little degustion finesse was sorbet and chocolate. It is usually not chocolate she explained. Yes, I said – the problem is the chocolate filled the gap (rahter than made it) – but I guess that was better than being ravenous as before.

Hotel Botanico was built in the 1970s and has the architecture of that era – a big lobby with traditional feel. They have tried to combine a classical hotel with Thai touches. The spa certainly kept up the theme with little carved elephants by the goldfish pond at the entrance. The spa has won awards and is completely separate with own pool and gardens.

This hotel for all its old style, 70s thing, gets a huge number of VIPs to stay. So they have a large number of special suites. Apart from 32 Junior Suites they have  8 Senator suites, ambassador suites, 4 Penthouse suites (173 sqm), 2 Presidential (200 sqm) and at the very top a suite named Bill Clinton (580 sqm).

The drive back along the motorway was (and will always be) rather boring.

But soon we had the free night when I planned to do my blog.

However, I and a Swedish travel agent linked up with the sunny happy go-lucky Italians Daniela and Melissa (my earlier comments about Italians being snappy was quite unjustified in the light of these charming creatures). In addition we had the mysterious, independent and fascinating Gloria among us. An Italian Swiss, who lived in Oz, Bombay, Kerala, Goa – and now lives in Rome with her Ozzie husband. She talks multi languages.

This was our second night in the Sheraton’s Spanish restaurant. The food was reasonable the others thought, but mine was not five star. I left before midnight, sleeping with balcony door open, bringing the gift of balmy air. What a privileged climate!

LUXURY IMPRESSIONS IN TENERIFE

The glorious year-round warmth of Tenerife has not just nurtured charter beach holidays. It has proved fertile sunny ground for luxury too. There are 20 five star hotels on Tenerife – more than there are in Barcelona.

See my later post.

At the top the group felt was Abama…This is top luxury, far from the madding crowds…


Day 3 – Luxury hotels in Tenerife

June 19, 2010 in Spain | Comments (0)

Tenerife has 20 five star hotels –  more than Barcelona.  We will see 9 of them.

My room at Sheraton La Caleta featured (or starred shall we say) in day 1 and day 2 of this blog on Tenerife. Last night we were shown a couple of suites at Sheraton La Caleta and then had dinner with the group of tour operators in the Spanish restaurant. We were in a cosy cellar-like room with shelves of wine and Spanish country touches.

The Sheraton Premium suite was adventurously built on the rooftop. The terrace sprawled up and down stairs with a view of the sea and gardens, and the chimneys and blue sky. There was a little roofed relax spot, somehow eccentric and cute.

On Saturday we were given a feast of site inspections. The impressions were overwhelming, so it has taken days for me to translate my notes to blog.

I sum up these impressions in a later post.

 

 

Presidential Bahia Del Duque


Day 2 – Tenerife with pools and palms

June 18, 2010 in Spain | Comments (0)

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FRIDAY 18 JUNE

The pool dazzles. The palms shift their slightly sea-singed tassles in the breeze. It is a perfect day; sky a gentle embrace of blue.

If the meaning of life is pleasant moments, I have found enlightenment in this one.  The luxury of a totally free day as all our activities on this SELECT PARTNER FAM TRIP only start tomorrow.

The heated pool

I managed to get coffee as I wish it, a latte macchiato. I slept like heaven in my (Sheraton) bed with perfect pillows, and a little breeze from my slightly open balcony door. Even the child-friendly aspect of Sheraton Caleta has not proved adult-hostile. Kids are spread out among various pools and activities. Breakfast turned out good in the end, though I approached from the wrong side coming from my room and danced along the edge of the pool around a barrier to get in. Three separate marble buffet (or four) islands presented everything I desire.

The only negative was that the coffee came from a corporate machine. Big corporate companies are making big machines (rationally to save time)(possibly money/time is money) for corporate hotels and other corporates. So the little guy who likes very hot coffee gets it lukewarm. But I managed to ask a correct though not enthusiastic man to make it hotter (in the microwave).

My room is really a pleasant place to be. My balcony compared with those looking over the pool is small, and its protective wall no doubt cuts out some of my share of sun. But it is so MINE, surrounded by the ochre-ginger walls and balcony garden with real soil, and perfect sea view.

The terraces overlooking the pool are immense, and the sleeping area bigger. My room’s total area is spread out into the generous long hallway, opening by wide mirror doors into the big marble bathroom with glass shower cabinet, bath, and separate toilet. Just how a bathroom should be.

So why was I told this place does not have five stars? Yet to find out if it is true or isn’t.

Last night one of our party on the SELECT PARTNER FAM TRIP invited me to join him at a fish restaurant he had researched in chats with the lady in the phone shop (where he bought a phone plus calls 19 euro including calls up to 11 euro (phone cost only8 Euros). A short taxi ride got us there to La Caleta village, and round a corner was this little gem of a place. See photo.

LUNCH TIME

Morning drinking coffee by the Sheraton pool, gorgeous day …

But now I have agreed to pay 15 Euros for omelets – which does seem extreme.

AFTERNOON

I changed my order to Caesar Salad without the chicken – or prawns etc. Simple and nice – only 9 euro. Last bite tasted quite dreadful – though – I think some old bacon had got mixed up in there…

But now on the front terraces I marvel at the space and peace. Everyone is down at the pools or on the lawns by the pools.

I do not see a single person on this sunny ochre terrace, which fills my heart with joy – as if all this luxury is just for me. Blue sky, palms waving, and a sweep of the gingery ochre walls. I realize that Sheraton La Caleta is a Moorish inspiration, harking to Saharan deserts, created with playful modernity. I love this place today. The walls of the flowerbeds, the same desert singing colour, curve and weave around their flowers, and I admire the architect too for his earthy fantasy and caring.

I don’t understand why some reviews have been so lukewarm. Could be that they too got something bad in their salad? I will forgive them for that slip with the salad, because of this beauty, some of it given by the heavens – which are blue now again, as if sunshine will never cease.