Wandering along a corridor in the truly gorgeous Royal Hideaway Formentor hotel in northern Majorca and studying the photographs on the wall is like looking at a Who’s Who of the world’s rich and famous.
Famous guests have included Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, the Spanish royal family, Audrey Hepburn and Peter Ustinov to name a few. Hollywood beauty Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier also honeymooned here, and you can easily see why.
The hotel’s location, in my view, is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt in the world. It stands on its own on a wooded hillside looking out over the bay of Pollensa with mountains in the background within the spectacular Sierra de Tramuntana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You reach it by road about an hour’s drive from the capital Palma, around many hairpin bends and with jaw-dropping views to amaze along the way.
Founder of the hotel, arts patron Adan Diehl, had a vision in the 1920s to create a haven for artists, writers and performers of the day – a place they could come and be inspired as well as relax and exchange ideas.
Now, in all its original beauty and surrounded by 3,000 acres of exquisite grounds I admit The Formentor is one of my favourite hotels. The current owners, Spanish hotel group Barcelo, has thankfully paid great attention to the Formentor’s history while adding the luxury facilities and service that 5-star guests expect. It forms part of the group’s Royal Hideaway collection of top hotels.
Staying here doesn’t feel like you are in a generic chain hotel, but more like being in a luxury mansion with just a few other select guests. In fact, there are 122 bedrooms and suites and six villas in the hotel grounds to choose from.
This mountainous area attracts cyclists from around the world. Indeed, there are many activities you can book here, including guided treks, golf, water sports, even motor bike hire.
Even today a connection with the arts remains with the annual Formentor Sunset Classics open-air concerts in the summer that have attracted artists such as Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Daniel Barenboim and Lang Lang.
Nothing can really prepare you for the sheer glamour and magic of the evening itself. Beautifully dressed guests gather to sip Champagne under the twinkling lights on the fragrance-filled hotel patio before walking down to the fabulous setting surrounded by trees to watch the concert.
Music royalty of a different kind, including Lionel Richie have also performed at the hotel and Mick Jagger has stayed here too.
The facilities here are beautiful but understated. There are two outdoor pools, tennis courts, mini golf on site and golf courses within easy access.
The small, public beach is just an easy stroll through the lush gardens where two of the hotel’s four restaurants offer everything from pizzas and burgers to a full-blown, laid-back lunch of paella washed down with the tipple of your choice.
You can hire comfy loungers serviced by the hotel with towels and umbrellas. The sea is sparklingly clear and a wonderful place to swim. Heaven.
If you want to stay nearer the hotel then the new Balinese cabins next to the pools are pure indulgence. They each have a double bed, changing room, shower, robes, towels, sun loungers and even a TV. I also enjoyed a massage there so you can just drift off into an afternoon nap having been totally destressed. Sheer bliss.
But at some point, you have to explore this stunning bay and one of the best ways to do this is on board a beautiful, traditional, wooden Majorcan fishing boat trip, booked through the hotel.
Another daytime outing in nearby Pollensa worth trying is to a family-run, artisan textile company Teixits Vicens, established 160 years ago. Also, just a short drive is olive oil producer Solivella, which offers tours and tastings.
But it’s the hotel itself and dining beside its many spectacular views that are the true delights of being at Cap Formentor as the location is known. Enjoy your pick from a huge array of breakfast, lunch or dinner choices at the buffet then enjoy your meal on the hotel balcony at the El Colomer restaurant or choose an exquisite a la carte meal at El Pi under a romantic, flower-covered arbour next to the gorgeous gardens.
Choose from dishes made from local produce and vegetables from the hotel’s garden and, of course, fresh seafood.
The Hotel Formentor is truly classy. Luxury without shouting about it. Take a nightcap in the hotel’s piano bar. So play it again (and again) Sam.
Norwegian serves Palma-Majorca year-round with up to six flights per week from London Gatwick on modern aircraft offering all passengers free Wi-Fi. Fares start from £29.90 one way / £62.50 return at www.norwegian.com/UK or dial 0330 828 0854 (opt. 1)