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Follow the stars to this stunning corner of Mallorca
Updated 12:07pm Friday 21st March 2014 in Local
Crime writer Agatha Christie did it in 1932 and based one of her celebrated ‘whodunnits’ on it, writes Alf Bennett.
But Catalan Surrealist painter Joan Miro beat her to it by three years and did it on his honeymoon.
And since then thousands of Brits have followed in their trail and stayed in the Hotel Illa D’Or at Puerto Pollensa in north-west Mallorca.
And small wonder because the superb waterfront location, fronting Pollensa Bay, and its stylish under-stated decor give the four-star hotel a millionaire feel at an affordable price.
The hotel has been a mainstay of Mallorcan tourism for years. In fact it celebrates its 85th anniversary next year and many Brits return year after year.
But it could all have been so different. Just along the road from the hotel is a military post on land originally requisitioned by Francoist forces in the Spanish Civil War back in the 1930s.
Had they decided to extend their influence a few hundred metres then the history of Hotel Illa D’Or would have been considerably shorter.
As it is, the base remains to this day one of the plushest postings that the Spanish top brass can wangle for themselves.
The hotel is well-placed a gentle stroll away from the centre of busy Puerto Pollensa – a routine lively resort with dozens of bars and souvenir shops – at a nice distance for preserving a bit of tranquility.
But there is plenty to see in this part of the island, using the hotel as a base.
The original town of Pollensa is a 15-minute ride on the 37 bus from just outside the hotel and is worth a visit.
It was built inland originally to keep it safe from pirates and that distance has helped preserve what is a tranquil and stately little Mallorcan town.
It is a place where the locals gather in the main square, the Placa Major, after church, and where local customs have not succumbed to the heavy weight of tourism.
If you have the energy you can march the 365 steps up to the Calvari Church and be rewarded with spectacular views of the bay.
If you don’t then you can just read about it over a beer at Ca’n Moixet, the oldest bar in town, or settle down for something more expansive at the excellent Café Placa restaurant (local dishes featuring lamb, squid, cod and mussels are a speciality).
If you want a trip out which is altogether different then you could opt for the place where the Queen of Spain buys her curtains…..
The Teixits Vicens is an artisan workshop and one of those places which, when you see it on the itinerary, your heart sinks.
But you would be missing out if you gave it a miss. Charming brothers Tomeu and Joan run the place with their cousin and they design, dye and weave all the materials themselves using traditional methods.
If they are not too busy they will even give you a free tour of the place to see how the magic is worked.
Frankly, if it is good enough for Queen Sofia it’s good enough for me. (By the way, the curtains she chose hang in the Marivent Palace in the south of the island).
If such tourism with a twist is to your taste then you might also call in at the Finca Es Guinyent just outside the town to see the Solivellas olive farm in action.
This family-run business boasts an estate of 3,500 olive trees and, again, they will take you on a free tour of the whole process if they are not too busy.
It’s a fascinating tour but a word of advice - don’t go at dusk when the ‘mozzies” come out or you’ll be eaten alive.
But I have saved the best to last – and that is a sightseeing boat trip out from the Hotel Illa D’Or’s private jetty.
The Isabel Maria is a 10-metre traditional Mallorcan fishing boat lovingly restored from the wreck it was when it was discovered 20 years ago by skipper Amador and his father.
The boat has her own colourful history. She was originally used for lobster fishing but, in the hard-pressed Fifties and Sixties, she was used for running contraband out of Africa to an island which was poverty-stricken in the wake of the Civil War and before the lifeline of mass tourism.
Now though she hires out for 800 euros a day (400 euros for half a day) including drinks and Mallorcan tit-bits and when you consider she can take up to 10 people that’s not a bad deal.
On a good day you can spy dolphins. On any day it’s a glorious way to see the northern edge of the island.
But on a day of bright sunshine with the wind filling the sails and the Isabel Maria skimming the bay at speed no, Agatha, there is no Problem at Pollensa Bay.
FACTBOX Classic Collection Holidays (0800 294 9318) offers 3 nights at the Hotel Illa d’Or www.hotelillador.com from £593 (or 7 nights from £813 per person), based on 2 adults sharing a twin / double room on a half board dining basis and includes return flights and private transfers. www.classic-collection.co.uk.
Pollensa Hotel Association www.enjoypollensa.com for information on accommodation, tourism and activities in and around Pollensa.
Amador Magraner – Captain of the Isabel Maria at Holiday Sailing Dream email@example.com Finca Es Guinyent, oil producer www.olisolivellas.com Teixits Vicens artisan workshop & store www.teixitsvicens.com
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