Hewn from the cliffs of Majorca’s northernmost seaboard, and shaped by what locals refer to as the ‘meeting point’ of the Mediterranean winds, the Cap de Formentor juts bodly into the Balearic Sea. This lonely protrusion appears almost as inaccessible as it is achingly beautiful. The spectacular oceanic vistas are however, just reward for those who brave Italian engineer Antonio Paretti’s daunting approach road. Like an asphalt ribbon, the road is draped over the rocky outcrops and around sheer faces that characterise the peninsula. For those hire car drivers who can overcome their nerves, and indeed vertigo, the rewards are profound. The road winds to a conclusion and the cliffs give way to gentle hills, framed by pine trees that subside only to allow a thin strip of white sand and a strikingly clear blue sea. Here, amongst all the solitude and seductiveness nature can manifest lies, almost as if by accident, the five star hotel Barceló Formentor.
The hotel itself perches above perhaps the most beautiful beach on the island. With its tall white walls, traditional slate roof, sweeping balconies and spectacular ornamental flower gardens it looks every bit the front cover of an Agatha Christie novel. And when you learn that she, among others such as Winston Churchill, JFK and Grace Kelly were regular guests here, it is hard to say whether the hotel served as her inspiration or that she preferred it due to its familiar nature. Either way, it’s hard to imagine all that much has changed since the days of these visiting dignitaries: the hotel is very much one of traditional charm, and quite unlike the majority of five star hotels on the island. It is perhaps not a hotel for everyone – those seeking the most modern of amenities and contemporary design are perhaps advised to look elsewhere. The simply furnished rooms combine old fashioned charm with modern comforts and the clientele therefore tends to be limited to small groups or couples seeking romantic solitude in beautiful surroundings, although the gently sloping beach and landscaped gardens make it a fabulous family destination too.
Hotel Formentor boasts several restaurants, of which El Pi is the gourmet centerpiece offering a seasonal delight for the senses. There are also several commendable buffet-style beach restaurants including la Veranda, and the Platja Mar in particular is of note. Located yards from the sea and offering spectacular views of the bay, the Mediterranean-style menu includes many dishes cooked to your liking in front of you. A lazy lunchtime spent trying out every imaginable flavour combination is a rare treat in such glorious surroundings.
Wide, soft loungers are perfectly spaced along the poolside and throughout the gardens, and the pool guards are attendant enough to provide you with fresh towels on cue, yet discreet enough to not be overbearing as is the case in some hotels that offer a similar level of service. Their relaxed efficiency is what five star hotels in global luxury destinations such as Dubai crave, yet often struggle to find. For the more actively minded, tennis, sailing and horse riding can be arranged and watersports and boat excursions are available from the beach.
Much of what makes this hotel special is the whole atmosphere of laid back opulence. There is little to thrill adrenaline seekers or party goers, but those in pursuit of relaxation and a romantic setting need look no further. The hotel may need a touch up in some places but Formentor is really like an old friend that you love, despite its idiosyncrasies, and will return to over and over again.
Rates at Barceló Formentor start from €197 (£166) per night per room including breakfast and VAT