Mallorca’s history is rich and varied – the island has been ruled by Romans, Byzantines, Catalans, and Spaniards, regularly sacked by pirates and vandals and invaded by hordes of tourists from numerous other European countries.
Just as its history is rich and varied so too are its offerings for tourists.
Mallorca as a tourist destination is associated with mass tourism which began in the 1950’s and saw a huge boom in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s but which tapered off somewhat but continued in the 90’s. Today around 7 million tourists visit the island each year.
Mallorca’s popularity with tourists is a result of both its good weather (in the summer for example, the sea regulates the temperature and the sea breezes keep hot days from becoming too unpleasant) and its fantastic infrastructure.
Besides the temperature and infrastructure there are other things that appeal to travellers. There are a wide range of activities including water based activites, fabulous mountains for hiking, and cultural activities such as classical and Jazz concerts. There is also a wide a range of settings from wide beaches to steep cliffs and beautiful mountains, from modern shopping centres to beautiful old towns, etc…
Today there are estimated to be around 300,000 beds (Hotels, guest houses etc.) available in Mallorca. Most of these can be found along the coast and are in the huge concrete blocks that cater to the lower and middle end of the market. Since the 80’s however, in a bid to improve the economy inland they started converting olive mills and farms inland into boutique hotels. Today there are around 60 such establishments officially registered.
It is estimated that less than 1% (or ~2500 beds) of the beds in Mallorca would be classed at the very top end of the market.
The portfolio of luxury properties can be found across the island. My favourites include: In the capital Palma (Puro Hotel, Castillo Hotel Son Vida), on the seaside (Hotel Maricel and La Residencia) (note that neither of these are on a beach) and inland (Gran Hotel Son Net, Son Brull, Gran Hotel Son Julia).
There is also a wide range of other tourist offerings on Mallorca. Given the plethora of choice it is often difficult to find the best places to visit, shop and eat. For example, there are estimated to be around 1200 restaurants on Mallorca. Four of my favourites include: Es Moli D’en Bou in St. Llorenç des Cardassar (A Michelin starred restaurant in the countryside), La Cuchara in Palma’s Paseo Mallorca (great for organic tapas and reputedly one of Claudia Schiffers favourite tapas bars) and Entre Tapas Y Vinos also in Palma’s Paseo Mallorca (modern tapas bar that produces some truly innovative dishes), Bens d’Avall (between Deja and Soller, provides great views and a fabulous menu). The restaurant at La Residencia in Deja, El Olivo is also excellent (note there is a dress code).
There are also around 200 beaches along the coast of Mallorca. My favourite beach is Es Trenc on the east coast which is the only really large beach which has not been developed (note that it can get a bit windy). If, however you are looking for a clubby atmosphere go to Puro Beach in Palma (this is more like a terrace with a pool but very ‘cool’) for the people watching. They also offer yoga classes and spa treatments.
Mallorca also has a lot of shops. Av. Jaume III is the most exclusive shopping street in Palma. Here you will find all the fine stores from international fashion designers and jewellers such as Cartier. Two of the best stores off the Av Jaume III are: Corner on Paseo de Born and Custo on San Miguel. Both of these shops offer a good range of designer brands. Finally the Alpalpateria Fornes located on Carrer Sant Miquel sells all sorts of articles made of woven straw, from shoes to shopping bags.
Mallorca is an island full of contradictions. From wide white sand beaches ringed by concrete blocks housing tourists to the beautiful gothic architecture in the capital Palma and the beautifully restored olive mills inland. It is a large and busy island whose climate and wide range of activities and facilities make it interesting to all sorts of tourists including the discerning traveller.