“What is that smell? It’s so familiar…”
I couldn’t place it but I liked it a lot. It smelled like summer holidays, akin to sun cream but evoking much fonder memories than slapping on that bright white, sticky stuff.
Whatever it was, every time I returned to the Barceló Illetas Albatros hotel in Palma, Mallorca, I happily inhaled.
Little did I know on arrival, later that night I would be tasting a gin which, somewhat miraculously to my eyes and tongue, is distilled on site and manages to bottle that exact essence. It tastes like it smells.
I had arrived at the lavish adults-only beach hotel, on a Friday evening, after a relaxing flight with Monarch.
After discovering the features of my room, including an open plan bathroom area and balcony from which I could gaze over the Balearic Sea, I decided to settle in for the night and have dinner in one of the three hotel restaurants.
I went all out on a four course meal consisting of grilled octopus with parmentier of truffled potato, as well as a Spanish take on fish and chips – fillet of cod with mashed potato and pureed peas. I followed this with a sumptuously soft main of Iberian pork fillet with rice, finishing with a yoghurt and mango parfait. Each dish was more outstanding than the last.
Next I headed to the bar where a DJ played music just loud enough to dance to, but quiet enough to sit back and chat. This is where I first tried the aforementioned gin, it was mind boggling and impressively innovative. What better product to distil your essence into than gin?
The following morning, despite my indulgence, I woke early to take part in a yoga class on the seafront available to all guests.
Being a little impatient in nature, I often struggle with the slow pace of yoga and yet endeavour to enjoy it. This class finally helped me achieve this lifelong goal.
The form is Kundalini, which focuses on energy and so the instructor not only talked us through the movements, but talked us through the effects which were immediately evident.
With so much on offer at the hotel I was dubious to leave just yet, and decided to stay for the remainder of the day to experience the ‘sprunch’ offering.
A mixture of both a brunch and spa experience, I was told this new craze is sweeping Spain. After trying it myself I am waiting for it to hit UK shores, especially if it comes with the good value it has at Barceló Illetas Albatros, just 35 euros for those not staying at the hotel.
A box is presented and opens to reveal shelves where a number of small, amuse bouche sized dishes sit in pairs, as if on display. They are both sweet and savoury, often balancing the two together.
This alone could have easily made up the brunch offering, but be warned to pace yourself as a main course and dessert will follow, with endless cava of course.
After eating I secured myself a Balinese bed by the pool overlooking the ocean. Having the option to WhatsApp the staff with any requests meant I only need move to take a dip in the pool, or the private beach below.
As the morning slipped away and the sun beat down, I dragged myself from the bed to use the spa facilities and indulge in a massage.
I found it somewhat difficult to leave the hotel at all during my stay, without the screams of children diving into the pool time passes by almost unnoticed.
Here were my top five things to do….
1. Mercat de l’Olivar (Oliver Market). If you want to feel in the thick of it then head here. It bustles with life and you could close your eyes and absorb the culture through the noise that surrounds you – sounds of Spanish shouts, bright colours of fresh produce being packed into rustling bags before sizzling in the corner as chefs prepare whatever you take them.
2. Son Puig is a family vineyard near Palma which exists within a small microclimate, giving way to incomparable wine. They sell four reds and three whites which you are lucky to enjoy because as little as 40,000 bottles are produced a year. They offers tours and wine tasting from as little as 10 euros.
3. Visit Flanagan Restaurant – I promise you it’s not an Irish bar. If you’re lucky, you’ll cross paths with the King of Spain who likes to dine there.
4. Simply explore! Walk through the streets of Mallorca or get a bike and once the city is complete make your away across the coast from beach to beach. If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a car and head up north where the scenery is unbelievably different, with mountainsides cascading into the ocean.
5. Koa Palma, in the city, offers avant-garde cuisine and innovative, tiki cocktails. It is a wonderful spot for a traditional, four-course Spanish tapas meal but equally ideal for a hearty pizza if you’re tentative to try new things.
Rates at Barceló Illetas Albatros start from £88 (105€) per night based on two sharing on a bed & breakfast basis. For more information, please visit barcelo.com, +34 9971 40 22 11
Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates year round flights to Majorca from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton, Leeds Bradford and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £39 one way (£68 return). For further information or to book Monarch flights and Monarch Holidays please visit monarch.co.uk