Mallorca – After driving on winding roads through villages lined with ochre-color houses and Serra de Tramuntana mountains towering above, our car turned into a driveway lined with olive trees and red geranium flowers. Reaching the top of the hill, Mr. King & I were greeted by a majestic stone-mansion- La Residencia.
Nestled in the small coastal village of Deià (pronounced Deya) on the Spanish Island of Mallorca (Majorca), Belmond La Residencia (“La Res”) is an idyllic hideaway with natural beauty, tranquil surroundings and traditional Mallorcan charms.
The estate was originally four separate mansions (“grand fincas”). English billionaire, Richard Branson acquired the mansions and converted them into La Residencia, a luxury hotel. Later, he sold the hotel to the famous hospitality group – Orient Express.
With its quiet charms, Deià has long attracted a stream of celebrities, socialites and royalties, including Princess Diana and King Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain. Another frequent visitor to La Res is Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, a fellow resident of Mallorca.
Mr. King & I stayed in suite no. 42, which had a perfect view of the pool as well as the scenic hillside. Since La Res is a strong advocate and supporter for Deià’s artistic community, contemporary paintings and various artworks by local artists are placed throughout the hotel – at the reception, restaurants, lounge, hallways and the guest rooms. They add a distinctive character to La Res’ traditional Mallorcan décor.
Aside from relaxing by the pool or being pampered at the spa, the estate and village offer a number of activities – for nature and art lovers alike. I took a few painting lessons with La Res’ resident artist, Alan Hydes. Originally from the U.K., the British Hydes had moved to Deià some years ago. He is acclaimed for portraitures, but in recent years, he shifted his focus to still-life and landscapes – some inspired by Deià. His studio is adjacent to the 1-Michelin star restaurant, El Olivo which serves lovely alfresco dining.
Since La Res is at the heart of Deià, Mr. King & I enjoyed strolling along the streets of this quaint town. With a small population of 850, the town is a close-knit community, and everyone knows each other. At the time of our first visit in 2010, there was only one taxi in Deia. And I guess with these narrow hilly roads, the best mode of transport is on foot!
One of Deia’s famous sights is its cemetery, because English poet and novelist – Robert Graves is buried there. Our visit was not morbid as one may imagine, but on the contrary, we could comprehend why he wanted to retire in this tiny peaceful village. Casa de Robert Graves, another popular sight, is only a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
La Res’s impeccable gardens – lemon orchards, olive groves, palm trees and geraniums – form breath-taking and cheerful landscapes. Mr. King and I have visited La Res twice in the past few years. We are most impressed with the hotel’s staff and personal service. For those searching for quiet luxury with Spanish charms, Belmond La Residencia should be one of the top choices.
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.