I have always thought that Mallorca is one of the most attractive islands in the world – and I have seen lots of them!
Its charm lies with its variety – lots of beaches, from wide strands to secluded coves; spectacular mountains and rolling farmland; pretty villages and towns contrasting with the sophistication of the capital, Palma; exuberant resorts and trendy marinas and lots more.
So, it was difficult for me to come up with a favourite area. That is, until I turned a corner when driving on the coast road towards Soller and saw the village of Deia nestling on the hillside, with honey stone houses flowing down to the sea.
The backdrop really is stunning, the rugged foothills of the Tramuntara Mountains, with their soaring peaks piercing the bright blue sky on a spring morning in April. The road winds round into the village itself, where there are narrow streets to left and right, until you come across the quite famous La Residencia Hotel, which used to be owned by Richard Branson, but which is now part of the luxury VSOE Group. The hotel sprawls over a large hillside area with several buildings built in complete sympathetic style with the surroundings.
Deia has a resident population of about 1000 souls, but this swells considerably at the height of the tourist season. There is a large ex-pat population, notably British and German, but may others too; nevertheless, the village retains its essentially Mallorquin atmosphere, with its style and traditions. Like most Spanish towns, it has a local fiesta, this one for about a week in June, which is enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. It is an expensive area to buy property in; it has always been somewhat exclusive, with even the King of Spain having his summer residence nearby. Most of the ex-pats have houses with pools just off the village centre or down steep tracks towards the sea, off the road in and out of town. There are strict building controls on the island and all houses have to be built in traditional style, whilst new builds are only permissible where they replace an existing dwelling.
Villa Retreats has arrangements with many of the owners of these houses, who make them available for stylish holiday rentals at all times of the year.
Those who do not choose the seclusion of a private villa, often choose La Residencia, which offers a range of suites, including some with small private pools and magnificent views.
The hotel also has a super restaurant, but visitors can enjoy a range of other top quality eateries in or close to the village. All have relaxed atmospheres and use fresh local fish, meat and produce. Not cheap, but super food and stunning locations, one, El Olivo, has a mention in the Michelin Guide.
Over the years, Deia has attracted artists from all over the world and there are now several stylish boutiques and galleries selling paintings and handicrafts. One famous literary resident was the poet and author, Robert Graves, who made his home here and died in 1985. His tomb is now a moderate tourist attraction.
In common with most of the west coast, there is no beach at Deia, but there is an attractive rocky cala or cove with a couple of summer restaurants. A little out of town there is another small pebbly cove at Lluc Alcari with a summer bar.
Roads out of Deia take you to the charming town and port of Soller in one direction and to Valledemossa in the other. The latter was home to the French authoress George Sand and her lover Frederic Chopin and although Sand complained in her writings of both the townspeople and the weather, their heritage is definitely welcomed now.
I love Deia and sometimes stay in a small house in the village. I can stroll down to the sea or walk in the hills and relax in the smaller friendly bars and cafes with a glass of really good Mallorquin wine. It is a place to spend some time and not just, as many do, drive through, enjoying only the view.