Why are so many returning to La Residencia time and time again?
General Info and Location
The writer, Robert Graves, must take a lot of credit for Deia becoming a focal point for bohemian landscape artists in the 60’s. But it was the founder of Virgin, Sir Richard Branson, who in the 80’s spent a fortune to totally renovate a dilapidated old olive farm, which dates all the way back to the 1300’s, into a luxury resort.
La Residencia is closed from November to late March, so I stopped by when the hotel re-opened for the season.
It takes a little more than half an hour to drive from Palma to La Residencia. The roads become more and more sloping, and the bends much tighter the closer you get to the Tramuntana mountain range. After a while, we were rewarded with the sight of the village of Deia, which is home to about 600 people. Shortly after, we also see the La Residencia, where we will spend the next three days.
We turned into the driveway of the large house, which most resembles a hacienda, and saw a sign which read, ‘Orient Express’. The owners of the hotel are probably best known for the luxury train, which runs from London to Venice, as well as the hotel chain of the same name. The hotel chain has now changed its name to Belmond.
At the reception, I was welcomed by Jordi, the Deputy Manager of the hotel. He took the time to tell us a little about the fascinating history of the hotel, a story he knows a lot about since he has been at the hotel since Branson owned it.
I walked up the stairs of the old house and once in my junior suite, I could finally take a breather after the long journey. There are specific room categories here and 25 of the 67 rooms are actually junior suites. My suite consisted of a living room and a separate bedroom, with a warm and comfortable atmosphere. The windows, with their dark shutters, and floors of terracotta, underline the rustic style that characterises the entire residence.
The hotel has a variety of activities and excursions on offer. I chose to go on a tour, along with other guests and a herd of donkeys. ‘My’ donkey, Pancho, and the other donkeys, led the tour through the countryside to one of the ridges of the surrounding terrain. After having been out on the trail for half an hour, we passed the farmer Lorenzo, who at his table had a variety of locally produced hams, cheeses and other local delicacies. His olive oil came from the trees just outside his window. Another guest erupted spontaneously, “this is the best tasting tomato I’ve eaten!”, and I can only agree. There is a very special mood and atmosphere at Lorenzo’s, and after a couple of hours everyday stresses and small concerns completely vanish. A magical experience!
After the donkey tour, I took a look at the tennis courts, which are said to be one of the world’s best located tennis courts, surrounded by the spectacular Tramuntana mountains. So if you play tennis, you have an extra reason to come here. There is also a tennis coach available if you need to brush up on your serve or ground stroke.
My junior suite had a large terrace with a partial sea view, the view must be extra amazing in the summer and especially if you choose to eat breakfast there. My suites two TVs, each with DVD players, stood unused during my stay.
La Residencia is a place that offers plenty of quality time without the need for electronics. And exactly that phrase, quality time, describes the hotel well: everything you experience, see, smell and taste helps your body to relax and your smile to widen.
Eating and Drinking
As time went by, I felt myself getting hungry. For dinner I chose to frequent the hotel restaurant, El Olivo, which has been awarded the “Award of Excellence” by Wine Spectator. After a delicious three-course dinner, I decided to check out the local bar in Deia, Café Sa Fonda. The bar is located a stone’s throw away from the hotel and once we were out on the street, we could already hear the infectious music. During the summer, you could be lucky enough to meet both Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen, who have been here and performed intimate concerts for, as you can imagine, amazed local audiences. This evening, a local band from Alcudia played and the atmosphere was good.
The next day and it was time for breakfast, which was served in a cozy breakfast room with large windows. Besides a really good buffet, you can order hot dishes a la carte. I chose an omelet and a cup of mint tea.
At lunchtime, I met some very well-behaved children. La Residencia was once a child-free area, but the hotel is now more family friendly and there are some activities and a general environment that might suit children and younger guests better than before. For example, both children and adults can learn about and participate in art courses and learn to draw, paint and even sculpt. You may also, as I said, go for a walk with the donkeys, get a massage, and can take part in learning how to cook good food.
La Residencia is not, however, a hotel for young children.
After lunch, we embarked on a brisk half-hour walk down to the sea and the charming little bay of Cala Deia, which has beautiful azure waters, perfect for swimming and snorkelling. There is also a small restaurant which, just like the hotel, is only open during the high season. Cala Deia is not the best place to lie down and sunbathe and it is quite far from the nearest beach.
To experience a bit more of Mallorca’s beautiful north coast, I went out on a boat that was organised by the hotel. The boat trip takes 2.5 hours and I can highly recommend it.
Back at the hotel, I speculated whether I should hire a classic Vespa, or perhaps a bicycle, if I should play tennis, learn to cook better food, learn Tai Chi or… just relax. I chose the latter in the hotel spa. My masseuse, Nicola, gave me a 50 minute soothing massage while she talked a bit about her background at Virgin Atlantic, where she massaged passengers in business class. One could get 20 minutes, while up in the air, on the way to a new metropolis somewhere in the world.
Is La Residencia, in Mallorca, a hotel you have to visit before you die? For those who put a price on peace and quiet, rustic style, cultural history and beautiful surroundings, then the answer is yes! If you appreciate these things, you should come here, and you will certainly return. Many of the other guests we met were returning guests. I asked some of them why they have chosen to return, and the responses were all variations of the same theme: Here, you experience something so unique with a genuine interest in providing a good service!
Those who work at the hotel are nearly all locals, and it is clear to see that they are proud of the place and the atmosphere that prevails. The smiles you meet feel authentic and natural and the atmosphere is different from other luxury hotels I have stayed at. Another thing that some mention, was that La Residencia is a place where one can truly relax and where you sleep exceedingly well.
Strengths: A quiet atmosphere with stunning surroundings. Lovely heated swimming pools, both indoors and outdoors. It is Family friendly and has good food. A personal, friendly and relaxed service that makes you feel at home. Great tennis facilities. Delicious spa area and good opportunities for activities and excursions organised by the hotel.
Weaknesses: During the visit, it felt as though they were not quite up to speed yet as the season had just begun. For example, there were minor problems when I ordered coffee once and a magazine I had requested never came. Some might miss the fact that there is not a beach nearby. This is not a place for families with small children, and the village of Deia is very small.
BusinessClass can heartily recommend a visit to this peaceful, rustic and luxurious gem of a hotel in Mallorca!