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A mountain retreat in Mallorca

Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa

Michelle Chenery reports on a flying visit with Vueling to Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa

Vueling, the Spanish airline, has launched a new route to Palma de Mallorca from the UK. ITCM joined a group that was trying the route for the first time. It seemed only minutes after leaving England that we were being greeted in the arrival lounge in Mallorca. This is a very convenient service offered to groups, who can be assisted through all the formalities to enter Mallorca.

Outside without any hassle, were ushered by a driver to our Mercedes limousine minibus. A comfortable 25-minute drive had us arriving at the Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa.

We checked in whilst enjoying a cool freshly squeezed orange juice and looking over the bay. We were immediately relaxed and feeling at home on the island.

It was very helpful to be shown to my room because the hotel is built on the side of a cliff and comprises eleven low rise buildings. Later, provided with a map, I soon got the hang of where everything was. There is a maze of steps but with lifts at strategic points.

The property has 120 spacious rooms and suites, all with large terraces and balconies overlooking either Port de Soller or the UNESCO Heritage Tramuntana mountain range. At 1.445 metres high, it can boast the highest mountain in the Balearics.

The hotel occupies an area of almost 18,000sqm, with its 3-storey buildings following the contours of the cliff, in keeping with the surroundings. The interior design of the hotel employs local materials and traditional island techniques, making it different to every other Jumeirah property. Oranges figure greatly in the local economy and were to be found in every room. They were by far the best I have ever tasted.

There are six different categories of rooms - superior, deluxe, and junior suites all with either sea or mountain views. There are also two exceptional suites, The Lighthouse measures in at 110sqm and the Observatory at 157sqm.

The split-level Lighthouse suite has clear views over the Port de Soller bay, a 223sqm private balcony with outdoor Jacuzzi, a kitchen, separate living area and en-suite master bedroom.

The Observatory suite consists of a main bedroom, terrace, large living space, dining area, full bathroom with terrace, a Jacuzzi, guest bathroom and possible connection to a junior suite.

Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel, whilst in-room technology includes interactive HD LCD widescreen TV, Bose iPod/iphone docking station, media hub for tv/laptop connectivity and Nespresso coffee machine.

There are four meetings rooms. The Jumeirah Ballroom can seat up to 180 theatre style. The Soller can seat 60 and the Fornalutx, named after one of the most beautiful villages in the valley, can seat 48 or up to 88 when combined with the Soller. The Deià can serve as a boardroom for ten. All the meeting rooms benefit from natural light and are fully equipped for AV.

The hotel has four bars and we enjoyed drinks on the first evening in the Sunset Lounge on the upper floor of the main building. It offers 180-degree views of the mountains, the fishing port and the open sea. The group then headed down a few floors to the Cap Roig restaurant for a three-course meal including lamb and extremely fresh fish.

The next morning at the Talise spa I indulged in one of the new experiences on offer at the hotel, Natura Bissé A Taste of Beauty. The spa treatment was followed by a bespoke lunch to maintain the whole spa experience. Since 1979 Natura Bissé has been developing body and facial cosmetics whose formulations allow the maximum concentrations of highly efficient ingredients and textures. Its not just what the products do, but also how they feel. Throughout the whole spa experience, the smell and different textures were very apparent. I had facial and then legs and arms treatments with the C+C vitamin range. The citrus, orangey aromas were then continued into the 8-course lunch.

It started with an orange cocktail that was served in a compressed cylinder and taken much the same way as a mouth spray - but tasting so much better. Then followed citrus and pine infused mozzarella bubbles, gazpacho with goats cheese ice cream and oranges and fresh shellfish to name just a few of the delights served during the lunch. The taste, textures and flavours from the food certainly fused well with the spa experience.

After the gastronomic lunch we were ready for a visit to the oil mill of Ca’n Det in Biniaraix. Dating back to 1561, the mill is in the hands of the same family and is one of only three active mills in the region. Using traditional methods of a stone mill and wicker matt and hydraulic press, it produces olive oil not only from its own stock but also for some of the surrounding growers. The current owner, Tomeu Deya, is also the Director of the Tramuntana UNESCO project.

Dinner that evening was served at the Es Faro Restaurant on the opposite side of the port to the Jumeirah Port Soller, with uninterrupted views of the port, the mountains and ocean.. Serving a seasonal menu of fresh fish, rabbit, sole, beef and able to adapt the menu for any special dietary requirements, ES Faro is able to cater for groups of 50 outdoors or 60 indoors.

On the following day we had the honour of having a guided tour of the home of the poet Robert Graves by his eldest son, William, who was able to give us special insight and anecdotes of the author.

An hour’s walk in the Tramuntanas brought us to the remote hotel Balitx d’Avail that was built in 1200 AD. It can otherwise only be reached by an off road vehicle with an experienced driver. The scenery made our trek to lunch well worth the effort. A hearty Mallorcan meal of pork and potatoes was served. The pork melted off the bone and into my mouth.

The tiny hotel has seven guestrooms and there is a separate tower that can accommodate six people. There is no tv or internet connection. The surrounds lend themselves to hiking and excursions with mules, mountain biking and canyoning. Back in Soller town we visited the Can Prunera modern art museum, opened in 2009. It displays mostly local paintings and sculpture, but also original furniture, tables, chairs, beds, cabinets and cases.

We said a reluctant farewell over dinner in the Sunset Lounge Bar. We were all able to sit at the onyx table that runs along one side to enjoy our last views over the Port of Soller. We had a wide choice of tapas, savoured with a wide range of cocktails.

The Vueling service from the UK to Mallorca should be in demand from incentive organisers.

Vueling expands routes
For summer 2013, with an expanded UK route network, Vueling is operating from London Heathrow to  Palma, Florence, La Coruna, Galicia, from London Gatwick to Barcelona, from Cardiff to Alicante, Barcelona, Malaga and Palma Mallorca and from Edinburgh to Barcelona.  In addition, UK passengers can access a wealth of onward connections via Vueling’s successful Barcelona Hub operations, currently accessing more than 40 destinations throughout Europe and North-Africa with full through baggage check-in from the origin to final destination.

Vueling now offers three fare types, Basic, Optima and Excellence fares to support leisure and business passenger requirements. Lead in fares on the London Heathrow - Palma de Mallorca route start from just 69.99€ one way, taxes included, through all Vueling’s sales channels: www.vueling.com, tour operators and travel agencies; iPhone and Android apps, the airline’s mobile portal m.vueling.com and via Vueling’s UK call centre on 0906 754 7541

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