Wrap up Tuscany, throw in idyllic beaches and a diverse cultural history, and you can begin to get a sense of Mallorca, a Spanish island that is known to have quite a few Michelin-star restaurants. Although it’s hardly sleepy, like its Balearic neighbours Menorca and Formentera, it also doesn’t have the nightlife and Bohemian spirit of Ibiza. By
Instead, the identity of this 1,400-square-mile (3,626 square km) island is tied to stunning landscapes (rugged mountains in the north, sandy beaches in the south, and lush interiors with cypress and olive trees) and an appreciation of art and design, which have made it more than worthy of its recent wave of chic new luxury hotels and an array of Michelin-starred restaurants (10 stars across nine restaurants as of December 2021, compared to Ibiza, which has one).
This summer, United launched the first direct flight to Newark to Palma, with additional direct flights rumoured to also be in the works from Los Angeles and Miami in the coming years. As the island continues to grow and receive more attention — and tourists — here is a look at some of Mallorca’s latest and greatest hotel and culinary offerings.
All the new hotels and Michelin-star restaurants on this Spanish Island
Mallorca’s New Hotels
The island’s hub of Old Town Palma is only eight square miles (20 square km), but there’s seemingly endless space for new boutique hotels to open within architecturally significant structures. When hotel Sant Francesc debuted in 2015, it set the bar high for luxury. Housed within a former 1880 manor house and featuring 42 bedrooms (one of the largest in the city), the property continues to shine, but has also paved the way for others to follow suit. In early 2019, Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden opened its 24 suites to instant acclaim for its eye-catching design from OHLAB, which mixed contemporary accents, like mirrored surfaces and architectural lighting, with era-appropriate furnishings for this 16th-century renovated townhouse.
Local hotelier IT Mallorca, which has four luxury design hotels in Palma and one in the northern town of Pollensa, took advantage of COVID-19 closures and renovated its oldest child, Can Cera, reinvigorating the 11-year-old, 18-room hotel set within a 17th-century palace. It now has refreshed furnishings and a slew of new custom-created installations from local artists, making it one of the city’s most sophisticated offerings.
In 2021, Palma Riad revealed its 11 suites, each with individual Moroccan-influenced décor, as well as its restaurant, bar, and solarium. Stockholm-based Nobis Hospitality Group also took notice of Palma’s design-centric following when it opened Concepció by Nobis last year. The 31 rooms within a historic 1576 former soap factory carry a playful green motif, a reference to the olives that were used in the soap-making process (those stunning, green ceramic-tiled floors seen throughout the property are the work of local Mallorcan craftspeople who started custom creating them for the project in 2016). Following the success of that property, another more lifestyle-centric one is slated to debut from the brand in a nearby building next year.
Heading outside of Palma on this Spanish Island full of Michelin star restaurants, The Petit Hotel Monti-Sion opened this summer (the project has been five years in the making) on the outskirts of Old Town Palma with 16 rooms. Continuing to explore the island’s new hotels, heading clockwise around the island, on the southwest coast, two international brands debuted this summer: Kimpton opened in Santa Ponsa with 79 contemporary rooms adjacent to three championship golf courses and the Mallorca Country Club tennis centre, and in the nearby town of Andratx, Hilton Mallorca Galatzó offers 208 modern rooms in a neutral palette housed within Moorish-influenced structures.
In the island’s western tip, keep an eye out next year, when the iconic Son Net receives a head-to-toe renovation from designer Lorenzo Castillo, complete with the addition of a 10,800-square-foot spa, as well as for when Richard Branson debuts Son Bunyola, a 28-room luxury hotel in a 15th-century finca with sea views that’s been in the making since the late ’90s.
Set directly into the mountains, on 170 acres near the rural town of Caimari, among a bevvy of hiking and biking trails and forests so close you could practically shinrin-yoku from your lounge chair at the pool, the beyond-charming Finca Can Beneit is a hidden gem. The property debuted in 2021 with just 10 rooms, each with exposed stone walls and some with private rooftop terraces to take in views of the serene swimming pool and surrounding vineyards and gardens.
The northern tip of the island, near Pollensa, is seeing an uptick in luxury debuts. IT Mallorca opened its first property outside of Palma, Can Aulí Luxury Retreat, in 2020 within the city and quickly became a hit for those looking to explore the galleries and cafés just outside the doorstep. Closer to the sea, El Vicenç de la Mar debuted earlier this year with 35 rooms featuring contemporary décor with bright turquoise and beachy woven accents. Just a few steps from Cala Sant Vicenç, it’s one of the few properties on the island with direct beach access — as well as a comprehensive fitness facility and even its own cinema. Come next year, the Four Seasons is slated to debut its second hotel in Spain. The 110-room property set within a 1929 former hotel will overlook the sea of Formentor from its 3,000-acre site.
Finally, Mallorca’s southeast stretch, firmly established itself on the radar when Hotel Can Ferrereta (sister hotel to Palma’s San Francesc) opened its doors in Santanyí last year. The 32 rooms are technically in a townhouse within a vibrant city, but when lounging by the expansive pool landscaped with lavender and bougainvillaea, you might think you’re at a private estate in Provence.
Mallorca’s 10 Michelin Stars — Across Nine Restaurants
Four of the nine Michelin-starred restaurants are in Palma, and while each delivers an interpretation of contemporary Mallorcan cuisine, they all have their own distinct fair. British chef Marc Fosh established his eponymous restaurant within the city’s Convent de la Missió hotel in 2009, and the restaurant has been earning stars since 2014. Fosh has since kept up with his deserved accolades, delivering tasting menus for lunch (a rarity) and dinner in a contemporary all-white setting that serves as a neutral backdrop for his standout seasonal dishes, which can range from slow-cooked pigeon over charcoal to marinated mackerel with lime, rosehip, achiote emulsion, and peach gazpacho.
However, his take on the regional cured Sobrasada sausage is compelling for its simplicity. Perfectly soft and smooth, it slides over his house-made crusty bread like foie gras, delivering just the right amount of spice and a perfectly proportioned ratio of meat to fat. This summer, Fosh opened Sa Pleta at Convent de la Missio’s sister property, Pleta de Mar, on the northeast of the island. The resort’s clifftop setting and lush landscaping are the perfect backdrops for his nature-inspired menu of Mediterranean meat, fish, and vegetables cooked over smoke and flame.
Overlooking the sea in Palma, the El Llorenç Parc de la Mar hotel houses DINS by Santi Taura, perhaps the most authentically Mallorcan dining experience to have on the island. Taura hails from Lloseta, a small town outside of Palma and fuses the island’s rich culinary heritage with its cultural one. First, the restaurant is housed within a 1,000-year-old building, where during the restaurant’s build-out in 2019, an original oven for firing clay was found, which inspired him to take up pottery. Sit at the chef’s counter for the 11-course blind tasting menu, and all of the courses will come plated in dishes handmade by Taura.
The menus change each season, but Taura always finds a way to incorporate local history, whether it’s with bread made from ancient flours served during the middle of the meal as a digestif, an empanada made without pork fat (a nod to the island’s Jewish heritage), or a local recipe from the 1700s for fish and peas that includes labour-intensive gelatin. And, while he says he’s not a dessert lover, the final two dessert courses might be some of the most delightful, as Taura puts so much heart into his cooking, garnishes even come in the form of flowers from his own garden. (If you can’t get a reservation at DINS, try heading north to sister hotel El Vicenç de la Mar where he has just created the menu for its gorgeous rooftop restaurant overlooking the sea.)
Buenos Aires–born Adrian Quetglas puts his international experience working in London, Paris, and Moscow behind his eponymous restaurant, which earned a Michelin star for the first time in 2016 and operates in a lively space on the busy Passeig de Mallorca. Also on the Michelin-star list in Palma is Fernando Arellano’s Zaranda at the Es Princep Hotel.
Other standouts on the Michelin list include the stunning, newly starred Béns d’Avall near the artist-driven town of Deià. The restaurant requires guests brave enough to arrive in their own car to navigate one of the island’s twistiest routes. However, the payoff is immediate upon arrival, as its clifftop perch overlooking a serene stretch of sea is the dream setting vacations are planned around. Make sure to arrive well before the sun goes down to enjoy every minute of the ambience before and during the tasting menu, which father and son chefs Benet and Jaume Vicens create based off produce they grow in their own orchards.
The only female on the list, chef Maca de Castro has an eponymous restaurant that rests on the northern edge of the island, in Port d’Alcudia, where it’s been awarded Michelin stars since 2012. The 41-year-old Mallorcan-born chef has trained everywhere from San Sebastian to New York, which has given her robust technical abilities, but her cuisine is inherently tied to the region and served in a casually elegant setting, not far from the sea.
Nearby, the rural boutique Hotel Predi Son Jaumell Capdepera is a Green Michelin-starred restaurant. The meal begins with a play on dessert, with a white chocolate and peanut butter bon bon, a savoury churro, a waffle cone, and a carrot and cheese bite. When bread is served, the accompanying butter is scooped from a metal tray like gelato, landing on your plate in a perfect curl. Additional bread condiments include olive oil, as well as a mashed potato bite covered in egg yolk and sprinkled with paprika and garlic. (Turning down an offer for a second helping takes discipline.) The rest of the seasonal tasting menu takes lighter turns with items like delicate shrimp and an aubergine soup, but the finale is the cheese tray to end all cheese trays. You could call it a cheese cart, but it’s more like an entire cheese shop being wheeled over to you.
Finally, two of the worthiest and regionally reflective dining experiences are from chefs whose restaurants occupy spaces in chain hotels from luxury brands. In Punta Negra, the St. Regis Mardavall, while plush and well-serviced, may not appear to be the kind of only-in-Mallorca setting to experience one of the island’s must-visit restaurants. But Es Fum, helmed by chef Miguel Navaro, somehow magically straddles the worlds of big-brand hotel expectations and boutique dining.
The 75-seat indoor-outdoor restaurant has just been renovated by HKS and now carries a warm contemporary atmosphere, with blush-coloured textiles and warm woods (the restaurant first opened in 2002, along with the 125-room hotel). Here, the six- or eight-course tasting menu begins with a three-part amuse bouche, which includes bao with caviar and a cracker with jambon and foie gras, as well as bread and a quartet of flavoured butters: mushroom, carrot, spinach, and beet. When it comes to the raw tuna course, the server explains that the fish is caught by hand, one by one and stays alive on the boat until it’s flash frozen, arriving at the hotel the next day to be served. Most of this catch of tuna is sent to Japan, where it’s in high demand, but Es Fum has a special cut of it. Other unique seasonal menu items might include the pink tomato, a rarity, and all the (mostly local) wine is chosen by the young female sommelier, Julianna González.
Finally, chef Alvaro Salazar has the only restaurant on the island with two current Michelin stars. Born and raised in Linares, on mainland Spain, he opened Voro in 2019; the restaurant earned its first Michelin star in just seven months, and the second came in 2021.
Of course, there are numerous non-Michelin-starred experiences that are just as crucial to the Mallorcan dining experience. Some of the most delightful can be found at nearly any restaurant along the coast, overlooking the sea and serving fresh, or charms like Ca Na Toneta, located about 40 minutes north of Palma (or a five-minute drive from Fina Can Beneit), which is run by two sisters and specialises in zero-kilometre tasting menus (the onsite shop is a worthy destination in itself for its intricately woven straw bags, ceramics, and textiles). Or, in Palma, get a head start on a spot headed for Michelin-star acclaim: with Fera, which chef Simon Petutschnig opened in 2017. The upscale dining experience even features a coffee menu created by the Specialty Coffee Association as well as a tranquil garden setting in one of the city’s hidden courtyards.
This story was published via travelandleisure.com
Main and Feature Image Credit: Courtesy of Can Beneit