Written for The Handbook.
Love Island season is upon us, which means that we’re all glued to the extended ad for Mallorca and/or botox that is ITV’s hit reality series. But there’s more to Mallorca than Caroline Flack, The Villa and Casa Amor, and whether you’re looking for a romantic break or a relaxing family holiday, your dreams are just a two-hour flight away. So, having recently visited Madeira and Malta, and as your self-appointed Special Correspondent for Islands Beginning With M (I’ve another 248 to go, I’m nothing if not a dogged reporter), I thought I should check it out.
SNOOZING – Find your Casa Amor
I stayed at the Zafiro Hotels in both Palma Nova and Alcúdia, both splendid five star hotels, and endlessly luxurious to the point that they may as well be a holiday destination in themselves. You’d really never need to leave and you’d still have an incredible week. But sun-lounging wasn’t the point of my trip!
Here, you can choose between a room with a front garden with a swim-up pool, a spacious family room or your very own rooftop jacuzzi (I know which I’d pick… (hint: it’s the pool)). With entertainment on offer for the kids, including a free babysitting service, you can take time out to soak up the sun, skip to the spa or scoff seafood in one of the hotel’s many restaurants.
BOOZING – Couple up (your wines with your food)
Once settled at Zafiro Palace, it was time to see Mallorca proper. Which obviously means finding somewhere to get a drink. There are a number of beautiful bodegas, or wine cellars, on the island, serving up delicious Mallorcan wine. My record was two wine tastings in one afternoon (no spitting, please).
At Bodega Ribas in Consell, alongside plenty of plates of tapas, we sampled my favourite wine of the trip: Sió, named after the owner’s grandmother. I am not really a red drinker, but I enjoyed the refreshing red almost as much as the white. The family-run (and, for most of its existence, women-run) winery is the oldest on the island and produces just 160,000 bottles of wine a year (not as many as it sounds)– so, if you do come across Sió in the UK, please drop me a line so I can stock up!
Our vineyard tour next took us to a nearby new, bodega, where we tried hand-bottled white and blue wines (yep, blue, no, I wasn’t that drunk) – alongside more plates of tapas. The owner informed us that Mallorcan wine is best drunk young – so, like true professionals, we don’t hang around.
Combined with the boozy (tapas) lunch prior to this, we were scarily close to hitching a ride to Magaluf… before checking ourselves (and instead succumbing to our food comas back at Zafiro Palace).
LOSING…? – The challenge
If you’ve eaten too many cals in Malls, the island is a hot spot for golf and cycling, with a full course next to Zafiro Alcúdia and bikes and mopeds available to hire from reception. For the super brave, the hotel even hosts the world’s biggest Iron Man once a year. I opted for the hotel spa instead…
CRUISING – You’re going on a date
Keen to see just how romantic the island can be I chartered a boat to take us out to sea for – you guessed it – more tapas. Once aboard the traditional llaut, named the San Francisco, I simply sunbathed and admired the turquoise waters while our lovely captain, Miguel, showed us the sights and kept our wine glasses filled between preparing fresh food. The ideal setting for a Love Island date. And possibly the ideal man…
GUZZLING – Don’t get paelled-off
As ever in Spain, the simplest, freshest food tastes the best. I can confidently say I have never eaten more food in one sitting than I did on every single day spent in Mallorca – and it was all fantastic (with a special shout-out to La Rosa Vermuteria in Palma and their countless numbers of Mallorcan vermouth).
My final meal on the island best sums up my experience of the trip. After a week of non-stop eating, we sat down in Zafiro’s El Olivio restaurant to lunch. The waiter brought over a bottle of Mallorcan olive oil, presenting it as a sommelier might offer a bottle of wine, before opening. In practiced style I offered a nod of knowledgeable approval, as if I had any idea about olive oil other than from Delia’s ‘How to Cook’. But it really was delicious and we kept dipping in, soaking it up like a spillage in aisle six (“Would you a side of bread with your olive oil?”, as my mother would mockingly comment).
Tapas dish after tapas was placed in front of us, and after a few days of constant assault my stomach had now expanded to enable me to gobble it all down like a pro. Believing I’d defeated the meal, suddenly out came another set of cutlery. Thinking “I can just get through dessert”, the chef appeared with what can only be described as a vat of lobsters. Well, who can say no to that? Apparently not me…
Finally, dessert is placed in front of us, almond sponge cake with almond ice cream and strawberries. Groaning I lumber up to the plate and hoover up every last crumb like I’m defeating the final boss on a video game.
Can anyone recommend a good PT…?
I know that Mallorca is about more than Love Island, but who should I meet at airport departures but Love Island’s very own Georgia Steel. Proving her loyalty to Mallorca at a photoshoot before jetting back to the UK. But despite the inevitable brush with the Island of Love, I discovered there was so much more to Mallorca. Having eaten enough to enter myself into the Guinness Book of World Records for amount of weight gained in five days, I’m probably unlikely to be invited on to actual Love Island any time soon. But, other than the lack of semi-naked hot lads flexing their muscles, I feel like my experience of this love island was pretty incredible. Book a room at Zafiro Palace now and never get voted off the island!
- Zafiro Palace Alcudia – Rates at Zafiro Palace Alcudia start from £160 in a Junior Suite. For more information or to book visit www.zafirohotels.com/en/zafiro-palace-alcudia
- Zafiro Palace Palmanova – Rates at Zafiro Palace Palmanova start from £205 in a Junior Suite. For more information or to book visit www.zafirohotels.com/en/hotels/zafiro-palace-palmanova