Stroll through Deia, heading out towards Soller, and you won’t be able to miss Belmond La Residencia, or ‘the Resi’ as it’s affectionately known by locals.
Although the Resi has extended its hospitality to an impressive number of A-list Hollywood stars, rock and rollers and other kinds of movers and shakers, the “luxury boutique” hotel prides itself on being part of Deia life.
“We’re definitely a luxury hotel dedicated to offering excellent cuisine to the highest standard and employing superbly-trained people,” says Louise Davis, the hotel’s PR manager. “But, we’re also proud to possess a certain kind of bohemian quirkiness. Our relationship with the Deia artists is a major part of this.”
Art from the start
The Resi had an art collection from 1984, pretty much from the moment this sensitively converted pair of 16th and 17th century manor houses set in 30 acres of terraced olive and citrus groves opened its doors. (I have been told that it was painter Mati Klarwein, resident in Deia for many years, who was responsible for the hotel’s first ever guests but I have no idea if that’s true or not.)
This connection with art came about because then owner Axel Ball was friends with the Deia painter George Sheridan, who sadly died in 2008. Axel set aside a small room in the hotel for exhibitions and the tradition of supporting the Deia artists began.
This summer’s visual delights
For many years, the hotel has offered a year-round programme of exhibitions in its art gallery – Sa Tafona. In September, there will be an exhibition of works by Joan Miro, the Catalan painter who lived in Mallorca for many years and who was a friend of poet Robert Graves.
The Bi-Annual George Sheridan Painting Prize Collective exhibition is curated by Cecilie Sheridan, George’s wife. This year, the exhibition runs from 26 June to 22 July and it will be the fourth since George’s death.
For a more laidback aesthetic experience, the Resi offers Artists on the Lawn every Monday when local artists show their work in the hotel’s exquisitely landscaped gardens.
Walking and talking art with Cecilie
Cecilie Sheridan also organises Walk and Talk Art Tours around Deia when she introduces guests to artists who have studios in the village. Along the way, Cecilie shares her fascinating knowledge of the village and its history.
The tours came about because, Louise explains, “We’re well aware that one of the reasons people like to stay with us is because we’re in the centre of the village. They’re intrigued by the place and want to know more.” She continues, “It’s easy for our guests to wander down to Sa Fonda, the bar in the middle of the village, listen to music, maybe dance or just hang out. On any night of the summer, you might find a couple of rock and rollers or an international fashion designer chatting away happily to a local while a DJ has everyone dancing. It’s a fantastic atmosphere, effortlessly laidback and bohemian in a way very few places really are.”
But back to the hotel. The Resi has one of the largest permanent sculpture gardens in Spain and the collection is growing all the time. Juan Waelder, the curator is sculptor in residence at the Resi.
For guests who’d like to exercise or rediscover their own artistic flair, the Resi also offers classes spanning painting, sculpture or ceramics.
Ultimately, when many of us think of Deia, art immediately springs to mind. So, it’s to the Resi’s credit that the hotel plays such an active part in helping to maintain the tradition of art in the village and support the Deia artists in the way it does.
David Holzer is a freelance writer who has been coming to Deia for almost 20 years. Apart from loving the village, he is fascinated by the – without being too pretentious – cultural history and significance of Deia.