David Holzer has lunch at Belmond La Residencia, the much-loved bohemian luxury hotel in the heart of Deiá and is delighted to find its unique atmosphere unchanged after lockdown.
I was unprepared for the emotion I felt as I strolled up towards Belmond La Residencia to meet Hanna Bornebusch, the hotel’s PR Manager and my friend for lunch earlier this week.
After a soft shower of rain, the skies had cleared apart from the occasional wispy cloud of the kind that you only ever seem to see in Mallorca. The hotel and garden were looking gorgeous.
It turns out that I’m not the only one greeting the reopening of this Deià institution with an outpouring of feeling.
‘I’m so touched that people on the island see us as a reference point for cultural events,’ Hanna said. ‘I’d never realised how important we were to them.’
This led to her reminding me that another Deià institution, the Pa Amb Oli Band, would have been playing on the lawn this very Friday. We had a moment of silence as we remembered the glorious racket the band had made in previous years.
‘Next year,’ I said, and left the rest unfinished.
I asked Hanna what safety measures the hotel has taken. ‘Like everybody else in the sector we had to do our homework to comply with government regulations and those of the Belmond Group,’ she told me.
I could see that. A charming lady in a security guard’s uniform took my temperature before I entered the hotel. There were copious amounts of hand sanitiser. Instead of menus, each table has a QR code for your phone to scan so a PDF of the menu can be downloaded.
In spite of that, or maybe because of it, the hotel felt very safe. Actually, it felt the same as it always has done. Enchanting.
‘That’s good to know,’ Hanna said. ‘We’re aiming to create a safe environment in a relaxed atmosphere. In the same way that we’re all about informal, bohemian luxury.’
Our thoughts turned to the future. We agreed that, hard lesson that it is, covid-19 has obliged everyone connected to the tourism industry in Mallorca to think about how the model could be changed.
Before the virus, many of us felt that tourism to the island had to be managed to be much more in harmony with the natural resources that are the reason people want to come here.
During the months of lockdown, nature flourished at Belmond La Residencia.
The gardens, floral and vegetable were a riot of colour. Although a small core team was holding the fort the hotel had some temporary guests of the four-legged kind.
‘We had sheep wandering among the sun loungers and our donkeys munching the grass on the front lawn. We even had goats on the roof on a couple of occasions,’ Hanna said.
The appreciation of nature is expressed in two art and nature-oriented experiences Belmond La Residencia is offering guests this summer.
A young Deià artist is offering a painting masterclass on the cliffs above Cala Deià, guiding guests as they capture the glorious view of the unique Mediterranean sunlight sparkling on the ocean.
Another fantastic new experience that takes in magical sea views is a trip to Sa Bassa Blanca, a remarkable museum of contemporary art devoted to the work artists Yannick Vu and Ben Jacober and the artists they have collected.
I’ve heard great things about Sa Bassa Blanca and it’s long been on my ‘things to see’ list so I wholeheartedly recommend you sign up.
For now, I can only say that if anything is worth travelling for this summer it must surely be the homemade Mallorcan almond cake with almond ice cream taken on the terrace of Belmond La Residencia’s Café Miró restaurant overlooking the lush hotel garden.