The vision of Lycra stretched tight as a drum over bulging biceps and lithe limbs appears to have a special place in the hearts of Mallorcans.
You can’t escape them. The cyclists.
Spokes whirl at a blistering speed, backs hunch over in a brace position, head down, eyes forward.
Ambition and drive unparalleled. Sweat pools in the naves of necks as they cling precariously to the vertical roads of the Serra de Tramuntana Mountain range. A UNESCO world heritage site and the backbone of the Spanish island of Mallorca, also the European cycling mecca.
Soaring peaks and rural landscape shape the route as the peloton colourfully glides through quaint towns and villages. Passing gnarly olive trees and remnants of Arab irrigation systems that also creep distinctively through the mountains. The Arabs also terraced the mountainous landscape, and cultivated lemon, orange, and almond plantations. They were responsible for building the famous dry walls that form the backdrop of a well-deserved pitstop.
Civilisation begins to dawn when you reach the historic town of Calvià. The timeless ochre-coloured houses nestle among almond trees. The land is dry and arid yet farming remains a priority. Many of the buildings date to the 17th century. Some, including ruins of a Roman villa are much older. The church of Sant Joan Baptista built around the remains of the original 13th century church give this place a special charm.
Slightly further along is the miniature town of Es Capdellà. Taking a sharp right through the village, the mushroom shaped green treetops swim into view contrasting with the sandy coloured farmland.
Before long, the driveway for Castell Son Claret rises from the dust like a sweet mirage in the desert.
You have arrived.
In less than 30 minutes from Palma Airport. Unless of course you came by bicycle.
The palm trees salute you, flowers curtesy if they could. The driveway is flanked by them and curated hedgerows.
In the distance, the turrets of the castle mark the manor. Wooden shutters frame the iconic windows. The balconies conjure romantic images of Romeo and Juliet.
A traditional livestock water trough remains at the entrance. Your sign to stop and rest for a while.
Mario at reception greets you with infectious enthusiasm.
This type of infection is good.
After checking in, a glass of ice-cold home-made lemonade is offered on the terrace at Olivera restaurant. Your first glimpse of the spectacular hospitality to come.
Before long stories begin to tumble out about the former 19th century castle. First mentioned in 1450, it was five distinct properties until in the 1800’s when Don Gabriel Claret decided to unite the properties and Castell Son Claret was born. Now there are seven buildings with the manor house at its core.
In 2013, Christine and Klaus-Michael Kühne completed extensive renovations and the Castell opened as a luxury resort, one of the biggest private estates in Mallorca.
Located on 326 acres at the foot of “Puig de Galatzó” peak, you are at the epicentre of nature. Red Kite birds of prey swoop overhead, angled wings, and forked tails gracefully commanding respect.
Silence is only broken by the melodic sound of ringing in the distance.
No, not cyclists.
Bells hang around the necks of sheep belonging to local farmers. They roam such a vast area that bells are needed to keep the family together.
The same could be said for Castell Son Claret. A luxurious retreat for the family beckons.
There are 19 suites and 22 rooms differing in size and layout.
All have spectacular views either of the estate, the perfectly manicured gardens, pool, or mountains. Be king or queen of the manor or lay your head in the garden suites and be metaphorically rocked to sleep by the dreamy smells of orange, rose and jasmine.
The choice is yours.
The Tower Suite is the jewel in the crown. Situated in the Manor house, it has a terrace with views stretching as far as the coast. Turning the heavy key in the lock, no modern plastic keys here, opens a world of delights. A gift of freshly baked bread, condiments and cava are there to celebrate your arrival. There is a separate living area, dining area, and a free-standing bath with views over the garden.
Staying traditional, the room is fresh in subtle cream complemented by regal dark wood. There is even a straw beach bag for your books and lotions. The bathroom is furnished with Ren toiletries, even sleep mist, which dare I say it, is redundant here.
Sleep comes easy.
If you find for some reason it doesn’t, there is plenty to tire you out. Swim a couple of lengths of the pool, smash a few tennis balls, lace up and go for a trek or squeeze into Lycra and take a bicycle for a spin. For the less energetic, venture to the Spa Bellesa de Claret. It not only offers treatments that instil calmness and serenity but a wellness area, featuring a sauna, steam room, and an indoor pool.
Food is the linchpin at Castell Son Claret.
There are two superb restaurants. The first, Olivera, led by chef Pep Forteza, creates earthy local dishes such as Mallorcan lamb shoulder followed by lemon cake with blueberries sourced from the land.
This is also where breakfast is served. If you are an early riser, you will be enchanted by the aroma of fresh homemade bread being baked in the ovens.
The second creates gourmet cuisine fit for Royalty. Sa Clastra, or ‘courtyard’ in Mallorcan, is led by the talented Jordi Cantó. Jordi harnesses his imagination to create two tasting menus, both paying homage to the island and the travels that inspire him. Dine on octopus, rabbit, pigeon, and desserts that seem best placed on the wall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The outdoor space for Sa Clastra is equally impressive. You dine in a 1500 century courtyard, where cattle, horses and sheep once mingled. The crisp white linen tablecloths are lit up by soft yellow light reflecting off the manor walls. Tableware is specially commissioned blown red glass.
On the table rests a gold lemon. Handpicked from the trees in the garden and lovingly painted. It could well have been a pomegranate; they too grow in abundance here.
A well in the centre formerly hydrated the homestead. Now serving trays rest on it. Numbers chiseled on the wall high above the entrance are a marker of time. ‘Avio 1888’. If only walls could talk, the stories could fill many a library.
Of which there is one, a library. Just to the right of the courtyard, past the grand piano and the bar. Books by Francis Bacon, and Philip Roth can be thumbed through while enjoying a digestif.
That is if you have sufficient room. Sebastian, the award-winning sommelier, ensures you have the most sublime wine to accompany your food. His knowledge knows no bounds. Even with 600 wines to choose from, he will know the perfect one.
You too will know the perfect one, Castell son Claret.
No bicycle needed.
Estate double rooms at Castell Son Claret are priced from Euro 550 per room per night. Rates include daily breakfast, tax and service.
For more information visit Castell Son Claret