Not far away, on a sun-kissed island, you will find a rural idyll surrounded by nature and unhindered by the outside world. The island is Mallorca, the rural idyll is the Monnaber Nou Eco Boutique Hotel.
Avid readers of Great Golf will already know that there is no island like Mallorca. With over twenty golf courses on a land mass that you can drive from end to end in about an hour, you are never going to be short of choice.
So, maybe the real question is not whether you will find a good golf course, but where you will base yourself while visiting this myriad of possibilities. And if you are looking for something of a more rural nature, somewhere that may give you a different perspective, then the Monnaber Nou Eco Hotel, set in the stunning Mallorca countryside, is a very good choice.
LIKE A ZORRO MOVIE. I arrive in the late afternoon having driven directly from Palma airport. Within 25 minutes I leave the motorway and find myself on small, rural roads for the final part of my journey. It’s well signposted and within no time I am making my way up the long drive to the hotel.
Like something out of a Zorro movie, the hotel, which is converted from an traditional finca, appears before me. I can almost make out Catherine Zeta-Jones at the window awaiting my return. The sound of bells and the bleating emanating from the sheep in the fields next to the drive only add to the authenticity; the animals sit in the shade under the olive and fig trees, waiting for the day to cool.
I make my way to the hotel reception, which is located through a traditional-style courtyard complete with central well, where I am warmly welcomed by the owner, Francisco Mayordomo Siquier. I am almost disappointed when he does not appear sporting a flowing cape and black mask.
The property, complete with its surrounding land, has been in Francisco’s family since his grandfather bought it in the 50’s. In 1994, the family took on the monumental task of restoring what was then a rundown building in order to create what you see today: a unique, rural hotel set in stunning surroundings. The property oozes authenticity and character.
SON GUAL. Located 20 minutes south of my hotel is Son Gual Golf Course. It’s on my list to visit even though I am concentrating on the northern section of the island; nothing is any great distance away here, and it is a great course. The first hole is a favourite of mine -- a par-4 from a tee on the hill with a shot into the valley -- it always puts a smile on my face.
Even though the course is close to the flight path for the main airport, you can forgive the noise as it is such a joy to play. The borders of many of the fairways are home to grapevines and contorted olive trees. The clubhouse is modern and sitting out on the terrace after a round is just as important as the game itself. All in all, well worth a visit.
THE CAPITAL. After my round, I make my way to the capital, Palma. It would be a shame not to experience this historic city with its cathedral looking out over the bay. It’s swelteringly hot and after a brief look around I’m in need of shelter from the sun.
It’s very apparent just how important the trees planted along the main streets are, creating much-needed shade from the intense heat. After a bit of window shopping, another coffee is called for at one of the many cafes lining the shaded streets.
ON THE BIKE TRAIL. As well as being a bit of a Mecca for golf, the other form of recreation that this sunny isle is known for is cycling holidays. The island has become the must-visit location for those looking to spend a few days in the saddle.
So, more golf courses than you could possibly wave a putter at and an environment perfect for cycling; this sounds like a good combination. Sure enough, the next day I find myself on a bike and heading off into the countryside.
There are defined cycle routes here and it really is the only way to travel. Over twenty years have passed since I last found myself on two wheels, so my mission today is to make it around the route mapped out for me without the need for an ambulance or a search party.
It becomes clear very quickly just how serious Mallorca’s population take this newly found niche market. The few cars that I do encounter seem to have the utmost respect for their two-wheeled compatriots and take the greatest care when overtaking or passing. Compare this to the UK where this pastime involves taking your life in your own hands.
NEED FOR SPEED. There are two types of cycling tourist on the roads of Mallorca: the diehard enthusiast, identifiable by their state-of-the-art bikes and tight clothing, and the regular holidaymakers who just want to go at a leisurely pace and enjoy the view. Both seem to be having fun and I take no exception when a group of lycra-clad speed freaks pass me at somewhere close to double my pace.
The villages that I go through are just stunning and I have to make a concerted effort to limit my stops for café con leche. Even though it’s a hot day, the air blowing past me as I cycle keeps me cool.
I return to the hotel several hours later, slightly saddle sore but content with my morning's exploits. Time to throw myself in the swimming pool!
ALCANADA. A trip to Mallorca without a round of golf at Alcanada would be like going to Rome and not visiting the Coliseum, so I arrive here fully intent on not missing this opportunity. The last time I visited, I managed to pick the only rainy day for months, so I intend to make good use of the clear, blue skies.
Set on a peninsula near Alcudia, this course has it all: mountains and sea. On that fateful rainy day, I managed to lose a ball in the ravine protecting the green on the first hole. I learnt my lesson and this time play safe by laying up well before.
For me it’s all about surroundings and the quality of the course, both of which Alcanada has in buckets. A cool breeze coming off the bay is a welcome addition as the temperate hits over thirty degrees Centigrade. The front nine winds its way into the mountain and then back again towards the clubhouse giving me some fantastic views over the bay, especially from the tee on the seventh, a par-5 downhill towards the sea.
CAPDEPERA. A visit to the town and golf course of Capdepera, just twenty minutes east of Alcanada, is well worth the time. This beautiful town is dominated by a castle on the top of a hill with the town cascading down around it. If you have the time, a walk up the cobbled streets to this imposing structure is well worth it.
The golf course is located just a few miles west, with the Serra de Llevant mountains as a picturesque backdrop. It is a well-kept course, pleasant to play and has plenty to test any golfer. The first twelve holes span out across the plain to the front of the clubhouse, while the remaining six take you into the foothills.
GOLF POLLENCA. It’s been a whirlwind three days, but there is still one location that I must check out. Rumour has it that a charming nine hole course has slipped my attention. So it’s with interest that I drive north to visit Golf Pollença near the town of the same name. And what a worthwhile trip it is.
Golf Pollença was opened in 1986 and was originally designed by José Gancedo. Further work was carried out in 2000 by Michael Pinner from the Nicklaus Group. This small but perfectly formed course fits snugly into its surroundings with panoramic views over the Serra de Tramuntana mountains and the bay of Pollença and Alcudia. With the clubhouse perched above on the hill and the course winding its way into the valley below, this is a hidden gem.
The views to the sea in the distance are fantastic and I can just about make out the location of Alcanada. The course may not be as pristine as its contemporary further around the bay, but it is a wonderful course. Yes, the paths are in need of repair, but it is a real joy to play and a must visit if staying at nearby Monnaber.
So, what is the real appeal of Mallorca? Well, it really comes down to what you want from a holiday. But one of the things that I really do love is the fact that this Spanish Isle has a style of its own. Everything is reachable and the road system is good, the courses are not crowded and the villages and countryside are charming. Furthermore, there seems to be something here for everyone.
For a short break or a long holiday, it may be worth remembering that Mallorca, only 1 hour and 50 minutes away, could have exactly what you are looking for.
On the north-eastern coast of Mallorca lays Cap Vermell, a luxury resort ideal for those looking to get away from it all. With white sandy beaches and several excellent golf courses on your doorstep, this might be the perfect place to buy a property in the sun…