I did a double take at my GPS as my husband and I zipped past crowded beaches filled with reddening Europeans in varying states of undress, puzzled as to why driving to a romantic retreat on an island would have the beach slowly shrinking in my rearview mirror.
For most newlyweds, an island honeymoon is all about parking it in the sand with a fruity cocktail in hand and then not making a move until the line at the buffet dies down. But on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, the beach acts as the opening credits to a storyline filled with dramatic landscapes, romantic mountainside castles and sweetly perfumed breezes.
It took a matter of mere minutes after leaving the capital city of Palma before we were the lone car driving on the winding road leading up to the Castell Son Claret. As we wound our way past ancient olive groves, budding almond trees and acres of orange orchards, we began to feel entranced by the journey to this secluded retreat.
Now regarded as one of the premier honeymoon destinations, the Castell Son Claret sits on the site of a 15th-century castle at the foot of the Unesco World Heritage Site-designated Tramuntana mountain range. Over the years, the castle played host to a series of wealthy aristocrats and was once the home of Don Gabriel Claret, who consolidated the property into the 132-acre estate it is today. The hotel received a face-lift in the early 19th century, and it began welcoming guests in 2013 as a member of Leading Hotels of the World with 38 luxurious rooms and suites.
The Castell Son Claret's entrance is decorated with grand metal gates, which greeted us as we made our final turn onto the property, rolling our windows down along the palm-studded roadway to let in the fragrant scents of jasmine, bergamot and rose that perfumed the air. We were there to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and I couldn't help but relate what I felt as we drove down that path to what it felt like to walk down the aisle just eight years earlier.
The Castell Son Claret experience involves all the senses, and ambience and hospitality truly collide to offer a rare experience in the mountains of Mallorca. The hotel is home to a luxury spa specializing in relaxing treatments for two with the hotel's signature wellness concept "Bellesa de Claret" (the beauty of Claret) as well as the only restaurant in the Balearic Islands to receive two Michelin stars. Chef Fernando P. Arellano is the mastermind behind Zaranda, where his culinary team prepares decadent tasting menus paired with local and internationally renowned wines.
There's an undeniable feeling of being "let in" on a preciously kept secret in all aspects of the Castell Son Claret, where the discreet service and white-glove treatment extends to arranging VIP transport to and from the airport by car or helicopter or setting up predinner aperitifs on a private terrace for two, which is where we watched the sun slip behind the mountains each night before heading to dinner … sans buffet-line worries.
Rates at the hotel start at $366 for an Estate Double room. See http://castellson claret.com