Make love not war at Cap Rocat’s former military fort, hidden on a cliff in a peaceful pocket of Palma bay. More heritage site than hotel, the fort’s defensive paraphernalia (drawbridge, bunkers, trenches) provide a dramatic setting for pared-down boutique bedrooms, a dazzling infinity pool and two tempting restaurants.
Staying in a 19th-century Spanish fort
Clifftop views of the sea and Palma
The restaurant, tennis courts and gardens
A bottle of cava in your room on arrival
In the know
Also need to know:
The stronghold was built to protect Spain from the US after American troops swooped on Cuba and the Philippines. Order breakfast in your room – a generous spread of fresh fruit, home-made pastries, cereals, yoghurts and jams will arrive at your door in a picnic hamper, and be set up at your table.
Binoculars for boat-spying; a yoga mat for daily sun salutations on the private patio; a waterproof camera; smart attire for dusk-time dining.
Military chic or fabulous fisherman: nautical stripes and gold frogging, or a splash of blue and a vivid coral necklace.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
‘Flesh-coloured shorts or naked?’ are the words that shake me out of my reverie as I gaze over the bay of Palma. We’re in the simple, stunning Sea Club restaurant, on our first day at the Cap Rocat. ‘Ah, naked!’ laughs a childishly jubilant Mr Smith, as a man plunges into the turquoise depths from the rocks below us. Fortunately this is not an indicator of the guests’ tendencies at the Cap Rocat, but a local man enjoying his dip au naturel. Even an exposed bottom cannot interrupt the calm sophistication which pervades this beautifully thought-through hotel perched on the cliff.
This air of discretion has its roots in the Cap Rocat’s original purpose as a key Spanish fortress. All but invisible from the sea (‘Rather the point, what with it being a fortress’, suggests an arch Mr Smith), it was built in the late 19th century. Its quirks draw you in to explore its nooks and crannies, carved out of the rocks from above. Military forts and a good night’s sleep don’t normally go hand in hand, but Cap Rocat’s seven-year refurbishment has taken the property from martial to mellow.
The Cap Rocat is a secret village of turrets, courtyards and bridges, artfully converted into a place of utter tranquillity and relaxation. As a result, the terrain is vertiginous in places (hence no kids under 15 – and watch the martinis), with sweeping vistas which were originally designed for cannons and soldiers but now provide the backdrop for the jaw-dropping infinity pool and suites’ terraces.
When we first arrived in Mallorca, and we approached the hotel along the private, pine-lined drive, a huge gate opened and we were met with huge open smiles – the first of many. Staff are all multilingual and courteous, making you feel immediately looked after. Thinking we’d stepped into a parallel universe sheltered from the tawdry preoccupations of daily life, our car and luggage were whipped away while we took coffee in the courtyard surrounded by the majestic, palm-frilled entrance turrets.
By the time we got to our suite – converted surprisingly airily under the arched roofs of the soldiers’ quarters – our pulses had slowed down so effectively that we were only moments away from sleep at any given time. This was helped by a silence broken only by birdsong and the breeze wafting through pine trees.
Stepping onto our terrace with loungers and a huge shaded bed overlooking the Med and mountains was a moment of genuine awe; was it wrong to start calculating which gin to order for the sunset hour, at 10am?
A little American-style golf buggy picks us up from our suite – they use a small fleet to ferry you about if relaxation has atrophied your leg muscles – and escorts us to a truly legendary lunch at Cap Rocat’s beachside diner, the Sea Club. Three magnificent fresh fish courses accompanied by rather too much rosé mean our tennis match that afternoon is a haze of laughter and round yellow escapees. Nadal needn’t watch his back.
There are bikes to borrow for the more adventurous (and sober), and the hotel thoughtfully offers guests the use of a straw beach bag, towels and hats for the beach. You can even take the hat home with you, if you really feel you can transport the tranquil mood of a bicycle ride for two along the shoreline to your commute along the Marylebone Road. Hey, it’s worth a try.
Dinner in the Fortress – the hotel’s main restaurant – is preceded by a rather punchy gin on the terrace (Mr Smith chuckles as I ask for a second tonic, so English). Surely the ideal end to a dream day is feasting on local scallops and pork cooked to perfection, washed down by a magnificent Majorcan wine recommended by our maitre d’?
Such is the wellness-inducing nature of the Cap Rocat that Mr Smith and I sleep the sleep of the just and wake up raring to go; he tackles some serious running routes around the headland (there’s a complimentary personal trainer each morning if you want a bit of encouragement), and I take a yoga class next to the infinity pool as the boats bob about beneath us in the bay. Now that’s what I call a yoga class.
There are fantastic places to visit outside Cap Rocat – Es Trenc beach is a short drive and has a great seafood restaurant overlooking the dunes and salt flats – but the hotel’s quirky, spacious feel and its many activities mean you might not even need to hire that car after all. The service is charming if a little slow at times, but who’s in a hurry? Just get the papers (delivered each morning), lay out the breakfast (one call brings a man in his buggy, laden with a basket of goodies and fresh juice and coffee to eat on your terrace), lounge on your sun-drenched outdoor four-poster and muse on how you can engineer a trip back to Cap Rocat in the near future. A pair of binoculars to gaze at the boats would complete the perfection. On second thought, though, that guy in the buff might still be there. Forget the binoculars, it’s perfect as it is.
Carretera de Enderrocat, s/n, Mallorca, Cala Blava, 07609
0.3 mi / 0.5 km from city centre
- Exercise gym
- On-Site parking
- Internet services
- Tennis court
- Room service
Linger over lunch or have a decadent dinner at La Fortaleza (the Fortress), set in one of the main pavilions (open from Tuesday to Saturday). The dining room is used during the winter months and inclement weather (tents will be added to the roof for alfresco dining in 2011). Food is Spanish/Mediterranean in character, with dishes such as pimientos al piquillo (red pepper with cod and an aioli dressing). During summer months, eat at sea level in the Sea Club, an open-air restaurant by the waterfront in the Queen’s Cove. Food here is more relaxed: zingy salads, pasta and grilled meat and seafood.
Eat on the roof under the shade of the Moroccan canopy, looking out to sea.
Lunch is served between 1pm and 3.30pm; dinner is 8pm until 11.30pm. Breakfast isn’t dished up at a set time, so let the hotel know when you’re likely to feel peckish. La Fortaleza is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
The 24-hour room service includes items from the Sea Club menu (1pm–3.30pm and 8pm–10.30pm) and cold snacks such as charcuterie, cheese, salads, sandwiches, fruit salad and cake (almond, with almond ice cream).
There’s no bar as such, but drinks can be sipped on any of the terraces or patios, or in one of the lounges from 8am until midnight.
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