Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Gearing Up to Explore a Gem of Majorca ; Relaxing by the Beach Suits David Lafferty for a Day, but Then He Is Itching to Get on His Bike in Formentor

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Gearing Up to Explore a Gem of Majorca ; Relaxing by the Beach Suits David Lafferty for a Day, but Then He Is Itching to Get on His Bike in Formentor

Article excerpt

THERE are many jewels in Majorca's undoubtedly glittering crown but the one that shines the brightest is tucked away in the island's farthest flung corner.

While many visitors opt for the busy resorts around Palma, those in the know head across the island as quickly as possible to the solitude of its most spectacular outcrop - Formentor. Situated in the far northern corner of the largest of the popular Balearic Islands, Formentor is a rugged, wild expanse of rock rising spectacularly out of the sea promising solitude for the hardy soul willing to brave the - at times harrowing - journey to witness it in all its glory.

This is God's country and it's easy to see why royals, film stars and rock stars and even a certain Winston Churchill have beaten a path to its door.

Formentor is around an hour's drive from Palma airport and, after a flat trip across the interior of the island, the road rises dramatically after passing through Puerto Pollensa before dropping down sharply around some tight hairpins to the wonderfully isolated Barcelo Formentor hotel.

The location of this 1920s gem is serene, perfectly nestled among the trees of the gentle slopes of Formentor Bay and facing directly across the wide expanse of the sea to the distant walled town of Alcudia.

The beautiful beach is reminiscent of the fine expanses of sand seen around the Caribbean.

The Barcelo Formentor hotel is famous for being one of the finest hotels on Majorca and justifiably so. Peter Ustinov was a regular visitor for 30 years, perhaps inspired by Agatha Christie's mention of the hotel in the story that gives the title to her collection Problem at Pollensa Bay, which she wrote in 1939.

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier enjoyed part of their honeymoon here, and if it's peace and relaxation you're after then this is the place for you - plus the food is simply stunning.

We dined next to Pete Townshend of The Who and his partner Rachel on our first night and enjoyed their company after dinner.

It seemed completely normal at the time, given the setting, but most bizarre looking back at our encounters with a rock legend.

Despite the grandeur and setting, I can only do relaxation for so long before I start getting itchy feet and my urge to explore rises to the fore.

I'm a keen cyclist and, fully aware that Bradley Wiggins, below, and his British teammates regularly use the area as a winter training base, I couldn't resist taking to two wheels myself.

This part of Majorca is set up brilliantly for cyclists. A company called Pro Cycle Hire in Puerto Pollensa will deliver you a top quality bike and even set it up for you if you send them your measurements.

The owner Bruce is incredibly knowledgeable and happy to pass on information about routes around the island.

The bike they sent me was a top quality carbon model and worth more than my car. …

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