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.
Noon, but flexible subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £401.05 (€446), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of €4.40 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include breakfast and non-motorised watersports equipment.
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.
The hotel closes at the end of October and reopens in March.
At the hotel
Gardens, clay tennis courts, gym, library including DVDs/CDs and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, CD player, minibar, espresso machine and free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
For sea views, book rooms starting with a 2 or 3; if you’d rather admire Palma bay and the mountains, book a room beginning with 4. Cap Rocat suites are former shooting pads, each with their own private patio and terrace.
The outdoor infinity pool overlooks the sea, flanked by cool and comfy white leather sun beds. Local plants including potted mastic trees and palms add shots of emerald to the scene.
Binoculars for boat-spying; a yoga mat for daily sun salutations on the private patio; a waterproof camera; smart attire for dusk-time dining.
The stronghold was built to protect Spain from the US after American troops swooped on Cuba and the Philippines.
Not-so-little Smiths (15 years plus) are welcome; the fortress’ architecture isn’t suited to tots. Extra beds are available at €162 a night, and the hotel has plenty of space for restless teens to roam around in.
Food is organic and locally sourced (fruit and vegetables are grown on site) and everything that can be is recycled. When the vegetation was planted, it was carefully matched to the terrain and climate, meaning a minimum of plant-watering.
Eat on the roof under the shade of the Moroccan canopy, looking out to sea.
Military chic or fabulous fisherman: nautical stripes and gold frogging, or a splash of blue and a vivid coral necklace.
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.
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.
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).
Palma’s city centre is a half-hour drive from the hotel. There's plenty of free parking on site.
Worth getting out of bed for
Borrow some rackets and balls and try out the clay tennis courts. The hotel provides snorkelling equipment, so you can explore the marine reserve. There’s a stash of mountain bikes for guests to wheel around on (ask staff for suggested routes). Cap Rocat also has a list of individually priced activities and experiences, including golf, sailing, deep-sea fishing, diving, horse riding, pilates, yoga, helicopter or boat charters and guided visits to local street markets, private villas or cultural hotspots. The fortress’ former kitchen is now used for private dining and cookery classes. Have a culinary lesson with chef Victor García; whip up a three-course meal then sit down to enjoy it over wine and coffee (€150 a person, plus tax). Palma is a 15-minute drive away – browse the boutiques for beachwear, have a wave-side lunch and finish off with cocktails in one of the glitzy bars.
Restaurante Panoramica (+34 971 740211) is a five-minute bike ride from Cap Rocat, at 29 Carreterra Paseo de las Damas, Cala Blava. Sit outside admiring the sea, and enjoy the unpretentious Mallorcan cuisine – fresh fish, paella – and Asian-inspired specials. For a meal with added romance, dine at the Smith-approved Ca’s Xorc (+34 971 638280) under the candlelit olive trees, at Carretera de Deia, Sóller. Es Moli de’n Bou (+34 971 569663) is a beachside restaurant with a Michelin star, at Carrer Liles, Sa Coma. Treats include morel mushrooms with onion cream, fish of the day with cocoa and almonds, tenderloin with asparagus and clams and partridge with aniseed broth and potato cream.
Sweet-tooths will love Ca’n Joan de s’Aigo (+34 971 710759) at 10 Calle Can Sanç. This Mallorca institution has been going strong since the 17th century – one bite of the fluffy pastries and a sip of the rich hot chocolate make it clear why.
For a romantic pre-dinner drink, head to Abaco (+34 971 714939) at 1 Calle Sant Joan in La Lonja. Dress up for the opulent cocktail bar, set in a stylishly converted townhouse, and sip cocktails in the flower-filled courtyard.
‘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.