Author Archives: Luke Durden

About Luke Durden

Travel and gastronomy are my passions. Love discovering new destinations, hotels, restaurants, wines...Living on the magical island of Majorca and enjoying it!

Mallorcan Easter

Mallorca is transformed in Holy Week. The island is filled with tradition and celebrations in one of the most important and most solemn religious festivals in Spain. At Sol Hotels we want you to discover the alternative charm of this festival in which emotion and passion come together in the form of religious processions and representations. With the recent opening of our hotels Sol Katmandu Park and Sol Beach House, we want to invite you to give yourself the treat that you have been waiting for with us.

Get to know a totally different side of Mallorca at Easter with . At this time of year, the island looks completely different as it celebrates one of its most important and different festivals. The streets are filled with processions in a celebration that pays homage to the Passion of Christ.

This traditional festival has its origins in the fifteenth century, when lay groups came together to re-live the Passion of Christ as a way of experiencing the pain that Christ suffered during the last years of his life. From that time, these groups took to the streets and organized processions in which they paraded showing religious figures and representing biblical passages such as the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. Over time this custom began to acquire a theatrical quality that spread throughout the country with the intention of expressing the faith and spreading the Christian message.

The celebration begins on Palm Sunday, the week before the official start of Holy Week, in a procession in which children and families carry palm leaves. The festive atmosphere becomes solemn on Good Friday, when Christ’s Crucifixion is represented in La Seu, Palma’s Cathedral. The processions cover the main streets of the capital and the towns, the most important being Crist de la Sang – Christ of the Blood – celebrated on Holy Thursday, the Holy Burial, Good Friday and the Holy Encounter, a very emotional procession in which the risen Christ meets with his mother Mary.

‘Santo Domingo’, or ‘Domingo del Angel’, is reserved for the well-known “pancaritats”, a traditional ritual when, in the past, bread was distributed amongst the poor. Today, lots of families and groups of friends get together in the imposing Bellver Castle to eat together and enjoy a full day of outdoor activities.

Get to know this festival’s whole tradition and its delicious cuisine, with us. Stay in our hotels and enjoy an unforgettable stay while you get to know the very different side of ‘the island of calm’.

Discover Palma de Mallorca in Winter

Mallorca, is an island gently swayed by the waves of the Mediterranean, where each of its beaches and magical sunsets are their own piece of paradise. Who would not want to get lost in these beautiful coves and stunning landscapes?

With 300 days of sunshine per year, this Mediterranean jewel is a treasure that everyone wants to discover. Known to most people as a destination to visit during the summer, we wanted to talk today about the magic that you can experience here in winter. From the famous capital of Palma, to the most symbolic towns and areas of natural beauty. Prepare the camera for the incredible beauty that will take your breath away!

A walk through the capital

The city of Palma has many secrets that are worth discovering with a pleasant walk through the historic centre of the city. Beautiful places such as the Cathedral, the Town Hall Square, the Plaza Mayor and the busy Ramblas, are attractive examples of Mallorcan architecture and tradition, which also make excellent places to relax during the afternoon.

The charming traditional markets and the improvised performances of urban swing that take place in certain areas of the city centre form an alternative side to the Mallorcan capital.

A passage through the villages of the Tramuntana

Declared a World Heritage by UNESCO, the Sierra de Tramuntana is the natural wonder of Mallorca. Of course, the towns that are located around the mountain range are equally as stunning.

The magic of Esporles, Valldemossa, Deià and Fornalutx captures the visitors imagination from the first time you set your eyes on it. A traditional arròs brut (Meat & rice), or a porcella rostida (lechona) (suckling pig) are some of the most important dishes to try from these mountain villages.

Sóller Train

Following the route through the towns of the Serra Tramuntana, you can enjoy the journey by taking the Sóller train which cannot be missed off your list of essentials. The beautiful wooden train that connects the city of Palma with the picturesque town of Sóller, in a journey through the most symbolic landscape of Mallorca.

A tour of the best viewpoints

Mallorca is full of postcard worthy landscapes. The viewpoints of Cap de Formentor, Puig de Randa, Na Foradada and the Tower of Ses Ànimes become a must see, from which you can get the best views out over this magical island in the Mediterranean

Where to stay in Mallorca?

For those who have chosen this alternative visit to Mallorca, the Sol Hotels chain offers all the services and facilities needed to enjoy a wonderful stay in Palma de Mallorca. Discover all the Sol Hotels options, such as Sol Kathmandu Park and Sol House, both perfect for exploring the island on your holiday.

A dream route through the north of Mallorca

There are places where the quicksilver drops dramatically as September arrives, and then there are places like Mallorca: a kind destination in terms of climate where a very comfortable temperature prevails all the way until the first week of November. I can be trusted when state this, because as those who read my blog regularly will know, I have been in love with the island for many years now.

Since summer has to be sent off in style (so we won’t miss it too soon), I’ve decided to cross the Mediterranean yet again – always beautiful and so very turquoise – to enjoy a couple of relaxing days with family in the northern part of Mallorca. The reason? Filling ourselves up on island magic, experiencing first hand the rich nature that characterises the northern part of the largest of the Balearic islands.

Although I’ve gone for hotels in the south and the east when I’ve been to Mallorca in the past, this September I’ve gone for the experience of Garden Hotels, a leading brand on Mallorca with famous hotels such as the Playa Garden Selection Hotel Spa and the Cala Millor Garden Hotel, our choice for this mini holiday.

Since this is a three-day trip (more than enough, taking into account the fact that my family and I already know the island well) we’ve already made a plan and lined up all the visits we’ll make and routes we’ll take, to make sure there’ll be time for everything we want to do (yes, for sleep too). If you fancy getting to know the north of the island during a long weekend, this is my schedule for those days:

Albufera Alcudia

A route through the S’Albufera Natural Parc

Apart from being the largest wetland on Mallorca and one of the most interesting natural parks throughout the country, the S’Albufera National Park plays a fundamental role in the island ecosystem.

It’s a park located between Playa de Muro and Alcudia (at the very north) where you can find plants and animals native to the Balears and where you can spend an amazing day with your family walking along trails showcasing all the wealth provided by mother nature.

Beach life in Son Serra de Marina and sports in Playa de Muro

Far from being the typical Mallorcan beach with fine, white sand, the beach at Son Serra de Marina is a natural paradise well worth enjoying. It’s a very clean, extensive and natural beach showing you that authentic side of things so highly praised by those of us who consider ourselves ‘Mallorca Lovers’. Since we are fond of long days on the beach in my family, this beach plan basically just contemplates a meal at one of the beach bars in the area; there are many of them, and they are very good.

As there will be time left over we’ve decided to spend a couple of hours doing water sports in Playa Muro. The kids love kayaking and I love paddle surf so we’ll try to bring the hobbies together and then put the icing on the cake with a paella at La Ponderosa.

 

Fuerteventura and golf, a successful combination

If you are looking for something completely new and entertaining for your next holiday, take note of our summer suggestion: what about a golf holiday on Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands? If it were up to us, the answer would be a resoundingly loud and clear “Yes, that’s exactly what I want”.

We are of course aware of the fact that the southern and eastern parts of our country are the favourite destinations for all those who practise golf, but actually there are other places, like  Fuerteventura, where you can experience a relaxing holiday filled with golfing pleasure. Fuerteventura is an emerging destination in this area of sports tourism and it really is a destination to consider, thanks to aspects that we are highlighting this month:

A place where you can disconnect

Thanks to its location, climate and peculiar atmospheric pressure, the island of Fuerteventura is a destination where you can experience first hand the pleasures of the dolçe far niente – the joy of doing nothing. It also makes enjoying any outdoor activity a fantastic experience.

Campo de golf

The magic of a unique landscape

Considered one of the crown jewels of the Canary Islands, Fuerteventura is proud to offer visitors a unique landscape where there is no shortage of volcanic formations and extremely beautiful beaches.

These two aspects have been well taken advantage of by the main golf hotels in the area. The result? 18-hole golf courses with truly magical views.

A thousand and one plans for day and night

Fuerteventura is a place to enjoy a thousand and one plans during the day as well as at night, and not all of it is going to be playing golf. Among the ideas we would like to point out especially are the volcanic hiking routes and water sports sessions in the beautiful Atlantic ocean.

Where to stay in Fuerteventura?

Just like on the other islands that make up the Canarian archipelago, Fuerteventura is a place where hotels offer maximum quality. There is a range of hotels that boast lovely views near the sea or a direct link to golfing (a theme that we’re paying special attention to this month).

Even if there is a variety of gold hotels offering good value for money, this month of July we would like to recommend these three hotels that belong to the Mallorcan chain IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts: IBEROSTAR Fuerteventura Palace, IBEROSTAR Playa Gaviotas and IBEROSTAR Playa Gaviotas Park.

Three magical ways of getting married on Mallorca

May is the greenest and prettiest month of the year and temperatures stay around 26, 27 degrees. These two facts, and much more besides, have led to the number of people getting married on one of the 31 days available getting higher and higher every year. A wedding in May might be a guarantee for success (because good weather during the event is basically inevitable), but there are other crucial decisions that have to be made. The most important one? The choice of destination.

Contrary to what used to be populars some years ago, more and more couples decide to leave their towns and cities to celebrate their wedding in a warmer destination, on the beach, or somewhere they can get that ‘special something’ they are looking for. Looking for the ideal location takes time, so how about choosing a destination where any kind of wedding can be accommodated? If the answer is “yes” then start packing, because we’re going to Mallorca to get married.

Son Marroig, Mallorca

A wedding at sea

Mallorca is an island and as such it features numerous little bays, many of them extremely beautiful, so why not get married on a boat with the island at its most beautiful as a backdrop? Even if it might sound like something out of a film, or a marriage for the wealthy, the truth is that the number of boats on offer on the island is that extensive that you can find boats for 20 or 30 people (with skipper) at a very affordable price.

You could just go by what your wedding planner recommends, but keep an eye out for locations such as Cala Figuera, Es Trenc, Calvià Bay or perhaps Palma Bay itself (with the spectacular cathedral in the background).

With the Tramuntana Mountains as witnesses

The Tramuntana mountain chain is without a doubt a winning choice, and an ideal recommendation for all those who would like to pronounce their “I do” in an arcadian, intimate and very special atmosphere: fields of green as they can only be seen here on Mallorca, and grand Mallorcan estates where you can celebrate a high-quality wedding. The second option is getting increasingly popular (and it’s actually cheaper than setting up everything for a wedding on the beach, from scratch).

The beach, the most sought-after location

Everyone knows how beautiful Mallorca’s beaches are, so this is the favourite setting for more bohemian couples. The fact that most of the island’s beaches are public makes this option slightly more expensive than the others. But if you choose to get married on the beach and accept the associated charges, you will (for sure) experience the most beautiful event of your life.

Perfect hotels to accommodate your wedding guests

The fact that guests pay for the trip and the hotel when attending a wedding isn’t a reason to look for something low quality to get a low price. Mallorca has hundreds of quality hotels and it’s also a location where there are hotel chains of the highest level, able to offer high-quality accommodation.

Our recommendation for your wedding guests? Choose a chain with pedigree, such as Garden Hotels. This chain not only offers accommodation alternatives such as Garden Holiday Village, it also has true gems on offer such as the beautiful Playa Garden Selection Hotel Spa.

 

Gran Isla Hotels, the ‘family-friendly’ brand that has revolutionised Mallorca

Travellers, tour operators and agents in the tourism sector, all fully agree that the island of Mallorca is a place of reference within the international tourism network.

A mature, high-quality destination that has managed to combine the international expansion of big hotel brands (brands made in Mallorca) with a risky – but highly original and successful – bet on younger, and very well-prepared, hotel groups. Groups such as Gran Isla, a ‘family-friendly‘ brand with Mallorcan character and DNA that has jumped into the pool with a risky, but perfect project.

What’s behind this business project, and why is it spoken about to such an extent on and outside the island? This month we will try to highlight the winning points of this colourful, family-friendly and unique project.

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The first themed hotel on Mallorca

Even if the sector knew what was being prepared in the corporate kitchens of Gran Isla, the residents of Santa Ponça (the beach destination where the main hotels of the brand are taking shape) they couldn’t believe their eyes: an amazing hotel with a façade full of images and shapes, like a pirate ship with treasure chests, cannons and giant skulls.

Yes, we’re talking about Pirates Village Apartments, a project created by Gran Isla that proved a success from the day it opened its doors. The hotel is located on one of the most beautiful beaches in Calvià. Families are treated with utmost care and attention to details here, something that’s particularly obvious when you look at it from a child’s perspective. The family rulers are extra happy here. And of course they are! Could there be anything better than to sleep in a pirate’s bed, or have rudders and sails in the bedroom? Not if you ask the kids.

A place where you don’t have to worry about a thing

Twenty-five years in the hospitality sector has given Gran Isla the experience necessary to really hit the mark with another of their family hotels. We’re talking about Jutlandia Family Resort. A resort located less than 300 metres from the beach in Santa Ponça where absolutely nothing is left to chance and where the idea is to transform family holidays into days filled with pleasure, relaxation and fun topped with incredible views.

Apart from its incredible pools and the exclusive family menu, the resort also has a Kids Club 2.0: a space created for children where there are daily workshops, family games, film screenings, computer rooms and much, much more on offer.

 

Ibiza is always trendy

The years go by and fashions pass, but Ibiza is always there, upwards as an especially suitable destination for those seeking a getaway as a couple. Ibiza is a well-known holiday synonym, but it is also one of the best places to give yourself a few days of Mediterranean relaxation. It is true that it is not a cheap destination, but with a little patience you can find very interesting accommodations and experiences at a good price without having to give anything up.

SantaEularia

 The north zone

If you want an area of absolute tranquility in Ibiza, that would be the northern zone. Cala Portinatx is one of the most complete tourist centers on that part of the island, where you will have well-equipped accommodation, nature activities and outdoor sports for all tastes at your disposal. Gastronomy in the north is also a plus, as it is more authentic and traditional than in the larger tourist areas of Ibiza, such as Vila or San Antonio.

 Santa Eulalia

One of the most charming Mediterranean villages with more life throughout the year. In this town and its small localities is where the famous hippies markets of Las Dalias and Punta Arabí are, where you will have at your feet the most lively coves to enjoy as a couple or with the family, and where you will enjoy the culture of Ibiza in full effervescence. The accommodations are quite varied and for romantic getaways there are some that are more than recommended. Among the hotels in Santa Eulalia for couples, there is the IBEROSTAR Santa Eulalia, which offers complete and tidy facilities and hotel rooms in Santa Eulalia that you will not see in any other establishment if you focus on its value for the money.

 San Antoni and Sant Josep

The two closest towns to the capital are also the most touristy and bustling. If your escapade as a couple contemplates nightlife, ideally you would bet on one of these two areas. Here you will have at hand places as emblematic as the Café del Mar to see the most beautiful sunset in the world, while the most select electronic music plays. It is also in these towns where you can enjoy the most famous beaches, the most original shops, trendy restaurants and discos that you should visit at least once in your life.

 Getting around Ibiza

The most recommended means of transport, especially if you go in spring or summer, is the scooter. With a scooter you can practically move around the entire island and park anywhere comfortably. The rental car is a good option if you want speed and space, since you can take beach gear, clothes to change into at any time and everything else you need. Public transport is perfect if you go out at night: avoid driving at those times whenever you can, since you don’t know the island in depth and the traffic is very chaotic in high season.

 

A Valentine’s Day in Madrid: the best plans for two

Known for its intense rains, its cold and its intense storms (yes, like the ones that accompanied us earlier this year), the month of February is more than one hundred percent a winter month: it is the month of the Arrows of Cupid, the month of saying “I love you” over and over again and re-experiencing the flame of love for our Valentine.

Although it is not the star month to travel, the truth is that because of its good prices and its low number of visitors, choosing to give us a Valentine’s Day in a different city than ours can be charming and affordable. Moreover, what would you like to celebrate on the day of love in the capital, Madrid? What are those plans for two that will make your Valentine’s Day 2017 a memorable day? This month from A Thousand Hotels we give you some references that never fail.

madrid azoteas

Choose a good hotel

The date of Valentine’s Day must be experienced as a couple, with those unique moments of intimacy and relaxation, and for it, nothing better than the IBEROSTAR Las Letras Hotel. This hotel, famous for its exclusive hotel rooms on Gran Vía, is not only ideal for romantic moments, but also has a perfect location within walking distance of such emblematic points as the Puerta del Sol, Princesa Street or the la Playa de España.

In addition to an indisputable quality/price, IBEROSTAR Las Letras Gran Vía has charming corners inside where you can enjoy tranquility and silence. The most outstanding? Its mini urban library, a real delight.

The la Latina neighborhood, pure romanticism

Famous for its beautiful neighborhoods, the city of Madrid becomes especially romantic in the streets of la Latina. This neighborhood – one of the most special and authentic of the capital – is a perfect place to walk hand in hand and to exchange confidences sheltered by a few glasses of wine. In addition to its many tapas bars, this neighborhood is ideal for discovering art galleries and for treating yourself to some quirk in your traditional shops.

A unique dinner for two

After visiting la Latina and enjoying walks in areas as beautiful and romantic as the gardens of El Retiro, it is good to say goodbye to Valentine’s Day with a dinner for two. Our recommendation? The restaurant Dabbawala. This gastronomic center created by chef Luca Rodi and located on Calle El Españoleto is perfect for those looking for a different place with a unique gastronomy.

Dubai, much more than a tourist destination in the Middle East

Experts say that few things help us disconnect as effectively as starting to plan for our upcoming holidays. Even if it’s more than a month until it’s time for Easter to knock on our door, planning our spare time in advance in order to enjoy a great trip at a good price isn’t a bad idea. Are you looking for something different? This month we’ll suggest an exceptional and unique destination: how would you feel about a mini holiday in Dubai?

Dubai: the jewel of the Persian Gulf and the undisputed queen of the United Arab Emirates is a unique and different destination where luxury reaches a higher level. It’s a place for relaxation where you can combine romantic dinners fit for a fairytale with expeditions to extraordinary landscapes that you’ll never forget.

With more than two million inhabitants and an urban area that looks to be taken straight from a sci-fi movie set, Dubai offers the perfect hotels and just the right balance between quality and price. This is proven by hotels such as the beautiful Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa, one of the 4-star hotels in the centre of Bur Dubái, the most exclusive hotels in the city.

Beyond booking exclusive hotel rooms in Bur Dubái, the capital offers other interesting tourist spots that can be visited and enjoyed during a 5- or 6-day trip. These are some of the highlights:

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Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa building

163 floors and more than 800 metres high – the Burj Khalifa building is one of the capital’s main attractions and the tallest building in the world to date. It’s an impressive skyscraper with a lookout point located on the 124th floor, offering an exceptional view of the city.

Dubai Aquarium

Even if swimming with the sharks is the most adrenaline-filled visit you can opt for, an ordinary visit to Dubai Aquarium is an experience in itself – this is the largest aquarium in the world. Here you can enjoy more than 30,000 aquatic animals from around 150 marine species.

A flying visit to Palm Jumeirah

One of the most impressive visits of all in Dubai is that of the Palma Jumeriah. It’s an artificial island (recently created) as big as nearly three thousand football fields. Even if you can enjoy it from the ground, more or less, the ideal visit would be taking a helicopter tour to fully appreciate it.

 

Touring the Southwest of Mallorca: coves, landscapes and retreats

Known for being the retreat of thousands of German and British tourists, the island of Mallorca is a treasure that sleeps in the Mediterranean Sea’s bounty and where you will find magical places full of indigenous nature and beautiful panoramas that truly deserve to be captured in hundreds of photographs.

Out of all the tourist zones to be found throughout the island, the southwest of Mallorca is the greatest exponent of the type of leisure to which we refer. Since during these winter months the island is still an option for spur of the moment getaways, today we will tell you which areas stand out most in the southern area of ​​the Poniente Mallorcan.

The viewpoint of the Malgrats

Mallorca is an island where there are lots of natural lookouts. Although the best known is the Cap de Formentor, the truth is that in the West of the island you can find true landscape gems such as the viewpoint of the Malgrats Islands. A place unknown even by the locals where watching sunset is much more than an experience.

Unique ports in the world

In addition to beautiful beaches such as Portals Vells or El Mago and ports of great depth such as Port Adriano, the southwest of Mallorca is home to other ports such as Puerto Portals. This port owned by the Kraft family offers the glamour associated with sailing and is a place that rivals the port of Monte Carlo.

Shopping without stress

About 8 kilometers by road from Palma, in the south-west area of ​​Mallorca you can now find a place free of queues and crowds in which all shoppers tastes are catered for: from the luxury boutiques in Puerto Portals to other cheaper brands that are located in the recently opened La Villa shopping center in Magaluf.

Where to stay in Mallorca

For those who have chosen the West of Mallorca to spend a few days of their holidays, there is nothing better than opting for hotels full of services such as those offered by the Sol Hotels. Options such as Sol House are ideal for those traveling with friends or as a couple, and others such as the original Sol Katmandu Park Resort, a hotel which includes a theme park .