Cycling in Mallorca has become popular among holidaymakers and executives wanting group networking breaks. Scenic Mallorcan escape Castell Son Claret offers world-class dining in secluded surroundings and it is also the ideal base from which to take on the island’s superb cycling trails
If the sunny 30-minute drive west from Palma airport hasn’t already begun to ease the tension in those executive shoulders, relaxation will certainly arrive the moment you turn into the gateway of Castell Son Claret.
As the magnificent stretching driveway crunches softly beneath your wheels, you’ll pass through beautiful gardens bursting with orange, almond and olive trees and scented by the competing aromas of coriander, jasmine and roses.
Before you know it, you’re stepping out beneath the imposing turreted façade of the country house and pausing to admire the Tramuntana mountains looming above, with the silence broken only by the trickling fountains and chattering birdlife.
Castell Son Claret sits on the site of a 15th-century castle, the grounds of which were consolidated into a 132-acre estate in the 1700s by aristocrat Don Gabriel Claret.
The current façade was added in the 19th century and it was only as recently as 2013 that the property opened as a hotel after a luxury restoration by current owners Klaus-Michael and Christine Kühne.
The 38 guest accommodations are liberally spread across no fewer than seven listed buildings, with 20 guestrooms in the main house and a further 18 in annexes that were formerly stables.
The whole place carries an aura of airy seclusion – little wonder then, that it’s become a favourite escape of in-the-know directors (the chief executive of a global telecoms company was spotted enjoying coffee and a newspaper in the courtyard as Director checked in).
A few days here, unwinding by the pool and enjoying the magnificent food (more of that shortly) would be a sufficiently soul-nourishing getaway experience, even if that was all there was to do.
But Castell Son Claret is also the gateway to another invigorating pursuit – the perfect base from which to take advantage of Mallorca’s bountiful cycling trails.
With hundreds of kilometres of well-signposted routes, terrains ranging from tranquil flat roads to devilish mountain passes and remarkably cyclist-friendly local drivers, it’s little wonder Mallorca has become a winter training base of choice for pro teams such as Sky and BMC.
By March, though, the professionals have moved on and the trails are all yours for the summer.
Well, most of them have moved on. Guido Eickelbeck – a former member of the German Olympic squad and later a pro rider with Team Telekom – is a permanent fixture here.
Castell Son Claret guests can book to go riding with him as their guide, individually or in groups, and he’s as happy to go on a sedate local trundle – as Director found out on a gentle 11-mile ride to Port Adriano for lunch at swish Coast by East – as to considerably up the ante, pulling a pro jersey over our heads and offering encouragement on a switchback-peppered climb into the mountains.
The new golf
Whether you’re a pootler or a pro, Eickelbeck will bring a quality bike to match your needs – in our case a comfortable BMC road bike – but also a remarkable knowledge of the island, its hidden trails, history and inhabitants, along with some stellar anecdotes from his days on the pro cycling circuit.
Should your visit be more aligned to business, however, Eickelbeck can help there too – arranging for groups of executives to ride together and network at the same time. “It’s a great way to socialise, keep fit and talk business,” he calls across to Director on our afternoon ride. “As they say, cycling is the new golf!”
On your return to Castell Son Claret you’re certain to have worked up a serious appetite, and this is another area in which the hotel excels.
Its restaurant, Zaranda, has two Michelin stars and is helmed by Fernando Pérez Arellano, whose impressive CV includes a formative spell at Le Gavroche in London.
Himself a passionate cyclist, who can be spotted powering up the island’s climbs in full lycra when he’s not in the kitchen, Pérez Arellano is as likely to chat to you about the finer points of your day on the road as he is the food, when he steps out to talk you through his remarkable menu.
The dinner menu included Pérez Arellano’s intriguing Majorica Oyster with its dissolve-in-the-mouth ‘pearl’, the delicious Cosmos (white and green asparagus with smoked eel), the almost impossibly delicate Blackegg with white onion and cuttlefish caviar, the indulgent Burrata Zaranda (creamed goat’s cheese, strawberries and basil coulis) and the fun, and visually deceptive Lemon – Lemon dessert (we won’t spoil the sweet surprise for you here). It’s dynamic and innovative cuisine, every bit as varied and invigorating as the island’s cycling terrain.
The next morning, after a blissful night’s sleep in your estate room, you can throw open the doors onto the Arabic courtyard garden, inhale the sweet aromas and – after a healthy breakfast at the Olivera restaurant, and perhaps a massage at the Bellesa De Claret spa – ponder where to let your two wheels take you next.
Jet2 operates year-round flights to Palma de Mallorca from nine UK airports. Jet2.com
Prices from €295 (£228) per room per night on a bed-and-breakfast basis. Castell Son Claret’s ‘Bike Mallorca’ package costs €425 per night and includes: a four-night stay in an estate double; professional road bike rental (BMC Granfondo Carbon Bikes) throughout; two half-day expert-guided Mallorca cycling tours; and one relaxation massage.
For more information on VIP cycling in Mallorca visit castellsonclaret.com