A Travel Tuesday Post written by world traveler Donita Dooley on the Ca’s Xorc Resort in beautiful Palma Majorca, Spain.
The first thing you notice is the treacherous road, a thin ribbon of pavement winding back and forth up the side of the mountain like tinsel on a Christmas tree. A chance encounter between one vehicle departing and another vehicle arriving results in a silent back-and-forth negotiation as the drivers work to accommodate each other without accidentally forcing the other over a cliff. If this happens at night and you are a passenger, all you can do is close your eyes and breath until it’s over. But I suggest an afternoon arrival where the second thing you notice is the complete lack of signage, branding or anything denoting you have arrived at a hotel. Once you figure out where to park (uphill or downhill?) and make your way to the cobbled-stone entrance, you are aware you have indeed happened upon something extraordinary.
Ca’s Xorc is a serene and incredibly picturesque boutique resort about half an hour outside of Palma de Mallorca, Spain in an area known as Sóller. A former olive oil mill, the hotel is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Tramuntana mountains and is surrounded by lush gardens, olive trees and fruit groves. A small vegetable and herb garden can be seen while you walk to the infinity pool, and literally the first sound I heard upon arriving was the soft ringing of a bell from the goats that ramble nearby (there is no dearth of goat cheese in this part of Spain!). The hotel was created in 1999 by German developer Klaus C. Plönzke who made the decision to “preserve the charm of the past” and to employ the technique of adaptive reuse in keeping as much of the original architecture as possible. The former Spanish “finca” (estate) is now a crown jewel on one of the most beautiful destinations in the Balearic Islands and attracts world travelers year-round who seek to integrate a little peace and quiet and a touch of “natural tourism” into their travels.
After checking in, the front desk host asked us to have a seat in the garden where we were served glasses of fresh lemon juice – not lemonade but pure lemon juice. It is so tart you have second thoughts but the gesture of hospitality is so irresistible you keep drinking. Sugar helps. Lemons are displayed on every table and counter so you know the juice was squeezed two minutes before it was served. The idea is to sit for a moment and appreciate the beauty around you and it works. The gardens are simply stunning and you are immediately enveloped in nature and silence. In a moment, the world stops.
Moroccan influences can be found here and there starting with a gazebo in the garden covered in ivy and bougainvillea. Inside, boldly colorful textiles and pillows cover the low stone walls that form a perfect circle for sitting, a large Moroccan fixture holds candles waiting to be lit. Our room faced the mountain and another small sitting area around an outdoor fireplace. Large by European standards and appointed with a mix of sophistication and utility, the room was long and narrow but lovely. The view of the mountains through a gabled window is spectacular, and a glass chandelier resembling vines and leaves hangs over a queen-sized bed evoking the subtle feeling of being in a fairy tale.
The hotel restaurant does not pretend to be a farm-to-table operation but it’s hard to miss the tomato plants in full view of the patio overlooking the mountains — and the tomatoes are to die for. Ironically, the olives are not. I visited Ca’s Xorc with a friend who is a local and he was just as surprised as I was to bite into the olives that are served with every meal only to discover the taste was extremely bitter, as if the olives had been harvested months before they were ripe. Sustainable practices overall are limited but as someone who works in the environmental space my expectations are often too high.
Olives aside, the food was standard fare but it’s obvious that the draw is the view. We opted to have dinner at another restaurant nearby but lunch and breakfast were delicious and both set in the lush gardens and cobbled stone patio overlooking the mountains. Really you could be eating a burger from MacDonald’s here and it wouldn’t matter, the view is that impressive.
Being happily untethered with children, the best part of Ca’s Xorc for me was the sound of almost absolute silence. I noticed only one child at the pool who was old enough to entertain herself without making unnecessary noise. Earlier in my travels in Provence, a young couple brought their boisterous young boy to an otherwise quiet pool, much to the chagrin of other guests. The mother made an effort by constantly whispering to him “tranquil, tranquil.” But in my opinion, children should not be made to be quiet around a swimming pool, it’s too much to ask of them. This resort is not a place for plastic floating toys or cannonball dives. It is so quiet here you can actually hear one person walking into the water, their solo splash breaking the silence. Bring a rowdy child here and you will be publicly, albeit silently shamed.
The front desk was efficient, if not outwardly friendly to my American sensitivities. And the nearby villages of Valdemossa and Sóller are definitely worth exploring. If you have time, take a drive to Sa Foradada, a World Heritage site, or a half-day journey by boat to Torrent de Pareis. Or simply sit in the garden where you can glimpse the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean Sea through the mountains and if you are lucky you might be privy to one of the most spectacular sunsets that can be seen in this part of the world. It’s hard to leave a place like this without promising yourself that you’ll soon return.
For more information, check out the website at http://casxorc.com/cas-xorc.html and enjoy these beautiful photos from the grounds.