The New York Times
By PENELOPE GREEN
Published: March 29, 2009
MAJORCAN summers are infamous for the swells they attract: the billionaires on their megayachts, the movie stars at their mountain estates. Michael Douglas has a house in Deià, and in nearby Sóller, there is an outpost of the Ashram, Malibu’s answer to asceticism, at which studio heads pay thousands of dollars a week to eat like vegan hippies.
Then there’s that other summer crowd, the European lads who flood the developments that spread out from lovely, medieval Palma and make the beach scenes there cautionary tales of the evils of alcohol. During the off-season, which runs from fall to early summer, however, this mountainous, gnarled island is largely yours. Set yourself up with a rental car (there’s a lot of driving to be done on this island) and prepare to be hypnotized by ancient terraced landscapes with twisted olive trees, the tiny medieval villages and the extraordinary food and wine.
For a feel for the countryside, consider the sonorous, majestic Gran Hotel Son Net (Calle Castillo Sonnet s/n, Puigpunyent; 34-971-147-000; http://www.sonnet.es) in the village of Puigpunyent, just northwest of Palma, which is set in a 17th-century finca, or estate. With its stone walls, its Hockneys and Chagalls, and its velvet accouterments, it is solemnly luxurious, and takes itself very, very seriously. It is also alarmingly expensive: Rates range from 340 euros for a classic room (a perfectly adequate though dimly lighted room with two twin beds overlooking the front drive with a bathroom as big as the room itself, like all the Son Net bathrooms) to 1,050 euros for the royal suites, which are entire apartments with their own gardens.
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