Holidays when you’re a single parent can seem like a challenge, but they’re also a source of wonderful memories, says David Dowding
Becoming a single parent when Maisie was young was hard for the both of us and being the sole responsible adult on holiday was something that I always found quite stressful. I’m sure that many of us in a similar situation have experienced feeling like the social outcast when you arrive on the first day of the holiday.
After a few false starts (like the time Maisie, now a teenager, got a nasty bug on a holiday in Turkey on the first day), we have managed to find our holiday groove. Now we often plan next year’s trip as soon as we get back.
This year we decided to take a late break to the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain, lured by the promise of clear blue seas and perfect temperatures. This would be the best antidote to stressful exams and my daughter’s first summer job working in a shoe shop.
Staying and eating in Mallorca
As this was our first trip to the island and we aren’t ones for lounging around, we decided to split our visit so we could see as much as possible. Our first stop was just along the coast from Palma and a 20-minute drive from the airport at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Portals Nous. It was perfectly located, perched on a hillside just metres away from the pretty bay of Cala Bendinat, and in reach of the restaurants and boutiques of chic Puerto Portals marina.
The hotel will inspire lovers of modern design. We gazed out through floor-to-ceiling glass windows at the horizon, dotted with super-yachts, and fantasised about which one we’d like to own.
Accommodation was the work of super-cool Dutch interior designer Marcel Wanders and combined quirky touches with five-star luxury. All rooms have a balcony with stunning views across the bay. Staying here you’re truly spoilt – run a bath and relax in the amazing all-white bathroom, perfectly positioned facing towards the stunning sea views, use the outdoor pool or pay a visit to the beach just a few metres away.
The hotel’s Astir restaurant serves delicious locally inspired meals on the terrace. In the morning we were treated to one of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had, complete with Mallorcan pastries. In the evening, the Astir’s chefs create an amazing fusion of traditional flavours. My daughter’s food allergies were also well catered for – the helpful staff even taught us the Spanish for ‘gluten free’ (sin gluten), which came in handy for the trip.
The location is perfect for a trip to the capital city of Palma, where we drifted around the labyrinth of lanes in the former Arab and Jewish quarter and marvelled at the stunning architecture (main picture).
Our next destination was the Carrossa Hotel-Spa-Villas in the rural north-east of the island, around an hour’s drive away (all the main roads on the island are good, making driving a stress-free experience).
Carrossa Hotel-Spa-Villas is just a few miles from the romantic little town of Arta. From the hotel’s position in the Levante Hills there are wonderful views of the surrounding coast. The hotel is based around a beautifully restored Mallorcan manor house – rooms are arranged among the olive trees in a series of villas that combine a stylish blend of rustic charm with a modern twist. The real beauty of the hotel’s location is that it’s a chance to get away from it all and truly relax, breathing in the lavender-scented mountain breezes.
Carrossa boasts two excellent restaurants and we sampled both the more relaxed Oro Bar and the fine-dining experience in the Carrossa Restaurant – where innovative Mediterranean dishes are served alongside delicious local wines. We loved the outdoor infinity pool with its views across the countryside towards Alcudia, the perfect spot to cool down.
Ambling in Arta
Arta is a lovely place for a leisurely lunch or for a chance to browse the shops. Every Tuesday along Placa del Conqueridor and the main square, the town hosts the local market (pictured above). There, we sampled delicious regional produce and bought local crafts. Our advice would be to get there early before the coach trips arrive, as it can get busy.
One of the nicest things to do on the island is to explore the many secluded beaches that are dotted along the Mallorcan coastline. Just a short drive from Arta will bring you to one of the prettiest, Cala Gat, where the crystal-clear waters make this an ideal location for a swim. For us, it was the perfect place to unwind, relax and create lasting memories.
Both the Iberostar Grand Hotel Portals Nous (from £337 per night) and the Carrossa Hotel-Spa-Villas (from £168 per night) are part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts L.V.X. Collection.