For some of us, the name Mallorca conjures up images of cheap package vacations – not exactly chic. Yet, we all have to grow up, and so the Spanish Mediterranean island of Mallorca has matured over the past few years, shrugging off its association with binge-drinking bachelor parties from the U.K. and gaining a rising reputation as a center for contemporary art and design. (The mild climate, white-sand beaches, and dramatic limestone cliffs don't hurt either.) At the center of this reinvention is the capital, Palma. Here's how to see the best of it...
In May, for around $815, you can fly from New York City to Palma, via Düsseldorf on Air Berlin. Fares with Swissair are a little higher, at around $925, and travel via Zürich. If you are already in Europe, you can always take advantage of the rock-bottom fares offered by the European budget airlines. Think $50 each way from London on Norwegian Air Shuttle or $52 each way from Berlin on EasyJet. And there are always affordable ferries from Barcelona and Valencia.
See Some Contemporary Art
The Museu d’Art Fundación Juan March (free admission) has a permanent collection of seventy works by the most important Spanish vanguard artists of the twentieth century, including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Juan Gris, and Salvador Dalí. At the Palau March ($5 admission) the outdoor sculpture gallery is the main attraction and includes work by Henry Moore, Rodin, and Barbara Hepworth.
Don't miss the sleek, modern Es Baluad ($8 admission; $3 if you arrive by bicycle), which is housed in a former military fortress. This art collection includes works by Cézanne, Gauguin, Picasso, Magritte, Polke, and Barceló and works by artists related to the Balearic islands. On Fridays admission is pay-what-you-wish.
For art outside of the museums and galleries, head to the cathedral (know as La Seu) where the Gothic grandeur of the original building, built between the 13th and 17th centuries, is complemented by Antoni Gaudí-redesigned interiors. But that's not even the most interesting part. Between 2001 and 2006, Miquel Barceló, one of Spain’s leading contemporary artists, who is from Mallorca, created a striking installation at that used 15 tons of ceramics to recreate the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
Stay at a Design Hotel
Located in Old Town, the Hotel Cort offers a prime location for those wishing to attend the annual Fiestas de San Sebastian in mid-January. The hotel occupies a century-old, alabaster-covered former bank and has 16 suites designed by self-styled "urban archeologist" Lázaro Rosa-Violán. Framed maps on the walls and naked timber boards underfoot offer a subtle nod to Scandinavian maritime history and, in bathrooms and private lounges, quality materials like leather, marble, and local linen complement the indulgent feel. Rates start at $420 per night.
Opening in April, 2014, the OD Port Portales is the sister hotel to the Ocean Drive Hotel, an icon on the nearby island of Ibiza. Located near the yacht harbor of Puerto Portales, the 77-room hotel conveys retro glamour through its classic design and colors. As an added incentive, you get free use of an Audi A1 when you book a junior suite. Standard room rates start at $136.