People often give me quizzical looks when I tell them that Majorca is my favorite place in the world. Maybe they know it from The Magaluf Weekender, a reality show about drunken Brits on the make on the island’s southwestern edge. Or they confuse Majorca with Ibiza, its Balearic neighbor, which is light on culture and heavy on yacht parties and Kimye. And some beach areas on Majorca do live up to the stereotype. But at just over 1,400 square miles, Majorca is bigger than its beaches (though it does have some great ones).
For one thing, it’s rich in history, having been passed back and forth for centuries between Islamic and Christian powers before becoming a base of Catalan culture. The tourism industry took off in the 1960s, when enterprising families began building mega-resorts near the capital, Palma. By the end of the 1980s, in an attempt to attract more upscale travelers, the government restricted coastal development and soon a wave of swanky heritage hotels opened. On a weeklong summer trip, I discovered some of these lovely boutique properties, along with the island’s rugged mountain landscapes and unique North African inflected cuisine.