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Lizzi’s Luxury Edit: The other side of Menorca, Spain

When I was invited on a fact-finding trip to Menorca, I expected it all to be about beaches and hotels. I could not have been more wrong. I have been very pleasantly surprised to learn that Menorca has so much more to offer, and I am keen to spread the word that Menorca is a great cultural destination with so many interesting things to discover. This small island is quite different from its larger neighbours, Majorca and Ibiza, which are much busier. Menorca has been a Biosphere Reserve, since 1993, which means it is “a synthesis of wellbeing, peacefulness and good living, aspiring to sustainability” according to the tourist office.

Travelling off-season, in early April, the weather was a bit unpredictable and some things were not yet fully open for tourists, but the day we left, on 14 April, the temperature was 26C! As we are seeing everywhere, weather patterns are changing, so if you want to avoid the scorching temperatures in July and August, from late April to the end of June would be the perfect time to see Menorca.

Menorca is a low-key island with mostly low-rise buildings, built with a very attractive local stone. It has over 150 beaches, some just tiny coves. I visited Son Bou, a quiet beach resort, and when I asked where the busiest resorts were, I was told that this was as big as it gets! It has a lovely beach along a nature reserve and lots of attractive apartments and villas.

So, what is there to see? Well, this is a very green island in more sense than one. Lush, green vegetation, fields full of the cows which produce the amazing local cheeses! But also, an acute awareness of how to protect our precious planet by producing energy, saving energy, recycling, reducing waste, and using local farm products in restaurants and hotels.

Highlights for me were visiting a quarantine island, the Lazaretto of dating back to 1817, where all ships visiting Spain had to stop for 40 days to control the spread of infectious diseases such as plague, cholera and yellow fever. My goodness, they had already put many measures in place which could have easily been applied during our recent pandemic!

The place is vast and the buildings are actually very attractive to the modern eye, all now standing eerily empty. Another marvel was an old quarry, an enormous area, which had once been left to ruin and a dumping place for old fridges and even cars. Someone had the bright idea of cleaning it up and it is now overrun by trees, plants and flowers instead. There is even a lily pond and a maze, formed out of quarry stones which are sponsored by tourists ie. you can buy a stone and add it to the ever-expanding maze! The venue is now used for concerts and it is a fine example of how seemingly nothing can be turned into something wonderful. Well worth a visit.

This small island also has 1,500 megalithic sites and many are well-preserved and extremely interesting. Great for anyone interested in ancient civilisations and history. The Talayotic settlements consist of complex architectural buildings such as talaiots, taulas, and dwellings. I visited the Torre d’en Galmes settlement and was very impressed at how well-preserved these ancient dwellings are.

The capital city, Mahon, is very walkable, with many fabulous shops and restaurants, markets, outdoor cafes, and a 6 km long port full of small sailing boats. All very picturesque. There are plenty of beautiful churches and an impressive cathedral to visit. I really liked the little tourist village just outside Mahon, called Es Castell, with a lovely seafront lined with cafes and restaurants.

Food is very much Mediterranean. Lots of tomatoes, olives, and olive oil. Great fish and local meats, too. The local cheeses have won awards and are exported to mainland Spain. You have to try the local Ensamaidas, unique to Menorca and which are one of the delicious and most popular sweet products produced and consumed in Menorca.

Right in the heart of Mahon, I visited the Christina Bedfor boutique hotel. The hotel is a collection of townhouses, now forming a hotel and the rooms are full of surprises, nooks and crannies and delightfully and individually decorated. The common areas, such as the sitting area and library are so snug you would want to curl up with a book and stay forever. Then there is the stunning garden, where you can sit and sip a cocktail and there is even a lap pool. The hotel also has family apartments next door. This was way up my street.

In complete contrast was the hotel ARTIEM Carlos. This has a very modern, minimalistic look, with bright rooms, a great swimming pool and amazing views. In a company whose purpose is “Inspiring people to be happy”, they consider that their greatest asset is Freshpeople©, their well-being and happiness. I’d be very happy staying there, that’s for sure! This hotel is B Corp certified. A B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials. It is a rigorous process to obtain and retain this certification. Throughout the hotel, guests are encouraged to participate in the process, by recycling, using refillable water bottles, taking the stairs instead of the lift etc. Impressive.

So, if you would like to know about Menorca and its hotels and attractions, please get in touch. By booking through Charitable Travel, you can donate 5% of your total holiday cost to a charity of your choice, at no extra cost to yourselves!

Get in touch with Lizzi by emailing [email protected] to book your dream trip!

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