Spain’s pain has been Mallorca’s gain these past few years. Not only because wealthy international property-hunters who might previously have bought in ‘the Costas’ have been diverting en masse to the jewel of the Balearics, but because the Mallorcan authorities have managed to steer the island away from the crass over-development that has scarred so much of southern Spain. Tourism is Mallorca’s life-blood, but with 95% of holidaymakers concentrated in only 5% of its territory, upmarket tourists of the residential kind have plenty of room to spread their wings in less-developed areas of this elegant island. Meanwhile, massive current and future investment in Mallorca’s road, marina and golf infrastructure can only enhance the island’s status as one of Europe’s safest and most rewarding overseas-property destinations, where, in the past decade, average house prices have grown twice as fast as those on the mainland.
With super-rich buyers from France, Ireland, Russia and Sweden now homing in on a market traditionally dominated by Britons and Germans, Mallorca’s leading international agents are in expansive mood. Convinced that the momentum at the top end of the market is now ‘unstoppable’, estate agent-turned-developer Matthias Kühn of Kühn & Partner launched the Balearics’ most expensive house, the Olympian Cielo de Bonaire overlooking the bay of Pollença in the north of the island, on the market earlier this year with a guide price of ?50 million. The grandiose neo-Palladian mansion, with dramatic interiors by Italian designer Danilo Silvestrin, has everything the jet-setting billionaire could wish for vast, double-height reception areas, a two-bedroom master suite, six guest suites, a cinema, a huge swimming pool, a state-of-the-art spa and a helipad.
Mr Kühn seems unconcerned that the property, which took 12 years to complete, could take several more years to sell, but with dozens of successful projects currently on the go around the island, he can probably afford to take a long-term view. Recent winners include his Las Brisas scheme on the coast at Puerto Andratx, now virtually sold out, with only one cliff-top home left for sale at ‘well in excess of ?20m’. Vendors of fincas and estates in Mallorca’s tranquil hinterland rarely expect to sell their properties overnight. The current moratorium on new development across the island means that prime property commands an ever-greater premium, and most owners are content to wait for a buyer who will pay their asking price, however long that takes. A whistle-stop helicopter tour with Engel & Völkers reveals the rich variety of historic properties to be found in secret, unspoilt corners of the island.
The former 11th-century Moorish watchtower in rural Llucmajor, in central south Mallorca, was captured by the Christians two centuries later and rebuilt as the Binificat monastery. Converted to a two-storey, four-bedroom house in the 1980s, the atmospheric 8,000sq ft building has been magnificently restored by its current owner, a Swiss writer, restauranteur and businessman with multiple interests in the island, and is for sale at ?3.2m (call + 34 971 44 36 36). A similar guide price is quoted for a beautifully renovated 100-year-old finca at Cas Concos, near Santanyi, in the island’s emerging south-east corner: the delightfully rustic San Mero has two grand reception halls, a huge living/dining room, a huge master suite, two guest wings and separate staff quarters, the whole set in six acres of glorious landscaped gardens (Contact +34 971 642 101).
Traditional Mallorcan farming estates rarely come on the open market, and the present vendor of the 350-acre Huerta de la Font, in the hills behind Pollença, had to buy out a dozen family members to secure ownership of the estate, with its imposing, 16th-century main house, the Can Vela Gran, which had been in his family for generations. During his 25-year tenure, the previously tenanted finca has been carefully transformed into a rambling country house of considerable charm, set in the middle of its land against the dramatic backdrop of the surrounding mountains. Engel & Völkers quote a guide price of ?6.85m (Contact +34 971 532 050).
Historically, farms and estates were passed down to the elder sons of Mallorca’s landed families; younger sons had to make do with land on the coast, which was considered to be more or less worthless. What a contrast with today’s fast-moving coastal property scene, especially in the fashionable south-west corner, which offers ready access to a renascent Palma and its airport, as well as the island’s best golf courses and marinas. This was the area identified by Robert Maunder in 1995 as the ideal location for his fledgling First Mallorca estate agency, since when he has seen the market for prime waterfront properties grow beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
The sweeping upward curves of the iconic, open-plan Seagull villas created by the Uruguayan architect Alberto Rubio, who has worked on the island for 25 years or more, are a potent symbol of the south-west’s dynamic, fast-moving marketplace. First Mallorca sold two of these villas earlier this year for between ?4.5m and ?7.5m; a third is currently being revamped throughout, and will be relaunched on the market next year with a guide price of about ?6.5m. But in an increasingly youthful market, there is also good value to be found in this area, says Mr Maunder, citing the success of ‘high-spec’ waterside developments such as Gran Folies at Puerto Andratx, where a pristine three-bedroom apartment overlooking the bay of Cala Llamp is on offer at ?795,000.
Still in the south-west, the exclusive golf enclave of Son Vida is still Mallorca’s best-known residential area. Here, the financial elite of Spain, Germany and the UK vie with each other to buy frontline villas around Son Vida’s three manicured golf courses, at prices ranging from ?5m to ?20m. Son Vida specialists Warth & Redlich quote a guide price of ?9.8m for a luxurious, south-facing, seven-bedroom villa with 16,500sq ft of accommodation on three floors and ‘all the toys’, set amid shaded porches, wide sun terraces and lush Mediterranean gardens.
Contact the Agents
Andrews & Associates 00 34 971 67 67 78
Aylesford 020?7351 2383
Bendinat 00 34 971 70 36 90
Engel & Völkers 00 34 971 642 101
First Mallorca 00 34 971 69 88 88
Kensington Properties 00 34 971 71 39 51
Knight Frank 020?7629 8171
Kühn & Partner 00 34 971 22 80 20
Property Independence 00 34 971 22 85 42
Savills 020?7016 3740
Warth & Redlich 00 34 971 79 07 01