SITUATED on the unspoilt and almost completely undeveloped east coast of Mallorca lies a tiny but beautiful bay in the town of Canyamel. I had first visited the bay when I was five years old and remember vividly the incredible blue of the ocean, the purple and orange of the sunset and the conviction that this must be the place where postcards were photographed – all of them. The scene was so impossibly beautiful I couldn’t see why postcards would need to be photographed anywhere else.
Towards the end of that holiday, however, the sea changed from serene azure to crashing grey waves, earth-shaking thunder boomed and the raging wind carried with it great sections of our hotel roof. It was 1989, the year that Hurricane Hugo struck the island, and many of the coastal towns had to be evacuated. While waiting for our emergency transport, I looked across the bay and noticed for the first time a tiny hotel perched on a rocky outcrop directly above the foaming sea. Against the terrifying commotion of the storm, the little hotel seemed serene and calm, giving the air that it had witnessed this kind of commotion before and was not fazed by it.
A total of 27 years later, I returned to Mallorca and had arranged to stay in a charming little establishment called the Cap Vermell Beach Hotel. Imagine my surprise and incredulity upon arrival to find that my abode for the week was to be that very same little hotel I had watched from across the bay all those years ago.
I would later learn that my instinct had been right – the hotel had weathered many storms and had been there since 1906.
Located close to the magnificent, cathedral-like caves of Cuevas de Artà, which have been a tourist attraction since antiquity, the original hotel building was built by an entrepreneurial young tour guide whose family had been the custodians and guides of the caves for eight generations. Realising that the gentrified travellers who visited the caves needed a place to rest and eat after their arduous journey, he opened the area’s first restaurant in his own home in 1934 – serving fish that he caught himself. In 1951 he opened Hotel Cuevas on the same spot.
The hotel soon became known for its excellent food and comfortable rooms, and little has changed to this day. The current owners, Cap Vermell Investments Group (ignore the corporate sounding name), have been wholehearted in their dedication to preserving the authenticity of the hotel. The 12 rooms remain largely unchanged and, although humble compared to modern standards, hark back to a simpler era of travel before iPad-controlled curtains.
The restaurant continues to serve classic Mallorquin dishes with local seafood, and they make everything they serve from scratch – including the out-of-this-world chocolate spread served at breakfast. The hotel also provides spa services, and massages and beauty treatments are available if requested in advance.
As of this summer the hotel will also have some siblings nearby. As part of their latest venture, the Cap Vermell Group has recently completed construction of 12 luxury villas – eight for sale and one to rent – a country club with 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and swimming pool, and a collaboration with Park Hyatt to create Europe’s first Park Hyatt resort – built on the Cap Vermell estate.
Set in the heart of an area of protected natural beauty, the villas boast unparalleled rural and coastline views as well as five star touches such as wine cellars, private pools, underfloor heating and state-of-the-art kitchens.
Thanks to the Park Hyatt collaboration, residents of both the villas and the Cap Vermell Beach Hotel can enjoy priority access to the Park Hyatt facilities including spa, restaurants, gym and business meeting facilities – allowing the little hotel by the sea all the facilities of the modern era without compromising her charm.
by Nicola Kavanagh