A chic mountain retreat in Mallorca offers charm, style and sophistication as well as a chance for thrilling cycle rides through spectacular scenery
When Britain's cyclists hit top gear at the Olympics, part of their success will be due to winter training in Mallorca. Professional riders head to the largest Balearic island to take advantage of its mild climate, excellent road network and mountain terrain.
Mallorca offers inspiration for amateur cyclists, too. Luxurious Gran Hotel Son Net, overlooking well-heeled Puigpunyent, runs training camps for riders of all levels of fitness and ability.
Former champion Toni Colom, once a riding partner of Tour de France legend Alberto Contador, leads the training. His team conducts technical assessments, supplies equipment and spares, and provides a support car and medical help as well as looking after laundry and repairs.
And you'll be assured of a good night's sleep after a day in the saddle. Son Net's location in the dramatic Sierra de Tramuntana offers a variety of rides from the scenic almond blossom, orange, bread and oil routes through to tougher mountain bike sessions. Riders can also use the island's championship velodrome track in Palma. The 90km-long sierra is rich in flora and fauna and dotted with villages where hospitality is typically warm and Spanish.
The hotel site dates back to the 17th century but by 1990 it was a virtual ruin. An American resort developer turned the property into a grand family home and eight years later it became an exquisite 31-room hotel. Today Son Net is a five-star bolthole attracting executives and affluent urbanites. You'll quickly spot how relaxed charm blends easily with grandeur, and after check-in you'll feel like a very welcome guest at a classy but informal country house. The finca boasts natural stone floors, rustic beams and spacious rooms. Paintings in public areas include works by Chagall, Stella and Hockney.
Foodies will love the hotel's Oleum restaurant, an elegant dining room featuring a lovingly restored olive press. Innovative regional dishes made with seasonal ingredients are served alongside Californian cuisine and wines from the estate's bodega.
There's plenty here to enthuse the active – training camps are held for athletes and triathletes, too – but the hotel's added bonus is a chance for well-earned rest and relaxation. As well as a 30m pool and a wellness centre, you'll find ample space to unwind in privacy. Beautiful beaches are not far away but for a close-up of the hidden Mallorca, hop on a bike and head for the hills – you may even spot Mark Cavendish or Sir Chris Hoy whizzing past you en
route to another gold rush.
FACT FILE Getting there Monarch flies to Palma from Gatwick, Luton, Birmingham and Manchester.
Cycling camp at Gran Hotel Son Net
A three-day training camp over a five-day stay, with up to five people attending, costs €500pp and includes a fitness assessment, energy bars and isotonic drinks as well as support services. Accommodation, with a special sports breakfast, is €450pp (based on two people sharing). Generally, superior rooms at the hotel cost €200 a night.
£315pp, based on two sharing
Discover Constable country – ancient buildings, picturesque valleys and quiet lanes – on this three-night circular cycle ride. Two routes, 18 or 20 miles long, take in locations made famous by the artist, such as Flatford Mill. Overnight stays are in Needham Market, Dedham and either Sudbury or Lavenham. www.ukcycleholidays.co.uk
From £550pp, based on two sharing
Cycle gently along the eastern shore of the IJsselmeer, the huge man-made lake north of Amsterdam. Your luggage for this self-guided four-night trip is transported between hotels, allowing you time to enjoy idyllic fishing towns, quietly turning windmills and friendly locals. And because this is Holland, we're talking flat, easy-pedalling terrain. www.inntravel.co.uk
Milan to San Remo, Italy
£325pp, based on two sharing
Serious riders can follow the likes of Roche, Cancellara and Cavendish in the Milan San Remo Sportive challenge. A three-night break from 8 to 11 June offers a chance to enjoy both cities as well as ride the professional road race course. The trip ends with dinner at the four-star Grand Hotel De Londres in San Remo before a transfer to Nice the next morning for the flight home. www.sportstoursinternational.co.uk