Menorca is the jewel in Balearic’s crown

MENORCA is in many ways the forgotten Balearic isle. While party-goers and VIPs are drawn to the trendy beaches and frivolity of Ibiza and families head by the easyJet load for the “water in Mallorca”, many don’t give Menorca a second glance.

The beautiful winding streets of the old town of the former capital Ciutadella and the new one, the port-town Mao, are both highlights for those looking to explore the culture of this Mediterranean isle, but sun-worshippers can also head for the islands beaches which, despite it’s size, Menorca has more of than its more famous neighbours combined.

Unsurprisingly the food is also a draw. Seafood restaurants line the beaches of the island’s resorts with fresh fish and, of course, paella being served to the European tourists and vacationing mainland Spanish families who seem to populate the island. Spanish food is the order of the day here so expect delicious tapas and good Riojas on the menu, alongside local catch of the day.

We stayed in the south east of Menorca in the small laid-back resort of Punta Prima.

A short taxi or bus ride from the airport, you navigate around winding roads in sauna-like warmth taking in the scenery.

Menorca is famous for wildlife and the first thing that hits you, although thankfully not literally, is the hundreds of species of butterflies which inhabit the island. Birds, too, are a regular sight and are highly protected on the island which prides itself on these unspoilt landscapes and natural habitats.

Punta Prima is a small enclave but with all the facilities necessary for your stay, including great restaurants and small supermarkets.

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However, the food was so good in our hotel of Insotel Punta Prima Prestige we rarely needed to venture further afield. On offer were a buffet restaurant offering a large variety of Spanish and European dishes, an Italian and also an � la carte restaurant worth the price tag for its delicious take on local specialities.

The hotel certainly seemed to be the best quality accommodation in this part of the island. Though we stayed in the prestige part of the hotel, the rest of the resort looked equally appealing. Apartments form single blocks surrounding the large pool area and several restaurants and sport facilities are on offer, including a spa for those who want to take their holiday to full pampering delight.

Despite the pleasant, tranquil surroundings of the main resort, the prestige area certainly gave that added extra you’d expect. A concierge meets you on arrival with a glass of champagne to introduce you to the intimate setting.

Our room was stunning and far from the small area a mere room suggests. It was actually its own mini apartment with decadent marble bathrooms along with private Jacuzzi, balcony and beautifully decorated sitting and bed rooms.

Clearly, it was a resort catering for honeymoons and those who want to take a holiday away from the crowds in luxury.

The private pool is overlooked by a chic bar with elegant decking and huge sofas, which played host to couples locked in late-night talks.

Privacy and individual service are the order of the day here and is perhaps the reason why the resort is a magnet for celebrities.

Its location in the town, however, helps to ensure that you can venture out when you want to mix with the crowds.

Many are out on long, peaceful walks along the promenade in the evening, taking in the stunning view of the lighthouse, which is situated in an island at the centre of the tranquil waters, just a stone’s throw away.

As you take in the cool sea air, a kind relief to the top temperatures that dominate the island through the summer months, you smile to think of the others who are flocking to the islands nearby and realise Menorca is a real jewel in the Balearic isles.