The thing about luxury is that it’s all relative. One person’s lavish is another person’s Spartan. One person’s sumptuous is another’s garish. One person’s tasteful and understated is another person’s dowdy and dull-as-dishwater. The simple fact is that luxury – like beauty – is in the eye of the beholder. When it comes to property, there are as many ideas of luxury as there are rich and pampered buyers to indulge them. As the saying goes: being rich doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. What it does mean is that you can generally have exactly what you want – when and where you want it.
Which, of course, is why the island of Mallorca is the perfect playground: whether you have €5 million, €15 million or €50 million to spend, there is a luxury hideaway for you – waiting there, perfectly formed, with A-List neighbours already in place and to-die-for Mediterranean views. However, it would be a mistake to think that all the high-end buyers arriving in Mallorca are like Tom Cruise and Sir Elton John – summer refugees from the showbiz limelight. Some of the wealthiest buyers are sober, successful, business people who’ve made their fortunes in sectors like finance or IT – and who simply want a welcoming no news-no-shoes home-from-home for themselves and their growing families.
If there’s a comfy berth nearby at the Cala D’Or marina for their brand new XSR48 – the world’s most exclusive powerboat, launched last winter and still rare as hens’ teeth – so much the better. And if there happens to be just the tiniest little helipad for the Bell 206 Jet Ranger which keeps them out of pesky, time-wasting traffic jams – why, it’s almost the perfect property! Who says you can’t have it all? “While, yes, everyone knows that there are big-name celebrities who’ve bought here in Mallorca”, says Lance Minnick of estate agents and developers, Bella Casa, “I really don’t think you can generalise when it comes to the top end of the property market”.
“I would say that most of the people who buy for €10 or €12 million are not what you’d call celebrities – they’re simply people who are very, very rich. They’re German, Swiss or English in the main, and they’ll probably have two or three homes – with the others in the US, The Bahamas or Thailand, perhaps.”
And is there any sign of the luxury end of the Mallorca property market being touched – even the tiniest bit – by the jitters that have beset the Spanish mainland market? “No, not at all”, Minnick told ABC Mallorca. “I’ve been in business here for more than 20 years and while we’ve been through all kinds of ups and downs, the top end of the market has never been affected. It’s the middle of the market that always gets squeezed – properties up to around €1.5 million.”
Newly-rich Russians, of course, are infamously attracted to the glitzier property markets – but when it comes to Mallorca they just don’t get it, says US-born Minnick. “No, they don’t really understand Mallorca. They don’t understand that while it can be a rich market, it’s also typically an understated market. It’s not flashy like Marbella, for instance – where everyone is driving around in Rolls Royces and Porsches …
And yet, there’s no doubt about it, properties here can be ostentatious too. While – understandably – the majority of owners in the multi-million-euro bracket don’t want their homes to be identified or described in too much detail for security reasons, ABC Mallorca has been gathering some fascinating insights:
– There’s the €15 million luxury villa rented by Phil Collins last year, which comes with its own helipad
– There’s the €12 million beautifully-renovated country finca with its own golf course
– There’s the coastal mansion which is being sold with two moorings, one right alongside the house and the other at the Cala D’Or marina – and which comes, believe it or not, with its own magnificent Sunseeker luxury motor yacht. The price, unsurprisingly, is not for publication
– Or there’s the mysterious “famous writer’s house” in Valldemosa – a six-bedroom mansion with “breathtaking” sea views, built around a fairytale inner courtyard with fragrant lemon trees and a whispering fountain.
These are the kind of exceptional properties which make your run-of-the-mill €1 million to €5 million seafront villas barely worth a second look. And in general, you’ll find them in the island’s most exclusive enclaves. Valldemosa, for instance, was where Chopin, George Sand and Robert Graves all had homes – so it’s the perfect location for a writer to seek inspiration. And because of its peace and quiet it was a favourite holiday haunt of the late Princess Diana.
Then there’s the Sóller Valley, home to rock star, Annie Lennox, and legendary British designer, Katherine Hamnett, campaigner for “ethical fashion”. In the south-west, there’s Andraitx, which has attracted Tom Cruise, Chaudia Schiffer, Michael Schumacher and Boris Becker. Any of those locations has got to be a worthwhile postal address.
And when you come back down to earth, you’ll feel that a 500-year-old restored four-bedroom finca on the outskirts of Artá, smothered in pink and white bougainvillea, is looking like really good value with a pricetag of just under €5 million. Of course it has a pool. And the centre-piece of the living room is the estate’s original restored stone olive press.
As to the buyers, you really never can tell. Most expensive properties sell by word-of-mouth. But estate agents say top-end buyers can simply wander in the door of the office and enquire about what’s on offer.
Lance Minnick has had that very experience. “I can think of one particular English guy who walked into my office in flip-flops, a not-very-nice T-shirt and swimming trunks and asked about a particular property. I looked him in the eye and said: ‘I can tell by the way you’re dressed that you have that kind of money.’ He knew it was meant as a joke, and he laughed – but the following week he bought for €5 million.”