As a matter of fact, the entire island was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, protected areas showcasing a balanced relationship between humans and nature (e.g. sustainable development) and is regarded as a near-perfect example of rural life.
One reason why Minorca has remained on the sidelines of the Balearics tourism game is that Minorcans have limited hotel growth. There are only about 45 hotels on the island, while more than 1,600 hotels are strewn around Ibiza, a much smaller island.
One of the most appealing lodgings in Minorca is found in Llucmaçanes, near Mahon, a small village less than a mile from Minorca’s airport. Llucmaçanes is one of the most quaint and surprising villages in the island group and the Llucmaçanes Gran-Agroturismo does the village justice.
This charming inn (prices vary from about $85 to $120 pp, depending on the season) affords a view of the ancient Church of St. Gaieta near the village square.
Staying here gives guests the rare opportunity to mingle among friendly locals who often invite visitors into their homes to sample great Minorcan meals. The staff at Llucmaçanes Gran-Agroturismo will also recommend farms willing to have visitors take part in many agrarian activities such as wheat chaffing, planting crops or harvesting vegetables.
Those with little interest in farm work will enjoy long hikes and bike rides along the large web of rural lanes and tracks that lie on the outskirts of Llucmaçanes. This is where visitors will marvel at the vast, clear Minorcan skies and feel invigorated by clean country air mixed with salty sea breezes.
The highlight of the year in Llucmaçanes is a 3-day colorful Jaleo, or fiesta, held during the first weekend in August. Here, visitors will be treated to all the pomp and festivities of a 14th century fair with concerts, dancing and incredible feats of horsemanship as riders spur their Andalucian steeds to rear up on hind legs while weaving their way through crowds of revelers.
The Llucmaçanes Gran-Agroturismo is made up of three independent structures. The front wing is the reception area; the south wing—with a kitchen, dining room with fireplace and TV—houses up to six guests, while the north wing, with a similar layout, accommodates up to eight travelers.
An equally appealing Minorcan hotel is the Alcaufar Vell Hotel Rural, a 14th century mansion with ancient Moorish roots that lures visitors by inviting them to “listen to the silence.” Indeed, the place is imbued with the peace, silence and tranquility that’s the island’s trademark.
Rates here range from about $120 dbl to about $275 for a suite.
This 21-room jewel has all the modern conveniences found in larger hotels: hydro-massage bathtubs, central heating, swimming pool, TVs, etc. Its restaurant, Ses Cotxeries d’Alcaufar Vell, features vaulted dining rooms and serves exquisite Minorcan dishes.
In addition to the chance of working on a dairy farm to help make mouth-watering cheeses, the property is a stone’s throw from historic rural lanes that wind down to the sea. The hotel also has access to scuba diving, hiking, cycling, windsurfing and horseback riding facilities, all designed to make a stay in Minorca the yin to the yang of a stay in the more hectic islands in the Balearic group.