Menorca, Spain (review published 2005)

Talk about a sea view – they don’t come much better than this.
The turquoise waters of a crescent cove gently lapping a sweep of fine,  golden sand… just perfect.
We could have happily stayed on our balcony the entire week, just sipping sangria and soaking up the sun.
The resort was Cala Galdana on the sheltered southern coast of Menorca, the quietest of Spain’s big Balearic isles.
And the hotel was the Sol Gavilanes, built into the limestone cliffs, where the majority of its 346 rooms boast similar views.
There are no roads in sight and the family-friendly beach with safe swimming  is just a short elevator’s journey away.
Guests of the Sol Gavilanes really are the luckiest in Cala Galdana – not least because they don’t have to look at the hotel.
It’s not an ugly building but at 12 storeys high it does intrude somewhat on the natural beauty of its surroundings.
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View from Sol Gavilanes hotel, Cala Galdana
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The Sol Gavilanes apart, the cove has remained surprisingly undeveloped, at least by Spanish standards.
Evenings are subdued affairs, with the nightlife restricted to a quiet drink as you watch the sun set behind neighbouring pinewoods.
One spectacular bar, El Mirador, is perched on a rocky outcrop at one end of the arc of sand, making it practically an island.
Cala Galdana is hard to beat for a relaxing holiday but you’re also perfectly placed for a spot of gentle exercise.
A 30-minute walk through woods will bring you to the lovely cove at Cala Mitjana where the sea cliffs are riddled with caves you can swim into.
The route from Cala Galdana, heading east, is marked by red arrows but beware: they are not very obvious at the start of the route.
We saw one over-confident German family march off towards a cliff face and they reached beach 90 minutes after us.
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Cala Mitjana, Menorca

A much easier 50-minute walk to the west of Cala Galdana brings you to  another delightful cove, Cala Macarella.
Bizarrely, three old burial caves perched high above the waters can be rented out as holiday homes.
A restaurant attracts crowds to the beach so for a quieter spot it’s worth crossing the headland to the picture perfect Cala Macarelleta.
But don’t go if you’re easily offended because it’s popular with nudists, as all the most scenic and difficult to reach beaches seem to be.
It’s possible to climb to the top of the headland for the best vantage in all Menorca, looking down on both coves.
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Cala Macarelleta, Menorca

The Sol Gavilanes arranges hiking tours to Cala Mitjana and Cala Macarella, if you’re worried about getting lost.
On those rare occasions that the sun doesn’t shine, it’s worth catching a bus  direct from Cala Galdana to Cuitadella, Menorca’s old capital.
See gothic palaces as you wander the narrow streets then take lunch at the  harbour beneath the town walls.
But you’ll not want to stay too long – not with that view from your balcony.
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Cuitadella, Menorca

Travel file
The 4T Sol Gavilanes has a swimming pool, paddling pool, massage centre,  small gym with sauna, piano bar, kids’ club and nightly shows.
The comfortable  rooms have satellite TV, air conditioning, ceiling fan, minibar, free safety deposit box and fully equipped bathroom.
Seven nights with two sharing on a half board basis costs from £585 per person, based on departures from June 19 onwards.
For further information contact Thomson Direct on 0870 550 2555,  or click www.thomson.co.uk
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Sol Gavilanes hotel, Cala Galdana

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