It was sailing that first brought the owner of Palma’s newest boutique hotel to Mallorca.
Around 20 years ago he had moored his boat in Palma marina and was enjoying a drink in the Plaça de la Drassana, in the capital’s historic La Lonja district. It he was immediately impressed by all the beautiful buildings in the area and, as it happened, there was an old palazzo for sale just around the corner. It was the Palacio Can Marques, and still inhabited by various generation of the Can Marques family who had been living there since the 1870s.
Judging it would be good investment, Kim reached an agreement with the family and bought the property, which was in a very poor state. “The investment in the building over the years was close to zero,” he explains, “but the structure was good. Everything else – the roof, the plumbing, the wiring – had to be replaced”. Renovations began, with the view to simply continue using it as a private residence, but they ended up taking seven years to complete. “When you start a project like this, you never know how long it’s going to take. If you knew that, you might never start!”
But Kim was driven by the love of the beautifully-designed 18th-century building, and was determined to return it to its former splendour. It was only two years ago, however, that he decided to turn it into a hotel. While it wasn’t hard to get the license, the challenge was fulfilling its obligations – of installing the infrastructure required of a luxury hotel without compromising the stricture in any way, of modernising the interiors without losing any of the character. On the official scale of protected buildings, Palacio Can Marques is only one down from La Seu cathedral, so they had to tread very carefully.
And the result is genuinely outstanding. Upon first stepping inside, the lofty vaulted archways and soaring stone columns provide a sense of grandeur, while the graceful symmetry of the main staircase is architectural elegance defined. Beyond, broad openings allow in sunlight while offering a glimpse of the secluded and peaceful garden terrace. A sense of space and light pervades the property, there are no gloomy corners that can haunt this type of building. There’s a lightness of touch, too, whereby the refined splendour of the property has been allowed to shine through.
It is the very special interior design, too, that has raised this deluxe hotel to such impressive heights. Internationally recognised interior designer, Aline Matsika, was the creative force behind the decor and furnishings, which she calls “eclectic”. This description only hints at the wonderful combination of elements she has handpicked from around the world and across various design epochs, as well as creations – such as the beautiful woven rugs and striking starburst lighting – made from Aline’s own designs. Guests can also purchase certain items exhibited around the hotel.
Aline’s interior design expertise especially shines across the hotel’s 13 suites, each of which is individually styled and with a name that reflects its personality (such as Cathedral, Renaissance, Oasis, Romance). The Riad is a truly enormous three-bedroom suite, which at almost 400 square metres must be the largest on the island. The Tower room features 360-degree views that take in most of Palma, its harbour, and the surrounding Tramuntana sierra. Original features, such as lovingly restored ornate fireplaces and carved wooden panelling, are complemented by reconditioned vintage furnishings, sensual velvet seating, and unique paintings and sculptures.
While the number of boutique hotels in the Mallorcan capital has grown exponentially in the last few years, the opening of Palacio Can Marques marks a genuinely exciting and original addition to the collection. Its existence also means the restoration and celebration of a magnificent piece of Palma’s architectural history that, after almost 300 years behind closed doors, can now be enjoyed by anyone who books one of its wonderful suites.