First-time visitors to Majorca are still surprised at the sophistication of the beautiful Balearic island. Outdated images of noisy package tour hotels and kiss-me-quick hats are quickly replaced by the reality of an island that has spent a decade steadily upping its game.
The appeal is obvious as soon as you leave Palma's modern airport. EU money has been lavished on good roads that swiftly deliver you to sandy beaches, sleek marinas, or high into pine-forested mountains.
At 65 by 50 miles, Majorca is big enough to offer plenty of variety and small enough that little is more than an hour away from Palma. Local resident Marc Pritchard of Taylor Wimpey, says: "It has sports, nature, Michelin restaurants and good-value rural restaurants. Palma is a year-round city with festivals and concerts."
Good-value east coast
Off-plan and newly completed apartments on Taylor Wimpey (08000 121 020) developments across Majorca start from £166,540, and most buyers are looking for a long-term holiday home. Majorca's east coast is a budget-driven area where prices have fallen by an average 35 per cent, pegging them back at 2003 levels. This is the flatter, quieter and more seasonal side of the island.
At Cala d'Or, close to the marina lined with palm trees, two-bedroom 753sq ft flats in four-storey blocks at El Puerto start from £162,380 complete with an Ikea furniture package. With 85 apartments, it is Taylor Wimpey's largest scheme on Majorca. Further north on the east coast close to Puerto Cristo, home of Rafael Nadal, Majorca's most famous son, two-bedroom apartments at Cala Anguilla, a brief stroll from a gorgeous sandy cove, start from £202,770.
Golf in the south-west
There are 22 golf courses between Palma and Andratx. Los Altos, three miles from Andratx's pretty harbour, has 55 two- and three-bedroom townhouses with underground parking, sea views and communal pools. Thirty-nine homes are sold and occupied and the remaining homes are being sold off-plan, priced from £412,190 for 1,185sq ft.
Live the high life in Deia
The Tramuntana mountains run from Andratx north to Pollensa, creating a haven for hikers and nature lovers. The mountain village of Deia, 40 minutes from Palma, has some of Majorca's priciest and most beautiful homes.
Property in Deia starts from £249,800 for a two-bedroom flat with views, £541,250 for three-bedroom townhouses, reaching £6 million-plus for 10-acre country estates, says Julian Cunningham of Harris and Butterworth (+ 34 971 636 427).
'Pollensa has a cool family vibe'
Hari Pabla's timing was superb. The day before he bought his two-bedroom flat from Taylor Wimpey last year in Pollensa, the VAT on new-build property fell from eight to four per cent — though that was not why he bought.
"I first came on a golfing trip," says Hari, 47, a solicitor. "It has a chilled, family-friendly atmosphere with a phenomenally affordable lifestyle."
Hari paid £193,000 for his home and plans to visit at least six times a year. "My five-year-old son Max was a big part of my decision," he adds. "I want a base where we can holiday together and both learn to speak Spanish. It's a long-term purchase on a beautiful island with so much to do."