The islands of the Iberian Peninsula have plenty of new property opportunities and an exclusive buzz, proving that old favourites are worth a fresh look.
The Spanish Balearics
Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza are the best-known Balearic islands where beach-lovers, boat-owners, families and party people will find plenty to enjoy. Property on these Mediterranean islands outperformed the rest of the Spanish market last year, helped by smart marinas, golf courses and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Mallorca is the largest island and the only one that can claim to be a truly year-round destination; a wide range of facilities stay open after the summer season.
From the buzzy capital of Palma, with its large impressive airport, to the small harbour at Soller on the west coast, Mallorca has great charm. The kiss-me-quick image that marred the island from its early package-tour days can still be found in small pockets but the island is on the up with new four- and five-star hotels and a glamorous clientele.
This three-bedroom stone house in Deia, western Mallorca (left), has good views over the Tramuntura Mountains, is close to the village church and comes with a seperate one-bedroom guesthouse. It is available for €1 million (£755,225). Contact Engel & Volkers (www.mallorca.engelvoelkers.com; 00 34 971 634488).
Menorca remains very popular, particularly with upmarket Spanish buyers from Madrid and Barcelona. Prices are high, with coastal properties often more costly than on Mallorca. Inland, Menorca may lack some of the interest of Mallorca, but this is a pretty island with plenty of charm.
This three-double-bedroom villa, with garden, terraces and pool, is in the popular south-central area of Menorca. Sold fully furnished for €444,360 (£335,560). Contact Bonnin Sanso (www.bonninsanso.com; 00 34 971 350405)
The party island of Ibiza has had a fantastic year, especially at the top end, with properties over €2.5 million (£1.87 million) increasing in value by 10 per cent. International buyers from as far afield as Australia and South America have helped keep prices buoyant, most looking for contemporary designer property in the south-west or Ibiza Town. With plenty of very secluded properties, Ibiza remains a celebrity-hideaway favourite.
The Portuguese island of Madeira, cast adrift in the Atlantic and long considered an unexciting holiday destination, has impressive new hotels and resorts making the clichés about it being an island for the “newly-wed and the nearly dead” look outdated.
Traditionally there was not a strong second-home market. Instead, tourism relied on cruise ships and upmarket timeshares, and with no expansive white sandy beaches it lost out in family appeal to resorts on the Portuguese mainland.
But what Madeira lacks in sand, it more than makes up for in variety. Swimming with dolphins, walking the levadas (manmade water canals) in the mountainous interior, playing golf, touring the exceptional gardens that flourish in the fertile soil, surfing Atlantic breakers or stopping off in the capital, Funchal, for a tour around a Madeira bodega: there is plenty to keep young and old busy. And all helped along by a sub-tropical climate where temperatures rarely drop below 11 degrees Celsius.
Palheiro Village and Estate, on the outskirts of Funchal and overlooking the harbour, is Madeira’s first high-quality freehold resort offering full management services. When completed later this year the 240-acre estate will have 79 town houses and apartments in Palheiro Village and 30 large individual villas around the established Palheiro Golf Course, where residents get 50 per cent off green fees. There is also an elegant 37-room Relais & Chateaux Hotel, Casa Velha, a beautifully restored hunting lodge with its own public gardens.
The candy-coloured apartments and villas in Palheiro Village form a private community within the estate and have their own clubhouse, restaurant and communal pool. Prices start at €600,000 (£453,150) for a two-bedroom apartment. Contact Palheiro Village (www.palheiroestate.com; 00 35 129 179516).
Paradores – Spanish hotels
If you are curious to investigate new areas of Spain for that perfect second home, you should know about the Paradors. These are 93 state-owned hotels spread across Spain, ranging from historic buildings to newer properties in fantastic locations but all offering great value and an authentic Spanish experience.
Originally created in 1928 to encourage Spaniards to explore their own country, the Paradors offer high-quality accommodation in properties including former castles, monasteries and even the world’s oldest hotel in Santiago de Compostela in the northern region of Galicia.
The Paradors have organised 30 pre-planned routes taking between three and seven days with themes including Around Cadiz, Gourmet Spain and Wines of Galicia. Definitely something to give you a taste of the real Spain.
Paradores de Tourisme: www.parador.es.