There is something so romantic about Spain’s beloved Balearic Island, Mallorca. Beyond the nightlife of Palma and the island’s abundance in beach resorts, Mallorca’s authenticity exudes a simplistic tranquility that is lacking in much of Western Europe. While the beauty exists in the limestone mountains, hidden coves, and Roman and Moorish remains, much of what makes it so exists only if you dig below the surface.
Spanish-born, LA-based Carmen Ruiz de Huidobro launched Españolita, a series of rural retreats throughout Spain, with this idea in mind. “Españolita is my love letter to Spain,” says Ruiz de Huidobro. Her retreats focus on more impactful approaches to travel, revealing the Spain that only locals know. With a focus on authentic food, secret haunts, a local artisanal culture, and of course, a siesta a day, Ruiz de Huidobro's guests are able to experience Spain like a Spaniard.
Launching Españolita in Mallorca was natural for Ruiz de Huidobro, as she grew up with a family home on the island. Upon first meeting her, her warmth embraces you and you immediately feel like you’re traveling with an old friend. Local chefs preparing daily meals at home, light hikes to cove-enclaved beaches, and visits to textile and basket weaving workshops are just a few highlights on the itinerary. But Españolita retreats offer more than just experiences. It’s a taste of the Spanish way of life.
Slow down. Close your eyes. Appreciate that sunrise over the rolling hills. That spoonful of fresh Paella. That exhilarating morning swim in the Med. That mid-afternoon siesta. To be Spanish is to move slowly, to not take life too seriously, and to always appreciate the simple things. Through these shared experiences led by Ruiz de Huidobro, she creates a trip that stays with you beyond your journey– as a constant reminder that we could all benefit from being a little bit more Spanish.
Below, a travel diary of her recent Mallorca retreat.
Welcome to Españolita’s home in Mallorca!
We retreat in the most gorgeous house overlooking the sea from where we set out to our daily adventures. I find the space that holds us should be sacred and beautiful.
I enjoy setting up the fruit on display, and the little corners throughout the house are very inspiring.
I change this scene daily!
When you feed so many people, you spend a lot of time setting up the table! I enjoy the process so much, it has become a ritual for me.
The table that gathers us all for meals is under the most charming roof with overgrown, dreamy greenery.
The cheeses in Spain explain very well the diversity of artisanal production. We made sure guests could taste all of the Queso Mahones and more varieties like classic Manchego and Idiazabal.
We take pride in things like olives, oil, and other condiments. During our retreats, we gather all the best local products and deliver them at the table.
Olive groves are unbelievably old on the island and our retreat home lies right upon the most gorgeous trees. Just weeks before the harvest, the branches were full of bright green olives to make the precious oil!
The sheep are so important to the landscape in Mallorca. They trim trees in olive groves and fertilize the fields.
Me during our olive hike!
I always factor a lot of siesta time into the schedule as this is very important in Spanish culture! Taking one by the pool is the best setting.
One can walk all along the north coast and find the most interesting and remote little coves. There is no Mallorca without its famous calas.
Mallorca has to be discovered by sea. The landscape creates unique coves only accessible by boat so we make sure to get in a boat excursion at least once.
Supporting artisans that uphold the tradition of long-time techniques is our goal, as we learn from them during workshops and by interacting with them in their work spaces. Here, we did a basket weaving workshop.
The creative spirit of the island can be felt in cultural hubs like Can Monroig. A synagogue dating back centuries that was bought by its current owners as a simple house. After years of renovating and dealing with archaeological discoveries, they have established the place where artists gather to perform. We stopped by before dinner.
A visit to Teixits Viçens.
Ancient Ikat techniques were inherited from the silk routes stopping by hundreds of years ago. The island holds the only 3 ikat workshops in Europe, were they weave from cotton and linen thread incredible intrinsic designs, and the traditional "lenguas mallorquinas" made of bright colored patterns.
We like welcoming guests to our table and love inviting local creatives to join. On our farewell dinner, we had a local chef prepare traditional Mallorcan dishes.