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Mallorca: Where Cool Villas Are Hot Property

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August 1, 2007

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Have a look at the Mallorca telephone book: it would be a rollcall of the rich and famous – everyone from rock stars to supermodels to royalty to racing drivers – except that they’re all, of course, ex-directory!

So many and varied are the names of the beautiful people who’ve bought or are buying on this largest of the Balearic islands, that it’s hard to know who’s really here and who’s not, who’s buying and who’s selling, who’s window shopping – and who’s just visiting an equally-famous friend.

In a sense, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the glamour of the names that counts: Robbie Williams, Claudia Schiffer, Michael Schumacher, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Sir Elton John and David Furnish, Caroline Corr, King Juan Carlos of Spain – and the ultimate Hollywood “royalty”, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Amongst the most recent arrivals is star British composer, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who bought a beautiful stone finca in Deià last year – just ten minutes down the road from the predictably-sumptuous Douglas and Zeta-Jones residence – and who’s already, apparently, been spotted by the paparazzi while arriving at Palma Airport this summer. Not forgetting, of course, Mallorca’s most famous son, Rafael Nadal, at just 21 the greatest clay-court tennis player the world has ever seen, and a regular visitor back home to the island – most recently in May, just before he won the French Open and moved on to Wimbledon.

What a difference a decade makes. Mallorca has been attracting international buyers since the ‘Thirties. But since the mid-‘Nineties its quiet charm has been replacing the often-brash and always-overcrowded predictability of the Côte d’Azur and the Costa del Sol, particularly Marbella. And why? The answer is simple: it gives exhausted celebrities what they want most – privacy. Because, ironically, what most stars want more than anything else when they’re away from the spotlight is to hang out in jeans and a tee-shirt and be treated just like anyone else – for a few months of the year at least. When that novelty wears off, they’re back on board their private jets and off …

The reality is that celebrities are no novelty to the island. Mallorcans have seen it all before, starting with composer Frederic Chopin and author Georges Sand in the 1830s. So once the likes of Boris Becker or Steve McFadden – Phil Mitchell from Eastenders – run the gauntlet of the airport paparazzi, they’re generally left at home to enjoy a bit of peace and luxury.

And luxury there is aplenty. While property prices on the Spanish mainland are going through something of a minor crisis, due to over-construction, over-pricing and spiralling household debt, the market in Mallorca – as we saw last month – is rosy-cheeked with good health and affluence.

Prices here have tripled in the last 10 years. Multi-million-euro super-luxury ultra-secure villas have become routine – with the most expensive weighing in at around €15 million. And with capital appreciation like that, the more you pay, the more you gain. Think of it as a blue chip investment. So while the average buyer might be pouring over the spec of his new apartment to see if it includes its own parking space – super-rich property-shoppers are more likely to ring their estate agent to see if the seafront villa that’s caught their eye has its own helipad.

State-of-the-art security and communications are also popular with those who have big money to spend. Everything from security cameras and sensors to heating, lighting and entertainment is computer-controlled and accessible from your laptop or mobile phone while you’re away. It used to be the stuff of science fiction, but increasingly properties in the million-plus bracket are expected to be “intelligent homes”, with all their systems integrated and centrally-controlled, usually from a touch-screen. And developers have seen the competitive edge these systems can give them “There’s certainly a niche demand for this type of property“, Michael Cunnington of MJC Associates, real estate agents who operate at the top end of the market, told abcMallorca.

“A small number of developers are specialising in these ultra-modern, high-tech houses designed in a very chic, minimalist style” – and they’re finding a healthy market.

For instance, MJC Associates has a frontline, ultra-modern villa for sale in Sol de Mallorca with amazing sea views. Built in 2005, it has light, open-plan living space with clean, modern lines, a stylish curved staircase and a teak-decked infinity pool that draws the eye out towards the Mediterranean horizon. You’ll miss it while you’re away. And when you arrive home, the villa’s finger-print recognition system will give you a welcoming scan and click open the front door into three floors of high-tech comfort.

So what else do you get for your €5.4 million? Let’s take a look around. Well, the kitchen is Italian, from the Milanese specialists, Dada. The appliances are Miele. In the living room, there’s a 108-inch cinema screen and projector. Every room, including the master bathroom, has an LCD flat panel TV. The Lutron lighting system was designed by a leading international designer. It allows you to control all your lighting from one central location by selecting a “lighting profile” that suits your needs. Not only that, but it can also be programmed to simulate occupancy. For example, the computer tracks your everyday use for, say, two weeks and then runs the same lighting pattern while you’re away – convincing those perky burglars that not only are you at home, you’re sticking to your usual routine. Clever!

If that’s what you get for €5.4 million – imagine what €15 million buys you! And as chance would have it, the very same developer is currently building a €15 million villa on the Bay of Formentor in Mallorca’s select north-eastern corner. Will it be hard to move? Not a bit of it. It’s confidently expected to be sold before completion!


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