Trek With Donkeys in Deià
By morning, spa manager Melanie is dispensing caviar collagen treatments to pampered human guests at Belmond's La Residencia but, come afternoon, it's the hotel's resident donkeys that are receiving the five-star treatment. Beauty expert and donkey whisperer in seemingly equal parts, Melanie feeds, grooms and cuddles her four-legged charges daily.
The five VIP residents were originally brought to the hotel as living, breathing lawnmowers and, with endless pastures on the estate, they must have felt as if they were in an edible palace.
Visitors can book to explore a hiking trail across the Belmond estate with the loveable beasts every Thursday. In the summer months, if the heat is too intense, meet-and-greet sessions are laid on instead. Armed with grooming brushes, guests are invited to muck in and can expect a dense tangle of fur to fly off each donkey as toasty winter coats are shed.
However, it's the trail that represents the best adventure. Strolling through the Unesco-designated hilltops, you'll find few views more breathtaking than your first of Deià. The village's gardens are a whirlwind of colour, while the skyline more closely resembles a watercolour painting than real life. At the end of a trek through mountain olive groves, taste buds will be tempted by a picnic lunch in a traditional stone shepherd's hut, before you'll follow in the trusty donkeys' footsteps back to the hotel.
Animal lovers need not fear - hikes take place only once per week to avoid overtiring the donkeys, while the rest of their working week entails little more than grazing. That seems much easier - and, in the donkey world, more delicious - than the work of the on-site gardening team.