Saying hola to Son Bunyola - our beautiful new hotel in Mallorca
It’s been just magical to open the doors of Son Bunyola Hotel – our beautiful new Virgin Limited Edition property in Mallorca. The beautiful hotel sits on the same UNESCO world heritage site estate as the three villas we have there - Sa Terra Rotja, Sa Punta de S’Aguila and Son Balagueret.
I’ve loved Mallorca ever since I was a little kid and first visited with my Mum and Dad. Many years ago, I bought a hotel on the island, which we ran for a long time, before falling in love with the Son Bunyola villas and estate. Virgin Limited Edition have made the villas so special, but there was another part of the estate we always wanted to restore – a 16th century finca nestled into the estate site. However, it wasn’t easy. The finca has some of the highest protection levels given to historical buildings, so this meant years of meticulous planning, many historical and archaeological studies, and a devoted focus on sustainability. Over 20 years after first setting eyes on the crumbling finca, it’s incredible to see it brought back to life.
As I explored the beautiful hotel and the 1,300 acre estate – filled with olive trees, vineyards, three miles of its own gleaming coastline, and mountainous backdrop – I knew it was all worth the wait. I can’t wait for people to experience it, and Virgin Red is running a brilliant competition (until July 30) for four people to win a four-night stay, with lots of extras included. Here’s where you can find the details, and the terms and conditions.
There are so many people to acknowledge for this hotel, and I can’t thank them enough. From builders to the interior designers at Rialto Living, to the architects at GRAS, to Mallorca’s Heritage Department and many other government departments, to environmental consultants and landscapers, to our wonderful front of house team and everybody in-between – we couldn’t have done this without you all. I’d also like to thank my good friend, Vincent Padioleau, who became General Manager of Son Bunyola after spending many years looking after Kasbah Tamadot – our magical retreat in Morocco.
After cutting the ribbon, I spent a few days exploring the hotel and the estate. We went cycling, hiking, venturing down to the beach, doing laps in the pool, playing tennis with a few pros, and having Spanish BBQ’s under the hot Spanish sun - with cicada’s humming in the air. The cycling was a real highlight, as I truly believe it’s one of the best areas for cycling in the world. We weaved up and down steep hills and sharp corners, before stopping to explore another finca on the site that we’d like to develop (more on this soon). While we were there, I decided to take a short-cut which involved climbing across a fallen tree. I was with a group of journalists, and I think they loved going off the beaten track!
Later that afternoon, we put on a tennis tournament with a special visit from Tommy Haas, Toni Nadal (Rafa’s uncle and coach of many years), Boris Becker, and Felicano Lopez. It was neck and neck in a doubles match with me and Tommy taking on Felicano and Christian Magg before we (sadly, but graciously) lost by one point. I was then surprised with an honorary membership to the Mallorca Country Club, which was such a kind gesture.
Given its beauty, I love how the whole Son Bunyola estate is open for everyone to enjoy. People can stop by for a coffee, lunch, dinner, or a cocktail. They can stroll down to the beach, and the team even cut a hole in the fence so the neighbours can pick mushrooms on the property. We actually only have a fence so we can keep the sheep in!
It's also the thoughtful details that make the place so special. 16th century doors have been re-purposed as coffee tables, and traditional Mallorcan design features are perfectly paired with unique pieces of art – including a very special piece from my talented sister, Lindy. On the 1,300 estate, there are 7,000 magnificent olive trees – some of which are up to 2,000 years old. Lindy’s beautiful drawing of this tree adds to the natural beauty of the estate so well.
The hotel is also dotted with lovely décor made by Moroccan artisans training at the Eve Branson Foundation (a charity set up by my wonderful late mum). There is a beautiful vegetable garden growing, which will be used in the kitchen and the team has planted hundreds of trees in the last few months. By next year we will have our own almonds, citrus and olives; and by 2026 we will have Malvasia wine.
It also fills me with pride to see how Virgin Limited Edition embraces the local community. At Son Bunyola, 80% of the team are Spanish, and 50% come from Mallorca. As the hotel grows, these numbers will grow too. Meeting the chef, Samuel G. Galdón, and tasting his delicious food was a real highlight too. Samuel is so passionate about local produce and a fork-to-table philosophy, and it really shows in his dishes.
Thank you once more to everyone who took so much care to bring this piece of Mallorcan history back to life. This is just the beginning for Son Bunyola and its wonderful team, and I cannot wait for our guests to experience the magic for themselves. Don’t forget to enter Virgin Red’s competition too!