VIR­GIN TER­RI­TORY

On the un­spoiled north- west coast of Mal­lorca, GE­OR­GIA HUMPHREYS en­joys a sump­tu­ous stay at one of Richard Bran­son’s re­treats

Solihull News - - TRAVEL -

FROM Necker Is­land to South Africa and Ver­bier, Sir Richard Bran­son has homes all over the world. And yet, there’s one place he holds par­tic­u­larly close to his heart – Son Bun­y­ola, a lux­ury re­treat on the north- west coast of Mal­lorca, which is open to the pub­lic as a Vir­gin Lim­ited Edi­tion prop­erty.

But how of­ten does the busy busi­ness mag­nate ac­tu­ally get to visit the sprawl­ing 680- acre es­tate with three vil­las nes­tled amongst seem­ingly end­less rows of trees?

Gen­eral man­ager Lee Bowes re­veals her boss rocked up to stay twice this year, and on his most re­cent visit, he even chal­lenged some guests to a game of ten­nis.

Ea­ger to sam­ple the place for my­self, I head over for a long week­end.

The founder of Vir­gin group first vis­ited Mal­lorca as a child, and he later took his own chil­dren to the Span­ish is­land for sum­mer hol­i­days. In fact, the Bran­sons are such fans of this re­gion, his son, Sam, even named daugh­ter Eva- Deia af­ter the town Deia, which is a 45- minute drive from Son Bun­y­ola.

Sur­rounded by the Tra­muntana moun­tain range, jut­ting out from the lime green coast­line to the azure sea, Son Bun­y­ola is close to plenty of hik­ing and cy­cling trails and is per­fect for an adren­a­line junkie like Bran­son. It’s also peace­fully un­spoiled.

On the hel­ter skel­ter of a drive down from the main road, you’ll gasp at the cen­tral 18th- cen­tury finca build­ing, typ­i­cal of the grand farm­houses that can be found all over Mal­lorca and Spain. Rows upon rows of crum­bling ter­races lead down from it, mak­ing pat­terns on a land­scape dot­ted with vines and tow­er­ing olive trees.

Amaz­ingly, some mem­bers of the team who work at Son Bun­y­ola to­day ac­tu­ally lived in the finca as chil­dren in the 1970s. Back then, the es­tate was used as farm­land and har­vested al­falfa, al­monds and vegeta­bles.

As for the fu­ture? Plans are in the pipe­line to trans­form the finca into a villa, and olive oil will be pro­duced on the es­tate within a year.

Per­haps it’s the se­cluded lo­ca­tion, with no other build­ings in view for kilo­me­tres, or the fact guests have their own team and chef on hand to cater for ev­ery need – but I’ve never stayed some­where so tran­quil.

There are three in­di­vid­ual vil­las to choose from – Sa Terra Rotja, Son Bala­gueret and Sa Punta de S’Aguila – and each feels very dif­fer­ent.

With hand­crafted ter­ra­cotta floor­ing and lo­cal Binissalem stone used through­out, the vibe is un­doubt­edly tra­di­tional – and yet, there’s a clever con­tem­po­rary con­trast thanks to pops of bright art­work.

I stay in Sa Punta de S’Aguila, which trans­lates as ‘ Ea­gle’s Point’ – a five- bed­room villa lo­cated along a track above the coast­line.

My room feels light and airy, thanks to the ex­posed beam ceil­ing, large win­dows and tra­di­tional dark green shut­ters open­ing out on to a ter­race. I have ac­cess to a pri­vate heated swim­ming pool with a great choice of fun in­flat­a­bles, and re­lax­ing with the moun­tains in view is a pic­ture- per­fect hol­i­day mem­ory.

Post- swim, I rel­ish my huge walk- in shower– it takes up the en­tire length of one side of the bath­room.

Morn­ings be­gin with down­ward dogs at sun­rise on my ter­race over­look­ing the sea. Jay from Earth Yoga, a stu­dio in Deia, comes to lead classes tai­lored to ex­pe­ri­ences and pref­er­ences.

Spa ther­a­pists from Moun­tain Well­ness also ven­ture onto the es­tate to re­ju­ve­nate me with an out­door mas­sage. The sound of bird­song means there’s no need for re­lax­ing spa mu­sic.

When it comes to eat­ing and drink­ing at the villa, you’re en­cour­aged to help your­self to any­thing in the fridges – there’s ev­ery al­co­hol imag­in­able on hand, ice lol­lies for the kids, canapés, punchy cock­tails and bowls brim­ming with choco­lates.

Grin­ning chef Bruno cooks lunch and din­ner at the villa, and will sneak­ily lis­ten in on meal­time con­ver­sa­tions for in­spi­ra­tion about what guests might like to eat next.

Break­fast is laid out in the morn­ings, so you can come and go as you please – just make sure you ask the chef to pre- cook his spe­cial pan­cakes to leave in the fridge for you.

Bran­son loves hik­ing around the es­tate, and a walk not to miss is the one down to Son Bun­y­ola peb­ble beach, which takes 40 min­utes from Son Bala­gueret. Ask the team for a pair of aqua shoes, so you can clam­ber over the rocks pain- free, and float in the ocean with an un­in­ter­rupted view down the wild ter­ra­cotta- red coast.

My favourite ac­tiv­ity is a hike along the path to Banyal­b­u­far. Our guide, Ed­uard, who founded Mal­lor­cAlpina with his brother David, teaches me about the flora.

I spot wild straw­berry trees and mush­rooms – along with houses be­long­ing to fa­mous faces, such as Michael Dou­glas.

Fol­low­ing a quick swim and fiery sun­set at Banyal­b­u­far, I head for din­ner. ( Once a week, staff at the vil­las have a day off, en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­one to go out and ex­plore.)

Run by a lo­cal lady called Mag­dalena, Can Paco is a favourite haunt for Son Bun­y­ola guests. Af­ter de­vour­ing their crispy gar­lic squid, I can see why. But if you re­ally want to hol­i­day like Sir Richard Bran­son, he al­ways goes for their sig­na­ture paella.

It’s true, the en­tre­pre­neur is a man with good taste. And his spe­cial re­treat Son Bun­y­ola is quickly be­com­ing one of my favourite places too.

Richard Bran­son has rocked up to stay twice this year. He even chal­lenged guests at ten­nis

Sa Punta, Son Bun­y­ola, Mal­lorca

Ex­plore the grounds at Sa Punta

The villa kitchen

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