Review: Son Bunyola Hotel, Majorca
Spain | October 31, 2023 | Erica Rich
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition properties are known for their exceptional locations, and the latest addition is no different
Location: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition properties are known for their exceptional locations, and the latest addition is no different. Son Bunyola Hotel sits amid the Unesco World Heritage-protected Tramuntana Mountains on the northwest coast, about 40 minutes north of Palma.
First impressions: The breadth of this 526-hectare estate is hard to comprehend until you are there, rumbling down the winding, hairpin bends of the mountain toward a grand, castle-like building, which holds court amid a growing patchwork of almond and olive groves, young vines and fragrant citrus fruit trees. The best view in the house – a million-dollar vista overlooking the Balearic Sea and beyond – reveals itself from a sun-splashed terrace, which can be accessed by walking in a straight line from the property’s grand entrance.
The facts: The eighth hotel in Branson’s exclusive collection of hand-picked properties opened amid much fanfare in June. It was a long time coming: Branson bought the Son Bunyola Estate in 1994 and opened three luxury villas in 2005. But his dreams to convert the estate’s 16thcentury finca nearly didn’t come to fruition – after initial development plans were rejected, Branson sold the land, before buying it back again in 2015 when achieving planning permission looked more likely. Painstakingly restored to preserve its rich agricultural heritage and historic past, every aspect of Son Bunyola is considered, thoughtful and executed with style.
The property – the oldest part of which dates back to the 13th century – retains a host of its former features, from the grand marble staircase in the lobby and ornate tiled floors to the historic oil press and original alter that make an impressive statement in the hotel’s Sa Terrassa restaurant. Ancient fixtures sit alongside contemporary Majorcan design: rattan furniture, striped awnings and potted plants in the courtyard, scalloped umbrellas and bespoke cushions by the pool, individually styled rooms – all named after a tree or bird from the island. Two restaurants – Mediterranean eatery Sa Terrassa and soon-to-open tapas venue Sa Tafona – celebrate island and estate produce under the talented hand of Spanish chef Samuel Galdón.
The hotel’s 26 rooms are spread across the main finca, the tafona (olive mill) and several annex buildings, and include 11 suites, with the majority boasting a terrace or balcony. A compact spa houses two double treatment rooms; further R&R can be found while basking in the huge infinity pool – reportedly the largest on the island.
Ideal for: Couples, groups of friends and clients keen on boutique hotels. Families are welcomed though there are limited facilities for very young children.
Explore: Those feeling adventurous can make the 20-minute amble down the mountain to a secluded pebble beach (the property features three miles of private coastline). Famed for its undulating hills and safe roads, clients will likely want to take to two wheels in Majorca, and the hotel can provide e-bikes alongside guided excursions. Historical hiking tours, alfresco yoga (mats are provided in rooms) and tennis are also on offer. The small nearby villages of Esporles and Banyalbufar, and Sóller and Valldemossa farther afield, offer additional exploration.
Wow: More than 20 years in the making, Son Bunyola has a soul that feels special – and Virgin Limited Edition has every intention to retain it. Keen to restore the land to its agricultural roots, new vines have been planted, with the hope of reproducing the estate’s Malvasia wine from 2026. The hotel’s existing vegetable and herb garden will be extended, with another farming patch set to be created to take advantage of the discovery of a natural on-site spring. Beehives have been installed across the estate and plans are afoot to add donkeys and sheep. Indeed, Branson’s propensity for entrepreneurship never fails to impress, and at Son Bunyola, it’s clear the 73-year-old’s ambitions are only partially realised. The estate’s three villas are due to be refreshed this winter, and there are plans to renovate another finca into a 12-suite ‘manor house’ for exclusive-use groups and weddings.
Book it: Rates start from €600 per room per night on a bed and breakfast basis. Virginlimitededition.com