Four years ago, when I was planning a holiday in Mallorca, a stunning photograph caught my eye. It showed a private beach in a shallow cove, backed by luxuriant gardens with a bright white Moorish tower rising out of the pines. This is the Hotel Bon Sol Resort & Spa, located just 5 miles (8km) west along the coast from Palma and one of the best and oldest Mallorca resort hotels.
It was love at first sight, but we weren't the first to fall for the Bon Sol's charms. As we chatted to other guests we learned that many were back for the second, third or even fourth time. The hotel's repeat guests number over 80 percent, and recently we joined them when we returned in September for another visit.
Then, as before, we travelled with Classic Collection Holidays. They arranged our flights, airport transfers, and made getting to and from Mallorca a breeze.
Classic Family-Run Mallorca Resort Hotel Offers Personal Service
With 92 guest rooms and 37 garden villas, Hotel Bon Sol is large enough to offer a range of amenities but small enough for the personal touch. It is owned and run by Martin and Lorraine Xamena and their children, and you often see Martin around the hotel, greeting guests and making sure everyone is enjoying their stay. Underneath his friendly, laid-back style is the keen attention to detail that gives the Bon Sol its reputation for excellent service.
The guest rooms are very spacious and comfortable, ranging from twin and double bedrooms to junior and family suites. No two are alike, but the decor throughout is light and airy, with fine furnishings, comfy sofas or armchairs, writing desks and plenty of storage areas for clothes and belongings.
Bathrooms are large, and stocked with ample-sized toiletries. The rooms have air-conditioning and central heating, telephone, TV, radio and minibar. There is free wifi in the lounge areas.
Best of all, each room has a balcony or terrace, most with beautiful views over the Bay of Palma. We loved the fact that we could relax over a celebratory bottle of sparkling wine or have a quiet hour in the privacy of our room, and still enjoy the sea.
The main building of the Hotel Bon Sol is full of inviting lounges and cosy corners. The wood beamed or panelled ceilings, antique furniture and suits of armour make it feel like a medieval castle. Beautiful paintings, porcelain, statuary and other works of art, many of which were acquired by Martin's parents on their travels in the Far East, enhance the warmth and character of the hotel.
Three Pools and a Beach – and Other Resort Amenities
Guests at the Hotel Bon Sol have three swimming pools to choose from, including a heated Jacuzzi pool adjoining the main building. A lift and tunnel system connects the main building to the garden area, which leads down to the beach via several stone terraces.
My favourite pool, the rock pool, is here, surrounded by lush palms, tropical plants and the lulling murmur of a waterfall. On the terrace above is another Jacuzzi pool, and there is a separate children's pool here as well. A central patio has plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas, and a bar for drinks and snacks.
Below the patio, two more terraces lined with sun loungers form a semi-circle above the small, sandy beach. The turquoise water is clear, shallow and safe, perfect for a leisurely dip or playing with the kids.
Other corners of the grounds offer a variety of resort activities: volleyball, tennis court, French boules and a children's playground. There's even a mini-golf course winding through the trees. Inside is a fitness room and squash court.
Nirvana Spa at this Mallorca Resort Hotel
Staying at the Bon Sol naturally induces a feeling of well-being, one which is further enhanced by the Nirvana Spa (right). In its soothing, candlelit space, you can pamper yourself with a range of face and body treatments.
Among the many offerings are Thalassotherapy treatments, moisturising, slimming and anti-ageing treatments, and face and body rituals using traditional tribal elements – even chocolate. Holistic massage options include Ayurvedic, hot-stone, Hawaiian, Balinese, Thai and Shiatsu techniques.
Also located here is the Nirvana Wet Spa, open to all guests over age 18. It includes a sauna, Turkish bath and Jacuzzi.
Complimentary yoga and tai chi classes are offered most days. I especially enjoyed the chance to practice tai chi again after many years, and my teacher, Nathaniel, was so inspiring that I've kept it up since returning home.
Restaurants and Bars at Hotel Bon Sol
We began our stay with a relaxing welcome drink in the hotel bar. This large, friendly space has comfortable sofas as well as tables and a breezy outdoor terrace, and a menu of sandwiches and bar snacks. There is live music most evenings until around midnight.
For dinner, Hotel Bon Sol has two fine restaurants. The large dining room in the main building (above) has a formal, yet relaxed atmosphere, with white tablecloths, red cushioned chairs and wood-beamed ceiling. A piano player at the entrance provides soft background music.
This restaurant offers a gourmet menu nightly, which consists of four set courses. Alternatively, the regular menu has several choices per course, ranging from fresh seafood to tender steak to vegetarian options. The food was delicious, and we especially enjoyed the Mallorcan dishes.
The restaurant has a good wine list offering plenty of choice, with several wines served by the glass. Bottles range from affordably priced to splash-the-boat-out selections. At our waiter's suggestion, we gave the house wine a try and found it very good indeed.
Our favourite restaurant at the Bon Sol, though, is the terrace restaurant (right) which overlooks the sea. As there is less seating here, you need to book a table a day ahead. The menu is similar to the dining room, but with some different entrees, a salad bar and delectable dessert bar. The atmosphere here is casual and romantic, with the fresh sea breeze and gentle sound of waves lapping on the beach below. A classical guitarist provides musical entertainment.
Lunch is also served daily at the terrace restaurant. Last but certainly not least, are the Bon Sol's bountiful breakfasts, with buffet tables of fresh fruits, meats, cheeses, breads and pastries, and more; hot sausages, bacon and other cooked fare, and eggs freshly cooked to order. They are served in the bright and sunny breakfast room.
Keeping Mallorca Green
Those beautiful gardens that first drew me to the Hotel Bon Sol were created by Martin's father, Antonio, who founded the hotel 60 years ago, well before the tourist boom hit the island. An early guest was film star Errol Flynn, who became a family friend.
The gardens are truly Mallorcan in character, with native plants and trees thriving on traditional stone terraces and pathways that tumble gently down the hillside. It took 20 years for a team of six men to construct the gardens, and today the mature date palms, mulberry, olive and ficus trees, oleander, hibiscus, bougainvillea and other exotic flowers form a lush and magical retreat.
But at the Bon Sol, it's not only the gardens that are green. As the hotel grew, the family always incorporated ecologically sound principles to protect the island's environment, long before 'green' became fashionable. In the 1950s, the heating was designed to run on almond shells. In 1968, the Bon Sol became the first building on Mallorca to have solar panels installed.
Today, the waste refrigeration heat is recycled to heat the swimming pool, waste air conditioning heats the water for baths and showers, and the subtropical gardens are maintained with a minimum of recycled water. And to offset the carbon footprint of hotel guests flying to Mallorca, the Xamena family has planted nearly a quarter of a million teak and local rainforest trees in Costa Rica in an ongoing project.
Because it has so many returning guests, Hotel Bon Sol has one more way to reduce the impact of flying. With its left luggage service, you can leave a packed suitcase at the hotel for your visit the following year. I rather like the idea of having a special Bon Sol wardrobe. There's no chance of losing it, as I know I'll be back.
Dec 26, 16 03:03 AM
Beyond London Travel visits Floors Castle near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, family home of the Duke of Roxburghe and one of VisitScotland's 5-star visitor attractions, a Scottish Downton Abbey.
Dec 04, 16 12:37 PM
The Beyond London Travel Books page reviews guidebooks, history, mysteries and fiction to help readers enjoy their visits to England, the UK, France, and beyond.
Dec 04, 16 12:20 PM
Beyond London Travel reviews Food Trails, a new guidebook from Lonely Planet for the culinary traveller which helps you plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the world's tastiest destinations.