Palma is enjoying a resurgence as a stylish, chic and cosmopolitan destination, but there's also a reflective, more tranquil aspect to enjoy. Sareda Dirir stays at the Hotel Bon Sol and explores the two sides of Mallorca.
Staying at The Hotel Bon Sol, Illetas, is the kind of wonderful experience that could almost eclipse the rest of your holiday. Situated just a few kilometres outside Palma at the foot of the Mallorcan mountains, the building itself is an intriguing one- dating back to the time of the Moorish Empire.
The Bon Sol layout is designed to surprise and delight. Turn one way down the maze of corridors, and find yourself in a light, airy 1920s breakfast hall. Round another corner, and emerge into a Cluedo-style drawing room complete with ornate tapestries, deep leather armchairs and creaking suits of armour.
Take the lift down to the basement and explore the hidden layers of Bon Sol- the cool subterranean passageway that takes bathers to the Bonsol's private beach cove, accessed by white-washed stone steps.
Originally named the Ben-Dinat, The Hotel Bon Sol has been owned for almost 6o years by the Xamena family. They say that you are the best advert for your product
and from the fragrant Lorraine- who maintains the inherent grace and elegance of her dancer past- to her doe-eyed daughter Nathalia, suavely handsome son Alejandro, and charming and genial husband Martin- the entire family are as warm and welcoming as their hotel.
I watch as Lorraine makes her way through the elegant drawing room, stopping to greet and chat to each of the guests. She explains to me why the Bon Sol has developed such a unique reputation '..Over the years we have really got to know the guests, some of them remember me a young newly-wed and here I am now with grown-up children of my own. We love to be sociable here but we also know when our guests need to be left alone...There is a real family feel to the hotel- people just love to come back....in fact several of our staff have been with us for over thirty five years…''
The food at the Bon Sol is fresh and and delicious. Be spoilt for choice at the beach-side restaurant- try the delectable cucumber and pepper Gazpacho, or seasoned Salmon carpaccio. For a more formal setting, the a la carte restaurant serves a traditional yet sophisticated menu.
Food for the soul is also in abundance at Bon Sol- yoga and meditation classes run daily and suit all levels. More of a pool person? There are plenty to choose from. Splash away amongst secret waterfalls, and canopied walkways, dripping with orchids and trailing blue passion-flowers.
Relaxation is a huge part of the Bon Sol experience and the spa treatments here are luxurious in the extreme. Experience the tribal body treatment with real rose petals and essential oils. Or, for those with a sweet tooth, indulge in the chocolate ritual treatment; a honey and sugar peeling, cocoa butter massage and hot cocoa wrap.
Night-life around the hotel is fairly quiet- but for a special occasion you may like to fit in a show at Palma Casino. Performances run regularly throughout the season and are a dazzling spectacle- worthy of any Las Vegas venue. Illusionists, aerial acrobatics, live music- it's entertainment as it used to be. For an extra treat, upgrade to first class and recline on long leather sofas, chilled champagne and canapés are served by a nostalgically-styled 1950s hostess.
After a few days of 'r and r' at Bon Sol you may be ready for the buzz of Palma Town. Stay at Hotel Tres an achingly slick Scandinavian project, managed by the equally slick Sven. The building (- a merchant’s palace, built in 1576) has been creatively restored, with open staircases, marble floors and exposed beams. Rooms are individually designed, light and airy. Most of them afford peaceful, inward-facing views of the old courtyard.
Shopping, and Palma has all the big names that you would expect in any European high street. Fortunately there are still a few stores that can provide some unusual holiday souvenirs. Drop into the Sausage Shop and stock up on some spicy Sobresadas, or one of the many 'white shops' - if you're going for that all-out Mediterranean 'beach look'. Tread carefully though, those linen wafty trousers never look quite as good back on rain-swept British shores.
Night-time and Palma becomes a different place entirely. Call into Puro Hotel for drinks at one of the city's coolest venues. Or if your Cuban heels are twitching, try La Belle Epoque, a laid-back salsa bar, open until the very early hours.
Just a few steps away from Hotel Tres is the famous Abaco, an opulent tourist trap, that's nevertheless worth the hype. Spawning many imitations over the last few years Abaco was one of the first of it's type. Fresh rose petals strew the floors and huge baskets of ripe fruit spill out over the bar...The signature drink is the Abaco Especialle; whisky, rum, Grand Marnier and mixed fruits….
On the night we visit, a wedding party is taking place, the women in billowing satin ball-gowns, the men in rakishly loose silk cravats. The music is familiar yet unrecognisable, and the crowd, indefinable. Spanish celebrities party hard amongst the dazed and confused.
It's a temple to hedonism.. and if you're doing it right, you may need a few days back at Bon Sol before the flight home!
Hotel Bon Sol www.hotelbonsol.es
Gran Casino, Palma de Mallorca www.casinodemallorca.com
Hotel Tres www.hoteltres.com
La Montana Sausage Shop 32, 33, 07001 Palma
Blanc du Nil www.blancdunil.com
Puro Hotel www.purohotel.com
Belle Epoque 07012 Palma Town
Classic Collection Holidays (www.classic-collection.co.uk, 0800 008 7288) offers 3 nights at Hotel Bon Sol from £393, 7 nights from £705 per person. Prices based on 2 adults sharing a classic double room on a B&B basis with return flights and private transfers.
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