Inside Sir Richard Branson's Magical New Mallorca Resort

Inside Sir Richard Branson's Magical New Mallorca Resort

October 11, 2023 by

Michael Mccarthy Michael Mccarthy

Sir Richard Branson’s new resort on Mallorca, situated on a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is as dreamy as its name: Son Bunyola.

PHOTO BY MICHAEL MCCARTHY

Everyone who visits Mallorca has a love story. Mine takes place early on a Monday morning. The air is still and sweet, with hints of rosemary drifting over a corner of the Balearic island. Let’s call it Sir Richard Branson’s corner: a UNESCO World Heritage site—1,300 acres in all—overlooking the Mediterranean, where the serial entrepreneur and visionary has revitalized a 16th century finca (a Spanish ranch or estate) and christened it Son Bunyola. The resort opened last summer with 26 rooms and suites.

The new property sits on 1,300 acres;  PHOTO COURTESY OF VIRGIN LIMITED EDITION
The new property sits on 1,300 acres.

A top one of the new Cannondale bikes available to guests, I pedal up the steep mountain road that snakes from Son Bunyola to the main thoroughfare. Centuries-old stone walls frame narrow switchbacks. Wild goats, startled by gravel tossed by my tires, hurdle the walls.

After 30 minutes to the top, I reach the property’s gate. I guzzle water and survey the tableau: layer upon layer of geologic history in the Tramuntana Mountains, colored with olive trees and Aleppo pines. The Mediterranean and the resort’s beige turrets punctuate the horizon.

 the rooms and suites showcase a combination of traditional and modern aesthetics;  PHOTO COURTESY OF VIRGIN LIMITED EDITION
The rooms and suites showcase a combination of traditional and modern aesthetics.

Branson’s new retreat didn’t happen overnight. He discovered the property in 1994 and constructed two private villas on the estate. He tried mightily to transform the finca into a hotel for years, but local planning commissions repeatedly denied his vision. He sold the property in 2002 and repurchased it in 2015. Be glad he did. Undaunted, Branson began planning a Spanish masterpiece.

most rooms, including this deluxe suite, boast outstanding vistas. PHOTO COURTESY OF VIRGIN LIMITED EDITION
Most rooms, including this deluxe suite, boast outstanding vistas.

Local firm GRAS Reynés Arquitectos teamed with interior designers Rialto Living to create suites and public spaces that preserve the property’s history while adding modern amenities. Stone arches and wrought ironwork combine with subtle hues among window shutters and terra-cotta flooring to give the resort a cinematic patina. Original elements remain, including an altar in the finca’s former chapel, which now sits in the property’s signature restaurant, Sa Terrassa.

Vincent Padioleau, the resort’s general manager, doesn’t hesitate when I ask about his favorite part of the property. He gestures toward the horizon and the views. We stand on a patio between the outdoor dining area and the 28-meter swimming pool framed by parasol umbrellas and chaise lounges with lime pillows. Beyond the Tafona wing, where two suites and a historic olive press reside, Padioleau points to rows of grape vines. Branson’s team replanted the historic vineyard with native malvasia grapes. “We found wine labels from 100 years ago,” says the general manager. “We want to honor that tradition. By 2026, we hope to produce 10,000 bottles.”

an ancient altar sits in the property’s signature restaurant, Sa Terrassa;  SA TERRASSA PHOTO BY MICHAEL MCCARTY;
An ancient altar sits in the property’s signature restaurant, Sa Terrassa.

Before guests enjoy these estate wines, they’ll discover an impressive collection assembled by the culinary team at Sa Terrassa. Michelin-starred executive chef Samuel Galdón, who began his career on the island, helms the kitchen. Indulge in a seven-course tasting menu, including seafood paella; 75% of Galdón’s ingredients hail from the island, and honey, almonds and olive oil come from the property. A second restaurant, Sa Tafona, opens soon.

Guests can hike or bike the area’s famous GR221 trail, which traverses through Son Bunyola. Trek on your own or, better yet, spend a morning, as I do, with Martín Bestard (@ martinswalks), who’s a cross between a giddy giant and a botanist. Bestard points out flora, including 1,000-year-old olive trees, as we stroll amid whining cicadas. Later in the day, I paddleboard along the coast and duck into ancient caves; other days, I play tennis on the resort’s new courts. I can’t imagine a more breathtaking setting.

 the turret suites offer rooftop lounges; PHOTO COURTESY OF VIRGIN LIMITED EDITION
The turret suites offer rooftop lounges.

Reverential chatter always follows the Branson formula for success. I can’t speak for his commercial flight or mobile businesses, but he clearly understands we crave authentic places of renewal when it comes to hospitality. My Mallorcan love story is about discovering a place where all the weight of time, personal and earthly, fades— and memory begins.













Inside Sir Richard Branson's Magical New Mallorca Resort

October 11, 2023 by Michael Mccarthy

Sir Richard Branson’s new resort on Mallorca, situated on a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is as dreamy as its name: Son Bunyola.

PHOTO BY MICHAEL MCCARTHY

Everyone who visits Mallorca has a love story. Mine takes place early on a Monday morning. The air is still and sweet, with hints of rosemary drifting over a corner of the Balearic island. Let’s call it Sir Richard Branson’s corner: a UNESCO World Heritage site—1,300 acres in all—overlooking the Mediterranean, where the serial entrepreneur and visionary has revitalized a 16th century finca (a Spanish ranch or estate) and christened it Son Bunyola. The resort opened last summer with 26 rooms and suites.

The new property sits on 1,300 acres;  PHOTO COURTESY OF VIRGIN LIMITED EDITION
The new property sits on 1,300 acres.

A top one of the new Cannondale bikes available to guests, I pedal up the steep mountain road that snakes from Son Bunyola to the main thoroughfare. Centuries-old stone walls frame narrow switchbacks. Wild goats, startled by gravel tossed by my tires, hurdle the walls.

After 30 minutes to the top, I reach the property’s gate. I guzzle water and survey the tableau: layer upon layer of geologic history in the Tramuntana Mountains, colored with olive trees and Aleppo pines. The Mediterranean and the resort’s beige turrets punctuate the horizon.

 the rooms and suites showcase a combination of traditional and modern aesthetics;  PHOTO COURTESY OF VIRGIN LIMITED EDITION
The rooms and suites showcase a combination of traditional and modern aesthetics.

Branson’s new retreat didn’t happen overnight. He discovered the property in 1994 and constructed two private villas on the estate. He tried mightily to transform the finca into a hotel for years, but local planning commissions repeatedly denied his vision. He sold the property in 2002 and repurchased it in 2015. Be glad he did. Undaunted, Branson began planning a Spanish masterpiece.

most rooms, including this deluxe suite, boast outstanding vistas. PHOTO COURTESY OF VIRGIN LIMITED EDITION
Most rooms, including this deluxe suite, boast outstanding vistas.

Local firm GRAS Reynés Arquitectos teamed with interior designers Rialto Living to create suites and public spaces that preserve the property’s history while adding modern amenities. Stone arches and wrought ironwork combine with subtle hues among window shutters and terra-cotta flooring to give the resort a cinematic patina. Original elements remain, including an altar in the finca’s former chapel, which now sits in the property’s signature restaurant, Sa Terrassa.

Vincent Padioleau, the resort’s general manager, doesn’t hesitate when I ask about his favorite part of the property. He gestures toward the horizon and the views. We stand on a patio between the outdoor dining area and the 28-meter swimming pool framed by parasol umbrellas and chaise lounges with lime pillows. Beyond the Tafona wing, where two suites and a historic olive press reside, Padioleau points to rows of grape vines. Branson’s team replanted the historic vineyard with native malvasia grapes. “We found wine labels from 100 years ago,” says the general manager. “We want to honor that tradition. By 2026, we hope to produce 10,000 bottles.”

an ancient altar sits in the property’s signature restaurant, Sa Terrassa;  SA TERRASSA PHOTO BY MICHAEL MCCARTY;
An ancient altar sits in the property’s signature restaurant, Sa Terrassa.

Before guests enjoy these estate wines, they’ll discover an impressive collection assembled by the culinary team at Sa Terrassa. Michelin-starred executive chef Samuel Galdón, who began his career on the island, helms the kitchen. Indulge in a seven-course tasting menu, including seafood paella; 75% of Galdón’s ingredients hail from the island, and honey, almonds and olive oil come from the property. A second restaurant, Sa Tafona, opens soon.

Guests can hike or bike the area’s famous GR221 trail, which traverses through Son Bunyola. Trek on your own or, better yet, spend a morning, as I do, with Martín Bestard (@ martinswalks), who’s a cross between a giddy giant and a botanist. Bestard points out flora, including 1,000-year-old olive trees, as we stroll amid whining cicadas. Later in the day, I paddleboard along the coast and duck into ancient caves; other days, I play tennis on the resort’s new courts. I can’t imagine a more breathtaking setting.

 the turret suites offer rooftop lounges; PHOTO COURTESY OF VIRGIN LIMITED EDITION
The turret suites offer rooftop lounges.

Reverential chatter always follows the Branson formula for success. I can’t speak for his commercial flight or mobile businesses, but he clearly understands we crave authentic places of renewal when it comes to hospitality. My Mallorcan love story is about discovering a place where all the weight of time, personal and earthly, fades— and memory begins.