Wake up on a hill, luncheon on a beach - in the same resort

The estate was so big we never did find the boules, tennis or squash courts.


The Bon Sol resort is an almost indeterminable sprawling estate

The Bon Sol resort is an almost indeterminable sprawling estate

The telephone rang in my bedroom at the Bon Sol hotel. It was my travel companion. "I've just been to the gym" he informed me. "Now I am having breakfast at the beachside restaurant. Come quickly its gorgeous out here"

Quickly? I had just slipped out of my comfy king-size bed and was enjoying some rays on my sea-view bedroom balcony sipping a freshly made coffee. I contemplated my options realizing this was never going to be a quick dash to breakfast.

My accommodation was in the main section of this hill-perched hotel. Getting to the resort's beachside restaurant meant descending to reception by lift or staircase, crossing a road and negotiating 200 steps through various garden terraces.

Alternatively I could hitch a ride on a lift to a sweet smelling, beautifully tiled subterranean tunnel passing a tiny chapel and the odd antique to bypass the outdoors.

Either way the jaunt takes at least 10 minutes and I would still have to pass through a tropical garden, a waterfall, some signs pointing to French boules, tennis and squash courts (which I never did locate), a couple of outdoor swimming pools and kid's pool and a series of beach side villas to have breakfast (or lunch or dinner for that matter) overlooking the privately owned horseshoe of wave-whishing sandy beach and the Balearic Sea.

Ironically, anyone passing along Paseo de Illetas might easily miss the entrance to the Bon Sol Hotel.

A glass doorway is reached by a set of ten stone steps and through an arch adorned with carvings of all manner of facial expressions and framed with flowers and foliage. It is a smallish area and gives no hint of the unfolding, sprawling mass of this resort.

Getting there

Package: Classic Collection Holidays offers three nights at Hotel Bon Sol from £589 and seven nights from £913 per person. Based on two adults sharing a classic twin room on B&B basis and includes return flights and private transfers.
www.classic-colllection.co.uk
0800 294 9315

But if not for Antonio Xamena, originally from Felanitx, it may never have existed at all.

When Antonio's wife, Roger, complained of being lonely in Mallorca he came up with an elegant solution that combined the well-being of his wife with his love of this mountainous sea enveloped land. They would develop a hotel.

They chose a villa that belonged to Castle Bendinat in a small bay in Illetas, around five miles from the capital, Palma.

In 1953, the 14-bedroomed Bonsol hotel accepted its first guests. In its second year, Errol Flynn stayed awhile and though it was becoming steadily more popular, it didn't have the sea frontage so revered by holidaymakers.

Antonio bought all the land down to the beach and developed a complex of villas with restaurants and pools. But to get there from the main reception guests had quite an arduous trek. So the underground tunnel was born.

Today's complex has 240 beds and the mantle has now passed to his son Martin which he shares with wife Lorraine and son Alejandro. Together they are building on a superb legacy of hospitality ensuring that each guest exchanges pleasantries with at least one of them every day.

At check-in everyone is given a map and welcome drink voucher to be taken at the bar, a room of dark wood, burgundy chairs, just off the reception area. This incidentally morphs into a dance floor later when the atmosphere brightens up with dimmed lighting and the rhythms of live singers churning out easy-listening music.

I took a few minutes to relax in the bar's flowery al fresco terrace to devour the map. There are 20 places discover, apart from the bedroom, and I needed apply my internal compass to get my bearings.

The décor in the hill top segment of the resort is very much Spanish Castilian in style. Wood floors, low beamed ceilings, red carpets, light stone walls, chairs with burgundy upholstery, and precious porcelain and antiques in nooks and crannies.

From the top of the main staircase, a series of steps lead left and right. To the right is a bright winter garden conservatory for informal meals. This leads to an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. Elsewhere on the first floor another glass door leads to a fabulously lush mini-golf complex.

A sitting room and a library are superbly decorated in relaxing muted colours with antiques, exotic adornments from as far afield as Burma and Thailand and some bizarre object d'arts that the couple picked up on their world travels. Many of the paintings were inherited: an uncle had restored a monastery in Felanitx and these were a gift from the grateful monks.

Within these rooms are a golfer's corner (Martin sorts out rounds of golfs to the Bendinat golf course at preferential rates) and a cards room.

A couple of floors down are the yoga and exercise rooms. The classes are taken by Lorraine in candle-lit, soft- hued rooms. The gym, small but adequate, is on another part of the resort. A lift opens straight onto it.

A brown door opens up into a solarium with three sauna's and steam room, a wet room and flash cold shower area. This is where a snooze on a cushioned sunbed in front of glass windows was inevitable. To refresh I went through French doors onto the terrace for a dip in the plunge pool and a jacuzzi.

The spa and beauty parlour is one floor down. All sorts of anti-stress, anti-cellulite, anti-aging and anti-anything bad treatments are available.

There are several dining options but we opted for formal dining in Las Antorchas restaurant, a room clad with chandeliers, stone walls and medieval lanterns. Staff were courteous and noticed a theme in the items we were ordering. "Are you vegetarian?" the waitress asked and offered a vegetarian menu.

Indeed, the whole experience is a very civilized affair. Even the suits of armour that stand guard at strategic places amusingly don a skirt for modesty reasons.

Being a short walk to Illetas's public beach and a ten minute drive to Palma and the harbour area means being able to combine the slow, traditional pace of the resort with everything that the Mallorcan day and night life offers.

I would plan those jaunts later. But for now, breakfast was beckoning.

    Last updated: 1:18pm, July 20 2011