This deceptively large hotel couldn’t have a better location. Hotel Bon Sol Resort and Spa is in Illetas, which is only 8 km (5 miles) from central Palma. One doesn’t need the extra expense of car hire: the bus stop is only a few yards away and an attractive €1.50 for a short ride into town.
This is a fine 4-star Superior hotel but it has a story which continues. Antonio Xamena, father of the present owner, became interested in gardens of every kind, from village plots to palace landscapes. This passion would serve him well when designing the grounds of the future Bon Sol hotel. When he was 17, he left his village and began work as a clerk in a tailor’s shop, just at a time when Palma was becoming increasingly popular with French and English travellers. His language skills allowed him to become chief clerk and then area manager.
Antonio loved living by the sea and swimming, and would dive in every morning before work. But the expansion of the harbour made the water muddy near where he lived, and less ideal for his daily dip. There were still clear waters in a small bay at Illetas and there was an old villa there. He bought the property in 1951. He and his wife moved in and they decided to use the extra rooms as a guest house, where they would accommodate visitors.
Errol Flynn stayed here
In June 1953 the first guest arrived and a year later Hollywood actor Errol Flynn stayed at the Bon Sol. He enjoyed it so much that he recommended a number of his friends to stay with the Xamena’s, who had become friends. The family have pictures of Errol Flynn teaching the present owner, Antonio’s son Martin, how to use a sword in true swashbuckling fashion. They acquired more land in 1957 including the small cove which is such an asset to this hotel.
Antonio and his wife Roger travelled, and collected objets d’art in places they visited around the world. Those paintings, statues, carvings and wall-hangings add so much to the individual charm of the Bon Sol. There is evidence of traditional Spanish style with wood furniture, panels and stone, but there is so much more to fascinate the guest.
So Martin, the now-grown sword-fighting child, and Lorraine, his English wife, and their children continue the tradition of hospitality started by Martin’s parents. These folks are not anonymous owners but are very much hands-on. Martin, Lorraine and their son Alejandro can be seen around the hotel every day. They greet their guests, some of whom might have been coming to Bon Sol for many years, although this is a hotel catering to every age, and it is finding a new and appreciative audience with young families. Perhaps this is the strength of Bon Sol: one can teach hotel management but real hospitality is a personal skill and the Xamena family are genuinely welcoming and warm. They have staff who have been with them for decades and that is something of an accolade.
Cava on a balmy evening
Hotel Bon Sol Resort and Spa has evolved over time. The main building has a new reception area. There is a spacious bar with an outside terrace on which to enjoy a chilled glass of cava on balmy evenings. You’ll find plenty of quiet corners and sofas on which to enjoy a good book. There is a library, and computer terminals and a printer for the use of guests. There is wifi everywhere for those who just can’t extract themselves from work or, more importantly, Twitter.
It has improved and expanded. No two of its bedrooms and suites are alike, but they are all well-appointed, as one would expect from a 4-star Superior hotel. There is the aforementioned wifi, obligatory minibar and electronic in-room safe. But the comforting inclusion of the tea- and coffee-making tray is an asset so often overlooked in European hotels. Perhaps that’s Lorraine’s English input! There is a TV with a good selection of channels, bathrobe and slippers, toiletries and hairdryer in the spacious bathroom. There is air-conditioning for the summer and heating for the mild winter. My room had a balcony with views over the cove.
Your day sorted
Leisure facilities include a heated pool in which to exercise, a non-heated pool around which to sit (although the more hardy will swim), two tennis courts, squash, crazy golf, table tennis, pool table, volleyball, petanque, children’s playground, gym, saunas, spa, Turkish bath, thalasso and physiotherapy. So that’s your day sorted, then. There is a children’s club in the hotel from June to September where the younger members of the group can enjoy activities while parents relax.
A full English buffet breakfast and continental buffet is served in the winter-garden conservatory or down by the beach. This is a creditable spread, and don’t miss the local specialities and the Sunday cava. The buffet lunch will have vacationers drooling over salads, fish, meat, paella and some rather well-crafted desserts, but don’t be too tempted to fill up as dinner won’t be far away.
The restaurant in the main building is elegant and somewhat more formal. Glass sparkles and candlelight flickers. The food here compares favourably with independent restaurants, and an upgrade from half-board to full-board is exceptionally reasonable (bed-and-breakfast rates are also available). The chef introduces diners to local ingredients and wines which one won’t easily find away from Mallorca. Fish is particularly good. Meals might even be accompanied by entertainment: there is often a piano player and sometimes a flamenco evening which is vibrant and colourful.
Hotel Bon Sol Resort and Spa is close to Palma with its historic cathedral, high-end shops, galleries and bars, but there are other places to visit outside town, such as the monastery which became Frederick Chopin’s home, and the house of celebrated author Robert Graves, who penned many novels including I Claudius. There is so much more to this island, and you can discover it easily using Bon Sol as a base. There is culture, art, refinement here and it’s a world away from the high-rise mass-catering resorts of some parts of the coast.
Hotel Bon Sol Resort and Spa
Paseo de Illetas
Phone: +34 971 402 111
Fax: +34 971 402 559
Hotel Bon Sol Resort & Spa has 146 rooms and villas spread through the grounds, with excellent dining and leisure facilities including a luxury spa, 3 swimming pools, tennis, and a quiet beach cove.
Visit Hotel Bon Sol Resort and Spa here
Classic Collection Holidays offers 3 / 7 nights at Hotel Bon Sol from £727 / £1252 per person. Prices based on 2 adults sharing a classic room on half-board basis with return flights from Gatwick (other regional airports available) and private transfers.
To book this hotel and others visit Classic Collection Holidays here or call 0800 294 9315.
For more information on Mallorca visit Fomento del Turisme www.fomentmallorca.org/en/.
Travel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018