The newest hotel in Richard Branson’s collection is opening in late spring following a long process of reconstructing the existing finca buildings and structures using traditional and local materials.
We asked Vincent Padioleau, General Manager of Son Bunyola, about the journey of creating the hotel, about Richard’s impact on the place and how the hotel is contributing to making the world a better place.
Please, tell us a bit about the journey of creating the Son Bunyola hotel.
The creation of the Son Bunyola hotel has been a long and patient journey – but certainly a very worthwhile one. When Richard originally purchased the estate, it was always the plan to develop the historic finca, and when he repurchased it back in 2015, we were delighted to start work with the local government to get the ball rolling again.
Construction of the hotel started in June 2021 with a meticulous reconstruction project focusing on the existing finca buildings and structures, using traditional and local materials. The hotel has been carefully designed to celebrate and showcase the heritage of the original buildings – with traditional features including carpentry, stone arches, wrought ironwork and lime rendering. The combination of the new design with existing historic elements really brings the hotel to life.
Although the development of the Son Bunyola hotel has taken longer than we originally hoped and planned, it was incredibly important to us that we got it exactly right. Throughout the development, it has always been essential to us that we maintain the heritage of the historic finca and the estate wherever possible, and we’ve welcomed all feedback and alterations from the local government, who we’ve worked closely with throughout. Now it’s very nearly complete, it’s a truly stunning and unique place that we can’t wait to share with future guests.
Why exactly did you choose Mallorca for this hotel?
Richard’s love for Mallorca is longstanding, and he has a particular fondness for the northwest coast. This is, of course, where he developed his very first hotel in 1987, La Residencia – a hotel where I also worked over 20 years ago, and where I started my journey in Spain. The region has some of the most historic and picturesque towns on the island, with stunning natural surroundings and crystal-clear sea. Virgin Limited Edition already has three villas on the Son Bunyola estate – Sa Punta S’Aguila, Sa Terra Rotja and Son Balagueret – and it was always our plan to develop the finca on the estate, too. Spanning more than one thousand acres, located on a UNESCO World Heritage Site and surrounded by breathtaking scenery, there’s no question that this is the perfect location for us to have a hotel in Mallorca.
For me personally, I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to return to this spectacular island to take up the role of General Manager for such an incredible and historic estate. I feel so fortunate to be able to give back to this amazing island that warmly welcomed me from the moment I arrived, and I’ve enjoyed being fully immersed in the wonderful Mallorcan culture and falling in love with it all over again. It’s an incredibly exciting time, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this spectacular project.
What is your favourite place at the hotel and what is your favourite thing to do on Mallorca’s northwest coast?
I have a real soft spot for the northwest coast of Mallorca. I love being surrounded by nature, and the Tramuntana mountain range has such breathtaking scenery. For me, nothing beats a swim in the crystal-clear waters in the summer months, and I really do enjoy the cycling opportunities – some of the best in the world are right on the doorstep of the Son Bunyola estate.
It’s very hard for me to pick a favourite place at the hotel, but if I really had to choose, it would have to be one of the historic towers of the hotel, dating back to the 13th century. It’s so exciting to bring such a remarkable monument back to life so that future guests can enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding mountains and the sea.
How will you ensure the new Son Bunyola hotel contributes to making the world a better place? And what can we do?
At Virgin Limited Edition, we strongly believe that luxury doesn’t have to come at the expense of sustainability – and this is a huge focus across our whole portfolio.
At Son Bunyola, our commitment to sustainability and maintaining the beautiful surroundings is of paramount importance. For example, hot water for the hotel will be preheated using energy collected from the air conditioning and refrigeration cooling systems, while the installation of a biomass boiler will be powered by recycled wood chippings. We are also cultivating a kitchen garden, vineyards and olive trees on the estate so we can grow aromatic herbs, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons and eventually our own wine grapes.
I’ve seen first hand as a General Manager at Virgin Limited Edition properties how even the smallest changes can create the biggest impact – an attitude that sits front and centre for every decision we make here. I think this is such an important fact to take note of – and if we can all make every effort to implement whatever small changes we can to make the world a better place, the impact will be colossal.