WHO knew doing absolutely nothing could be so utterly exhausting?

And if you’re going to do nothing but enjoy unwinding, you might as well do it in a place as welcoming as Mallorca

I’ve had a long association with the popular Balearic Island, from lads’ holidays, my honeymoon and family holidays.

This time it was just my wife and I, flying with Classic Collection from Bournemouth and staying at the rather remarkable Hotel Bon Sol at Illetes, just along the coast from the capital of Palma.

It’s a family-owned and run hotel, established in the early 1950s by Antonia and Roger Xamena and still maintains the air of classic relaxed elegance today under the managership of their son Martin and his English wife Lorraine.

The Bon Sol is set on the sheer cliffs overlooking Palma Bay and is set over three sites, down the cliff face to the private beach and cove.

Back in the day it was some 200 steps top to bottom but it’s a now an amazing network of lifts, tunnels and corridors, all hewn out of the cliff face over a number of years. As we were taken on a tour of this really very special place, I was tempted to leave a trail of breadcrumbs so we could find our way back.

And it’s these tunnels and corridors which are the home of Antonio and Roger’s extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, suits of armour (ideal if you’re staying for a few knights..) and objets d’art assembled and collated from their travels around Europe, China and the Far East and Africa.

These, and the immaculate red deep pile carpets and highly polished brass fitting, all contribute to the relaxed ambiance of a different epoch.

If I’d come across Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot shuffling along in the lobby, I wouldn’t have been a bit surprised.

However, there is a photograph of Errol Flynn with the Xamenas on the wall, taken during one of his many stays there back in the day. He enjoyed the hotel’s relaxed atmosphere and the sailing out in the bay off Palma.

As I mentioned, it is from a different age, an age when people dressed up for dinner rather than just turn up from the pool in a vest and budgie smugglers, when people had smart conversations over dinner rather than browse their smart phones.

And when it comes to dining, the Bon Sol has three main areas: the sunny breakfast room which is in the vast conservatory overlooking one of the pools and tropical gardens, the beachside restaurant at the hotel’s private cove and the elegant main dining room for the evenings, complete with grand piano.

The staff at Bon Sol are immaculately turned-out, and all very friendly and cheerful and as Martin told me over our lunch: “If your staff are, happy then that will come across to the guests, and they’ll be happy too.”

He’s so right as his former head waiter has just retired after 40 years’ service but still comes back in part-time as he loves working there so much.

Food, as might imagine, was pretty fabulous with a huge range throughout the day and wide variety on the evening menu, which is changed daily.

We particularly enjoyed the lunchtime paella outside at the beach bar in the sun which set up us nicely for a busy afternoon on the sun loungers on our balcony.

If all this relaxing does get a bit fraught, you can always wind down with a sauna and massage. My masseuse, a petite young lady who introduced herself as Christina then proceeded to rearrange my vertebrae, tutted about how tense I was (must have been all that sun-lounging) before returning me to my wife like a bucket of soporific jelly.

A visit to the island’s vibrant and stylish capital Palma is a must and it’s just a 20-minute bus ride from the stop just outside the hotel and it’s only three euros return.

The island’s chequered past, being conquered and then reconquered by Romans, Moors, Bourbons and anyone else who wanted to have a go, is reflected in its hotch-potch of architectural styles.

When you’ve visited the huge cathedral and marvelled at the sunshine coming through the stained glass windows and reflecting off Gaudi’s melting chandelier, it’s worth wandering down the countless meandering alleys and lanes to see what you can find.

Somehow, we stumbled upon the fabulous Ca’n Joan de S’aigo ice cream parlour which came into existence some 300 years ago when monks who collected snow from the Mallorcan mountains to make ice decided to add flavours to it. Hey presto: Ice cream!

The gelateria’s polished tiled interior reminded me of a proper old London East End pie and mash emporium but that’s where the similarities end as the menu reveals scores of very exotic treats. Worth a try if you can find it!

A short hop on the bus back to the Bon Sol and I’m reminded of our chat with hotel owners Martin and Lorriane: “You know, more than 85 per cent of our guests are re-bookings.”

That’s something to be very proud of, and if you should ever visit, you’d know why.


Nick flew from Bournemouth to Palma Mallorca with Ryanair.

  • http://www.hotelbonsol.es
  • http://canjoandesaigo.com/en 
  • http://majorca-mallorca.co.uk
  • https://www.ryanair.com
  • https://www.classic-collection.co.uk