Best of the Balearics – new hotels to book now
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Experimenting in Ibiza Old Town
In less than 20 years, Experimental Group has grown from a single cocktail bar in Paris’s second arrondissement to a small hospitality empire of bars, restaurants and hotels across Europe and New York. They’ve been operating a hotel in Sant Llorenç, on Menorca, as well as a sprawling beach club, Experimental Beach Ibiza, for several years, so are no strangers to these Balearic parts. Now they’ve taken on one of Ibiza’s most historic properties, the Gran Hotel Montesol, which opened in 1933 in the heart of the Old Town.
As with two other new Experimental properties, Paris-based designer Dorothée Meilichzon – by now an unofficial house talent, and definitely a secret weapon – has overseen the renovation of the 33 rooms, lounges and rooftop bar. She’s brought her usual sense of texture and fealty to local artisans and craftsmanship, as well as a lot of punchy colour. Throughout are retro-cool balances with touchable surfaces and soft curves. The restaurant, Café Montesol, an indoor-outdoor, all-day venue, is complemented by the rooftop bar with, naturally, a virtuosic cocktail menu and 360-degree views. montesolexperimental.com, from £245
The Maine Dish
The team behind The Maine group of restaurants – whose brasserie-cabaret venues stretch from the malls of Dubai to a Mayfair townhouse – have restored an 18th-century finca at Sant Francesc de s’Estany, south of Ibiza’s Old Town, and parlayed it into a two-level, 200-cover venue which they hope will become one of the island’s destinations for summer 2023.
On the menu: family-style home cooking with a Mediterranean slant, dozens of cocktails and local wines, DJ sets. During the day the restaurant re-brands as Casa M, an all-day eatery serving vegan bowls and market platters of cheeses and charcuterie. maineibiza.com
An extra-Virgin eyrie on Mallorca
Richard Branson’s Son Bunyola has been a Mallorca fixture for years – a 1,300-acre estate north of Palma, on the island’s very desirable west coast where the Tramuntana mountains tumble to the sea. It’s home to three spectacular villas that sleep between eight and 10 guests, with every mod con and service, from private chefs to boat charters and massage therapists on call.
After a planning-permissions and restoration odyssey that stretched to two decades, Son Bunyola will debut its much-anticipated eponymous hotel here this summer: 26 rooms and suites will fill the estate’s 16th-century finca, its olive press and a handful of nearby outbuildings. There are also two restaurants, indoor lounges, outdoor dining terraces, and a pool surrounded by olive trees. The renovation is understated, the materials – stone and timber floors, iron beds, wood-beamed ceilings – both pretty and place-appropriate. The internal courtyard, lined with potted lavender, is the spot for evening drinks. virginlimitededition.com, from €600
Formentera’s new favourite
On a pristine stretch of Formentera’s 6km-long Migjorn beach, Teranka has started up its 2023 season (following a short soft-opening last year). This is beach-hotel living largely unencumbered by luxury’s more conspicuous trappings: the rooms – 35 of them – are not huge, and are simply and sparsely designed (though some have private gardens or roof terraces).
The new restaurant, with its outdoor kitchen and focus on local produce, espouses the island’s prevailing no-bells, no-whistles, feet-in-the-sand ethos (literally; it’s in a sand garden). The wellness programme meanwhile majors in guided soundscape meditation, its developer Chris Connors having launched a successful app for that purpose (he’s created three bespoke digital guided meditations for guests to do in various locations across the hotel). But you come to Formentera for simple living, and elemental beauty and maybe a bit of woo-woo; in that context, Teranka hits all its marks. teranka.com, from €382