Head to the north of Majorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands. Forty-five minutes along the road to the capital Palma, within a lush green setting, you will find the hotel Son Brull.
This former Jesuit monastery from the 18th century was abandoned for many years, before being brought back to life in 2003 through the prompting of a Majorcan family. Backed by the hillside of Puig de Maria and bordered by the Serra de Tramuntana, a protected mountain range that has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011, the hotel's large ocher building overlooks a thirty-hectare estate. The fields are planted with grapevines and olive trees, and there are also organic gardens on the grounds. Everything needed to provide for the restaurant is here.
It is hot here, really hot. The subtropical Mediterranean climate offers Majorca an average temperature of 18°C all year round, reaching up to 30°C in July and August! Therefore, it is no surprise that the immense pool is the main feature for all of the passing guests.
Other areas not too be missed include Son Brull's two bars. The first is in a former olive pressing room, an immense space where the stone vaults rise four meters high. The second is outside, near the swimming pool. It is here where you may enjoy (with moderation due to the intense heat) a Tom Collins made with local gin. Juniper berries harvested from the dunes, coriander, citrus fruits, and native herbs are also included.
The Son Brull (lit. Estate Brull) owes its name to the family of former owners. Yet today, it would be more judicious to rename it Son Suau. This is because it is actually Mar Suau and her two brothers, Alexandre and Miquel, who have presided over the future of this Relais & Châteaux hotel for close to fifteen years. Only one other hotel on Majorca is affiliated with this luxury group, it being the Valldemossa, to the east of the island.
Eighteen months of renovations were needed to restore the monastery and bring it back to its former glory.
At the entrance, you will be struck by the contrast presented by the sleek furniture, often inspired by Scandinavian design, and the numerous pieces of contemporary art. With many of them coming directly from Majorcan art galleries, including this large installation/sculpture of bulls created by the conceptual artist Pep Llambias.
While the exterior has retained its original dimensions, the sizes of the rooms and suites (23 in total) have nothing to do with those of the former monk cells.
During the high season, there are no less than sixty people working at Son Brull.
In Majorca, where spring arrives quite early, around mid-February, guests take to being outdoors. From the terrace, this is the season when you can admire the blooming almond trees in the fields below, all while enjoy a few tapas of course!
A couple hundred meters above the hotel, nestled in the vegetation, passed Ruta de Pedra en Sec (lit. Road of the Dry Stone) is the island's main hiking trail. It follows the ancient routes taken by the Romans, mules, and pilgrims. It is said that Winston Churchill once took this path to reach the summit of Puig de Maria and its stunning Roman church. It is now your turn to make the climb.
Organic fruits and vegetables from the garden and neighboring farms, and fish supplied daily from local fishermen, it is within the spirit of Slow Food that the young chef, Rafael Perello, works when creating the cuisine for the hotel's restaurant.
His motto? The reinterpretation of traditional recipes from the Balearic Islands with a modern twist. For us, our favorite was his cherry gazpacho with marinated sardines. It is a recipe you may discover in a video, since he was kind enough to share his secrets with us.