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Board a flight at Gatwick and 2 hours later you can be landing in Palma, capital of Majorca, largest of the Balearic Islands. Majorca has long been a favourite holiday destination offering sun, sea and sand to over 8 million tourists every year, the vast majority of whom stay in modern hotel complexes and apartments that adorn the island. However for the more discerning traveller there are still gems to be found and the Hotel Bonsol at Illetas 5 miles west of Palma is one such establishment.


Bonsol began life in June 1953 when a Mallorcan family home was transformed into a 14 bed hotel owned and run by the Xamena family. The name and reputation of Bonsol spread far and fast enticing Errol Flynn to stay for a period the following year. Over the years the hotel has grown to become what it is today, a prestigious, family run hotel boasting 92 rooms in the main building and 37 garden villas. The hotel is still owned and run by a later generation of the Xamena family who ensure that everything is run to perfection.


Climb the front steps and enter a world of elegance and the past. Beautiful paintings, works of art and antique furniture help make this hotel unique. The reception manned by staff in formal dress who immediately make you feel genuinely welcome. Walk to the lift on stone floors and red carpet passing suits of armour, ceilings with wooden beams and walls of stone, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a medieval building. Enter a bright modern lift that announces our arrival at the second floor in both Spanish and English. Room 204 a Junior Suite with balcony views through Pine trees across Palma Bay. 2 large single beds, writing desk, seating area with settee, wardrobes that illuminate when the door is opened, safe, mini bar, flat screen television, bath robes, slippers and of course a kettle with good supply of tea, coffee and milk. The bathroom with full size bath, glass walk in shower, wash basin unit and toilet. Not a soap dispenser in sight, only quality toiletries neatly set out by the basin and again in the shower all branded with the Bonsol name as are the towels. This is quality from a bygone age.  

Behind reception, a large bar with tables, comfortable seating and grand piano. Entertainment is provided and held in this bar. A terraced area attached ideal for sipping coffee or a pre-dinner cocktail. Spirits are not measured, just poured. Try one of the barman’s excellent Margaritas.

Have dinner in the main dining room, pass the large piano being played to provide back ground music. Be welcomed by the Maître D dressed in the formal 3 piece suit, a member of the Xamena family as well as a director of the company and shown to a vacant table. View the sea and local area through huge windows that make the dining room very light and airy. Choose dinner from 2 separate menus, your order being taken by the Maître D. The food as to be expected is excellent as is the wine list.


There is a separate Breakfast Room decorated in light stone with white wicker style chairs to match the white linen table cloths. Orange juice that is freshly squeezed, an omelette station, select your own ingredients, fresh baked bread and rolls not to mention the usual breakfast dishes of meats, cheese’s, fresh fruit and yoghurts plus the ingredients to make up a ‘Full English’.


In the beginning 200 steps were needed to reach the beach from the hotel so in 1969 excavation work was started and finally in 1984 the completed work enabled guests to go from the main hotel to the beach via a series of lifts and walkways. A lift from reception down to the 3rd level will find the gym, sauna, Turkish bath, and much more. Entering the walkway to the next lift takes you past a small chapel where the blessing of rings can be arranged. Level 4 is the Spa Reception, 5 for Table Tennis, 6 the Squash courts and finally level 7 which was for me is an oasis. Step out into an area of Pine trees, mature vegetation and a beautiful blue swimming pool where you can dive from the rocks into the cool water. Sun bathing areas with comfortable mattress covered loungers and parasols, pool bar with seating area and down steps to the romantic Beach Restaurant, a covered and al fresco dining area with wonderful views across the small beach and bay to the coastline beyond. At night the atmosphere changes, warm scented air and sound of the waves breaking on the shoreline give it an air of romanticism, add to this wonderful food, good wine, excellent service and you have perfection.


This is a hotel for those who seek the better things in life and appreciate quality, for this is what it is, quality with a capital Q. An idyllic position giving privacy with its own gardens and small private beach. Good accommodation, first class food and excellent service turn this into a holiday dream for those that want to holiday on this beautiful island but want to avoid the main tourist areas and hotels. Some of the staff have worked here for 30 years, guests come back year after year and in some cases several times a year. With a guest repeat rate of 82% Martin and Lorraine Xamena together with their children have a hotel to be immensely proud of and rightly so.


Alan Fairfax


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Alan Fairfax -

is a travel writer for


Alan also writes for the

Ashford Advertiser Media Group with regional papers across Kent with regular holiday & travel sections in all editions

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Alan's video of the Hotel Bonsol