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Grab some friends and escape to a Balearic paradise


Stylist’s beauty coordinator Giselle La Pompe-Moore heads to a Mallorcan villa in search of sun, seclusion and stunning views 

I’m outside, lying face down on a massage table overlooking the Serra de Tramuntana mountains with the Mallorcan sun beaming down on me. I’m in the middle of one of the best massages I’ve ever had, my back being expertly kneaded with a blend of oils from Gaia Natural Products – all handmade right here on the island. It’s one of those moments where you have to pause and ask yourself if this is real life or just a figment of your Instagram-holiday-stalking-addled-mind.

The Balearics in general are having a moment, but Mallorca is particularly hot right now. Lastminute.com has seen bookings to the island increase by 43% since the beginning of June and since Love Island screened this summer – the contestants’ villa was based in Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, just off the east coast – one booking site revealed that flight searches to its main airport, Palma, have increased by a third.

While I am no Love Island recruit, I am staying in similarly opulent surroundings: at the 680-acre Son Bunyola Estate, just off the north-west coast. Opened in summer 2016, the estate is part of a World Heritage Site, consisting of three private villas. And as a hallmark of quality, it’s part of Richard Branson’s property portfolio (he of exquisitely good taste, whose other holiday dwellings include Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco’s Atlas mountains and the private Necker Island in the Caribbean). I’m told that he comes here himself, in between his world-running obligations of course.

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From a shivery, damp Gatwick airport, Mallorca is the perfect weekend getaway. We arrived in under three hours plus a 50 minute drive from the airport. Before I knew it I was barefoot on the terracotta tiles, settled under the terrace for a lunch prepared by the private chef of gazpacho with a goats cheese foam, tuna tartare with vegetable crisps and an award-worthy paella, all before I had the chance to unpack. 

Son Bunyola

Sweet dreams: Giselle's 'marshmallow-soft' bed

The smallest villa here is the 3-bedroom Son Balagueret with a 13th century turret and traditional Mallorcan courtyard. The largest - a 10-minute car ride away through citrus and olive trees is the 5 bedroom, Sa Punta de S’Aguila which comes with its own pebble peach and a tennis court nearby. This one particularly is a fantastic lounging space for holidaying with friends and family, while still being able to retreat for me time – either on my marshmallow-soft king-size bed or siesta-designed hammock where I stay up one night to watch a storm crash about over the sea and mountains. Staying here is undoubtedly a treat. If three couples stayed together at Son Balagueret, it works out as just over €300 per person per night for a week. But the upside is it’s all inclusive. That means you get a daily breakfast filled with fresh and local produce, lunch and dinner for 6 days of your stay by a private chef (who I’d quite like to take home with me), all drinks, daily housekeeping and a concierge service who can arrange everything from restaurant bookings to deep sea fishing.

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It’s the little touches like the bucket of sun creams and fully-stocked fridge of drinks by the pool and the daily but ever so discrete housekeeping by a welcoming team of locals that alleviates the usual villa renting stress. I didn’t have to worry about booking car transfers or finding a supermarket to stock the fridge and impromptu rock, paper, scissors to decide who’s going to cook. Everything you can possibly imagine is included. If it is beyond your budget, also on this side of the coast is Can Verdera (canverdera.com), a restored hotel in the village of Fornalutx which offers all the tranquillity, Mallorcan décor and pool days that you need with rooms from €165. 

Son Bunyola

Giselle falls for the views on her very own Love Island

Locally, we are 40 minutes from the picture-perfect village of Deia. A breezy drive along rural winding roads and sheer drops takes us to restaurant Sebastian (restaurantesebastian.com), housed in a former 18th-century stable and serving up turbot with potato-truffle. If the art scene and creative spirit in Deia takes you in you can stay at the boutique Belmond La Residencia hotel (belmond.com) with its breathtaking views, local character and on-sight gallery.

Read more: 10 stand out food experiences from around the world 

When you’re not making the most of the villa, the concierge can book you in for sailing trips to soak up the sights of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range from a different vantage point, and the track between Banyalbufar and Port de Canonge is a favourite with cyclists and hikers. If you’re not actively-inclined like myself, then a trip to the town of Sóller will reward you with a market and time to pick up a bottle of Angel d’Or liqueur by a local citrus grower. All that’s left is to pop your ‘out of office’ on and pack your suitcase.

An all-inclusive seven night stay at Son Bunyola (including all meals, drinks, concierge service and daily housekeeping) starts from £11,680 based on six sharing (virginlimited edition.com/en/son-bunyola)



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