Hotel Bon Sol, Mallorca
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The Scotsman at the next table was fond of sole but there was no immediate plan to include it on the menu. No problem, the maître d' told him. Give us 24 hours' notice and we'll get it for you. "They'll do anything you ask here", said the Scot. No wonder he and his wife had returned to the Hotel Bon Sol for a 12th visit.
The maître d' has that polish mellowed by a career which has taken him across Europe and has included a spell at the Ritz in London. His native tongue is German but he is multi-lingual. Now, of necessity, he's learning Russian and he supposes it'll have to be a Chinese language next.
We were dining in the seaside terrace restaurant where there's a catch of the day on offer each day. Earlier in the week we had eaten excellent gilt head bream and hake, accompanied by lovely Mallorcan white wines. The seaside restaurant where you can eat outside or inside, is slightly less formal than the hotel's main dining room, where the best dish of the week was roast suckling pig and where, one evening a violinist and pianist entertained with what is best described as Palm Court selections.
The Bon Sol is in Illetas, on the south coast of Mallorca, a short distance west of Palma. The No 3 bus to and from the city stops 50 yards or so from its main entrance. With a total of 129 rooms, suites and garden villas it is a largish property with a boutique atmosphere. The gracious owner, Martin Xamena, and his English wife Lorraine, are much in evidence, chatting to their many regulars, making sure all guests are happy. While we were there in May silver travellers were in the majority.
The hotel began life as a guest house in 1953. Errol Flynn was a guest there. But there was no direct access to the sea and in order to provide it Martin's parents, who had converted the property from an old cliff top villa, organised the construction of an elaborate system lifts and tunnels, which takes you under one or two roads (depending on which floor you're room is on) and brings you out just above a pool and a tiny beach. The pool in question is one of three. It has salt water and is long enough to allow a proper work out. It's sent in a glorious, tumbling, sub-tropical terraced garden of waterfalls where geraniums, fig, orange, lemon and pine trees grow.
Our room was of generous proportions, had a bath and shower, TV with UK channels, a safe - how I wish they were installed by all hotels - and, like most rooms at the BonSol, free Wi-Fi. Public areas are full opf nooks and crannies and intrguing pieces of art, much of it brought by the owners from Asia.
Assuming you don't order it in your room, breakfast may also be taken by the Mediterranean or in main hotel. It's a stunning buffet, including eggs cooked to order, fruit, pastries and huge pile of halved oranges with squeezers to produce fresh juice.
For the record facilities include tennis and squash courts, boules, table tennis, a fitness room and a spa offering thalassotherapy and other treatments.
Everything can't be perfect, surely. Our balcony was small, overlooked a road as well as the more distant sea, and lacked privacy. Though you don't need a car if all you want to do is veg out and maybe spend a day or two in Palma, parking is very tight and tricky - and you need to reserve a space in advance. And a small, inimate, quiet bar would be welcome, as an alternative to the large one, where there is often live entertaionment in the evenings. Against that eco-conscious travellers should note that the hotel has made serious efforts to be greener, using solar energy, grey water for toilets and even heating water by burning shells left over from Mallorca's huge almond crop.
And the Bon Sol has a neat solution to the irritating problem of towels on long untenanted sunbeds: use it or lose it. If you're not installed by 10.30 the beach attendant will remove them!
Hotel Bon Sol
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