In the late-afternoon shade on the terrace at Santa Ponsa, my household and I became transfixed by two equivalent, parrot-like birds with tangerine breasts and vibrant-eco-friendly backs in a cage up coming to our table. They popped out from their minor home and hopped onto a swing, the place they began rubbing beaks and chattering away to one particular yet another.
“They are termed ‘Les Inséparables,’ ” the waiter claimed as he poured our iced lemonade. “Lovebirds, originally from North Africa.”
Nevertheless the two could surely notify they were being much from dwelling, there is a distinctly Moorish come to feel to the gardens of this luxuriously restored 17th-century farmhouse hotel a couple miles from Menorca’s southeastern coastline. Wanting out throughout the stone walkways that crisscrossed the sunken terraced gardens, with their lemon, orange, pomegranate, and fig trees, my husband, Nicolas, and our two kids, 10-calendar year-aged Louis and eight-12 months-aged Audrey, questioned out loud regardless of whether the lovebirds would be fairly so pleased with each other if they didn’t dwell in these types of a romantic environment.
Santa Ponsa’s confluence of designs reflects the many nations and powers that have affected this Balearic island around the generations. The finca’s façade is painted Menorca’s typical “English red,” a shade intended to appear like brickwork. And nonetheless, with its white trim and signage, the constructing is more reminiscent of an Argentinean estancia. The great cafe, Nura, is presided more than by a Catalan chef, Oriol Sola Pagés, while the interiors — a combine of velvet, rattan, and potted palms — would make any nicely-heeled Parisian experience at home.
The moment the summer months house of a rich loved ones from Mahón, the island’s capital, Santa Ponsa was marketed to farmers in the late 19th century and at some point fell into dereliction, like a lot of handsome houses on the island. Thanks to Parisian hoteliers Guillaume Foucher and Frédéric Biousse, who applied to holiday on Menorca and acquired the assets in 2015, the finca has gone through a lavish restoration. Biousse, who formerly worked in vogue, and Foucher, who was a gallerist, are the inventive power behind Les Domaines de Fontenille, a hospitality manufacturer with 11 attributes in France, Italy, and Spain, which includes two on Menorca — Santa Ponsa and the neighboring Torre Vella, both of those of which opened in 2019.
Menorca is quietly unassuming, however in my check out the genuine magnificence of Spain’s four Balearic Islands. It is generally missed by these who do not know greater — and cherished by all those who do. Many thanks to rigid preservation guidelines, its pristine coastline has been spared the higher-rise structures you will find in other places in the Balearics below, new improvement is only permitted in the agricultural inside. All those who like their beaches wild and rugged will be drawn to the north, with its pine-fringed rocky coves, but if, like my kids, you like to expend hours paddling in gin-very clear shallows, the golden seashores of the southeast are a should-pay a visit to.
Still, as opposed with brash Mallorca and wild-child Ibiza and its small, sceney sibling Formentera, Menorca can at 1st look feel a little lacking in vibe. That began to modify in 2021, when the international artwork agency Hauser & Wirth opened a gallery on the small island of Illa del Rei, a small ferry trip from Mahón. Since then a new international crowd has descended. At all-around the exact time, a clutch of understated hideaways has popped up amongst the olive groves of the island’s unspoiled southeast, every properly pitched to charm to an art-lover’s eye for authenticity and layout.
Of Domaines de Fontenille’s two Menorcan lodges, Santa Ponsa is the additional upscale, with a subterranean Susanne Kaufmann spa and two swimming swimming pools. Close to the beaches of Son Bou and Santo Tomas, Torre Vella, constructed all-around a 15th-century lookout tower, has a far more simple, pared-back come to feel. But when the signage is rustic and the pathways are dusty, the whitewashed bungalows conceal plush suites, many with private plunge swimming pools and swing seats an outdoor pool and yoga area are hidden behind pampas grass.
After a fast transfer from Santa Ponsa to Torre Vella, we sat down to a lunch of Menorcan sheep-milk cheese and slivers of jamón, accompanied by a crisp rosé from the hoteliers’ vineyard in France. Next came a chic sunset dip off the practically two-mile sandy seaside at Son Bou. We dined in one of the property’s courtyards whilst bullfrogs chirped below a crescent moon.
But the emphasize of our keep arrived the following morning. If you, like me and my relatives, stay for a luxurious breakfast buffet, you will eliminate your brain at Torre Vella. Louis and Audrey made a number of outings to a big central wood desk laden with cookies, brownies, and an orange-almond cake, nonetheless heat from the oven. Nicolas attacked a extensive chorizo with a spoon, when I concentrated on a board of Menorcan cheeses and a bowl of grated tomatoes to be distribute on sourdough bread, in real Catalan type.
Our following prevent was Menorca Experimental, a lot less than a mile absent. A signal indicating agriturismo took us by olive groves to a gracious 19th-century finca surrounded by intensive gardens. It did not appear like any agriturismo I had at any time been to — a simple fact verified when we walked into the reception location, with its exhibit of manner-ahead jewelry, which sat alongside a four-foot urn and pedestal woven totally from straw.
The Paris-dependent Experimental Group, which started by launching cocktail bars and has due to the fact expanded to hotels in scorching places like Ibiza, Venice, and Verbier, in the Swiss Alps, has a playful, advanced aesthetic the Menorca outpost, which quietly opened in 2019, is no exception. Designer Dorothée Meilichzon, who conceived the 43-room property to resemble an artist’s vacation cottage, took inspiration from the operates of Miró, Dalí, and Picasso to make a vibrant summary language through the lodge.
With a palette of terra-cotta, pale pink, blue, and product — carried as a result of to the ceramics and textiles by the Moroccan studio lrnce — the sense is creative, and critically great. Our fellow friends had been in the same way fashionable, mixing Do it yourself Tom Collinses with Xoriguer gin from Mahón to the appears of a tasteful — however amazingly loud — playlist at the bar that evening. I concerned that kids would not be welcome, but was relieved to see a bunch of bronzed, barefoot youngsters running all around the grounds though their moms and dads built merry.
We dined in the hotel’s boutique, where by tables had been laid out. Nicolas and the little ones concentrated on their char-grilled steaks my consideration was drawn absent from my sea-bass ceviche to a pair of lrnce sandals winking at me from the shelf.
Just after another incredible breakfast, we piled into the motor vehicle for the 20-minute journey to our final continue to be, Torralbenc, the oldest of this new wave of lodges and in many methods the most developed-up. Set in another converted farm, Torralbenc’s golden-hued stone buildings nestle into the landscape unobtrusively, save for the odd splash of crimson bougainvillea growing on a wall. The put is so silent that even by the side of the saltwater pool, all you can hear is the hum of bees in the lavender bushes. I discouraged my young children from dive-bombing.
Purchased by a Basque loved ones in 2005, Torralbenc opened as a lodge in 2013, and pioneered the concept of the luxurious rural bolt-gap on Menorca — although placing a significant bar for sustainability. All over the 27-room home, there are no solitary-use plastics: shower caps are produced from repurposed potato skins, slippers from bamboo. Its 35-acre winery has been making wine since 2016, and the chef sources all make domestically, from the creamy farm yogurt to the fish from the industry in Mahón.
Less than a bamboo cover, we chatted with a French couple who experienced checked in for a 7 days while waiting around for the renovations to be completed on their new finca. The island, they told us, is speedy getting to be the 2nd-residence location of decision for perfectly-heeled French family members who have offered up on the Côte d’Azur.
As the solar disappeared involving the olive trees, we sipped Bodegas Torralbenc’s blackberry-inflected Merlot and mentioned the ideal locations to acquire espadrilles in Mahón. And just like that, I uncovered myself dreaming about a finca of my own.
A edition of this tale first appeared in the August 2023 problem of Travel + Leisure under the headline “Blue-sky Contemplating.”