1 June 2009 by Duncan Mills
I hope you′ve enjoyed your stay with us" calls Miquel Suau, the owner and general manager of Son Brul and Spa, a contemporary style hotel in an old country house near Pollenca. I’m on a final walk around the grounds. He carries the satisfied air of a man who has been hard at work. I go to shake his hand, but he holds his hands face up to reveal soil-specked palms and says "maybe it’s best not to!" with a polite smile.
He turns his head in explanation, looking out towards a cultivated plot a short distance away. It’s not often you meet a hotel manager who is prepared to get his hands dirty in such a literal way, but this large kitchen garden is where Miquel’s vision of organic self-sustainability is beginning to bear fruit. I’d chatted to him about it the previous day and he’d explained that alongside the crops grown in the vegetable garden the hotel also produces its own olive oil from the olives grown in its fields. With more land yet to be utilised, the ultimate aim is for everything the hotel uses to be sourced from their own lands. Even knowing this, it was still a pleasant surprise to learn that he’d been out there for hours this morning, highly motivated by his project and enjoying the physical work.
It’s not the first time the land here has been put to good use, having been farmed as far back as the twelfth century when the conquering Arabs used it as stables. It subsequently took the name Son Brul: meaning mansion of Brul, the family name of the owner of the old Arab farmland. Later, it passed into the hands of the Jesuits and in 1745 they started construction of the monastic style building seen at the hotel today. When the Jesuits were forced out by the policies of King Charles III, it became a working farm once more, farming olive oil, cereal crops and almonds, plus rearing sheep and pigs. But it gradually fell into disrepair until the Suau family took up the challenge of restoring it. Some clues to this past remain.
The 4-metre-high gateway at the south, which resembles the entrance to a church, was originally the working entrance through which crops were delivered on mules and carts. Elsewhere, in a lofty room on one side of the central courtyard stands an original olive press, its wooden beams half a metre thick and 15-metres long. The press forms the focal point of a sophisticated bar area, the U-bar. Mood lighting frames the bar itself and bar stools are spread amongst the various cranks, beams and grinding vessels of the press. This balance of old and new seems to be the secret to Son Brul, the modern side further emphasised by the 23 ultra-cool guest rooms and suites. All feature state-of-the-art Bang and Olufsen televisions, plus walk-in power showers, ever-so-cosy beds and dark blinds that keep out the bright Mallorcan sun. "Everyone sleeps well at Son Brul," Miquel had assured me. But relaxation isn’t restricted just to the bedrooms. The day beds and loungers shaded by white parasols by the large infinity pool at the back of the hotel are a great place to chill out.
As is the spa. Son Brul’s spa was the first in Mallorca to make use of local produce alone and it continues to uphold this principle, with sea salt, rosemary, honey and aloe vera used in the wide range of treatments are available for the guests. There are other activities that can be arranged if you are feeling more energetic, among them golf at a nearby 9-hole course or the 18-hole course of Alcanada, on the stunning Bay of Alcedia 20-minutes away by car. But I opted for the organic option, and decided instead to join a yoga class on the lawn by the old working entrance. In the shade of a tall tree, birdsong in the branches above, I lay down, breathed deeply and indulged in another tranquil Son Brull moment.