JOIN the AFICIONADOS
To receive our world of travel and style delivered straight to your inbox.
The rural sanctuary of Son Brull in Mallorca has been in the capable hands of the owning Suau family for over 30 years. Looking back on its history and inception, we delve deeper into how Son Brull came to be - from ruin to restoration wonder.
A born and bred Mallorcan family, the Suau’s were helmed by the patriarch Llorenç Suau who had hotel running in his blood. With a skill for hospitality, he started his career as a bellboy before steadily progressing to owning his own hotel.
It was an open secret in the family that the dilapidated site of Son Brull was coveted by their father. Every time they would drive past it, Llorenç would claim that one day he would own it. Its position, rural seclusion and sheer natural beauty that encircled it made it an alluring prospect.
Finally, in the late 90s, an opportunity to buy it came up, and the Suau family moved swiftly, and the next generation Mar, Alex and Miquel came to the fore to bring their father’s vision to life. This was when hard work, dedication, persistence, patience and determination came in to play – defining characteristics of any owner going through a huge restoration.
And Son Brull was no exception. Built as an ‘alqueria’ (an Arabic farmhouse) in the 12th century during Mallorca’s Arab rule, which then became a Jesuit monastery in the 18th century, the house and grounds were in ruins; the estate utterly overgrown. Peeling back the layers took time and effort but there were unexpected rewards – like pulling down a wall to reveal unknown architectural heritage such as the atmospheric old flour mill, which later became the cool wine cellar. Earth which had tumbled down from the mountains had encased the olive oil press and this eventually became Son Brull’s bar – the thick walls and chunky beams becoming a fabulous place to enjoy the estate's own gin with lemons just plucked from the trees.
But before any of this could begin, there were eight painful years of planning and legislation to wade through, which was so drawn out, the Suau’s nearly gave up. But the thought of preserving the heritage of their beloved Mallorca kept them going and creating a hotel that would stand out from the crowd.
They did this by employing early-day ideas of sustainability. While other hotels were flying in luxury food like caviar and foie gras, they were busily tending to the olive trees and producing their own olive oil, replanting the orchards, vines and citrus trees, plus creating an incredible organic garden. They employed and still do a team of local staff who know the importance of the island as well as its secrets. Beehives helped with pollination and solar panels made energy efficient.
Architectural studio and interior designers Forteza + Aparicio helped to merge the heritage features with a contemporary vision for a hotel, with a modern aesthetic that sat nicely within the historical parameters of the hotel. On top of this is layered a local Mallorcan vibe with hand-carved woodwork, local artwork, ceramics and Mallorcan fabrics rooting the hotel to the island.
Despite the hard work, today Mar and her brothers still look back on the hotel renovation with pleasure, moments of humour punctuating the tough times - like when a preservation order meant a staircase in the restaurant had to be kept – even though it led to nowhere! Made from sandstone, it’s an elegant thing of beauty, perfectly in keeping with the rest of the hotel.
If you crave a sense of what the real Mallorca is all about - then this place is for you - wrapped in twisted olive trees and citrus groves, expect a clever remake of monastic solace smothered in contemporary design and modern luxury > Son Brull Hotel Mallorca.