GRAS Reynés Arquitectos together with interior designers Rialto Living complete the conversion of the old agricultural estate of Son Bunyola into a 26-room hotel for Virgin Limited Edition, Sir Richard Branson's collection of stunning retreats.
The Son Bunyola estate, sprawling over 500 hectares, is located in the municipality of Banyalbufar in Mallorca. Surrounded by the Serra de Tramuntana. A unique landscape declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is an area of high scenic and ecological value that enjoys the highest level of environmental protection.
The houses of Son Bunyola, as we know them today, are the result of numerous changes and refurbishments throughout history. Son Bunyola dates back to the XIII century when it was an Arab farmhouse, the “Alquería de la Torre”. The main tower of Son Bunyola comes from this period.
All the transformations of the following centuries ended with the reform of 1931, when the last changes were made to the estate. This included the extension of the main building, the renovation of the exterior and interior walls, the construction of the modern tower, the cistern, the patio and the north-western block to house the oil mill and other agricultural buildings. The result is the Son Bunyola estate as we know it today, one of the most important architectural monuments on the island.
Son Bunyola is unique and therefore enjoys the highest level of protection.
Son Bunyola project started from there, shortly after a devastating whirlwind hit this part of the island in 2020, and intended to restore the splendour of the estate and its surroundings by transforming the old farm into a hotel for Virgin Limited Edition. The goal was to preserve all the historic value of the property and to resume the farming and livestock activities of the estate, always with a focus on sustainability.
The first challenge by the design team, lead by GRAS Reynés Arquitectos, was to study in detail the numerous changes that have been made to the buildings over time, in order to restore and showcase the most relevant historical elements and architectural spaces.
Son Bunyola comprises a main building, an oil mill called Tafona, and several annexes spread across approximately 3,500 m2 of construction area. The main building is a square structure centered around a courtyard adorned with arcades and two towers. One tower date back to the medieval-Arab period, while the other is a product of the 1931 reform.
The main building houses most of the hotel program, offering incredible views of the Mediterranean and the Tramuntana coastline, with the famous Sa Foradada visible from the front terrace and gardens. On the ground floor the public areas, reception, restaurant, kitchen and living areas are located, together with three garden rooms facing south.
The first and second floors accommodate most of the guest rooms, a combination of suites and double rooms. The tower has two different special rooms, each with its own private terrace at the top, accessible through a skylight. The basement includes a lounge room, a small spa with aesthetics cabins and service areas. It opens onto the pool area and gardens.
Attached to the main building is the Tafona and other agricultural areas. The Tafona, which houses an old oil press, is restored, recovering the historic elements in its former use, and making it accessible to the public, while the rest of the building is converted into a second restaurant and hotel rooms. The five rooms of this building, all of them suites, have direct access to the roof, where private terraces are designed for every room. The Tafona keeps its original industrial soul since the new structure (the old one collapsed) is designed in raw concrete with the old wooden beam ceiling as a structure pattern.
Between the two buildings, and taking advantage of a large historic terrace, is the swimming pool, from which there are magnificent views of the surrounding countryside and the aforementioned Sa Foradada.
The project relies on a rigorous historical reconstruction of the existing buildings using noble, traditional, and local materials.
The restoration project involved preserving existing historical elements, such as wooden carpentry, stone arches, wooden and stucco moldings, wooden coffered ceilings, mortar and lime paints, hydraulic flooring, and wrought iron work. Unique features like the tabernacle of the chapel or the "novecentisme" style staircase were also carefully restored. In addition to the restoration efforts, new and modern materials suitable for hotel use were introduced.
Even though this was a historical restoration of a listed building, where it was necessary to stick to the existing structure, the project team implemented various strategies to promote environmental protection, sustainability, and energy conservation. High-performance thermal insulation was applied to the walls wherever possible, and efficient air conditioning units with heat recovery systems were installed. To power the entire complex, energy was generated by a biomass boiler, which was fueled by pruning waste and forest masses produced on-site.
Special attention was given to the water cycle, a scarce resource on the island of Mallorca, during the historical restoration of the hotel. The hotel's drinking water is sourced from its own wells and a large cistern located at the foot of the mountain.
In order to improve the water storage capacity, all existing water cisterns on the property underwent restoration. Moreover, all the rainwater that falls on the roofs and terraces is collected and stored in these cisterns, thereby recovering the estate's original hydraulic strategy of maximizing rainwater collection.
Furthermore, the hotel has its own water purification system, enabling 100% of the wastewater to be purified and reused for irrigating the gardens, eliminating the need for sewage disposal.
Virgin Limited Edition is Sir Richard Branson's collection of stunning retreats. From a private island to mountain retreat, game reserve, lodge, tented camp, vineyard and luxury villas. Eclectic, yes, but all are unique and operate with the sole aim of creating amazing experiences.