Within the late-afternoon shade on the terrace at Santa Ponsa, my household and I grew to become transfixed by two similar, parrot-like birds with tangerine breasts and bright-green backs in a cage subsequent to our desk. They popped out from their little home and hopped onto a swing, the place they started rubbing beaks and chattering away to at least one one other.
“They’re known as ‘Les Inséparables,’ ” the waiter stated as he poured our iced lemonade. “Lovebirds, initially from North Africa.”
Although the 2 might absolutely inform they have been removed from dwelling, there’s a distinctly Moorish really feel to the gardens of this luxuriously restored Seventeenth-century farmhouse resort just a few miles from Menorca’s southeastern coast. Looking throughout the stone walkways that crisscrossed the sunken terraced gardens, with their lemon, orange, pomegranate, and fig bushes, my husband, Nicolas, and our two youngsters, 10-year-old Louis and eight-year-old Audrey, puzzled out loud whether or not the lovebirds can be fairly so glad collectively in the event that they didn’t dwell in such a romantic setting.
Santa Ponsa’s confluence of types displays the numerous nations and powers which have influenced this Balearic island over the centuries. The finca’s façade is painted Menorca’s basic “English pink,” a shade designed to appear like brickwork. And but, with its white trim and signage, the constructing is extra paying homage to an Argentinean estancia. The superb restaurant, Nura, is presided over by a Catalan chef, Oriol Sola Pagés, whereas the interiors — a mixture of velvet, rattan, and potted palms — would make any well-heeled Parisian really feel at dwelling.
As soon as the summer time dwelling of a rich household from Mahón, the island’s capital, Santa Ponsa was bought to farmers within the late Nineteenth century and ultimately fell into dereliction, like many good-looking homes on the island. Due to Parisian hoteliers Guillaume Foucher and Frédéric Biousse, who used to trip on Menorca and acquired the property in 2015, the finca has undergone a lavish restoration. Biousse, who previously labored in trend, and Foucher, who was a gallerist, are the inventive power behind Les Domaines de Fontenille, a hospitality model with 11 properties in France, Italy, and Spain, together with two on Menorca — Santa Ponsa and the neighboring Torre Vella, each of which opened in 2019.
Menorca is quietly unassuming, but for my part the true great thing about Spain’s 4 Balearic Islands. It’s typically missed by those that don’t know higher — and cherished by those that do. Due to inflexible preservation legal guidelines, its pristine coast has been spared the high-rise buildings you’ll discover elsewhere within the Balearics; right here, new improvement is simply permitted within the agricultural inside. Those that like their seashores wild and rugged can be drawn to the north, with its pine-fringed rocky coves, but when, like my youngsters, you wish to spend hours paddling in gin-clear shallows, the golden seashores of the southeast are a must-visit.
Nonetheless, in contrast with brash Mallorca and wild-child Ibiza and its tiny, sceney sibling Formentera, Menorca can at first look appear just a little missing in vibe. That started to alter in 2021, when the worldwide artwork agency Hauser & Wirth opened a gallery on the small island of Illa del Rei, a brief ferry experience from Mahón. Since then a brand new worldwide crowd has descended. At across the similar time, a clutch of understated hideaways has popped up among the many olive groves of the island’s unspoiled southeast, every completely pitched to attraction to an art-lover’s eye for authenticity and design.
Of Domaines de Fontenille’s two Menorcan inns, Santa Ponsa is the extra upscale, with a subterranean Susanne Kaufmann spa and two swimming swimming pools. Near the seashores of Son Bou and Santo Tomas, Torre Vella, constructed round a Fifteenth-century lookout tower, has a extra easy, pared-back really feel. However whereas the signage is rustic and the pathways are dusty, the whitewashed bungalows conceal plush suites, many with personal plunge swimming pools and swing seats; an outside pool and yoga space are hidden behind pampas grass.
After a fast switch from Santa Ponsa to Torre Vella, we sat right down to a lunch of Menorcan sheep-milk cheese and slivers of jamón, accompanied by a crisp rosé from the hoteliers’ winery in France. Subsequent got here a chic sundown dip off the virtually two-mile sandy seaside at Son Bou. We dined in one of many property’s courtyards whereas bullfrogs chirped below a crescent moon.
However the spotlight of our keep got here the following morning. In the event you, like me and my household, dwell for a luxurious breakfast buffet, you’ll lose your thoughts at Torre Vella. Louis and Audrey made a number of journeys to an enormous central wood desk laden with cookies, brownies, and an orange-almond cake, nonetheless heat from the oven. Nicolas attacked an enormous chorizo with a spoon, whereas I centered on a board of Menorcan cheeses and a bowl of grated tomatoes to be unfold on sourdough bread, in true Catalan type.
Our subsequent cease was Menorca Experimental, lower than a mile away. An indication indicating agriturismo took us via olive groves to a gracious Nineteenth-century finca surrounded by in depth gardens. It didn’t appear like any agriturismo I had ever been to — a truth confirmed once we walked into the reception space, with its show of fashion-forward jewellery, which sat alongside a four-foot urn and pedestal woven totally from straw.