A short hop to a real escape
Arriving at Son Net is heart lifting. The journey is no hardship, only half an hour from the airport, and the scenery is soon picturesque.
Mallorca is a very attractive land. Turning out of the quintessentially quaint village of Puigpunyent, towards the west of the island, and up towards the Finca, the rather beaten sand 'path' that leads to glory belies its blessed conclusion. That is, in itself, rather charming.
This staggeringly appealing 17th century home, sitting on foundations dating back to the Bronze Age, has endured the colourful centuries with phenomenal natural beauty and stands today as one of the finest examples of period architecture in Mallorca.
The past is celebrated in the contemporary, as the modernisation of the interiors feels more metamorphic than deliberate, emitting a timeless and soothing ambiance that unfurls the stress-coil within seconds. Furthermore, the situation is pretty awesome: situated on a hill above the mainly vintage village of Puigpunyent, it is surrounded by the Tramuntana Mountain range, both dramatic and verdurous and, as I noticed this time, thriving with an abundance of bird-life.
We were to be staying in one of the three glorious Royal Suites, each with a secluded terrace and cavernous layout. However, en-route, we were advised of a Luxury Explorer member chomping at the bit for such an upgrade. It was our pleasure to forfeit the suite and, as luck would have it, we were offered one of the four new luxury terraced suites, built with privacy as paramount, a short distance from the main house. They are, as one would expect from Mr Stein's stylish eye, superb: a palette of taupe and smoky topaz with outsized silk quilted beds, mirrored fitted cupboards, groovy sepia photographs, point and click fire-places for the winter, and bathrooms beyond your most extravagant dreams.
As the very first to stay in one of these beauties and, with the M÷et chilling alongside the freshly decked, scented terrace, avec Jacuzzi ready to start a frenzy, it felt seriously tempting. However, even though I had been told that I would be warming the bed for Mr Clooney, it was not to be... the air-conditioning would not be ready until the following morning; so we took to the glorious stately though homelike Finca. The main house of Son Net has two Grand Suites, a Presidential and the three Royals and, as all were zealously nabbed, we settled for a Deluxe Double in the eaves. The very last room...
This may sound like a let down, but I can assure you it wasn't. There is not a single room in the house that would disappoint, and we have seen the 'smallest' and thought it wonderful. We had a window, only one, but it was a perfect wooden picture frame looking down to the pool and across the valley with a two hundred year old cedar an arm's stretch from the open shutters. From this wise old specimen we were privileged to witness the local bird-world; green and golden finches, doves, an owl, along with the usual twittering suspects. It really is an impressionist's room-with-a-view as well as being cosy, tranquil and adeptly decorated; dark grey toile de jouy, well polished antique furniture and a spectacular deep marine-green marble bathroom. The window was so central to the room that we left it open at night, comforted by the gurgling of a funky water feature, a zigzag of large verdigris spouts pouring water onto oversized spoons; an unusual feature that, yet again, adds to rather than detracts from this special location.
The artwork does not go unnoticed here. In fact, you could spend half a day admiring David Stein's personal collection, which is as eccentric as it is eclectic. Fine old oils, layered with iconism and paint, hang on chunky barefaced stone walls, a Chagall is casually placed near the bar across from a Warhol, two swinging Frank Stella's sit above bottle-green chenille sofas and all this notable work continues on the first floor starting with two Hockneys. The modern and the old stand alongside surprisingly comfortably in an environment that exudes a period stillness unique to this style of architecture; cooled stone flagged floors underfoot, large rustic beams overhead and a dining room that is an impressive conversion of an old olive press.
The large terrace off the appropriately named, Oleum (Latin for olive oil), is a magical location on which to dine. So often, the spell of locale perfection is broken by the lack of skill in both the kitchen and the service, but here the alchemist's promise is sweetly fulfilled. Candlelight kicks in after a pale amethyst sky fades to dusk around a valley that echoes with the comforting distant calls of another day's end, punctuated by the sudden exotic shrill of cicadas and the gentle cooing of doves. No music, not needed.
The food was scrumptious; a blend of indigenous Mallorca with the best of the Med: baskets of home-baked warm chewy bread to dunk into ramekins of divine olive oil with a floral-salt mix, followed by a chef's teaser of lime infused tartar of Tuna and perfectly primed Turbot for 'two', stewed gently in Son Net's homespun herbs with Venus Clams and Teja of Romescu (a reduced delectable buttery jus). The sommelier made a half bottle of pleasantly average Chablis feel like a Le Montrachet and the service throughout was both willing and caring.
The radiant pool area at Son Net is deeply inviting, surrounded by the tranquilizing valley with large private cabanas and top-notch loungers. The award winning bar, set in chunks of local stone beneath an ancient shade-bearing cedar, is serviced by Mallorca's most notorious barman, Luis - love him or not (we do) - who makes the best drinks and offers a unique brand of humour to poolside lounging. The surrounding terraced gardens spiked with white agapanthus and sprays of pink roses, beneath carefree palms and flowering frangipani trees, are set against an agonizingly cobalt-blue sky, a painful contrast to the predominantly grey cloud hanging over Northern Europe this Summer.
It's quite addictive just 'hanging' at Son Net, so tearing oneself away for expeditions can take some convincing, though, after a couple of days of unwinding, it's great to dip into the nearby delights: DeiÓ, Andratx, Valldemossa, Palma... There is an abundance of beauty on this island, a touch of unscathed Mediterranean exotica, on many beaches and in much of the interior: a genuine tribute to the Island's inhabitants, who have managed to maintain a sense of the good life without destroying the habitat.
Son Net is not simply a petit-luxe 5 star hotel, it is an enchanting escape at a slower pace with an enviable climate, a genuine stress buster.