Menorca…is like the smaller brother of the largest Balearic Island Mallorca, as part of an archipelago off western Spain in the Mediterranean Sea, with the most popular being perhaps Ibiza.
Well, as with many younger siblings, they have a well-deserved confidence for a reason and a head start or free rider purely because they are the little ones.
This smaller island has everything you might want whilst on holiday, within 30 minute reach – the seaside, countryside, walking trails, nature, fiestas, history/ ruins, rustic/ rural and urban/ beautiful towns, and entertainment for all ages from waterparks to horse lessons. Particularly the towns of Mao, Son Bon and the Ciutedella of Menorca are recommended. All of this is strung together with a common theme of the fact that the island brings you to a slower, easier, more relaxed pace of life almost instantly.
On such a small and well-endowed and looked after island, it seems most appropriate to tuck yourself away in a rural hotel, and then step out onto a beach, or a horse, or a hike when your heart desires.
We choose a secluded little haven called Sant Joan de Binissaida, which is the love of a multi-talented local family, head by Josep Maria Quintana Petrus, a 67 year old lawyer, previously President to the friends of the opera house on the island (bringing in talent from all over the world).
Today, his eldest daughter Blanca is in the hotel industry also, in mainland Spain, his son Pere is a physicist and IT specialist, and younger daughter Elisabet is a landscape architect and his wife Maria Garcia, a pharmacist.
The family bought Binissaida over 16 years ago. The conversion began in 2001 and the hotel was finally opened in 2004 once the house and barns had been converted.
You can see that it is born out of one man’s love for his land, for Josep had grown up in middle Menorca, and each of his children work to express that love and appreciation in the hotel design and service. As soon as you enter the hotel, you are welcomed as if you are a part of the family, and shown up to one of the twelve suites in the house/ barns. I say barn, and whilst they have been converted to expose beautiful stone work, they are also very plushly finished off.
Binissaida is also run in a very family-esque way. The staff are more like family, who will bend over backwards to help, and communication internally is seamless, for the staff all eat together, and so they are even able to anticipate your needs. Unmissable attention to service and detail.
Binissaida’s main aim is that you feel as though you are staying in the REAL Menorca, and that you are able to experience that from the moment you arrive, in what you eat, drink, smell, see and touch. Menorca has been recognised as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO since 1993, and you can see that sustainability is not just a word in vogue. The ethos with which Binnisaida has been created shows an exceptionally high level of compatibility between economic growth and the consumption of resources, and the conversation of heritage and landscape echoes throughout the island. This is shown in the diversity of Mediterranean habitats which host endemic plant and animal species.
Binissaida is green, quiet and respectful and very much “of its’ timing – hence the lengthy mealtimes (sobremessa seemed like 4-5 meals a day lasting about 2 hours each?!); of its’ animals – even I took up horse riding, and of its’ traditions – hence the choice of food that you are served. Each meal seemed to be a celebration, AND we were invited to real celebrations in the form of a Sunday fiesta, which would descend on a different village every Sunday and the band, dancing and horsemanship were on another level. Everyone seemed to stop and revert back to enjoying the simple pleasures in life – one another’s company, local food, and time.
Binissaida has it’s own pool, delicious restaurant, farmlands which are refreshing to walk through whilst being irrigated, and outdoors pizza oven for cooler evenings. It feels like a home away from home, with the privilege’s that come with living on a farm. They have a residential farmer, who looks after their own chicken for eggs, sheep for wool, turkey and horses, which were held by the iconic Arabic walls. They collected their own irrigation water, and tried to grow their own fruit and vegetables as much as possible. Not sure I have ever tasted sweeter tomatoes anywhere.
There is an 18-metre pool, and shady paths for gentle strolls among the pine and wild olive trees.
There are certain things you cannot leave Menorca without. A pair of their infamous sandals, which have a hole for your toes and heel for comfort, and a strap at the heel for the practicality of a shoe. And take at least a short walk if not more along the Cami de Cavalls which is a path that literally goes around the island which the horses used to use during wartimes, and which horses still use today – tradition!
Facilities: tennis table (ping-pong table), swimming pool, terraces with great views, pergola, gardens, rural paths, areas of Mediterranean forest, a rustic waterwheel with its own reservoir, a rustic bread oven, and private parking.
Services: WiFi, car and bike rental, baby sitting, massages, organisation of walks all over the island, horse rides, light aircraft trips, outings on the sea (sailing boats, canoeing, yacht cruises, etc.), adventure activities, cultural routes, and sport lessons such as golf, tennis, scuba diving, snorkelling, etc.
Address: Camí de Binissaida, 108, 07720 Es Castell, Illes Balears, Spain