Sitting atop a hill in the pastoral countryside of Menorca, Spain, the recently opened Es Bec d’Aguila private retreat couldn’t have picked a more idyllic location in terms of scenic beauty as well as history: The rural mansion was built in the 19th century as a weekend getaway for a wealthy merchant family who wanted to be close to nature as well as lavishly entertain guests. Paying hommage to its extroverted origins, the renovated estate was renovated by Paris-based design studio Atelier du Pont as a fully-serviced rental property that combines the conviviality of a private vacation home with the services of an upscale hotel. Drawing on its past grandeur and vernacular architecture – think dry-stone construction, whitewashed surfaces, vaulted ceilings, and ceramic tiles – the designers have imbued the mansion and its surrounding grounds with an authentic sense of laidback elegance and cosmopolitan refinement through an eclectic combination of contemporary, modernist and vernacular elements.
Working with a team of local craftsmen, Atelier du Pont’d designers have boldly renovated the three-storey, 12-bedroom mansion – whitewashing the originally dark red exterior, adding windows and reconfiguring the layout – guided by the vernacular sensibility of local architectural norms and traditional Menorcan crafts. The Mediterranean aesthetic of whitewashed walls, tiled floors and built-in furniture is enhanced by a collection of custom-made textiles and a plethora of wooden textures, while a curated selection of mid-century furniture from England, France, Denmark and Spain, coupled with a bold collection of contemporary art, imbue the mansion with a cosmopolitan aura. The combination of such diverse elements, far from producing a jumbled melange, harmoniously coalesce into an aesthetic of eclectic sophistication that reflects the island’s storied history of Moorish, Spanish, English and French occupation.
The mostly white interiors, occasionally complemented by teal and lime-washed wall sections, are predominantly jazzed up by a varied selection of handmade terracotta and cement floor tiles, which the Balearic Islands are famous for, featuring different colours and geometric patterns for each room of the house. Whereas some of the floor tiles are original pieces that have been meticulously restored, many are faithfully reproduced copies produced by local artisans while others have been sourced from as far away as Cuba. Whichever the case, the selected tiles are intimately tied in with the décor of each room.
Translated as Eagle's Beak, Es Bec d’Aguila’s name refers to its prominent position overlooking the rolling hills of Menorca’s interior and the Mediterranean Sea in the distance. Once the elegant springboard for nature walks, picnics and hunting excursions, the private retreat has reclaimed its intimate connection with nature offering guests a chance to enjoy the natural landscape and pastoral ambience through outdoor yoga sessions, bicycle rides and pottery classes among other activities, or simply by relaxing with a chilled glass of wine on one of the terraces or balconies and enjoy the magnificent views. During the summer months, guests can also take advantage of the glorious hilltop pool for swimming or lounging on the pergola-covered daybeds. With an in-house cook preparing Mediterranean dishes with fresh ingredients grown or produced on the estate such as vegetables, herbs, eggs and honey, even the meals embody Es Bec d’Aguila’s drive for Menorcan authenticity, effortless refinement and home-like comfort.