*The brand’s first hotel, Vestige Son Vell, just opened on the Balearic island of Menorca*
Vestige is a new hospitality brand with a clear vision; to leave behind a legacy of cultural and environmental richness for future generations to enjoy. With one foot rooted firmly in history, restoration and the preservation of cultural heritage; and the other looking towards the future, the group brings a progressive approach to safeguarding architectural treasures, while breathing in new life and contemporary design to create a wholly unique collection of boutique hotels, private estates and event venues.
Founded by husband and wife duo, Victor Madera and Maria Obdulia Fernandez, Vestige is the culmination of their mission to act as custodians of historical-cultural heritage, preserving and regenerating sites of exceptional architectural, environmental and community significance. Alongside their respective careers in medicine, and as a trained art historian and music teacher, over the past 15 years the couple has been quietly acquiring and restoring a portfolio of 25 extraordinary sites across Spain. Properties range from abandoned 13th Century palaces and castles, to early 20th Century modernist builds, many are listed as Cultural Heritage Sites and all were rescued from oblivion to be restored with integrity, paying respect to the unique architectural identity and character of each one.
Their first project, the 500-year-old Palacio de Figueras, is an 11-room palace overlooking the Eo River in their home of Asturias. It took an arduous 11 years to restore and the contribution it made to the region’s architectural heritage saw Maria become the first woman to receive the prestigious gold medal from Oviedo’s Chamber of Commerce. This process ignited a passion within the whole family to do more, and over the years they have built up a team of experts across the fields of architecture, design, archaeology, restoration and hospitality who will work collectively to grow Vestige into an exclusive collection of 12 hotels and 13 private homes occupying some of the most breathtaking settings, many of which are relatively untouched by tourism.
This month sees them open the doors open to their first hotel, Vestige Son Vell. A meticulously restored 18th Century manor house ensconced in verdant Menorcan countryside, this symbol of Menorcan elegance is just 20-minutes from the enchanting city of Ciutadella and a short stroll to a glistening Balearic beach.
Son Vell’s 34 rooms are spread across the grounds of the historic 180-acre estate, from the sandstone walls of the grand Italianate-style manor house, to the rustic charm of five different farm buildings. Having been abandoned and fallen into disrepair, this former residency was bought by the Madera family in 2019 who, together with architect Enrique Motilla and an expert team of historians, curators, craftspeople, designers and artists, began a delicate and detailed restoration process over three years, to bring the estate back to life.
The result is an architectural triumph set within an idyllic oasis of citrus trees, olive groves, organic vegetable gardens and working farmland. From the outside, the property’s original wood, limestone and clay features, as well as the traditional marés sandstone which gives the main house its distinctive feel, have all been carefully preserved. In turn the serene interiors designed by Maria and her team of interior designers are both fitting to their historic setting, gently nodding towards the Venetian style of the main house, while also embracing contemporary design. Each room or suite is unique and expansive, characterised by terracotta tiles, ancient wooden beams and natural textiles alongside local artworks and antiques, all overlooking generous private terraces or colourful gardens.
At Son Vell, you can opt for an array of engaging activities both on and off-site, all designed to encourage deeper insights in local Menorcan culture, tradition and customs. The hotel connects you with a fascinating array of local artisans to learn local techniques such as the art of shoe, jewellery and bag making, or delving into Menorca’s botanical world with a herbalist to create natural remedies, cosmetics, elixirs and textiles. Days can also be whiled away with a dip in the pool, playing pétanque, wine tasting, unwinding with yogalates, or taking a cookery class with chef Joan Bagur. As night falls, live music, sound healing and stargazing are all on the agenda, as well as twice-weekly outdoor cinema screenings in the holm oak forest.
The pool and garden bars offer different spaces to enjoy a light bite and some local Menorcan gin imbued with native botanicals, while two restaurants serve up seasonal fare sourced from the hotel’s own farmland or local artisan producers. Sa Clarisa is the spot for a leisurely lunch, where Menorcan classics such as a cooling strawberry and tomato gazpacho from the vegetable garden, or local Vermella beef carpaccio are given a modern twist. In turn, evenings can be spent under the stars at Vermell, where the menu pays tribute to island life and stately Menorcan cuisine, culminating in signature dishes such as traditional lobster stew and rei en jaume chicken stuffed with sweet potato, apples, raisins and almonds.
For those wishing to explore further afield, Menorca’s ancient nature trail, the Camí de Cavalls, passes by the edge of the estate and is ripe for exploration by foot, bike or horseback. You can also opt for an exclusive jeep exploration tour that takes to private roads and unearths hidden corners of the island, while some of Menorca’s best beaches and most fascinating cultural sites are all within easy reach.
The launch of Son Vell will be followed later this year with Santa Ana, a six-room private home in the south of Menorca. 2024 and 2025 will see the opening of one further hotel in Menorca; a hotel and private home in Mallorca; and a 16th Century castle in Asturias, while projects in Madrid, San Sebastián and Extremadura are among those that will follow.