To be completely transparent, I’m not a fan of big beach resorts. Whether they’re in Florida, Aruba, southern France, or the Middle East, they always seem to have a certain uniformity: the sprawling private beach with lounge chairs arranged like assembly lines, shady cabanas-for-purchase, mediocre lunch buffets, cookie-cutter rooms that aren’t quite worth the price, and public spaces that lack character. It doesn’t matter where you are – resorts have a homogenizing quality that makes you forget that you’re, well, anywhere at all. And that’s no fun. That’s why Villa Le Blanc in Menorca, Spain, was a pleasant surprise.
Located on Santo Tomas Beach in Menorca, one of the three Spanish Balearic Islands (along with Mallorca and Ibiza), Villa Le Blanc manages to deliver a five-star luxury experience that also feels rooted in the local culture. Its design was inspired by the architecture of the island’s villages, incorporating classic Menorcan arches, whitewashed walls, and the traditional use of tiles. Walking through the lobby almost feels like entering a grand Menorcan villa. The open-concept layout flows from the lobby bar and public seating area right into a corridor that connects to the restaurant, S’Amarador. It all borders the pool deck outside, with lounge chairs surrounding an artfully designed pool with a fountain in the middle.
But there’s a good chance you’ll never even use the hotel pool. That’s not an indictment of the pool but rather a testament to how appealing the rooms are. Each of the hotel’s 159 guestrooms feature balconies with city or sea views, and many go a step further, giving guests private hot tubs, lounge chairs, and swimming pools (all with sea views) to enjoy from the convenience of their balconies. Some suites even have their own secluded rooftops, which really make you feel like you’re living in the lap of Menorcan luxury. There’s really nothing like sipping a glass of wine from your own private balcony pool while looking out at the Mediterranean.
The resort’s culinary ethos is also firmly rooted in Menorcan culture. The dining venues curate their menus with a focus on local products, using fresh ingredients from farms around the island. S’Amarador, located on the hotel’s first-floor terrace overlooking the sea, is one of the top seafood restaurants on the island, specializing in seafood bisques using fresh fish from the local market, particularly red lobster.
Nude beaches and nature hikes
It might sound like you have no reason to venture from the property – and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong – but there’s more to the area than just resort living. Head down to the beach and take a right, and you’ll find yourself on a scenic walkway that runs along the coast, bordering restaurants on one side and large rocks leading down to the beach on the other. It’s almost like a Menorcan version of the iconic Marginal Way cliff walk in Ogunquit, Maine. If you’d rather stroll the beach, be prepared for more sightseeing than you bargained for – this stretch of beach is popular with nude sunbathers, and it’s not uncommon to see dozens of beachgoers baring it all.
About a mile down, you’ll find a hiking trail snaking away from the Playa Binigaus beach. The trail stretches over seven miles inland through lush woods, beside small creeks, and up hillsides with stunning viewpoints looking out over the natural scenery. It’s an out-and-back trail, however, so make sure to budget your time appropriately. There’s nothing quite as satisfying after a nature hike than taking a dip in the ocean, either.
When Villa Le Blanc opened in 2022, Gran Melia’s ambition was to operate one of the most environmentally responsible hotels on the island. The resort strives for carbon neutrality by using facilities and technologies that reduce its emissions by 87% while continuing to explore alternatives for offsetting the remaining emissions.
Residual heat from A/C systems are used to preheat hot water and heated swimming pools, water from swimming pools is used for cleaning the hotel, and rainwater is put to use for garden irrigation. When it comes to waste, the hotel uses a circular-economy model, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials to keep waste at a minimum. The resort’s energy-efficient, carbon-neutral mission is all the more important as the island of Menorca was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993.