The moment the ribbon was cut. | Humphrey Carter


On Wednesday afternoon, Sir Richard Branson officially opened the Son Bunyola Hotel in Banyalbufar. Accompanied by the hotel's general manager, Vincent Padioleau, Sir Richard said that he felt like "a very happy schoolboy", who had fallen in love with this "beautiful, pristine and exquisite property" 25 years ago.

As a young man, he explained, he had opened La Residencia in Deya. The challenge had been to create something as good if not better than La Residencia. He believed that "something magical" has been created, and all thanks to the great efforts of everyone involved.

Press conference for the opening of Virgin's Son Bunyola Hotel in Banyalbufar, Mallorca

He went on to say that he is extremely proud that out of 120 employees on site, 85 per cent are Spanish or Mallorcan. "The Mallorca hospitality and welcome," Sir Richard stressed, "is second to none and this is one of the keys that makes Mallorca so attractive and special to people from all over the world".

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"This is a dream come true. Over the past 25 years, it's been like watching a daughter growing up. She has turned out to be a very beautiful lady and we're very proud of her. Ironically, it's taken me 25 years to take people into space and 25 years to complete this magnificent property here in Mallorca."

He was convinced that the original owners would be as equally as proud of the work that has been done to restore the property, pointing out that the eventual aim is to open all year round. He hinted that if there isn't the flight capacity, Virgin might look at operating flights to Mallorca.

In expressing his gratitude to the many who have made the Son Bunyola project a reality, Sir Richard reserved special thanks for Banyalbufar town hall, the Council of Mallorca and the Balearic government.