Despite the Virgin Group yesterday continuing to deny rumours that the Hotel Residencia in Deya is up for sale, the Bulletin can reveal today that Sir Richard Branson's flagship establishment is on the market for an estimated $25 million, 4.500 million pesetas. It is believed that hotel staff were yesterday morning called together and informed of Branson's plans for the hotel which has become one of the most famous in the Mediterranean and a focal part of the region's quality tourism market. City sources in London said yesterday there are four groups interested in purchasing the hotel, but an investment group with no present interests in the tourist sector is apparently leading the field. It is also believed that the chairman of the investment company is a close friend of Sir Richard Branson. Hotel sources on Tuesday did confirm that two serious offers have been made this month and an interested party is believed to be heading to the island to inspect the luxurious hill-side Deya property. Not so long ago Sir Richard was planning to expand his Balearic operations with the development of “the most beautiful hotel in the world” on the Son Bunyola estate he owns, and intends to keep, in Banyabulfar where he also wanted to start processing Virgin olive oil. But while the Virgin boss envisaged an idyllic holiday setting with horse and carts linking individual chalets to the main manor house, nestling on the edge of the Mediterranean in a secluded valley of olive trees, local environmentalists and politicians managed to put the brakes on his Majorcan dream. This now appears to have been shattered by the current international crisis and the likely fall in demand for luxury hotels. The Hotel Residencia annually attracts the world's rich and famous and is a must for all the gliteratti visiting the Balearics. The hotel includes luxury suites with private swimming pools, one of which was used by the late Princess of Wales. Sarah Ferguson also used Branson's salubrious facilities this year, but she stayed in one of two newly built villas on the Son Bunyola estate. Coincidentally, Sir Richard and his family were holidaying in the other. Branson's relationship with the Balearics is not limited to hotels, his mother lives in Minorca and it is she who is credited with finding the location for Branson's new hotel in Morocco which is due to open next year. The visitors' book at La Residencia reads like the cast for the all time blockbuster movie, Tom Hanks, Pierce Brosnan, Goldie Hawn, Sting, Michael Douglas, Bruce Willis, Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffiths and Patsy Kensit having all stayed at the hotel with the likes of Sir Bob Geldof, Annie Lennox, Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger in the room next door to add the soundtrack. The hotel is equipped with extensive fitness and beauty facilities, one of the island's best restaurants set in 30 acres of ancient olive and citrus groves just a few miles from its own private beach.


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