When Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe opened the iconic Marbella Club in Spain just over sixty years ago, he defined luxury as ‘a blend of privacy and gardens’. Over the last half century the concept of luxury has been hijacked by the big brands and turned into a prized saleable asset. Many of us are now suspicious of this ubiquitous label, used freely to describe anything from a hotel that provides a flat screen television and a modicum of service to a bottle of champagne or a new watch. Increasingly, with so many publications dedicated to ‘luxury’ brands, we are wondering what the word really means and questioning its value. So how refreshing to discover Cugó Gran, a small, discreet, brand new villa in Menorca, offering privacy in a spectacular garden setting and perfectly encapsulating Prince Alfonso’s enduring definition.
Eclipsed by her brasher, more glamorous sisters, Ibiza and Mallorca, Menorca has been described as the Balearic island tourism forgot – even tiny neighbouring Formentera has attracted a lively international community of artists and sculptors. Yet languishing far from the madding crowds has turned out to be Menorca’s blessing rather than her curse. As discerning travellers trawl Europe in search of unspoilt loveliness, it is Menorca that remains a rural paradise, its rocky coastline yielding to meadows of wild flowers, horses and cows, criss-crossed by ancient dry stone walls. Menorca still remains untouched by the brutal expansionism that has tarnished so much of the Spanish landscape and blighted so many of Europe’s small islands.
Atop a hill at Menorca’s heart stands Cugó Gran. Till recently, a dilapidated farmhouse, Cugó Gran’s rebirth as a luxury villa epitomises Menorca’s overall regeneration as an island offering a natural sanctuary far from the hectic clamour of urban life. Cugó Gran has been meticulously restored, equipped with all the technology to allow utter comfort, without compromising its simple elegance and rustic charm. It has now opened its doors to guests and comes with an on-site 24-hour concierge, offering the same level of service as on a super yacht.
It was the property’s manager, Toby Thornton, who coined the super yacht analogy. Toby has worked as a butler, private chef and personal assistant in London, Europe and the Caribbean and instinctively understands how a vessel, whether on sea or land, needs to be run. His experience as a butler in particular has given him the know-how to operate efficiently but invisibly, an ability to anticipate guests’ every need and an unsparing eye for detail. Cugó Gran’s resemblance to a super yacht lies not just in terms of service but also in the villa’s unique hilltop position, perched high upon an ocean of green, commanding a 360 degree view of fields and meadows all the way to Mallorca on the far horizon.
Mostly privacy is available only behind high walls or within a gated community beyond which, if there are not literally barbarians at the gate, there is all the usual hustle and bustle of daily life constantly threatening to invade. What is so astonishing about Cugó Gran in its 250 acre setting is that guests feel they are masters of all they survey – it is very rare to be so secluded without being confined and constrained by walls and fences, however cleverly disguised. The real luxury here is the space and the sense of freedom that brings.
Also, the natural abundance that surrounds Cugó Gran brings plenty of other rewards. Alongside the world-class wines on offer, Cugó Gran produces its own wine and there are organic vegetables in abundance grown on site, top quality ingredients that any Five Star Hotel would be hard pressed to source. Even the flowers are cut daily from the estate’s kitchen garden.
The lifestyle here is simple, natural and healthy and provides healing nourishment for the soul as well as the body. The view alone from every position in the house is a restorative reminder that it is possible to look outwards and recover a sense of perspective and balance. Long before Andrew Marvell wrote his iconic 17th Century poem, ‘The Garden’, about the mind ‘withdrawing into happiness’ and ‘annihilating all that’s made to a green thought in a green shade,’ people have sought joyful oblivion in nature but now it can be done without enduring the hardships of the wilderness. Cugó Gran is a rural paradise but with all the amenities and service the 21stcentury has to offer from personal yoga teacher to private chef. Moreover, should a guest feel the need for some more noisier entertainment, the capital Mahon is a short drive away.
Cugó Gran provides comfort without glitz, privacy without constriction and a magnificent natural setting that gives this property value that is impossible to put a price on. It has elevated luxury to Prince Alfonso’s pure, authentic definition again, representing an escape from life’s treadmill and a return to an enchanting Eden.
For more information about Cugó Gran and Menorca contact Red Savannah's travel specialists on 01242 787800.