October 18, 2021
Grand Hotel Portals Nous – An iconic interior by Marcel Wanders, operated by Iberostar
In July 2017, Iberostar opened its exclusive designer hotel, the Grand Hotel Portals Nous, just outside Puerto Portals, one of the most prestigious and exclusive marinas in the Mediterranean, 11 km from Palma de Mallorca.
Luxuria Lifestyle Balearic Islands and Southern Spain were lucky enough to interview Gabriel Chiave:
This dedicated, adults-only hotel is nestled on a beautiful beach. How do you use such a paradisiacal setting to denote a certain style?
GC: It gave us the opportunity to create something unique for this special location. The nature, the sea, the light, everything really contributed for us to design an amazing experience that offers refinement and wellness. We didn’t just design the interior but a unique destination.
How did you bring out the typical ‘Mallorquin’ style?
GC: Nature was one of the aspects, but also the use of craftsmanship, the use of colours and materials, alternating between very pure open transparent white spaces and more filled rooms. Throughout the hotel, a colour palette typical of the island is displayed, very bright and very powerful. Large, white sculpted walls in the rooms, typical ‘azulejos’ tiles on the floors, a design inspired by nature, plants, local materials and local techniques and craftsmanship are some of the elements that connect with the ‘Mallorquin’ culture of the island.
Upon arrival in the lobby, guests are greeted by your tree of life. What is the reasoning behind this harmonious piece?
GC: The tree of life is very pure, very white, very fresh, but also very symbolic – a stylised tree with little bubbles, like little clouds. In a way, it is a tribute to nature. It is almost like a tree that you encounter in a dream. It is there forever. There is a terrace and in the other direction there is the bar where in the middle there is this beautiful tree that really attracts attention and creates a magical atmosphere.
With 66 rooms and 4 double penthouse suites, where do you start?
GC: (Laughs) The first step when you start designing rooms is the standard room, the one where you do the mock-up. It’s the first thing you build to test the function, the service, basically everything.
The hotel has three spaces serving locally sourced organic products – the Astir Gourmet Restaurant, the Selini Lobby Bar and the Dom Perignon Champagne Bar. How easy is it to combine top design with gourmet cuisine?
GC: We work together with the chef because of the operational aspect, how it should work, the service, what experience we want to create. Together we design the culinary experience, taking into account the menu, the style of food and the speed. It is very important to involve the chef from the beginning of the project. We have worked with several Michelin star chefs and it is nice to work with them, because you learn a lot from them as well, because they are artists too.
I understand that the hotel is the only one on the island that serves El Capricho meat, the best in the world. Have you tasted it yet?
GC: Unfortunately not! I will definitely go back and try it again.
Briefly describe the thoughts behind the 6 ‘one-of-a-kind’ suites….
GC: Themed suites add another layer of storytelling. As designers, it’s like a playground for us. We make up stories and themes.
The naughty suite is a bit erotic, a bit exciting. We have a big mirror on the ceiling, a round bed, a pole bed with some accessories here and there. It is, shall we say, for the more curious couples.
The Stargazer suite is about constellations. There’s a great professional telescope, so you can look and stare at the stars and the planets.
The Heritage suite is about history, going back in time, with old paintings.
The Game suite is for adult games like chess, and on the terrace you have mini golf and a pinball machine. The Spa suite is very clean, very white with beautiful carvings on the wall with accents of colours, iron and metal pieces. It is quiet and soothing.
Why did you decide to connect the bathrooms by a vanity with a light box in the shape of an eye?
GC: (laughs) I can’t tell you. Only Marcel Wanders knows. It’s his little secret.
How did you extend the harmony to the luxurious spa, gym, steam room, sauna and treatment rooms?
GC: The spa, gym and steam room display beautiful mosaics, and feel almost magical. The treatment rooms are very clean and white with more use of natural materials such as wood in the treatment rooms and in the waiting area. This creates a certain harmony.
The hotel has carefully manicured gardens and a swimming pool with a 30m+ waterfall, a bar and a secret garden with clandestine seating. How did you make your mark here?
GC: The beauty of this place is that the terraces are all multi-level.
We like people to wander around outside, so we create secret gardens with little corners where people can relax on their own and be surprised by another layer or another landscape. We have this beautiful waterfall, a 30m high mosaic of flowers and plants that constantly flows into the pool so it looks like a wall of flowers is flowing into the pool.
This 5-star hotel is all about service and its butler service is endorsed by the prestigious British Butler Guild, including a fabulous ‘menu’ with unlimited options and personalised services, such as getting a table at one of the island’s restaurants without having to wait, access to a personal shopper or a last-minute booking for a helicopter or boat.
Does this play a role in your overall planning?
GC: Yes, because we are here to design something like a holistic approach to the experience of the customer. It is a journey, it touches all the senses and it touches all the services. When you arrive, there is no desk, no reception. When you arrive at the entrance there is no check-in desk. You are welcomed in a beautiful lounge with a glass of champagne. You enter a world with a certain sophistication that is there from the moment you arrive.
Your mission is “to create an environment of love, live with passion and make our most exciting dreams come true”. How challenging was this with the Grand Hotel Portals Nous?
GC: It was quite easy. We were given a corner of paradise. We used nature and space to make people feel involved in the project and the overall experience. It is spot on.
The connection with nature in Mallorca is something that is out of this world, don’t you think?
GC: The location is fundamental to the project. we were given a corner of nature that is an inimitable paradise. In both the indoor and outdoor spaces, we managed to honour and bring to life the local culture as well as the surrounding environment.
How important was it to make this an experience that guests will remember?
GC: It is not a place where you just stay. It is a destination where everything you feel and do is memorable and will stay with you forever.
It all sounds dreamy and romantic. Would you describe yourself as “romantic”?
GC: Absolutely. I’m Italian, so it’s part of being Italian. Maybe between romantic and dramatic at one point, but in a good way!