20 great fortunes share 8% of the island of Menorca (5,550 hectares). With 71,000 hectares it has historically been a strategic target for empires, the haunt of pirates and the spoils of war.
However, there are no longer naval empires competing for the island. Today, mainly millionaires dock in Menorca. It is the favourite enclave of wealthy Spaniards and half of Europe. In recent years, with a boom accentuated after the pandemic, investors and magnates of French origin have landed on Menorcan soil, buying estates and old villas, projecting million-dollar investments or promoting visionary projects.
The large fortunes are led by Víctor Madera, Manel Adell, and Martín Varsavsky, the Frenchman Roger Zannier, and the Austrian Swarovski family. The Daurella, Rubiralta, Carulla, and Joan Manuel Serrat are other major property owners.
Roger Zannier is a hotelier, winemaker, and owner of a textile empire. He controls 835 hectares and is the seventh-largest owner of the island. Zannier leads the silent colonisation that comes from Paris and adds to the landing of other great Spanish fortunes. Some new rich – like Victor Madera or David de Andrés, owner of Grenergy – seek refuge or convert into sustainability gurus.
In the last five years, private healthcare businessman Victor Madera, current president of Quirón Salud, has become the largest individual property owner on the island. He has at least 1,259 hectares spread over eight estates. They all mix with “old money” people settled for decades. Many of them are Catalans, such as the Daurella, Carulla and Rubiralta families. Together with the local landowning aristocracy they integrate into the anonymity of an island with a great agro-livestock tradition. Slightly over 100,000 people reside here.
British buyer replaced by the French
“Until recently, the most important foreign buyer was British, but that has been replaced by the French. They have realised that investing in Menorca is cheaper than doing it in Paris,” explains José Pons in El Mundo. Pons is the commercial director of the Menorcan real estate agency Bonnín Sansó.
Although the phenomenon was already happening before, “the pandemic has accelerated this process. It has caused many of these people to realise that they have to enjoy their possibilities.” Buying estates to relax, isolate themselves, remotely control their businesses, or reinvent their investment model. On this well-preserved and quiet island mansions can sell for up to €10 million.
“In the mid-2000s, there was a first wave of investments and farm purchases, mainly by Spaniards, and now we are experiencing a second one,” explains one of the selling owners, familiar with Menorca’s real estate world.
The first wave of famous people saw soccer stars like Raúl González Blanco opting for the island as a vacation spot, in contrast to the lavish Ibiza style. Nowadays, Menorca has become a hub for businessmen and financiers. Here new faces like the Zannier family stand out. They own a children’s clothing and footwear empire and control 835 hectares. They plan to create a luxury resort with a spa and polo field.
French entrepreneur Maxime Didier owns four estates and a total of 295 hectares on the island. Here he promotes luxury agrotourism projects. Investors like Frederic Biousse and Guillaume Foucher have converted two farms into luxury hotels. Furthermore, hotelier Laurent Morel opened a Relais & Chateaux hotel in Ciutadella.
These investors combine a passion for the island and a medium- to the long-term business vision. Others, such as Sébastien Aguettant, president of Delpharma, and Stephande Dreyer, seek a peaceful oasis to rest or conduct business from afar.
Menorca is part of the Balearic Islands archipelago. The island has a reputation for its natural beauty, clear waters, and well-preserved beaches. One reason why Menorca is attractive to the wealthy is its exclusivity. The island is known for being quieter and less crowded than other popular Mediterranean destinations like Ibiza and Mallorca. This means that wealthy individuals can enjoy a more private and secluded holiday experience.
Another reason is the island’s strict building regulations, which ensure that the natural beauty of the island is preserved. This means that there are few high-rise buildings or mass tourism developments, which adds to the island’s exclusivity and appeal.
In addition, Menorca’s property market has been growing in recent years, with an increasing number of luxury properties being developed. The island has seen significant investment with new hotels, restaurants, and other high-end amenities being developed to cater to the needs of wealthy visitors.
Related post: Guide to the Balearic Islands