More than 20 years ago New York born, David Stein, revolutionized the
standards for stylish living on Majorca. His love for design and architecture is reflected in the numerous projects that this visionary entrepreneur has
carried out during the course of his professional life.
After successfully completing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science in Building and Urban Planning, David started his career in Washington, D.C. at ITT Levitt and Sons, the world’s largest homebuilding company at the time. At the age of 22 he became the youngest project manager in the history of this internationally renowned company. It was here where he learned the tools of design, construction, marketing and sales.
He then moved to California and joined, Avco Community Developers, the nations largest developer of resort communities, where he ultimately became the President of their West Coast division before the age of 27.
From there he launched his own company. He laid the foundation for his own business in California because “the time had come to go to another coast and make my dream come true.” With a great deal of self-confidence and expertise, he dared to take the leap towards self-employment.
From 1982 to 1989, David successfully developed Monarch Beach (California), a billion dollar resort on the California coast that was comprised of 2,750 luxury homes, offices, shopping centres and a series of public parks, always with the goal of providing as many families as
possible with a home and lifestyle worth having. The icing on the cake of this mammoth project were two luxury hotels, a Ritz Carlton and a St. Regis Hotel, an ocean front beach club, a tennis club and an 18-hole golf course designed by the famous golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones Jr.
David Stein’s dream had always been to set up his own company and then develop his own projects, true to the precept: elegant design, quality built for a better life.
After his professional experience in the United States, he founded Stein Group International based in Mallorca in 1991, a private real estate and operating company focused in the development of mixed-use projects as well as the development, renovation and operation of hotels and resorts.
Nowadays, this model entrepreneur can look back on more than 40 years of experience and an impressive array of projects with a focus on home
building, resort development and the development and operation of unique luxury hotels. His group has carried out over 2 billion US dollars worth of projects in 10 countries in Europe, in Africa, in Canada and 8 states in North America.
The Son Net Story
Once he had achieved his professional life dream in California, he was not tempted to repeat it, but rather to try something similar, but new, realising that the USA was heading into a real estate crisis. So he started “Act Two” of his property development career in Europe.
Although he believed that his California beach front home was “the most beautiful place in the world”, he wanted a second home in Europe as a base. On search of where to live in Europe, he traveled through Spain which reminded him of California as it had been 50 years before. So, he came to Mallorca, saw Son Net and fell immediately in love with that beautiful mansion dating back to the 17th Century: 57,000 square meters of landscaped land, 4,600 square meters of internal floor area, classical architecture, tree-lined drive, citrus and olive groves, pool and tennis court. His developer instinct told him to start a new project, although the inside of the house needed more than a simple renovation. David acquired Son Net in 1991 and it soon went from a second home to his primary residence.
Son Net is a “part of Majorcan history“ – a beautiful manor dating from the year 1672, formerly owned by aristocracy and renovated with great
attention to detail by David Stein and his team. “When I saw Son Net for the first time, it was a completely dilapidated building that the former owner, an architect, had only partially and rather poorly renovated. At that time what is now Oleum restaurant, a replica of the former olive press, had no roof and only partial wall leaving it open to the sky. The room where the piano now stands was a mechanical room, with the vaulted stone ceiling that you see today hidden above and very low plaster board ceilings. The wine cellar was an unattractive laundry room. Since I suspected more lay behind these façades, I took the sledgehammer and just hit them – and, bit by bit, more and more historical details came to light,” remembers Stein, smiling. The conversion of Son Net took almost 3 years. After awakening this historic estate from its slumber, it became his family home for seven years.
His son married a “Mallorquina”, Maria Feliù. His grand
children were born at Son Net. For them Son Net is still their Majorcan “second family home” because they live outside of Mallorca. Grandson
David Jr.,now 27 years old lives in Madrid while granddaughter Andrea, 24 is now based in Barcelona. They will one day inherit this luxury property and “hopefully honour it, as my siblings and I honour our other family nest in Newfoundland, where my mother was born and raised”, says the tradition-conscious grandfather.
His mother Ellen Elisabeth “Nelly” Stein felt at home at Son Net, “because it reminded her of her Irish roots”. She lived there for a total of 5 years until she returned to the USA due to cancer. Nelly Stein slept in her own antique bedroom set that David had brought from California especially for her. Those antiques still remain today in Suite 28.
In this context, David Stein also likes to remember summers spent
surrounded by family, originally from Ireland, who emigrated to Newfoundland: “No lights, no radio, no TV – just us, how wonderful!” To this day, the widely dispersed family meets every year there in August, in their home on the sea. A beautiful tradition that no one wants to miss,
although Nelly is no longer alive she remains present in many ways.
In 1996, Stein’s presidency for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial
Foundation meant he was often in America. “Son Net had 14 staff and nobody was at home”. In 2002 Stein Hotels & Resorts was born. As he wanted to retain his connection to Majorca and his family, he turned
Son Net into an exquisite and luxurious retreat with extensive landscaped gardens, citrus orchards and breathtaking views over Puigpunyent and the surrounding mountains. The luxury Boutique Hotel has since attracted a long list of royal, political and celebrity guests. “It still has the feel of a home, so people treat it like they’re house guests, rather than in a hotel”. Guests are often surprised by his private art collection, including works by Hockney, Stella, Cristo and Chagall. Ben and Yannick Jakober created and gifted the spoons fountain, in recognition of his efforts to raise standards of quality on Majorca.
Stein Hotels & Resorts was rebranded Franklyn Hotels & Resorts in 2009, which was planned to become a global brand. Due to the economic crisis, they were unable to move forward. “We had an investor who committed to put a quarter of a billion dollars into our company in order for us to become a global brand and we even opened offices in Singapore and Chicago,” Stein explains. “Unfortunately, because of the economic crisis, they were not able to continue the funding, and, even though we had and great opportunity, it couldn’t go forward.
David Stein took Son Net and Chateau Eza (Cote d’Azur), out of the
portfolio – “two Hotels I really loved” – sold the other hotels and the
Franklyn name, so as to “make these two hotels a reference for what small luxury hotels can be and to enjoy a more intimate relationship with their operation that was previously possible with the larger international company”. For over 20 years, he has been setting – and continues to set – high quality standards in Majorca and the French Riviera.
Stein also operates the 5 star Spa & Golf Hotel Chateau d’Augerville, south of Paris, close to Fontainebleau and its famous castle. “It has 40 rooms, 2 restaurants, 2 bars, 620 m2 SPA area, a championship golf course and a chocolate factory with delicious homemade chocolates. “I have never run a chocolate factory before”, Stein says, “there is always something new to learn.”
New projects in Spain
David Stein’s current “baby” is the “Wine Hotel” in El Priorat (Spain), a new exclusive boutique Hotel & Restaurant, with more than 350,000 square meters of best grapes in the most internationally respected wine area in Spain. His partners are Carles Pestrana and Mariona Jarque, who re-established the family wine making tradition, creating Clos de l’Obac and Miserere properties, replanting vines along the banks of the river Siruana in the southern pre-coastal area of Catalonia.
The renovation of the 600 year old cloisters into a gem of a hotel with a Michelene quality gourmet restaurant is envisaged to begin renovation in 2020 with the grand opening in 2021.
In addition to running and developing hotels, David Stein is one of the founding board members of the Robert Kennedy Memorial Foundation in Europe which focuses on human rights and helping people seek justice.
With Tomeu Català, 23 years ago, he co-founded Projecte Jove – the first adolescent drug prevention and treatment programme in Spain.
”I’ve had an extraordinary life, with a lot of material benefits and incredible experiences beyond my wildest dreams. The only way I can enjoy those blessings without feeling guilty is to put something back into the community”.