Belfast Telegraph

Martinhal, Sagres: A paradise for both parents and kids alike

By Paul Ferguson

When it comes to a holiday abroad with little’uns, it’s the little things that matter... Parents have been known to break out in a cold sweat at the very thought of travelling with toddlers.

Removed from their comfort zone and natural habitat, the trip can often be stressful rather than serene for mum and dad.

A test of endurance and patience in the sun.

Yet on the western tip of the Algarve, Portugal, within yards of the picturesque harbour town of Sagres and a short drive to the famous lighthouse of Ponta de Sagres, I found an idyllic beach resort that exudes style, class and incredible attention to detail allowing for the perfect family break in a luxurious setting.

At Martinhal, they take the ‘family friendly’ approach to a whole new level with children the very essence of the five star complex — indeed 37,000 sq ft of the resort has been dedicated to kids — but equally allowing parents to be pampered and catered for.

Even before you arrive at the resort, Martinhal is already looking after your every need. The Baby Concierge, via email, is at hand to reserve those essential items for your apartment such as high chairs, bumper seats, stair gates, potties, bed rails, baby baths, door protectors and bottle warmers. These are in addition to the washer/dryer machine and dishwasher placed in your accommodation as a matter of standard.

Martinhal is determined to succeed in their ethos of the resort being about the joy and delight of family life, especially when it comes to eating out, and therefore, all three restaurants on site, including the plush ones, have extensive healthy children’s menus with fresh purées for babies, adequate high chairs with appropriate cutlery and supervised play areas in sight of the dining tables.

The main M Bar, which doubles as the resort’s coffee shop during the day, is packed full of iPads, games, widescreen TVs, outdoor play area and there is even a vintage VW camper van for the kids to sit in and explore. Most importantly beside the bar, which has the local lager, Sagres, on tap is the resort’s very own ice cream parlour.

The resort, 90 minutes from Faro airport and easily accessible by hire car along the A22 toll road, is set within a vast natural park and consists of 37 hotel rooms, 132 different styled town houses and 68 villas.

My two-and-a-half-year-old twins were hooked on the place within seconds of checking-in at the main hotel. It had nothing to do with the fact that we’d passed a bouncy castle in the Village Square as we drove in or that there was a large heated outdoor pool just nestled in front of the beach. Nor was it the thoughtful welcome pack they’d received of a cap, flip flops, a ball and a bucket and spade.

Instead, being chauffeur-driven to our apartment in a golf cart was the greatest thrill of the day.

The accommodation which we’d chosen was split over two levels with the spacious and bright lounge, dining section and kitchen area on the first floor along with a balcony which gave panoramic views out to sea and the harbour of Sagres. The ground floor consisted of a master and second bedroom along with two ample bathrooms, allowing the kids to have their own. Patio doors in the master bedroom led out to a pleasant sun trap. Child safety was evident throughout the entire apartment with curved corners on the tables, chairs and cabinets.

The epicentre of the resort is the Village Square which is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel and town houses. Here you will find the bouncy castle and children’s play area which is enveloped by Italian restaurant Os Gambozinos, the M Bar, the Raposinhos kids club, a hugely popular pop up barbecue takeaway joint and a grocery shop — although if you are planning a big shop then a  major supermarket is just two minutes away.

Os Gambozinos is the most relaxed of the three restaurants serving Italian favourites and the chef’s speciality, the mushroom risotto with added chicken, is a particular favourite along with the pizzas.

It is ideal for an early family dinner, has specially low tables and chairs for kids, but booking is essential. Every dish on the menu is available for takeaway — and the same goes for O Terraco and As Dunas restaurants — which is a godsend when you opt to stay in your town house for the evening.

O Terraco, just above reception on the first floor, is your place for a hearty breakfast with buffet and cooked to order dishes available. It is particularly nice if you are able to secure an outside table to take in the stunning views.

During the evening O Terraco becomes a little bit more sophisticated and offers mouthwatering local cuisine while As Dunas, the resort’s beach restaurant, serves up the finest seafood with the mixed dish a delight. Children have play areas indoors or just out the front in a sectioned off beach area.

The resort feeds off a child’s lifestyle and therefore is early to rise and usually quiet and sedate around 9.00pm.

The kids clubs, situated in the Village Square, are extremely well run and organised giving parents a couple of hours to themselves while the kids, depending on age, can enjoy the outdoor play facilities, arts and crafts and general games. For older children, The Blue Room, above the kids clubs, offers older children the chance to play computer games, pool, table tennis, table football and even the chance to watch a movie.

Parents can then take advantage of Club 98 which has two grass tennis courts and full length pool while within yards is a grass football pitch. Bikes are available for hire while there are a range of water sports available and a fully functioning spa with hot tub.  However, there is so much to do as a family that you are likely to limit the sessions in the kids clubs and spend more time in one of the four swimming pools on site.

In front of the main hotel and just before the beach, is the main pool which is slightly heated along with a baby pool and around this area is always a hive of activity, especially with Beach Club Bar on a lovely wooden terrace. Just before the public beach is Martinhal’s Beach Hangout, a secluded area for sun loungers and cabanas.

In the centre of the resort is a quieter pool near the Garden Houses while for the times when it drops in temperature in early evening there is an indoor pool which is split in half with an outdoor section and has a selection of slides to have fun on. Plus in the grounds, there is yet another children’s play area. All pools have excellent changing facilities and

fresh towels are given out at each location.

Of course with the resort having a beach front location the Atlantic Ocean is just a few steps away but with the notorious Sagres breeze, sometimes it is more comfortable to enjoy the facilities on offer in the resort.

Sagres is a little bit cooler compared to the rest of the Algarve, but with young children in tow that can actually prove to be a blessing and it actually has a pleasant climate throughout winter months when prices are that little bit cheaper.

Martinhal is expensive but any relaxing haven comes at a cost and if you are able to bring your break down from a week to say four nights, you can still experience and savour the resort to the full.

Your little’uns will certainly thank you for making such a big difference to an unforgettable holiday.

FACTFILE:

Accommodation

Paul and his family stayed at the Martinhal Family Beach Resort in Sagres, Portugal.

From April 1, 2018 to May 25, 2018 & September 22, 2018 to November 2, 2018 prices start at £196 per night.

From June 2, 2018 to June 29, 2018 & September 1, 2018 to September 21, 2018 & December 29, 2018 to December 31, 2018 prices start at £220 per night.

From June 30, 2018 to August 31, 2018 prices start at £323 per night.

From November 3, 2018 to December 28, 2018 & January 1, 2019 to March 31, 2019 prices start at £164

For further information and rates log on to www.martinhal.com/ or telephone +351 218 507 788

Getting There

easyJet fly from Belfast International to Faro. For schedule and rates log on to www.easyjet.com

Car Hire

Avis offer excellent deals on family vehicles from Faro airport. Log on to www.avis.com for the best rates and availability throughout the year.

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