Martinhal, Portugal – A relaxing family holiday with a toddler
I saw this fantastic review with beautiful photographs on facebook and asked Rebecca if we could post it on here. It is a fabulous independent review of a family holiday at Martinhal. I have been wanting to get Martinhal on the site for ages as it looks so good for children. Rebecca is a family portrait photographer based in Surrey so if you live in that part of the world you should definitely look her up on her website. Or if you don’t live close by just have a nosey at the photos like I have been doing. Her photos are superb.
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Those of you that know me well, know that I LOVE the sunshine and holidays at the beach. Since having our daughter we hadn’t really imagined that we would be having a relaxing beach holiday for a while and then Dan found the website for Martinhal http://www.martinhal.com/. It looked perfect, so we decided to book up for September – we picked a Garden Villa it had a terrace, garden and balcony as well as 2 bedrooms, big kitchen with all mod cons and large living space. Our villa was only a 5 minute toddler stroll to the village square and about 10 minutes to the main pool and beyond that the beach.
The beach is fantastic – golden sand and a long stretch for walking on – some days with quite big waves which meant lots of surfers to watch, other days more calm and always ok for a bit of wave jumping. The little ones all got a welcome gift bag containing a bucket and spade and there were lots in a box near the beach to borrow if you needed it too. There are separate sunbeds to hire on the beach with umbrellas (and a cafe too which we didn’t test………..too much choice in the resort!).
- the beachside one (quite popular) which has a kiddy pool, beach bar which serves snacks, lunch, drinks, smoothies, coffee etc and lots of loungers, umbrellas and fatboy beanbags and usually some nice relaxing music being played. You can hear the waves from here too. There is also a lower beach side area to sit in with seats, cocoon daybeds and hamocks. Also a sandy play area nearby with climbing frame, slides and trampoline!
- the village square pool – always quieter with an indoor/outdoor pool, separate kiddy pool with sunshade, lots of climbing frames, swings and toys here too including ride on floating toys for the pool and slides. Also has a juice/coffee bar and is close to the shop. Again lots of lounging places with sunbeds and beanbags
- garden pool – smaller and v. quiet with often nobody else there or just a couple of families.
There are additional pools at the sports club and at some of the villas too.
The village square came alive in the evenings with adults relaxing on the outdoor sofas (and even MORE beanbags), listening to the live music, while the kids played on the pirate ship, playhouse, trampoline and football pitch – all on soft matting so everyone seemed very safe. The whole resort caters to families and as we were in school term time it was basically only under 5’s we saw there.The M bar was really welcoming at all times of day, with an actual camper van inside for the kids to play in, play area and bar for the kids with toys and ipads! Also the garden area of the kids club opened in the evening with even more play equipment and trikes to ride etc. We had breakfast here a few times too.
Restaurants were a revelation – all close to a play area and with the friendliest staff you could hope for – they had play tables inside – in the terrace/dunas restaurant there was a member of staff to look after the children while they played and our daughter sat for ages and drew and made puzzles while we ate just popping back for her dinner and to show us what she was doing. It made dining out as a family really enjoyable. The food was also great – lots of choice and local dishes and healthy kids meals too.
Everything had been considered – nothing too dangerous to climb on, toddler cutlery provided – high chairs if you wanted them. All (nice) plastic plates and cups provided in both the restaurant and villa, supply of beach towels and flip flops in your villa, lots of clean toilets nearby and potty, loo seat and steps in the bathrooms. Comfy places to sit and relax everywhere and lots to entertain the kids too. Nobody minding if there were kids getting down from the table in the restaurant. Customer service was great – I popped into reception to ask for a bed guard one day and 5 mins after we were back at the villa the staff member arrived to install it. Nothing was too much trouble.
The shop was amazing – not cheap but it had ella’s smoothies, lots of baby stuff, nespresso pods (yes a nespresso machine in the villa!! miraculous), sold a whole range of gluten free goods, lactose free milk and even coconut water! Also a large range of baked goods for breakfast, more coffee and smoothies too. You really could just turn up with the barest minimum and be fine for your weeks family holiday.
Such a relaxing feel to the whole resort – we were apprehensive about the weather as most websites said thunder every day just before we left, but the weather was blazing. We had the odd shower – you could see the cloud come in across the sea and hills and then it would skirt around the resort……….a couple of times we just wrapped up in the beach towels on the beanbags until it stopped raining a couple of minutes later, most people didn’t bother getting out of the pool.
Such friendly people too – and most people were on their 2nd or 3rd trip there. We will definitely be back – hopefully next year around June time….. keep us a seat in the square!
PS. If you have got this far, congratulations on reading all of this! I really struggled to find an independent review before we went and so I wanted to make sure I wrote down everything that I loved about this resort in the hope it might help someone else…. Please let me know if you go and what you think!