Martinhal Sagres is a stunning contemporary 5 star resort at the tip of the Algarve and he is our review of why you should consider visiting Martinhal Sagres in February.
The resort sits within the protected Costa Vicentina National Park a fabulously unspoilt, wild and rugged setting for such a beautiful hotel, but the combination of luxury in nature really does work. The determination the owners have to provide incredible and stylish family friendly accommodation is evident throughout the resort and from the moment you and your children step foot in the resort to the moment you leave, everything is designed to make sure you feel spoilt rotten whilst ensuring that the children are at the centre of everything. On arrival from our two days at Martinhal Quinta (around an hour away) we were greeted by very friendly reception staff who gave the girls an orange pack sack with a cap in (for them to wear to kids club) and a ball. My three were so excited by this gesture and immediately asked when they could go to kids club and start wearing it. A promising start!
We had driven through the resort on the way in and noticed the enormous villas and smaller but equally beautiful garden villas. There seemed to be swimming pools everywhere and when we were given a map of the resort by the reception team I realised that there were in fact swimming pools everywhere and heated ones at that.
We were taken by golf buggy (the hotel is quite hilly so you may need a buggy/baby carrier depending on your children’s walking ability) to our beautiful 3 bedroomed Ocean View Villa. I was quite taken aback when we walked in:
The balcony was almost as big as the villa itself and looked out across a simply beautiful view. Cleverly all three bedrooms (and two bathrooms) were on the ground floor and the large lounge, kitchen and wrap around balcony gave you the views. I am conscious whilst writing this review that I use the worlds beautiful, stunning and incredible quite a lot, and I’ve only written the first few paragraphs, but that really is what you immediately notice on arrival. The inside of our villa (designed by Terrence Conran nonetheless) was spotless; as everywhere was. There wasn’t an item out of place in there and I can imagine most would be hard pushed to find anything wrong with their accommodation.
As the pool isn’t yet heated at Martinhal Qunita, the girls were desperate to get into the pool and have a long swim, so we threw some things in a bag and ran down. The pool nearest our villa was the pool that overlooked the beach. There was lots of sun loungers around the pool and some cosy rattan seats that all the family could get in. The pool was lovely and warm and whilst there was a little nip in the air as we took our clothes off to get into the pool, once in, the temperature was lovely. We stayed in the pool for ages that afternoon and excitedly one of our twins swam not only her first full width, but went onto swim a length of the pool. This made all those hot Thursday evenings in the local swimming pool with three of them after school seem worth it.
We only got out of the pool as we needed to eat some lunch and on the recommendation of a lady I met by the pool we ate in the sea food restaurant (As Dunas) right next to the pool. At this time of year, there is only two restaurants actually open on site, at most times of the year there are three; but in addition to the restaurants there are two bars that serve snacks.
As Dunas also overlooks the beach and the vast amount of glass ensures you can always see the exceptional view. The real beauty for my though (as a Mum of three) was that whilst the kids were waiting for their meal to arrive they could play in the playground just below the restaurant and I could see them the whole time. There was slides, sandpits, and trampolines! What more could they want.
The food itself in this restaurant was fantastic. The menu was probably as long for the kids as it was for us, which is a refreshing change. They could have smaller versions of the adult options, but there was also the traditional kids menu – something for all. I was also very impressed to see a variety of fresh puree available on the menu, pureed to different texture depending on age! Izzy (still wearing her cap!) enjoyed her spaghetti a lot.
After lunch we made our way down to the beach, convincing my elder daughter that we could go back into the pool afterwards. The beach was empty (an added bonus to travelling out of the main season) and we sent ages jumping waves and having running races up and down the beach. I took some time to sprawl on the large Fatboys (a Martinhal trademark) with one of my daughters whilst the others carried on playing with Dad. We had a really lovely time and the February weather was just right for this sort of activity. Not sunbathing weather but fun playing around weather.
I left the girls playing in the pool with their Dad whilst I went on a tour of the resort with the owner Chitra Stern. It is incredible to think that when the Sterns bought Martinhal there was an old motel on the site which had been built in the 60’s and the resort had been perceived as too far away from Faro to develop a high quality offering. How wrong others were and what foresight and drive they had. Adding facilities like heated pools, restaurants and shops has turned this into a truly year round resort. It was a fascinating couple of hours for me as both me and my husband work in property and I understand a lot of the challenges they had. The resort now offers something for all size families from studios with additional beds in the lounge, to large 6 bedroomed villas with their own pool.
After my tour I realised it was time for dinner and made my way to O Terraco with hubby and the girls. One of the most talked about benefits to parents at Martinhal is the kids corners in the restaurants. Areas with soft flooring, colouring, building blocks and kids club staff to entertain your children whilst you eat, or whilst they wait for their food. At 9pm we were still there drinking wine whilst the girls danced to songs in the area next to us and begged to be allowed to go to kids club the day after to make chocolate popcorn.
Unfortunately I don’t have any decent photos of our dinner as the light was quite dark but the food was exceptional. The offering in O Terraco is a la carte and quite rich. In high season you can chose where to eat in the evening but in February it is the only dinner option. The kids were happy with their food and I ate soup that had been highly recommended followed by some fresh fish. We all collapsed into bed happy and full.
It was back to O Terraco for breakfast in the morning and the choice was superb. Cakes, cereals, meats, cheeses, eggs served any way you would like including pancakes and crepes making for very happy girls. If you didn’t fancy the champagne (yes champagne is served with breakfast!) you could choose from juices and smoothies. My three decided they loved the Gwenyth Paltrow smoothie with apples, ginger and kale. I need to learn how to make it at home.
On what was only day 4 of our holiday, the girls spent a morning at the Kids Club. Kids Club and creche is offered from age 6 months to 16 years and the activities on offer even in low season were impressive. In High Season they are too numerous to mention but include paddle tennis, micro scooter resort tour, family football and family cinema. A weekly programme of activities is provided to you on arrival. They were happy to rush off to kids club having met the creche worker the evening before and been told tales of chocolate popcorn but also because they had enjoyed the club at Quinta.
Whilst they were at Kids Club I took the opportunity to try out the Finisterra Spa where I had been booked in for a relaxing 50 minute massage. Prices are in line with the 5* nature of the resort but so is the environment you are treated in. The warm beds, the oils and the luxurious robes all made for a wonderful treat and if your kids are in kids club and you and wondering what to do with yourself, I’d suggest a morning in the spa as a well deserved treat.
I wandered about the Village Square after my massage before depositing myself in the M Bar with my Kindle and a pot of tea until it was time to collect the girls. The Village Square is one of the central hubs at Martinhal and is home to the Mercado Deli & Bake which not only sells lots of wine and fresh bread (my essentials) but is well stocked with all those essential baby products too.
One of the things that worried me about booking a holiday to Martinhal Sagres in February Half Term was what if it rained? It didn’t but I need not have worried if it had. There is an indoor/outdoor pool just off the Village Square which we spent hours in due to the small slides into the water;
Another play area with swings and playhouses;
Indoor soft play with slides and ball pools, colouring, jigsaws and games;
and an additional play area (for low season) in case of poor weather when the Italian restaurant is turned into more indoor soft play. What a fabulous idea.
We were very sad to say bye bye to Martinhal the next morning and sad to return to the regular routine of school and work. We had been spoilt rotten by all the team at Martinhal Sagres and left wanting to return to Portugal very soon.
If you are looking for somewhere to head to for a family friendly holiday at Easter, I can highly recommend a trip to Martinhal. You’ll get fabulous weather, your kids will adore it and you will be spoilt rotten.
Thanks must go to Martinhal Sagres for inviting us to review in February