Family Friendly Portugal Introducing Martinhal

Martinhal is the name behind the portfolio of award-winning holiday resorts that promise luxury holiday experiences with high class family-friendly facilities, in some of the most prestigious areas in Portugal.  From beaches and sophisticated golf areas and Lisbon city centre, no matter what resort you choose, you can be sure that Martinhal have the perfect blend of families and luxury securely in mind.  Having built their first hotel in Sagres in the Algarve, they must be doing something right as they have now expanded their empire into Cascais, Lisbon city centre and Quinta do Lago.


It is all too often the case that one struggles to find a balance between family and adult-friendly when searching for that perfect holiday, and so the idea of fusing luxury with a family resort appealed no end.   But can adults really experience relaxation and plush surroundings and cuisine whilst maximising very precious family time?  Lured by the exclusive golf and beach resort of Quinta do Lago, we chose to stay 3 nights there, followed by 5 nights in the beach resort setting of Sagres, and set out to experience for ourselves this fantasy holiday scenario.

Anyone with young kids knows just how impossible it can be to travel light, or indeed travel any distance at all.  Nappies, sterilisers, arm bands, travel potties….kids come with kit and lots of it.  Fortunately Martinhal is one step ahead and offers an ingenious ‘Baby Concierge,’ making hassle-free travelling with babies and small children their specialty. This progressive company offers you the opportunity to pre-book baby equipment – from small items like door protectors, potties, bottle sterilisers & warmers, to bigger items like safety gates, baby cots and baby baths. Not only that, they also offer a wide variety of lotions, nappies, and other items for purchase from the reception.

We chose to fly over from London Gatwick with EasyJet, arriving early evening at FARO Airport, with two very tired little ladies. We were swiftly transferred over to Martinhal Sagres by an extremely polite and efficient Martinhal driver in a spacious and air conditioned people carrier, all geared up with age-appropriate car seats.

With its 300 days of sunshine a year, and over 100 beaches, its no wonder the Algarve makes such a perfect family holiday destination. Just 20 minutes from the airport and a 2 minute drive from Faro Beach, Martinhal Quinta is the perfect place to use as a base to explore the Algarve’s 200km stretch of coastline and get to know its many quaint towns and villages.

Quinta do Lago itself is one of the most exclusive areas of the Algarve, offering 5-star luxury with an impressive array of top quality restaurants, including many with Michelin stars, world-class golf courses, sophisticated bars and exclusive boutiques, all targeting the affluent and VIP residents and visitors to the area.

Set in Ria Formosa Natural Park, everything about Martinhal Quinta is designed with families in mind. Stylish and design-orientated, Martinhal Quinta offers families the chance to unwind in the unspoiled Algarve, with high-class family-friendly villas, restaurants, bars, kids and leisure services that put families first.

Martinhal Quinta offers an exclusive 4-star private collection of independently owned luxury villas – each with a private garden and pool area. Upon arriving rather late in the evening, the Matinhal reception team swiftly checked us in and took us, by golf buggy (delighting the kids!), to our 3 bedroom townhouse.  As each townhouse is independently owned, they vary a lot in décor, but thanks to Martihal’s high standards and expectations of owners, you can be sure of high quality furnishings and finishing, with light and homely décor, all sparkling clean, well-maintained and fully equipped with everything you could possibly require to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible.  Each townhouse is fully serviced and has a large kitchen complete with a stove, dishwasher, washer-dryer, fridge and crockery, cutlery and pots and pans.

It was incredibly comforting to arrive so late into the evening to accommodation that truly felt like a home from home, featuring every facility you could possibly require with a young family and bags of space for the little one to move about in!  As with all Martinhal resorts, a super convenient Baby Concierge is offered and the team even provide a welcome basket of snacks, treats and essentials like milk to kick start your stay.

For those looking to self-cater, the onsite shop Mercado offers a wide variety of take-away breakfast options with freshly baked bread, croissants and pastries, coffees, teas and natural orange juice. Here you will also find fresh fruit and vegetables, high quality deli items and a wide range of drinks. A full range of cold take-away dishes are also available through the day.

If cooking in your apartment isn’t on your holiday to-do list, you’ll find O Terraco located on top floor of the ‘Pool Hangout’ area.  This restaurant is the perfect place to start your day, with a full buffet breakfast prepared every day to cater for all tastes and an ingenious kids’ corner to keep little ones entertained while parents can finish their brekkie in peace!

For those seeking lunch or those all important snacks throughout the day,M Bar is located next to the Pool hangout and offers a pool side dining experience with delicious snacks, salads, pizzas, paninis and a wide selection of drinks.  Keeping to their mantra of providing for all the family, Martinhal offer a menu designed specifically with children in mind, with healthy dishes and snacks for toddlers and beyond, as well as a purée menu for babies experiencing their first tastes! Perhaps the most popular place for my little ladies to visit was the Gelataria, next to M Bar, where mouth-watering homemade ice cream, crepes and waffles are available for those wanting to indulge in a refreshing moment by the pool.

Speaking of chilling by the pool, we need to discuss the Pool Hangout area itself.  This immaculately  clean, heated resort swimming pool and toddler/baby pool area is a dream come true for any parent.  The toddler pool is perfectly shallow enough for your little one to splash about safely and  relatively unaided and features a fun water feature to keep them entertained.  Back in the deeper pool, you’ll find a slide aimed at young children, which provided my daughter’s with endless giggles and hilarity!

Right next to the pool area, you’ll find a splash pad for the kids, a trampoline, sandpit and the signature Martinhal camper van for the kids to play in, all without having to change out of swim suits.  Much like the resort, the pool area is perfectly secure and is staffed with the resort’s kids club team who do a fabulous job entertaining the troops, without disturbing the peace!

Although we didn’t use it, there is also a onsite kids’ club available at an additional cost, which is filled with age appropriate games, activities and toys, providing endless fun for babies and children up to eight years old.  Older children are equally as well catered for with their own games room, featuring everything from consoles to table tennis.

For those families travelling en mass, an exclusive 4-star private collection of independently owned luxury villas are available, with large living spaces on the ground floor are characterised by decorative and well-appointed interiors and feature fully fitted kitchens, air conditioning, satellite TV and Wi-Fi. All bedrooms are en suite. Each property is positioned in its own landscaped grounds overlooking a private garden and swimming pool.

Before long, it was time to pack up and head, via private transfer arranged by the team, to our next destination; Martinhal Sagres. In a stunning position overlooking Martinhal Beach and set within the most picturesque natural parks in Portugal – Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina, Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort is located close to the historic town of Sagres on the unspoiled Western Algarve and features a five star hotel and a selection of spacious family homes.

My family and I stayed in one of the Ocean Houses, which command a prime position right at the heart of the resort. Carefully arranged in small terraced groups at the front of Martinhal Village, Ocean Houses are singular in their character and form. These spacious and beautiful village houses are built upside down, with  living spaces created upstairs to take full advantage of the fabulous panoramic sea views.  Our Ocean House had its very own private verandas where we enjoyed many an  al fresco meals overlooking the ocean and was positioned within the a perfect location with the beach right on our doorstep and all the resort’s leisure and entertainment facilities a stone’s throw away.

Ocean Houses are just one option out of a whole variety of accommodation options, to suite all party sizes and tastes. You’ll also find Garden Houses, Vilas Mimosa which are stylish 2 or 3-bedroom townhouses with private gardens, Luxury Villas that are independently owned and are positioned in its own landscaped grounds overlooking a private garden and swimming pool, plus Bay and Pinewood houses and even a hotel. Carefully positioned at the beach within the grounds of the resort, the hotel features 37 rooms, including two duplex Beach Suites, all with private balconies or terraces that afford impressive ocean views. The building itself sits at one with its surroundings, combining a natural simplicity with contemporary style to create a building that appears organic, as if born to nature.

The Martinhal Sagres resort itself is breathtakingly beautiful, with clean and spacious ultra-modern interiors, complete with floor to ceiling windows on nearly all external walls, successfully bringing the calm outside landscapes in.  The staff are all trained to offer a fun and friendly service to the youngsters and a professional and attentive service to the parents.

Based on a philosophy of using authentic Portuguese produce of the highest quality and following time-honoured methods of preparation, the resort is one of the best places in the Algarve to appreciate delicious national cuisine.  There are three onsite restaurants, all offering luxurious surroundings, cuisine and faultless customer service.  Somehow, each restaurant manages to maintain a relaxed setting where families can calmly eat together without the worry of their children disturbing other tables.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed in a sophisticated dining setting.  So how does Martinhal successfully ensure a stress-free setting?  It’s actually quite simple.  Firstly, they make sure there are enough high chairs to go round.  Each menu not only offers healthy and delicious dishes for children, they also offer home-made baby foods for a variety of age ranges.  Then there is the children’s play area that features in every dining area – an ingenious corner of supervised craft, toys and reading that successfully limits the capacity for impatient little diners to get fidgety waiting for their dishes to be served or the adults to stop nattering.

O Terraco restaurant offers buffet breakfast and dinner featuring some typical Portuguese dishes with a twist. Os Gambozinos, an Italian Trattoria, does the traditional family favourites of pizza, pasta and other typical Italian dishes for lunch and dinner. The As Dunas restaurant commands an enviable location overlooking the beach and is where you’ll find a tempting lunchtime menu, serving snacks during the afternoon and dinner in the evening. The restaurant is renowned for its wide selection of fresh fish and seafood, all cooked and presented in a typical Algarve fashion. A shaded outdoor terrace allows for meals al fresco – candlelight dining at its finest with the sound of the sea lapping at the shores. As Dunas is the ideal place for families with an extensive children’s menu, fenced-in sandy play area and trampoline for little ones.

It is the kids play areas and the pool facilities that truly sets Martinhal apart from the rest of them.  There are an impressive 5 pool areas dotted around the resort to ensure that guests can enjoy pool time with their kids in the pools.  The Pool Hangout is located just above the beach and is sunk into a stylish wooden terrace.  This was our favourite spot for whiling away the day.  As our little one’s paddled in the toddler pool, splashing about safely with their buckets and spades we had purchased at the village store, we were actually able to lie on a sun bed for a spell!  OK, I didn’t get to read any of my book I had brought with me, but I did, however, actually get a tan.  Now if that isn’t testament to a relaxing holiday away with toddlers, I don’t know what is!

The Village Pool area is set in the Village Square and is ideal for families all wanting different things! One generously sized pool spans indoors and outdoors, whilst adjacent is another smaller pool designed for the toddlers of the family. The Oasis Pool can be found surrounded by the Garden Houses, you’ll find Club 98 by the resort’s sports centres featuring both a standard and toddler pool and Martinhal’s fifth pool area is located at the entrance of the resort. The 18m pool and adjacent baby pool are open during the summer months for the exclusive use of the Vilas Mimosa guests.

With kids being central to the resort‘s philosophy, Martinhal Sagres have created 5 different but equally superb kids clubs, covering the ages of 6 months to early teens.  This is a facility where kids can be looked after by the fully-trained, caring and responsible staff in a safe and secure space while parents can enjoy some time out.

The various areas in the Kids Club have been created to interest and stimulate different age groups, ensuring the needs of babies up to teens have a full range of toys, playthings, creative areas and entertainment – from playmats to Playstations! We enrolled our daughter for 2 hour sessions over our stay, which gave us a short time to be able to sit in the sun, book in hand in the village square, sipping upon a well-earned cocktail. In addition to supervised kids club areas, there are several unsupervised playgrounds all around the resort where parents can play with their kids, or in our case, the kids can play with the parents!  Trampolines, table football, ping pong, climbing frames, slides…..you name it and they have it.

If you prefer to have your children looked after in your villa or room, baby-sitting can be organised for any age from a few months old upon request, should you wish to indulge in a little adult time.

On the subject of adult-time, Martinhal Sagres guests are also spoilt with a beautiful spa known as ‘Finisterra’ meaning “end of the earth”. Positioned in its own secluded grounds at the centre of the resort, this oasis of calm with only 6 treatment rooms is a place where the art of relaxation is taken seriously.  Using a selection of local aromatic oils, ointment, spices and exotic herbs, the therapies and treatments offered bring together ancient and contemporary techniques in perfect harmony. The spa offers five treatment rooms, sauna and steam room to help guests relax before and after their treatments, so if you get the opportunity (think kids club), then be sure to take a visit and escape to the ends of the earth for a spell or two.  The spa is truly a sanctuary of calm and one that can be enjoyed by yourself, as couple by booking a couples massage or treatment, or with your little ones!  Family spa experience options are plentiful, with sessions such as a mum & child massage, facial or manicure, or a soothing father & child back massage. The perfect bonding experience for little ones on holiday!

For those who like to keep active on holiday, Martinhal have a multitude of activities on offer, including water sports at The Water Sports Centre which is located on the Martinhal Beach.  Here guests can hire equipment for windsurfing, paddle boarding, kayaking and much more.  If you’re more comfortable on terra firma, then be sure to hire bikes at the Bike Station, situated just next to the village square. Powered by Algarve-Cycling-Holidays, Martinhal Bike Station offers high quality bikes to discover the stunning surroundings at one’s own pace, including the Natural Park for mountain biking, trekking and road biking.

Active holiday makers will also love the tennis courts, Pump Track and fully equipped gymnasium just above the Village Square. In addition to in-resort activities, the surrounding area to the hotel offers a wide range of options which Martinhal are happy to arrange for their guests.  Hiking and wildlife tours are particularly popular, with hot air ballooning and skydiving on offer for those who want to take to the sky. Local day trips wills e you horse riding along he beach, exploring Sagres in a Tuk Tuk or getting to grips with the wild expanses of the Costa Vicentina National Park, which is right on your doorstep.

All in all, Martinhal, whichever resort you choose, have got it absolutely right.  The team have found a way to balance luxury with home comforts, family time with relaxation and organised entertainment with freedom to explore.  In doing so, Martinhal have achieved total perfection when it comes to family holidays.

For more information or to make a reservation, please visit the following websites:

www.martinhal.com