Tips on the family- friendly Martinhal Resort, Sagres
9th February 2016
As it is so cold outside, I am thinking of summer holidays and I thought I would share holiday tips on the Martinhal Resort in Sagres, Portugal.
I have never visited a resort that is so well publicised and loved by families. When we checked in, I immediately saw two families from home (literally the same area in London). This was something that would be repeated throughout our stay; my husband bumped into a work acquaintance at breakfast and me someone from my eldest daughter’s nursery. We knew this would be the case as our neighbours gave us the heads up before we travelled but it was weird seeing so many people from home when we were away.
However, it is easy to see why it is so popular with families. The little things like simple yet chic design, Nespresso machines in each house, lovely food and beautiful views make it very comfortable for grown-ups. But the real deal breaker is that it was the first time on a holiday with kids we felt that everyone had a good break. We travelled there in August with a 4 year old and an almost 2 year old and they absolutely LOVED it. We stayed in a Bay House at the far end of the resort. This means it is quiet but you did have more of a walk to breakfast if you were half-board and to the main pool (our favourite).
As so much has been written about Martinhal I don’t need to tell you about the services, the wind (it was windy in August) or the fact that kids are so well catered for. However, I thought some might like to have tips on what I would do if I went again and where I would visit.
- The ocean suites are probably the best in my opinion. Although the garden rooms are marketed as best for families and you have access to a pool in the middle, I found it to be quite noisy there in the summer. However, these suites would work if one of your children still has a lunchtime nap and the others don’t because the bedrooms are on the upstairs (the others are reversed) so its easy to come and go with the older kids.
- The reason I would choose an ocean suite is because of positioning within the resort. We were half-board so it meant we walked to the main building for breakfast and because you are close the main pool. This is closest to the beach, which has the most going on.
- The kids club is great but I think it is only really good for kids up to about the age of 6 maybe 7. The staff are amazing and our eldest did do tennis camp a few mornings too, which was free. However, you did have to book in advance and I did feel a bit like I was on a timetable despite being on holiday.
- It is worth doing research to go out and about beyond the resort, as this is a fantastic part of Portugal to explore. My husband enjoyed kite surfing and I am kicking myself we didn’t take bikes out (they obviously have seating bits for small folk).
- We absolutely loved going out on the dolphin watching boat from Sagres and our eldest pirate loved being taken to a real pirate cave on the way back to port! Our youngest actually fell asleep in my arms pretty much the whole time (this is unheard of) because of the motion of the boat!
- We like to go and explore different towns and ports in the evening when we go away but there is only Sagres nearby when you stay at Martinhal. However, we did go to Playa Del Luz one afternoon (I had to have emergency medical treatment on a sliced toe – ouch) and this seemed like a nice town (despite its notoriety). I am a fan of the town Lagos but this is about a 30 minute drive (I think!). It is all so much more laid back than the rest of the Algarve and fun to wonder the streets.
- The beach is not lined with sun loungers because it is too windy on some days and huge but this means it is great for going for a run or for exploring. There is also a fab beach café, which makes a nice change.
- We loved the main pool at the report the best, probably because of its proximity to the beach and the trampolines close by. We found the huge beanbags so useful and great for our little one to crash out on. The pool did get busy and yes, it did get a tad cold coming in and out of the water when it was windy but it didn’t feel over the top crazy. Plus a few times they had magicians come down to the pool, which the kids loved and we played football with other families on the sandy bit next to the pool.
- We only once paid for the cabanas on the way to the beach and I have to say when we didn’t have the kids with us and we wanted to read our book this was a lovely place to get away from kids!
- If you are interested in exercise it is definitely worth packing your trainers because there are loads of classes, courts to rent and runs to go one whilst the kids are being looked after in the kids club. Because it is quite windy you never have that feeling the heat is too much and you actually feel motivated to go for a run or the like.
- As I mentioned we paid for half-board and this was really worth-it. There are a few restaurants to chose from and its great not having to clear up after breakfast. We did go to the supermarket in Sagres to do a shop for lunches (it is A LOT cheaper than the store on site). The food is not cheap but we didn’t have to pay half-board for our 1 year old (she ate for free) and because she ate more than our 4 year-old it really was good value.
- On a couple of evenings our kids were beside themselves with tiredness so we decided to have a drink in the square then get a takeaway from one of the restaurant and eat back at our house, which was nice and relaxing.
- The square does get totally rammed with families in the evening but the supervised play area (this is also available in restaurants) means you do actually get to talk as adults over a meal. However, there is a kind of child ‘walk of shame’ when a supervisor asks can ‘A’s parents’ please ask her to share the Wendy House (we didn’t leave our 1 year old playing out on the pirate ship, but we let our 4 year old when we knew the staff were watching her and she was playing with the buddies she had made friends with).
All in all, it is a fantastic resort and you will definitely come back with a suntan, a full belly, having read a book and some very happy kids. We have some great memories playing with the kids and it really is a beautiful stretch of unspoilt coastline. If you have small kids its perfect and if you have kids interesting in Kite boarding or windsurfing it is also perfect, but you do need a car because otherwise you will be overly familiar with a lot of other families with very small kids. Bring on summer 2016….