Chitra Stern, owner of Martinhal Beach Resort, tells us what makes her hotel award-winning...
Q: What is your favourite feature of the hotel?
A: Martinhal has led the way in family resort innovation since opening in 2010. It brings together the best of European architecture and design to form a family-friendly resort without compromising on style or quality. The village houses have been designed by award-winning London architect Matthew Wood of Conran&Partners, who have taken an environmentally sensitive approach with a series of low-rise buildings that merge into the landscape of the resort’s pristine beach location within the Costa Vicentina National Park. The interiors are elegant and modern yet 100 per cent family-friendly and safe.
In every corner of every public space including the restaurants there are toys, activities and even iPads all aimed at keeping the kids busy, leaving the parents free to sit back and relax. During breakfast time and dinner time at O Terraco restaurant there is a kids’ corner with a child minder, which is always popular with children and parents alike. These are small details that make a big difference to parents of young children, giving them back the luxury of having a relaxed long meal over a glass of wine, or having your cappuccino at breakfast with the foam still on it!
Q: What can families rely on when visiting your resort?
A: Everything you will need for your child while on holiday can be found at Martinhal. The baby concierge service takes the worry out of packing for a holiday away with a young child. Buggies, bottle sterilisers, thermometers, cots and even nappies can all be pre-booked ready for your arrival, leaving more space in the suitcase for mum and dad’s essentials and keeping the luggage weight down. O Mercado, our convenience store on site is geared up for children, providing powdered milk, baby food and many more essentials, including Ella’s Kitchen baby food!
Accommodation that will work for any family set up. The spacious accommodation couldn’t be better equipped; from free stair-gates and baby proofing, to pool guards and sterilizers. Washing machines and dishwashers are standard. With a wide range of accommodation options there is something for everyone. For families travelling with grandparents, the luxurious Garden Houses having living space and bedrooms on the ground floor, taking the worry out of travelling with an older generation.
The five different childrens’ clubs cater from six months to teenagers. There’s a crèche for the little ones (with one child-minder to every three children), a playground, a secure walled garden for toddlers, video games and table football for the teens and tweens, and activities such as tennis, surf and Padel tennis for the older teens.
The variety of restaurants and menus available cater to the different needs in the family, from fine dining to an Italian bistro to a Portuguese seafood restaurant – Martinhal has it all. All the restaurants have a children’s menu and a dedicated children’s play area where the kids can play while the parents enjoy their meal. New since 2013 are the especially designed baby menus that range from chicken & vegetables to fruit (all pureed).
The children’s facilities are of superb standard and all four large hotel pools are heated – ideal for family fun all year.
Martinhal is the perfect holiday choice for family friendly activities – Padel tennis and tennis courts are on site, biking and walking tours, surfing lessons and golf can be arranged so even the most active of guests will be satisfied.
For those parents wanting to relax, a wide variety of massages and facials are available at the resort’s Finisterra spa.
Q: If you were a child, which activity would you most want to do?
A: Sagres is a renowned surfing destination with many surf professionals choosing to come to the area to enjoy the waves. Surf and windsurfing lessons are available at Martinhal from the age of 6 and these are a firm favourite with the older children. For the younger members of the family they can jump on a scooter for Micro Scooter week or enjoy just one of the many fun activities at the Raposinhos Creche and Kids Club including treasure hunts, learning traditional Portuguese dance or cookie making.
Q: What's the best way for parents to spend an afternoon/evening?
Relaxing couple time sounds like a contradiction when talking about a family resort however at Martinhal it is not! Parents can enjoy a couple spa treatment at the Finisterra spa to relax together before heading to O Terraco fine dining restaurant to enjoy a romantic meal for two while enjoying the stunning view looking out over the coast.
The day can end at the M Bar with a couple of cocktails or joining one of Martinhal’s sun set Club evening entertainment sessions whilst the experienced and well-trained babysitters look after the children.
For the more active parents a surfing afternoon to learn a new skill together can be the perfect alternative to a relaxing spa treatment.
Q: Is there an excursion you'd recommend above others?
A: The most iconic excursion on the Western Algarve leads through the west coast beaches, with a few stops along unspoilt, empty beaches along the way and finishes watching the sunset at Cape St Vincent – voted one of the best spots in the world to see the sunset!
Q: Are there any special extras you can add on eg. private breakfasts/champagne on arrival?
A: Hotel guests can enjoy breakfast in their room upon request. Portuguese sparkling wine or indeed French champagne on arrival can be organised too – any special request we get we try and arrange.
Why not organise an evening of babysitting in advance to look after the little ones in the comfort of your house while parents go for a glass of champagne at our M Bar before going to O Terraco for a romantic dinner for two.
Q: Who has been your most exciting guest?
A: Ben Fogle recently stayed at Martinhal with his family. He is an active parent with two small children and represents active parents across the UK. It was a pleasure to have him stay at Martinhal, where the whole family concept is about active quality family time. They hope to return to Martinhal again - as they have promised the children!
Q: What's the most exciting event that has been held at the resort?
A: Martinhal is known for arranging a variety of exciting events throughout the year – mainly from October – April. We have arranged a Mother & Child Fitness Week, Roxy Surf Days, Walking Weeks and many more. The most memorable was our biking week in 2013 (to be repeated in the autumn) with Andre Greipel, a famous German cyclist and family man. During the week we arranged various bike tours with families, obstacle circuits for children and meetings between Andre and our guests.
Q. What's the strangest request you've had from a guest?
A: We never had a strange request as we believe we can help with anything – we are very flexible and always respond to every request to make sure our guests leave the resort satisfied.
Q: When is the best time to visit?
A: Most people think the Algarve is a summer destination, however, we think autumn and winter are underestimated and are in fact are perfect seasons to visit. Guests can take advantage of the beautiful weather to enjoy the western Algarve at its tranquil best. As the last of the summer holidaymakers return home, this is the perfect time to visit with babies, toddlers and young children – the beaches are almost deserted, temperatures well in excess of 20°C, and the air fares are far lower than you would pay in July or August.
Martinhal is also the perfect choice for an active winter holiday, taking you away from the bitter UK and allowing you to enjoy the beautiful natural surrounding on foot, bike or even surf board. With the most temperate climate on Continental Europe in the winter and day-time temperatures around 18ºC a holiday at Martinhal in winter can make a refreshing change from the freezing ski slopes and can get the whole family involved in some great activities at a very reasonable price.
For more information and booking visit the Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotelwebsite.
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