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Sardinia for families - a hidden gem? Kirsty McCabe travels to find out...

Our intrepid weekly parenting columnist, Kirsty, left the sodden British isles behind to discover what's on offer for families, on the shimmering Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea

Posted: 24 June 2016
by Catherine Hudson

The beach at Le Dune Resort, Sardinia

Tired of the wet summer we've been having? I'm happy to report that crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and 5-star service for all the family, is just a few hours away. Sardinia might be the second largest island in the Mediterranean but it still feels like you've happened upon a beautifully kept secret.

Spread across the north of the island are eight different 4 and 5-star hotels and resorts, all part of the Delphina Hotel chain, but each with their own distinct look, feel and charm. Some, such as the Resort Le Dune, are aimed at families with young children, while Hotel Capo d’Orso is perfect for romance and those lucky couples enjoying a child-free break!


Le Dune Resort and Spa

FAMILY FOCUS

Valle dell’Erica, comprising of Hotel La Licciola and Hotel Erica, offers plenty of safe green spaces for children to play, without disturbing adults, a large and well-equipped mini club and a swimming pool just for children. But if you want the focus to be on family you’d do well to head to Le Dune Resort and Spa, with 496 rooms, nine restaurants plus one specifically aimed at children.

Surrounded by sand dunes and scented junipers, Le Dune's ten restaurants satisfy all tastes, and there are six outdoor swimming pools with pool attendants - two of which are reserved for kids. There is a vast stretch (eight kilometres) of Blue Flag white sandy beach on your doorstep. The spa centre is hidden in the sand dunes and there’s plenty to do, from archery to windsurfing.


Fantasy Village at Le Dune

But the highlight at Le Dune is what’s on offer for children with Baby, Mini, Junior and Teen Club options, allowing you to sit back, relax and enjoy some me time. Clubs provide activities to suit the age group, such as acting, sports and sailing courses, even baby dance and (non-alcoholic) cocktail mixology. What’s more the clubs here are free to all children aged between 18 months and 17 years.

There’s an aviary with peacocks, ducks and hens where children can collect free-range eggs. In the Peperone Organic Vegetable Garden they can pick and eat their own vegetables.

Castle Duneland has a children’s cinema and soft play equipment, along with a sleeping area with cots. Fantasy Village is an outdoor playground with swimming pool, Red Indian camp and a cowboy fort, inflatable pirate ship with slide, helter-skelter and climbing wall.

The 'baby room' is open 24 hours with change facilities, high chairs, sterilisers and just about anything you can think of to feed your little one.

When it comes to cost, most of the time, children go free. Not just at the kids' clubs but when it comes to accommodation too. The first child under six is free and there’s no cost for infants under the age of two. Usually additional children or those over six would cost 50 per cent of the adult price, but keep an eye out for special packages.


In the Peperone Organic Vegetable Garden they can pick and eat their own vegetables, at Le Dune

GETTING THERE

From May to September there are direct flights from London Gatwick to Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, which take about two hours and 20 minutes. We flew with easyJet on the first flight out in the morning and managed to make breakfast at our hotel La Licciola.

The warm welcome, followed by a delicious fresh breakfast on the sunny terrace with an amazing sea view more than made up for the very early start. The climate is typically Mediterranean with hot summers but as the resorts are near the coast there’s usually a refreshing sea breeze to keep you from overheating.


Resort Valle dell'Erica

THE RESORT

Hotel La Licciola along with the Hotel Erica make up the Resort Valle dell’Erica. These two 5-star beachfront hotels are about 12km from the town of Santa Teresa Gallura, around an hour’s drive from Olbia airport. Set in a private park of 28 hectares with numerous bays and sandy beaches, the resort has been designed to fit into the natural environment.

There is a Thalasso Centre and Spa, fresh and seawater swimming pools (one with a swim up bar) and seven restaurants. Everywhere the view out to sea is stunning, with the sparkling waters of the Straits of Bonifacio International Marine Park and the archipelagos of La Maddalena and neighbouring French island of Corsica.


The view from Hotel La Licciola

THE ACCOMMODATION

We stayed in a Junior suite, at Hotel La Licciola, looking out over a panoramic veranda. The room is so well designed that you can still enjoy a sea view while you shower! The double bed was huge and there’s a built-in sofa bed in the open plan living area.



There is a new area at Hotel Licciola where guests staying in the Exclusive rooms enjoy an elevated view over the sea and a private swimming pool. The only catch is no children under the age of six are allowed in the Exclusive area. Which for some, may actually be the attraction!



At Licciola and the other Delphina hotels and resorts there are a range of accommodations to suit different tastes and budgets. Families can request infants cots or opt for connecting rooms. There are luxury presidential suites with private mini pools, but these aren’t gated off, so not suited for those with younger children.



WHAT WE ATE

I think it would be quicker to say what we didn’t eat. I am a huge fan of Mediterranean food and I was not disappointed. We had meals at three of the Valle dell’Erica restaurants, both buffet and a'la carte, and managed to sample the menu at Hotel Capo D’Orso and the Hotel Marinedda.

The food is fresh, with plenty of local specialities and the staff are on hand to talk you through your options if you have any dietary requirements. Children are well catered for, and there’s even a Pizzeria restaurant at the Mini Club.


Aperol Spritz at the Hotel Capo D'Orso

You also have the option to arrange to visit and eat at another Delphina hotel or resort. We were on full board, but after sampling the delights of the bountiful breakfast buffet, I reckon half board would be just fine!

And I haven’t even mentioned the amazing aperitifs, including the Aperol Spritz - 3 parts of Prosecco, 2 parts of Aperol (which is a surprisingly pleasant mix of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and cinchona) and 1 splash of soda. Salute!


Open air Shiatsu massage, why not?

THINGS TO DO

The Mediterranean diet may go some way to explaining why Sardinia has the highest rate of centenarians in the world. But given the sheer amount of food and drink I was consuming I made sure to hit the covered outdoor gym at Valle dell’Erica.

Running on a treadmill overlooking the thalasso pools to the sparkling blue seas meant I lasted far longer than normal! There is an indoor cardio fitness room but there are plenty of walks to be had within the resort and even an outdoor fitness trail. Golfers can play 18 holes in splendid scenery overlooking the sea.

Those in need of pampering or a massage can pick from a selection of treatments at the Thalasso and Spa centre. There are four spa pools ranging in temperature from warm to cold and the theory is you start at the warmest and work your way to the coldest. I did dip my toes in the colder ones but couldn’t bring myself to go all the way in, instead opting for a stint in the sauna. It might be good for your circulation - but why, when I can already do 'cold and wet' in the UK?


Valle dell’Erica

Valle dell’Erica has several small sandy bays, some with beach service and the bigger sandy beach. La Licciola is equipped with sun beds and umbrellas. There are three seawater pools, one of which is for children only and a freshwater pool in the exclusive area. The pools aren’t fenced off but there are pool attendants.


La Maddalena town

EXPLORING THE AREA

After all that time gazing out to sea it was only right to take a boat excursion to La Maddalena Archipelago and stop for a swim in the crystal clear waters before a ‘shopportunity’ in La Maddalena town. Sardinia is famous for its cork and there is a plethora of of cork-related souvenirs including table mats and shoes.

Other places worth visiting include the seaside town of Santa Teresa Gallura, Palau’s panoramic point and the surfer’s paradise of Porto Pollo Beach. We didn’t have enough time (between spa treatments and aperitifs) but from the romantic idyll of Hotel Capo D’Orso it’s just a twenty minute walk to the huge bear-shaped rock that gave that hotel its name.



SHADES OF BLUE

Described as ‘the most limpid Archipelago of the World’, the sparkling clear waters take on all hues of blue from the skies above. Azure, cobalt, teal, sapphire, lapis and cerulean. But now I’m back in Britain, the only shade I’m feeling is the post-holiday blues.


You can take the weathergirl out of the studio...

Too many Delphina hotels to choose from? Here's a run down of my top four, to clear things up.

Visit the Dephina website for latest deals, offers and packages, and start planning your trip...

RESORT VALLE DELL’ERICA THALASSO & SPA:

5*
252 rooms
1 Thalasso & SPA
4 pools
7 restaurants
Conference Centre with a capacity of 450 seats and 4 meeting rooms 25/50 seats; 
Golf
Children’s Club
Nearest Airport: Olbia (55km) / Alghero (130km)
Flights are available from major UK airports
Rates per person per night in a double room start from € 140 on half-board basis
2016 dates: Open from 14th May – 1st October
Resort Valle Dell’Erica Thalasso & Spa
Valle dell’Erica, Santa Teresa Gallura, SARDINIA

RESORT & SPA LE DUNE:
4* & 4* Superior
496 rooms
1 spa
6 pools
9  restaurants plus 1 restaurant for children
Children’s Club
Nearest Airport: Olbia / Alghero
Flights are available from major UK airports
Rates per person per night in a double room start from €88 on half-board basis
2016 dates: Open from 14th  May – 24 th SeptemberResort & SPA Le Dune
Badesi, SARDINIA

HOTEL CAPO D’ORSO THALASSO & SPA:
5*
84 rooms
1 thalasso & SPA
1 pool
2 restaurants + 1 pizzeria
Nine-hole Pitch & Putt golf course 
380m 2  conference suite for up to 150 delegates.
Nearest Airport: Olbia
Flights are available from major UK airports
Rates per person per night in a double room start from €170 on half-board basis 
2016 dates: Open from 14th May – 1st OctoberHotel Capo D’Orso Thalasso & Spa,
Cala Capra, Palau, SARDINIA

HOTEL MARINEDDA THALASSO & SPA:
5*
195 rooms
1 Thalasso & spa
2 pools
3 restaurants + 1 pizzeria
Children’s Club
Nearest Airport: Olbia / Alghero
Flights are available from major UK airports
Rates per person per night in a double room start from €120 on half-board basis 
2016 dates: Open from 14th May – 1st October
Hotel Marinedda Thalasso & Spa
Isola Rossa, SARDINIA


Makes us want to jump straight in...

Kirsty McCabe writes her weekly column here on www.juniormagazine.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter: @juniormagazine to keep up with the latest news

"And, if you are in need of more, friendly, advice, have a read of some of my other columns...Kirsty McCabe

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Discuss this story

Sardinia is very beautiful place. I would like to visit this wonderful destination. I'll suggest to my colleague from www.casestudywriter.org to visit this place. She likes to travel.

Regards,
Jay

Posted: 23/03/2017 at 10:55

Sardinia is very beautiful place. I would like to visit this wonderful destination. I'll suggest to my colleague from www.casestudywriter.org to visit this place. She likes to travel.

Regards,
Jay

Posted: 23/03/2017 at 11:05

Sardinia is very beautiful place. I would like to visit this wonderful destination. I'll suggest to my colleague from www.casestudywriter.org to visit this place. She likes to travel.

Regards,
Jay

Posted: 23/03/2017 at 11:07

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