I’ve recently returned from a incredibly relaxing and restorative break at the Martinhal Beach Resort and Hotel in Sagres, Portugal, where I spent 5 lush days with my favourite lady, my Mum, Vasoulla.
Big thanks to my sister from another mister, brilliant blogging bestie Mirka of All Baby Advice and Fitness 4 Mamas for kindly recommending I review the resort- it was a complete and utter cracker of a holiday in the Portuguese sun and I’m back feeling like a new (much calmer) woman.
I know what you’re thinking too folks, not another holiday?! And you’re right, I really am one lucky blogger to get to travel so much as part of my blogging job, but please do know that I’m truly grateful for these trips away with my family and I consider them real highlights of my career.
Plus I really am a good egg of a girl, so you mustn’t feel too jel 😉
This time away was particularly special as it offered my Mum and I a rare and much needed break just the two of us, and was easy and stress free to visit, only 2 hours from home in the UK.
Below, I document our delightful days in the Algarve.
I loved roaming the resort and beach, taking tonnes of photos, a Fuji hanging round my neck, and it reminded me just how passionate I am about shooting. I usually leave the photography to my gifted husband Peter, but it was good to get behind the lens again and he said he was impressed with my shot which was rather lovely.
My favourite shots are taken with my Fuji but there are a fair few camera phone stills too.
I do want to start by mentioning that my Mum is my absolute rock, the sweetest, most selfless woman I know, and the smartest too (she’s a former Uni lecturer) so it was such a gift to treat her to some time off, where she wasn’t helping me with childcare (which she tirelessly does so much), and give her a proper chance to just chill her beans, sunbathe, read and make use of the spa facilities. Oh yeah, baby! Bliss.
…We also worked out it was the first time since I’ve had kids that we’ve gone away together just us. We luckily had some gorgeous girly weekends away in Paris for mother-daughter bonding (galleries, shopping, fine French food) pre-children but it’s hard with little ones to find the time and energy to be spontaneous isn’t it?!
So thank you Martihal for coming to our ‘rescue’ 😉
And being one stylish Mama, this luxe boutique hotel was right up her (and my) street!
A chic, contemporary 5 star luxe holiday village in the Western Algarve, Martinhal is the perfect hideaway for families with children of all ages, and couples too (or mamas and daughters), enabling you to totally switch off and relax in style.
Martihal is like your own little private island really, a resort consisting of 25 hectares surrounded by the lush, green Costa Vicentina Natural Park and all its flora-with its serenity washing over you the minute you arrive.
It features a 37 bedroom beachfront Hotel Martinhal as well as spacious village houses (we stayed in an ocean house) dotted around the main reception along with an exclusive collection of privately-owned and HUGE set of villas and townhouses with their own private pools and gardens.
Come check out our pad…Our large ocean house was central to the action, modern with classic furnishings to feel homely, with the whole resort consistent style wise and designed by the eminent Terence Conran.
2 spacious bedrooms on the first floor making it the ideal abode for 2 adults and 2 children.
Upstairs a huge kitchen, dining area and balcony overlooking the ocean.
A welcome pack of food and drinks on arrival-
Room with a view-
We also had a sweet little garden at the front for sunbathing.
Rosa Santos, the PR and Communications Manager for Martinhal also gave me a guided tour one morning, and the whole place is just jaw droppingly dreamy ( a bit like being on Pinterest in 3D), with such varied but equally chic houses and rooms on site, with something for everyone from families with tiny babies to parents of teens.
Martinhal also offers 3 restaurants, a Mercado gift shop and grocers which was ideal for fresh coffee in the morning and a sandwich at lunch, 4 swimming pools, a children’s club and crèche, babysitters, and a host of leisure activities including tennis and padel tennis, mountain biking and watersports by the pristine beach.
It’s impossible for families to feel bored there and yet nothing feels overwhelming or intense. You just pick and choose what you fancy doing or simply do nothing but take in the view.
As people there without kids, Mum and I found it to be quiet and relaxing, and being so sprawling there was space for those who wanted the full on holiday experience to others enjoying a more tranquil vacay.
The resort is the brainchild of Chitra Stern, the founder, whom we met, a charismatic, kind lady who lives on site with her husband and 4 children and who is expanding her resorts and meeting the needs of families everywhere who don’t want to compromise on luxury because they have kids.
So back to the break, what do you do when on holiday without kids?
All the stuff you find hard with kids when away of course, like read. A lot. Sunbathe. A lot. And breathe.
Although to be fair to Martinhal you can do all of the above, even with little ones thanks to their amazing kids camp (one of the finest I’ve ever seen-in stunning state of the art yet welcoming surroundings) and babysitters for hire if you opt for them.
The activities on offer are incredible at the kids camp and on the resort for both kids and adults alike, from yoga and pilates (and a super gym on site that you can use anytime) to dolphin watching, family football, movie watching, t-shirt designing, aqua fit, kickboxing and more.
And for the tweens and teens-
Perfect to entertain children of all ages while parents have a refreshing cold drink!
Mentioning enjoyment, finding some me-time was rather wonderful even if I did miss my kids and husband back home.
I relished meandering off to the beach daily, while Mama napped or read, just to feel the sand between my toes and listen to the waves.
There’s nothing like it.
I loved hanging out with my mum even if we did inevitably annoy each other at times like only mother and daughters can but we laughed a lot and it was precious time to cherish, we simply don’t get enough of these days.
I really, really did miss my husband and kids though ( I know I’ve already mentioned this) but I thankfully bumped into an old journo friend and her baby out there, and even made some new mates who all kindly let me hug their kids (ha!) and we enjoyed some drinks by the pool together most days!
Rose in between swims is not a bad way to spend the day I’ll have you know.
And I have to mention the breakfast. Champagne with your cornflakes anyone?!
Mum and I had dinner late most evenings flitting between the art deco style Michelin recommended O Terraco at the top of the hotel, with drinks enjoyed on the terrace before a more formal setting within.
Mum’s fine fillet steak.
Our favourite was the beach restaurant As Dunas overlooking the ocean (with live music some nights) that was frankly, like a scene from a movie.
A shaded outdoor terrace allows for meals al fresco – candle light dining at its finest with the sound of the sea lapping at the shores.
Combining eclectic design, regional food and wine with warm, efficient service and kids’ corners and facilities, the Martinhal know sure know how to knock up a feast, families or not.
Grilled chicken and rice noodles
Carrot and pea rissotto in a white wine sauce
The staff absolutely went the extra mile there.
As I was on a vegan detox at the time, the chef created bespoke dishes especially for me from risotto to pasta dishes and even dairy free desserts and fruit platters. Incredibly nourishing, seasonal food, exquisite tasting and stunningly presented.
Seasonal vegetarian penne (enjoyed on my last night)
The staff at the resort are polite and kind and genuinely adore kids.
My favourites had to be Sophia and Emma, below from As Dunas restaurant, who were the sweetest and most fun ladies you could hope to meet, and made our time there really special.
And here are the snaps Sophia took during our stay-
Dress c/o Planet.
Oh and I mustn’t forget the spa-
The Finisterra Spa, with it’s natural wood decor and sun trap location was just heavenly. With areas for reading, hot tubs and high ceilings, it was a haven for holidaymakers.
The room I had my mani and massage was in a lighthouse structure so when I lay down the top window opened letting in glorious sunlight.
It was the first time I had my nails painted laid down too and was utterly relaxing.
What a fabulous few days…
By the end of the trip I couldn’t wait to get home to my boys for cuddles.
Catching a flight directly back to Leeds was great and I was welcomed back by my husband and sons with open arms, lots of kisses, and tears from my toddler who missed me madly oh and a heatwave in Yorkshire. Good times.
Thanks Martinhal, you offer the perfect retreat for families not far from home, and we will certainly be back (with my husband and kids next time)!
I just had to end the post with one more shot of that azure blue sea! Lush!
Prices for a two bedroom Ocean House (self-catering) start from €356 per night.