Family-friendly five star luxury in Portugal

A visit to Portugal’s most south-westerly point takes you to the unspoilt land of Sagres. This small village, spread across the cliff-tops, played a significant role in Portugal’s colonial conquests of the 15th Century. Today, it is no more than a sleepy fishing village, its brilliant white houses wrapped around a charming square above the harbour.

Across the bay the Costa Vincentina nature reserve stretches for miles under the sun, yet it promises a splash of luxury if you enjoy a five star experience with a difference. The reserve is home to the Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel, one of the Algarve’s newest resorts and certainly one you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.

This is luxurious but child-friendly, not things that often go hand-in-hand. If you bring your children there’s every chance you may not see them during the day as they race off to enjoy the five Kids’ Clubs. Children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years can be left here for up to six hours a day, all under the watchful gaze of qualified childcare professionals. The focus on family was a key part of the resort’s design, so while they’re making new friends and exploring, you can enjoy the swimming pools, the beaches, the food and a little romance.

The resort takes pride in its Portuguese roots, from the natural materials and timber used to build the hotel to the exclusively Portuguese wine list (bar some French Champagne for those who simply have to indulge) and local ingredients used in the restaurants.

There are three restaurants and even these have children’s play areas alongside, so you can keep an eye on your little ones as you tuck into the freshly caught sea bass or bream, try local sausages with duck, or polish off golden calamari with a glass of chilled Portuguese wine. Dining al fresco adds that extra holiday feel, especially as two of the restaurants sit above the ocean and the private beach, promising a cooling sea breeze and glorious views. As Dunas specialises in fish, with wonderful twists to traditional Portuguese dishes, while in the formal restaurant, O Terraco , white linen and an a la carte menu await.

Martinhal can be as relaxing or as active as you want. Take a stroll to one of the five pools and settle down to a morning’s sunshine. If you prefer the real deal, dip your toes in the ocean and walk over golden sands. For those who like it a little more adventurous, there’s mountain-biking, Padel tennis (a cross between tennis and squash), surfing, parasailing and hiking through the nature reserve. Elsewhere, you can take a trip to the Fortaleza de Sagres, which stands commandingly above the Atlantic waves on a distant headland, or visit the town of Lagos or one of the Algarve’s famous golf courses.

A holiday here is all about relaxation. It is also about choices, whether it’s where to eat, what to do or where to stay. The hotel has 38 bedrooms, all beautifully appointed with an effortless chic. The windows are the width of the room and promise fabulous ocean views. If you want to rent a house or villa that’s easily arranged, and some come with a private pool. Whatever you choose, Martinhal offers plenty of everything.

Kevin Markham is owner of the Golf Courses Ireland.

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