by Beth (@bethsandland)
Last year we travelled to Portugal to spend 5 nights at Martinhal Sagres, a family-centred hotel group who aim to make a holiday as relaxing and fun for the parents as it is for the children. Sounds ideal, right? In this Martinhal Sagres Review we cover everything you need to know if you’re thinking of booking a family holiday at this child-friendly hotel.
The location and journey
Sagres is on the extreme Western tip of the Algarve. It’s a stunning coastline of wild waves, rocky enclaves and sun drenched beaches. Martinhal Sagres is nestled in a bay, mostly protected from the high winds that are common in the region, with a broad, sandy beach.
You won’t mind your little human alarm clocks waking you up early when the sunrise soaks the coast in gold and the shop sells fresh pastel de natas.
We flew to Faro from London in a couple of hours and then collected a hire car from the airport and drove the one hour to Martinhal. You can arrange a taxi but a car gives you the flexibility to enjoy the region; you don’t want to miss the chance to explore the Algarve. Most airlines will allow you to take two free baby items, we checked our own carseat for free.
Martinhal Sagres Review: the hotel
What we really love about this hotel is that the family-friendly ethos is implicit in everything they offer. Just because it’s geared towards kids, doesn’t mean all the details that adults appreciate are missed: trendy interiors, delicious food, classy facilities.
The idea is that every guest, whether 6 months or 60, has a really good time. It’s an ambitious aim but they comfortably nail it.
There are a variety of rooms from spacious ocean-view hotel suites to family apartments and villas across the complex. Each is tastefully decorated and if you can stretch to a sea view you won’t be disappointed.
The baby concierge service is perhaps one of the most unique and helpful offerings. Before your stay, you’re able to request items that you need for your little one. From a cot to a highchair, sterilisers, buggies and carriers – it’s perfect for those who want to travel light but enjoy all the conveniences.
After we arrived we decided a bouncer would be useful for our 6 month old son – within half an hour an age appropriate one had been placed in our room.
When we went to dine we were thrilled to see that the restaurants each have a range of highchairs to suit all ages; from just-weaning babies to wiggly toddlers.
Martinhal Sagres review: the stunning facilities and private beach
Food and drink
There are different board packages you can choose from; room only, full board, half board or one meal a day. Some of the apartments are also self-catering. We had one meal a day included in our stay.
There are three European restaurants; an Italian, a fish restaurant (choose your catch of the day from a large counter) and a meat restaurant (choose from that day’s cuts). They all include Portuguese influences and there’s a variety of vegetarian options available as well as more ‘standard’ menu items like burgers.
The food was genuinely delicious – we often choose not to eat in hotels – but what we were most impressed with was the children’s menu.
Little foodies are catered for from 6 months of age. There’s a 6-12m weaning menu containing a wide selection of organic purees and a toddler menu with creative mini meals. Children can also order a smaller portion of anything from the adults menu.
Dinner is from 5pm if you need to eat early and there’s plenty of unintrusive entertainment to ensure that everyone enjoys their meal. There are boxes of toys to take back to the table or play with in a separate, safe space where one of the Martinhal team supervises. Outside the Italian, there’s a large courtyard with trampolines and play apparatus in front of an all-glass wall. Perfect for children to run off steam while the adults dine.
We generally chose to use our meal token for dinner and we’re so pleased that it was also valid on room service, with just a 3€ surcharge. Some evenings we chose to put the baby to bed and eat on our terrace.
For breakfast, we enjoyed fresh bakery items from the shop. There’s also a Lidl and an Intermarche nearby and a mini fridge just big enough to stock with essentials.
My only disappointment was how expensive breakfast was, should you choose to order it outside of a full board package. It’s a shame, as it looked lovely but it wasn’t feasible to spend circa €50 each morning! If we stay again – and we’d very much like to – we’ll either stay self-catering or on a board type with breakfast included.
Drinks and alcohol is not included in any board type and is standard hotel pricing. We bought beers from the supermarket and kept them cool in our fridge, then enjoyed the wine recommendations at dinner!
Martinhal Sagres Review: Activities
Martinhal Sagres has a whopping 5 kids clubs around the resort to suit all ages. The creche (6-23 months) to Raposinhos (little fox; 2-3 years), Fox Club (4-6 years), Explorers Club (7-13 years) and Blast Club (14-17 years).
The joy of this is that you know each child is safely catered for and happy in a suitable environment for their age, interests and development. While the baby enjoys story time and the toddler does crafts, the older kids can enjoy outdoor activities and the teens learn to surf or go biking.
There is also free mini golf, sports academies and one-one sessions led by trained coaches like football, tennis and swimming. We took part in a private baby swimming lesson and it was nothing short of fantastic. We had so much fun and it taught my husband and I water skills that have long since helped us ensure our baby is confident in the pool.
Things to do and day trips
The hotel has a lovely, if busy, outdoor pool which is heated and comfortable for all ages. There’s also an indoor pool, gym and spa facilities.
If you’d rather hide away on a bali bed or lounger listening to the waves as the children play at their club, you can do that too.
If you’d like to explore beyond the complex, there’s plenty to see on the Algarve within an hours drive.
Lagos is a beautiful city in the southern Algarve with pretty tiled buildings, a walled old town, dramatic cliffs and Atlantic beaches. Praia da Luz with its family friendly atmosphere, restaurants and beach bars is nearby.
For the most stunning postcard-worthy views, drive to Praia da Marinha and walk the cliff top coast path to marvel at the rustic beauty and the azure blue waves below. On the way back, stop in Carvoeiro for a pastel de nata flavour ice cream and to walk the half a kilometre boardwalk along the jagged coastline.
In Sagres itself, you can explore the Fortress and drive to the Lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente; the most southwestern point of Europe! The Romans called Sagres the Promontorium Sacrum; the end of the world.
If you’ve got an Anthropologie ceramics obsession like I do, take an empty case and some bubble wrap because you’re going to feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven at Ceramica Paraiso, a 5 minute drive from Martinhal Sagres. This cash-only ceramics warehouse is full to the brim with stunning mugs, plates, vases and pottery.
Martinhal Sagres Review: conclusion
As a couple who loved to stay in pretty places, eat great food abroad and explore culture and scenery long before welcoming a baby, this was a truly amazing holiday.
We still did all of those things, just with our little one in tow in an environment that made him feel cherished and welcome. Nothing was too much trouble and the baby concierge and kids’ menus made day-day parenting smooth.
We happily discussed how keen we would be to bring him back and certainly hope to do so; Martinhal Sagres is somewhere I can see us visiting throughout the years as he grows up and enjoys it again and again, no matter his – or our – age or stage.
Martinhal Sagres Review: click here to see rooms and rates