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Five Star Luxury In Portugal At The Martinhal

Mention five star family friendly in Portugal and those in the know will nod ‘Martinhal’.  Located in the Western Algarve, this is the place to splurge the hard earned bucks on a luxury beach break with excellent facilities.  Nicola took her brood of 3 kids + helpers (aka her husband and sister in law) and shares her review below…

Who went

Elly who is nearly 3 and Alex & Sofia who have just turned 1 plus 3 adults (my husband Costi and sister in law Helene). This holiday was a treat to ourselves for surviving year 1 of having twins plus toddler!!

Where did you go?

Martinhal resort in Portugal (Algave)

Martinhal Resort

When did you go?

28th Aug for 1 week

How was the weather?

Sunshine and blue skies everyday. Temp in high 20s. Really strong breeze for first couple of days (like that in August apparently) then less windy so felt hotter. Accordingly to locals / staff, Sept is best month to go to Martinhal weather wise. 

How did you book the trip? 

We booked it independently after doing lots of research. We wanted luxury self catering accommodation which was part of a resort that we wouldn’t need to leave. Beach in walking distance and short flight were also considerations. And baby gear as we need 2 of everything! We booked our flights through Thomson as we wanted to fly from Luton and at good times of day.

What did the price include?  

Price incl transfers to/ from airport (with 2 car seats & a booster) and we also opted for half board. 

Tips for the flight

We only found out at airport check-in desk that you can’t have more than 1 infant on an adult’s  lap on same row and you also have to have all kids sitting on left hand side of plane. Bit rubbish that we only found that out after we’d already been allowed to select our seats at the time of booking.

Martinhal - plane

How far was the hotel from the airport?   

1 1/2 hour transfer by car (arranged by hotel)

What did you think of the hotel?

Martinhal - drawing

Amazing! Perfect for families with young kids. Very sociable (chatted to so many parents / kids round the pools and in the playgrounds) and great resort set up eg supervised kids activity corner in every restaurant (and some restaurants also overlooked outdoor play areas), good kids menus, take-away possible at all restaurants, outdoor play areas, kids pool areas at the 3 main pools. One pool even had a playground within the enclosed pool area.

Tennis, football, watersports if you have time.

Small supermarket on site. We were able to buy nappies, fresh milk, food for lunches, water, wine and beer. I did notice that they sold Ella’s and Aptimal formula. Resort does organise free shuttles several times a day to the nearest big supermarket but we were too lazy to use this service. 

How was your room?  

We had 3 bed 3 bathroom garden house.

Martinhal - House

Good to have enclosed garden.

Martinhal Garden

Travel cots, highchairs, kids cutlery, cups, plates, bed guards, potty, loo seat and step provided. Also washing machine & dishwasher, beach towels and bags. Best thing about our house was that it was cleaned every day as if we were staying in a hotel. They even gave highchairs a thorough clean. 

How were the facilities?

Martinhal - walking

5 star luxury. Resort had calm adult feel to it despite guests all having noisy young kids with them. Beautiful spa – one of best we’ve been to. Lovely to have pool and beach options (4 pools in total plus some accommodation has private pool I think). Resort was a great size. Nothing more than about 5 mins walk away. And good layout too as all villas / hotel very close to at least one pool or restaurant (3 restaurants in total).

Martinhal Pools

Was there kids club and did you use it?

Yes for all ages but we didn’t use it. It looked great and we heard good things from other guests but our 2 year old just wanted to swim all day long and our twins have just started nursery so we didn’t want to unsettle them further. Plus we were fortunate enough to have my sister in law with us so we had a 1 adult: 1 child ratio. Otherwise we would have definitely used kids club. Our kids also all nap so we had a couple of hours of quiet sunbathing time in the middle of the day.

For kids club, cancellation policy is only 24hr in advance so worth booking up and then you can always change your mind once you are out there. 

Martinhal Playground

Was there a beach?  

Hotel / resort is situated on the beach which is easily accessible. Beautiful beach. Super clean and not busy. Although sea not that warm. Our kids were a bit scared of the sea but they are very young.

Martinhal Beach

Did you do any trips/excursions? 

Martinhal - chilling

No we didn’t do anything at all other than swim! Some guests hired cars and did the odd trip to a water park etc but most said it wasn’t worth hiring a car as the resort is so lovely and there is enough to do for a week on site. A couple of people we met did boat excursions to find dolphins and said it was amazing. There are various exercise / sports things organised etc aqua aerobics, family football. 

How was the food? 

Really good food. We did half board which was pretty good value as our 3 kids ate for free (and they eat a lot!). Buffet at breakfast only which we really liked as from experience we’ve found that we never end up sitting down at the same time when we have a buffet dinner. Seafood restaurant was the best. We went without kids a couple of times so that we could have a more relaxed meal (great babysitting service). Italian restaurant best for kids because of outdoor play area. There is also a bar in the Village square where the Italian is. There is generally a nice buzz in the evening in the Square eg they have live music sometimes. 

Martinhal - restaurant

Kids menus were pretty healthy. Lots of pasta options and frozen bananas on a stick for a dessert which were a hit with our babies. For young babies they offered freshly made 3 course puree meals!

There is a no booking policy for restaurants which suited us perfectly as we could decide last minute where to go and at what time. 

How was the staff?

Very friendly and accommodating. We often asked to hitch a lift back from breakfast at hotel to our villa in a golf buggy (pushing 3 kids in buggies along cobblestone paths did get a bit tedious even though nothing was more than a 5 minute walk).

Martinhal golf buggy

Staff who supervised kids play areas were also brilliant with kids. Our twins are clingy at the moment but were happy being left with staff for a few minutes whilst we finished eating. International restaurant in main hotel was best for that. Staff were also very happy for us to get take away food. We often just ate our starter whilst kids had dinner then took rest of meal home as take away to have after they’d gone to bed.

How was the trip overall?  

What tips would you give to someone booking this holiday? The only way to try and achieve a little relaxation! Perfect holiday with young kids. Probably not so great for older kids as possibly resort would be a little quiet for them but we did see some families with teenagers. We are totally spoilt though now as not sure we’ll always be able to afford holidays like this one. 

Martinhal by the pool

Would you go back?

Really keen to go back. Lots of people we met repeat book every year as they’ve yet to find a better luxury resort to go to with young kids. Next time I would probably go self catering. Although breakfast was delicious and a good morning activity for our twins who still have a morning nap, it would probably be no hassle to do breakfast and lunch at the villa and then just eat out in the evenings. 

Martinhal - trampoline on beach

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