In a nutshell
A relaxing winter sun holiday without the hassle and expense of travelling long haul. After a 2-and-a-half hour flight, Quinta Do Lago is just a 20-minute drive from Faro airport, while Sagres is just an hour further along the coast. We left the pouring rain and English winter weather behind and emerged, blinking, into the bright Portuguese sunshine. However unnatural it might feel – definitely pack your flip-flops.
Parents with babies and toddlers as you can take advantage of the low season prices during school term-time and the winter special offers.
Where to stay
Martinhal has two resorts in the Algarve; The Martinhal Quinta Family Resort and the Sagres resort.
The Martinhal Quinta Family Resort has a range of private villas and townhouses – each with a pool – that makes it perfect for families (pictured below). Although your villa has all the privacy of a self-catering holiday, you can also use the resort’s facilities like the kids club and daily maid service.
Meanwhile, the Sagres resort has more of a relaxed, beachy vibe and with a 5* rating, is definitely the luxury option.
What’s the accommodation like?
We stayed in a beautiful 4-bed villa at Martinhal Quinta with huge proportions. All of the bedrooms have en suite bathrooms so there’s plenty of room to stretch out. Each house comes with a fully fitted kitchen that even has a washing machine and dishwasher – in short it has everything we have at home and more (like the pool).
We loved the little touches that make it a special treat for mum, like getting all the mini shampoo and body lotion you could want. And it’s all from Voya – a fancy organic spa that makes everything out of seaweed – and smells very nice indeed.
Don’t panic if your kid empties the whole little bottle into the bath, someone from the daily maid service will replace any empties.
What’s for breakfast?
We loved the breakfast basket that was delivered to our door every morning – and meant we could relax eating al fresco next to the pool. We went for the gluten free option and were amazed to find it was packed with cereal, bread, jams, fresh orange juice and even came with a box of traditional Portuguese custard tarts.
What’s special for children?
Talk to the reservations team before your stay and you can pre-book baby equipment. This includes barriers for beds and stairs, a toilet seat adaptor, potty seat, baby bottle sterilizer, cots and baby baths. They can even put a fence around your private pool to make the garden childproof.
The on-site Raposinhos Kids Club is open to children from 6 months to 8 years and is free of charge until the end of April 2016. It runs daily from 10am-1pm and 2pm-4pm, so plenty of peaceful sunbathing time for you!
The resort also offers evening baby-sitting service at your villa. If you’ve got older children, there’s a game room with Wiis, a PlayStation, table football and more to keep them entertained while you catch some rays at the main pool area.
At the Sagres resort, there’s a lot of steps down to the pool – BUT their built-in buggy ramps were a lifesaver.
How hot is it?
We travelled in mid-November and the coldest day was 19°C, which felt positively balmy compared to the drizzly UK – definitely warm enough for a swim in the pool! Although we were lucky with the weather, it’s unusual for temperatures to ever dip below 15°C even in the deepest winter.
What is there to do?
Quinta do Lago is one of the most prestigious golf areas in Europe with loads of award-winning golf courses and a great crazy golf course for families that recreates mini versions of the most famous holes in the world. But if you’re not that into golf (we weren’t) there’s still plenty to do. Of course, the main thing is lying out by the pool and relaxing. But there’s also plenty of water sports and other beachy pursuits including kayaking, surfing and diving.
Our favourite day out was spent on a boat trip. We hired a guide to take us out to the Faro island national park via speedboat and had great fun spotting birds and boats and waving at the fishermen.
The beaches in the Algarve are ruggedly beautiful – and lovely and quiet off-season, so there’s plenty of space for little ones to run around and play in the sand dunes.
The sea is cold – it is the Atlantic after all – and the waves are pretty rough, so we wouldn’t recommend swimming with young children. But it’s still fun to dip your toes in, or run in and out of the cold waves.
There’s a huge variety of restaurants to choose from in the Quinta do Lago area – from Michelin star restaurants to traditional cafes.
Our favourite dishes were the Caldeirada – a local fish stew that’s served everywhere and a classic steak during a special (adults only) night out at the Bovino Steakhouse.
A 2-bedroom villa (that accommodates 2 adults and 3 children up to 12 years) in Martinhal Quinta is from £93 per night for 7 nights. The resort is also offering Winter Specials that include complimentary kids club until 30 April 2016 and breakfast is included in the price until 18 March 2016.
To find out more contact the reservations team at firstname.lastname@example.org or +351 282 240 200 or visit www.martinhal.com.
There are plenty of year-round flights to Portugal and Ryanair and easyJet are just some of the airlines that offer flights from the UK to Faro from £30 per person each way.