Perfection in Portugal: Is this the Algarve's best family resort?
Ger Keville and his wife, expecting their first baby, check into the Disney World of hotels in Portugal's Algarve.
As an expectant father, there are certain nuggets of information that, quite frankly, can be extremely scary.
You are constantly reminded to get as much sleep as possible, enjoy your nights out while you can and most daunting of all – no more holidays for a while.
Those words are enough to make the hardest of men flinch with fear, particularly when you are a sun worshipper and foreign beer lover like me.
In three glorious days in Martinhal, however, anxieties were banished with a mixture of serene tranquillity, good food, breathtaking beauty and hypnotic relaxation.
At times, we would not have known the hotel was packed with families with kids.
Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that give you most pleasure.
Think of a pint of Sagres in the hip Surfer’s Bar, or donning the hotel robe and sitting out in gardens that surround every unit of the hotel.
Sitting back on the lush green grass with nothing but a blue sea and sandy beach in your eyeline gives you a profound sense of relaxation. It accentuates the perfect balance that the hotel has to offer – the ideal mix of family fun and unrivalled relaxation.
Life’s worries slip firmly to the back of your mind.
Located on a hill overlooking a pristine, golden beach, Martinhal is a family holiday destination that goes above and beyond to accommodate kids while maintaining a luxurious, classy feel.
Fancy your breakfast with just your partner? There's a kids' club in the restaurant.
Want to go for a midday spa or walk on the beach without the kids? There are numerous, supervised kids' clubs and play rooms that cater for all ages.
Want to have a drink in peace? There is a kids' club in the bar!
From newborns to teenagers, Martinhal is the Disney World of hotels - with a plethora of activities ranging from playgrounds to bouncy castles and games rooms where teens can kick back with PlayStation, DVDs or a little hustling on the pool table.
If you fancy seeing more of Sagres with the family, bikes are available (free with some packages) for a cycle around the glorious resort and town.
Sagres has been described as having an “end of world feeling” to it.
A 20-minute walk up the beach will bring you to a walled mansion overlooking the port. It’s quite possible Cristiano Ronaldo finalised his Manchester United contract within these walls – it was home to former Sporting Lisbon President Antonio Dias da Cunha, the man who was at the helm at Sporting when Ronaldo left for Manchester.
Beyond there, you enter Sagres and a sense of isolation and calmness. It’s like leaving a sandy Mexican beach and entering Scilly or Tuscany.
This may well be the most laid back village in Europe - although there are four bars, all side by side, which enjoy a friendly and vibrant atmosphere.
Overlooking the beach and sea is the main swimming pool and to the left of the pool, 100 yards or so away, is the only adult sun lounging area - it consists of decking with room for four or five sun loungers.
The hotel goes to great lengths to make sure both parents and kids are looked after, but for those without kids, there is a very limited space within the hotel to enjoy the sun while taking in the view.
Do what you can to book a room facing the sea and enjoy the beauty as well as the peaceful surroundings of the gardens. Also, make sure you visit the town of Sagres and enjoy a drink and friendly ambiance in one of the bars.
Get me there
Rooms at Martinhal (martinhal.com) start from €185 per night from November through March 2016, based on two adults sharing with one child up to 12 years.
A two-bedroom garden house offering self-catering for two adults and two children up to 12 years, and one baby, starts from €188 per night.
Ryanair (ryanair.com) and Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) fly regularly to Faro. Martinhal is an easy, one-hour drive up the motorway from Faro Airport. Public transport connections are available, or a taxi will cost you between €60 and €70.