Portugal: The Disneyland of hotels affords the perfect family holiday
Family holidays in Portugal
The stress is alleviated before you step on the plane with these Portuguese resorts, says Ger Keville.
It’s just as well my wife is the planner in our marriage.
A meticulous planner. The New Year’s bells are still echoing and she already has one eye on our week-long family sojourn to Spain in June.
This year it’s a little different. With a wedding the night before departure, Sharon has made the conscious decision that her alcohol consumption will be minimal as it will be “no fun carting a one-and-a-half-year old and all his belongings through an airport with a hangover”.
She certainly has a point, but it’s patently obvious that Martinhal is not the destination in June.
When travelling to Martinhal, the stress is alleviated before you even step on a plane. Travel cots, soothers, bottles, sterilisers, milk-heating services – the luxury hotel group provides the lot at no extra costs.
The Martinhal Group run four resorts across Portugal, all designed to offer the ultimate luxury for adults while combining a unique, fun-filled experience for kids.
It's all about the kids.
While there are many, family-friendly hotels in every holiday destination, Martinhal stands out on its own as the Holy Grail.
Having been to Matrinhal Sagres in 2015, last summer we spent four nights in Cascais (just outside Lisbon ) and two nights in Martinhal Chiado in Lisbon city centre, the group’s newest hotel.
First up Martinhal Cascais, where couples can enjoy all the advantages of a five-star hotel while their kids are under professional supervision by the hotel staff.
This supervision is tailored around your own activities. For breakfast, you can enjoy the wide variety of food in the O Terraco restaurant while your kids are looked after in the play area a few yards away. Morning peace at last.
O Terraco and Os Gambozinos, an Italian restaurant, provide everything you need for lunch and dinner time with full-time supervision for the wee ones while if you want to enjoy the activities around the resort – from tennis, football, cycling, swimming to the tranquility of the Finisterra Spa area - there is an 8,000 square foot play centre beside the M Bar which will cost you €20 for two hours.
This is the Disneyland of hotels.
Glorious, pristine, zen-like gardens surround the hotel with a pool and BBQ area, where once again gardens are a prominent feature with guests able to relax on the lush grass that surrounds the pool.
The rooms are drenched in luxury with spacious bathrooms and balconies that overlook the gardens. The general atmosphere around the grounds is one of innate calmness - a common theme in all Martinhal properties.
Martinhal Chiado is situated right in the heart of Lisbon, on a steep hill that leads down to the river and in close proximity to the main shopping areas.
Unlike the relaxation havens of their other three hotels, Chiado is a typical city break hotel with 37 studio rooms and apartments.
The fundamentals remain the same. Apartments are spacious and luxurious and come complete with everything you need during your stay, including a fully equipped kitchen and all the necessary mod cons for the kids.
Being a city hotel, space is limited compared to the sprawling complex of Cascais, but there is room for large kids clubs catering for new-borns right up to teenagers with 24-hour child minding services also available.
If you wish to leave the toddlers for a few hours, there is a plethora of quaint bars and restaurants a short walk away.
Cascais and Chiado: The essential ingredient of a family holiday is in the name. It's all about the kids enjoying themselves while the adults try and strike a reasonable balance between parenting duties and enjoyment and relaxation.
Martinhal numbs that guilt to a certain extent with their unique, first-class child-minding services. The main Kids Club is located to the front of the main reception in Cascais in the same building as the M Bar and overlooking the heated outdoor pool. It is 8,000 square foot paradise for kids and is available at an extra charge of €20 for two hours.
Similarly, Chiado offers fun-filled Kids Clubs to cater for all ages so while you are safe in the knowledge that the young folk are being looked after, you can venture off an explore what the local towns have on offer.
For Cascais, take a stroll along the beautiful coast and down to the town while in Chiado, the whole of Lisbon is on your doorstep. Don't feel guilty, you will be back to the kids shortly - and they are in very good hands.
Chiado: Be prepared for the heat and the fact that the hotel is situated on a very steep hill. You may want to call a taxi to take you to more easily accessible parts of the city, especially if you are pushing prams.
Cascais: Take a walk down the glorious coast and into the town of Cascais. It's about a 45-minute trek with beautiful scenery and the town itself is a bustling centre awash with bars, restaurants and shops.
There is also a beautiful harbour area and quaint beach front should you feel like sitting back soaking up the sun.
Chiado: In the reception area, there is quite a big step to take you down to the elevators which can be quite frustrating when you have a pram.
Cascais: Ok, I understand fully the concept of Martinhal - but a bit of light entertainment in the evenings could be an added bonus.
Get me there
You are spoiled for choice as both Ryanair and Aer Lingus fly direct to Lisbon and both hotels are within 40 minutes of each other.
See martinhal.com for more.