At Last A Holiday Resort That Keeps Parents And Children Happy |

At Last A Holiday Resort That Keeps Parents And Children Happy

Our UK editor Claire Brayford had an unforgettable stay at Forte Village resort and spa on the sunny south coast of Sardinia, finally discovering a destination where parents and children can both have the time of their lives...

In a previous life, I had a Sunday supplement spa column called Do Not Disturb. But the closest I get to ‘Do Not Disturb’ these days is a sign I’d like to hang on the bathroom door as my little girls shout “mummy” as soon as I run a bath. So when I learnt that Forte Village in Sardinia, voted the World’s Leading Resort in 2017 and one of the Leading Hotels of the World, had a Thalasso spa and you could bring children, my bag was packed faster than you can say ‘andiamo’. It’s a 40-minute drive from Cagliari airport, and as we cruised past flamingo-filled lagoons that immediately had the girls entranced, I knew the trip was going to be special. The resort itself is huge – 47 hectares in total – but as the eight hotels, 21 restaurants, multiple pools are concealed behind palm trees and lush green foliage, it doesn’t feel overwhelming. As you thread your way through the spotless paved mini boulevards, all you see is beautiful green, and you never feel rushed (even if you are late for a gelato stop), as it is easy to hail one of the hotel golf carts or hop on a bicycle.


Our hotel was the five-star Villa Del Parco set in fragrant, century-old gardens...

We had two co-joining contemporary rooms, beds vast enough to get lost in, tropical fresh fruit when we arrived and a terrace overlooking the palm trees and exotic flowers. Breakfast was a leisurely affair beneath the trees in the patio restaurant, and each afternoon – after a hard day’s lounging – we’d tuck into the fresh cheese, ham and delicious local delicacies laid out in our room. You can access the 7,000sq/m Acquaforte Spa directly from the hotel, and the indoor/outdoor wellness retreat – is a unique haven to rejuvenate and escape. My programme began with a doctor’s assessment, including an ECG, and a health check from a nutritionist to devise a healthy eating plan and discover my stress levels. The highlight, even after the years of spa reviews, was the incredible Thalassotherapy Circuit where for 90 minutes you float your way through six pools each containing different concentrations of salt, soaking up the Sardinian sunshine and listening to the birds. The sea oil or brine pool, with its high levels of magnesium salt, drains the body and relaxes the muscles, the reflexology jets in the pure sea water pool free up any blocked energy, while the aloe and mint brine pool clears the senses and is great for treating skin conditions like psoriasis. The sea mud draining experience is also unmissable. The most unique experience, however, was a massage in the high saline density pool where the combination of the high temperature (38 degrees) and sodium-rich water relaxes the muscles and eliminates toxins better than anything I have ever tried. As the therapist manipulated my limbs through the water, for the first time in ages I felt relaxed and free. Also having the time of their lives were my two little ones.


What sets Forte Village apart is the focus given to children...

The kids Wonderland is just that, with a miniature high street called Mario’s Village, complete with fire station and truck, petrol station, hair salon and grocery store. There are activities for four to 12-year-olds, including chess challenges, beach games, arts and crafts and masterchef pizza classes, as well as a novelty train to tour the resort, while for babies and toddlers there is a well-staffed nursery. My girls were obsessed with Barbie Academy, where they made bracelets, had their nails painted and designed their own fashion collections in a lifesize pink Barbie house. Other top-notch children’s attractions include the Chelsea football academy as well as fencing, tennis, swimming, hockey, and basketball schools, while you can even learn to become a magician under the tutelage of Magic Circle member Marvin Berglas. When the girls tired of dolls, we headed to the new Crayola-bright waterpark with slides for little and big (my husband) kids. It felt like everyone was catered for. From those seeking five-star luxury – my husband spotted former Spain and Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas and his family (I was clueless) – to grandparents giving parents a break.


And being Italy, there is also an element of glamour...

The shopping parade has all of the most exclusive designers, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Christian Dior as well as Little Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney for mini ones. Everyone dresses up in the evening, and the highlight of the girls’ day was the children’s disco where they enjoyed singalongs – as well as show off their best moves – in the Piazza Luisa. For lunch, our favourite was the pizzeria overlooking the beach for a simple homemade Margherita, a large buffet-style salad and a glass of Sardinian wine. Dinner was at the Cavalieri restaurant, with its live pianist and set in a scented pine grove. Even the hungriest tummies were satisfied with the daily dishes – fresh fish, delicious roasts, scrumptious pasta and a huge salad bar. The only problem was that the pudding section is so big – and tempting – that was where my girls always wanted to start. One evening we booked a babysitter and enjoyed antipasti and an aperitif from the superbly stocked cellar of the Cantina del Forte before heading for dinner at the Michelin-starred Belvedere restaurant, which boasts wonderful traditional Italian and regional cuisine. I went back to the room to check on the girls and found the babysitter was singing softly in Italian as they drifted off to sleep. I could have cried right there. And that is the problem with Forte Village, I don’t think I will ever find another holiday that will match up. You can book a stay at Villa Del Parco & Spa at Forte Village resort via Leading Hotels of the World