Summer. Doesn’t quite last long enough does it. That’s if it makes an appearance at all. It seems you just talk yourself into buying those new sandals before September arrives and they have to be packed away again.
But what if I was to tell you that there’s somewhere you can go, around 2.5 hours flight time from the UK, with glorious sunshine (on par with the best the UK has to offer in July), beautiful beaches, with every convenience imaginable to keep both kids and adults happy.
You may well already be familiar with the Martinhal resort in Sagres, a lovely family friendly resort on the Algarve. Now the Martinhal group have expanded and their new offering is very impressive. Logistics first. We flew out of Gatwick on Monarch at reasonable times (no 3am starts necessary).
Packing was tricky – I couldn’t fathom 20+degrees. Was that still jeans – or would it be warm enough for a skirt?
We arrived in glorious sunshine (skirt weather for sure), and were met by a Martinhal representative (they’ll organise transfers with car seats for you if you wish) and taken to the Quinta do Lago within 20 minutes. The Quinta do Lago area is a golfer's paradise, beautifully manicured greens wherever you look.
Roughly half of the villas in the resort are owned by Martinhal while the rest are privately owned. The villas are lovely and spacious, each with a private pool (fenced in so you can make sure your kids are safe). Each of the bedrooms in our 4-bed villa had it’s own en-suite and TV. The kitchen was modern and completely kitted out with the necessary gadgets, as well as a fabulous welcome hamper complete with tea, coffee, milk, cereal…and chocolate covered figs – what every hamper should have.
Which brings us nicely on to food. Well, Portugal is my idea of food heaven. While we were there we ate salt and pepper calamari and beautifully cooked dorada (golden sea bream) at Casa do Lago, huge steaks at the uber-trendy Bovino, and fresh from the sea oysters during our boat trip excursion in the Ria Formosa. Although the villas make self-catering very easy (and there’s a on-site shop for essentials), if you do want to eat out there are plenty of places to try – and there were always great vegetarian and gluten-free options too. And the local wine is excellent!
But the weather… It was November (to put it into context the same day all the Christmas ads were released in the UK) and we spent a lot of time lazing by and in the pool on floating beanbags, drinking ice-cold smoothies and smugly sending whatsapp picstures to our one-time friends at home. It was actually necessary to crack open the suncream. The suncream I bought at the beginning of the UK summer and never got the opportunity to use.
Martinhal are currently doing special offers over the ‘winter’ months (see the site for details). If you’ve a golfer in the family this is an ideal place to holiday, though even if you don’t it’s still a wonderful option for out of season sun. The fact that it is just 2.5 hour flight plus a barely noticeable 20 mins transfer was the real draw card for me.