“Chic, resort-based villas for self-catering, on a long beach in the lower Algarve (sleeping 2-10); perfect for families”
So many things make holidaying here a delight. The villas are well set up for self-catering, with indoor and outdoor tables, and all the kit - even juicers and blenders. But if you want a break from cooking, there are 3 stylish restaurants within walking distance - a casual Italian, a stylish seafood-focused eatery, and a formal restaurant. They're all family friendly - or book a babysitter and dine out a deux. And then there are all the other facilities... 4 heated swimming pools, tennis courts, a football academy, a spa - plus a gorgeous sandy beach a mere stroll away. There's a crèche and various kids' clubs, even screenings of cartoons in the Village Square on summer evenings. We couldn't believe how genuinely relaxing - and easy - a holiday here was.
- A range of villa options, to suit all budgets. Some have their own pool, others are set within a private walled garden
- The wildly beautiful natural setting: tall grasses and masses of bright, beautiful flowers. We loved that the grounds didn't feel too manicured
- Gorgeous interiors - a mix of Portuguese materials (local stone, cork), contemporary furniture and luxury gadgets (iPod docks, Nespresso machines), and funky extras (wicker lamps, Mongolian beanbags)
- Everyone here has kids, so you don't feel self-conscious if yours bomb in the pool/act up/won't eat their dinner in a restaurant!
- Active types will be in their element: hike through the national park; windsurf and surf; try deep-sea fishing
- Keep an eye on the extras - meals, spa treatments and activities quickly add up, though the villas themselves are good value
- It can be very windy in the summer months, especially on the beach, but this detracts from the fierce sun
- Service is mixed: some staff are brilliant, we found others frustratingly laid-back, especially in the Oz Gambozinos restaurant
- Stylish and low-rise though the resort is, it all feels a bit suburban (and not very i-escape), but the upside is a wealth of facilities
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Villas
- 153 villas
- Self-catering (+ walk to restaurants)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
- Concierge Service
- Tennis Court
- Pool Table
- Bicycles Available
There are 6 types of self-catering villa, all sharing the resort’s facilities (including pools, crèche and kids' club). Each has a daily maid service, fully fitted designer kitchen, terrace, and a living/dining area with satellite TV, video on demand, WiFi and iPod dock. They were designed by Brit interiors specialist Michael Sodeau, mixing cork, stone and timber with pops of bright colour.
The villas are mainly in the Martinhal Village, which means they are very close to the resort's facilities. Referred to as Houses, there are 132 spread between Ocean, Bay, Garden and Pinewood categories, and there are 2 or 3 bedroomed houses in each category (plus 1-bed Apartments in the Garden category). Master bedrooms are all kingsize; second and third bedrooms can be set up as twins or kingsize doubles on request. All have ensuite bathrooms - the masters have a tub and shower, the secondary rooms just have a shower - and bedrooms are all on the ground floor. The living spaces for each villa are on the first floor, to maximise the stunning views (except in the Garden and Pinewood Houses, which are laid out traditionally, with the bedrooms above the living areas).
Ocean Houses are arranged in small terraced groups at the front of Martinhal Village, with gorgeous sea views. Bay Houses are much more spacious and secluded, and positioned to catch the sunrise and sunsets from their terraces. We stayed in one of the Garden Houses. These are set within walled, private gardens, making them a safe, attractive choice for families with young children, although the lack of shade made sitting outside at certain times of day rather difficult. Pinewood Houses are set in a quiet close next to a pine forest, and each has a small private pool and garden.
There are also 23 Villa Mimosa townhouses, which are privately owned but available for rent at certain times (please enquire for details). These are a more compact option, away from the main resort, with access to a clubhouse with a heated pool, a baby pool and a private garden. They each have 2-3 large bedrooms plus a parking space. Similar are the 14 Luxury Villas, which are jaw-dropping gorgeous, some with pools, others with games rooms and home cinemas; enquire for details.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Cots Available
- DVD player (on request)
- Extra beds
- Food blender
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Ipod dock
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
- Tumble dryer
- Washing machine
With a swanky designer kitchen at your disposal, keen cooks will be in their element. There are double ovens, gas hobs, microwaves, blenders, big fridge/freezers, Nespresso coffee makers and a whole wealth of equipment including cheese graters and vegetable peelers.
i-escape guests get a welcome hamper on arrival (fresh bread, cereals, a selection of jams, milk and coffee), and there are a couple of dishwasher tabs to start you off, but you'll need to stock up on essentials like bin bags, washing-up liquid, salt, pepper and oil. There's a mini market in the resort selling vegetables, fruit, fresh bread and cakes, milk, cheese, ham and baby food, though it can be a little pricey. There's a small Inter Marche supermarket in Sagres, 5 minutes away by car, and a larger Lidl 10 minutes in the other direction, but most people head to the big supermarket in Lagos City (25km) to do a big shop on arrival, then pick up bits and bobs to see them through a stay. With fresh fish from ports along the coast just begging to be baked in your oven, meals will be a joy.
If, however, your ideal holiday involves the space that a villa offers but the food a hotel can provide, you're in luck. There are 3 restaurants on-site and you can purchase breakfast and meal supplements at the time of booking, or go à la carte. The food is one of the things that makes Martinhal really stand out. As Dunas is a stylish restaurant beside the pool that specialises in fish and seafood - we loved our fresh John Dory, with salty crispy skin and crunchy veg. The Italian fare in Os Gambozinos is super-easy with kids - pasta, pizza, ice cream, job done! There's also swanky O Terraço, which best for couples - book a babysitter.
We also ate at the poolside bar - a surprisingly delicious tuna-steak burger - and loved the M-Bar, a relaxed surf-themed bar next to a playground so parents can enjoy a drink whilst watching their kids play. New pop-up grill 'The Wolf @ Martinhal' smelt amazing; it has a takeaway menu, too.
- Children's meals
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Food blender
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Organic produce
- Vegetarian menu
- Welcome hamper
- Takeaway meals
- Laze by the pools on lime-green Fatboy beanbags and watch your children go wild. There's a bar by the main pool
- Indulge in some sea-based spa treatments at the Finisterra Spa. We loved the sound of bladderwrack body glows, organic coral wraps and smoothing sand scrubs
- Active types can try the wind-related activities on offer in the bay, from windsurfing to bodyboarding, parasailing to blokarting (land yachting)
- Stroll along the fabulously unspoilt Martinhal beach (from which the hotel gets its name) to the fishing port of Sagres. It takes around 15 minutes and there isn’t very much to see once there, but the walk is lovely
- Challenge your fellow guests to a game of tennis (there are 2 artificial grass courts) or try the new Padel tennis, a mix between squash and lawn tennis, with plastic bats
- And yes, you can play golf if you must; the Martinhal has preferential rates and tee-time deals with 5 local courses, the nearest of which is just 10 minutes away at Parque de Floresta
- Make the most of your villa's views by taking a bottle of Portuguese wine (or sherry) on to your terrace as night falls
- Younger children will love the playground, swimming pool and the activities on offer at the [kids:PO045:Kids' Club] - face painting, treasure hunts and simple arts and crafts. Older children can go to soccer school, take tennis or Padel lessons or learn to surf
- Go on a family boat trip to see dolphins, but remember sea sickness tablets if you're not a good sailor - the ocean can get pretty choppy
- Hire mountain bikes from the hotel and cycle to the really windy side of the point that faces due west, straight out at the Atlantic: totally exhilarating
- The hotel can arrange deep-sea fishing, riding, jeep safaris, nature walks, gourmet picnics and scuba diving
- If the weather turns, there are toys, games and puzzles at the Kids' Club (which has a team of qualified childminders). And for older kids, there's the Blue Room, which has pool tables, video games, table football and internet
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Junior Lifeguard course
- Mountain biking
- Pool table
- Scuba diving
- Soccer school
- Surf lessons
- Tennis coaching
i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2014
Winner: Best For Kids Facilities
There's so much to say about Martinhal's family facilities that we'd need about 10 pages to tell you everything, so trust us that we're keeping it brief here. Most of it is free, although babysitting and crèche facilities incur an extra cost. All kids over 2 receive a hat and goodie bag on arrival - a nice touch.
Family friendly accommodation:
Any of these villas would work fantastically for families, which is who they were designed for. Villa renters have access to the kids' clubs, equipment and activities on offer. Cots are free.
English-speaking babysitters are available (reserve 24 hours in advance). They will only take 2 children under the age of 6 each
Equipment is available to pre-book through the baby concierge.
- Stair gates
- Baby monitors
- Pram/pushchair to borrow
- Children's backpack
- Baby bedding
- Bottle warmers
- Socket protectors
- Door protectors
- Baby baths
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
There's a fully-staffed creche plus various clubs for kids of all ages: the Creche (ages 6-24 months), the Kids' Club (2-4), Fox Club (5-8), Explorers Club (9-12) and Adventure Club (12-16). The last 3 are only open in school holidays, including half terms; and most are divided into 2 sessions, morning or afternoon (see Rates for an idea of costs). There's also the Blue Room, a video-game room and playspace for children aged 8 and above. In the evenings (Mon-Fri) a Party Zone for 4-8 year olds from 6-9pm allows parents to dine a deux while children enjoy a mini disco, face painting, balloon-modelling, pillow fights and dressing up in costumes; dinner is provided in the Os Gambozinos restaurant too.
All villas have full kitchenettes with blenders and microwaves. The resort has 3 restaurants, all with an adjacent play area - the formal O Terraco, the seafood-focused As Dunas, and the Italian restaurant Os Gambozinos. Most families gravitate towards the casual Italian restaurant, but all restaurants have a Kids Menu divided into age groups, including a Baby Menu of purees for 4-12 month olds. Takeaway pizzas are available from the M Bar in the Village Square, and pop-up grill 'The Wolf @ Martinhal' is found there too. There's an ice cream corner at M Bar, which serves homemade ice cream, waffles and crepes.
Kids Activities on site:
- 4 swimming pools (all unfenced) including one with water toys
- Finisterra Spa offers baby massage, plus dedicated treatments for children and teenagers
- Children's cartoons/animated films in the Village Square in summer months
- Children's playground
- Cycling tracks for tweens and teens in front of the As Dunas restaurant
- Games consoles and computer room
- Football academy
- Tennis courts and kids' tennis academies
Kids Activities nearby:
- Boat trips, and dolphin-watching safaris
- Enjoy the beach or learn to surf or windsurf
- Mountain biking trails nearby for older kids
- Older children can take part in the Junior Lifeguard Course
Families Should Know:
There is a nurse on-site 9am-6pm daily, and until 8pm in the summer months. The resort shop sells nappies and other baby items. There's a mobile phone signal everywhere in the resort.
- Airport: 1.5 hours (Faro)
- Medical treatment: on site
- Nearest shop: on site