The proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention” came to my mind when I met Chitra Stern, the founder, along with her husband, Roman, of the Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts in Portugal. As the parents of four children, they know just how important family vacations are, and they know exactly what parents are seeking during the precious time they have to spend en famille.
At each of their four resorts, I had such pleasure watching parents interacting with their babies, toddlers and kids with delight and joy. Giggling, kissing and cuddling was seen everywhere from the restaurants to the play areas, in the pools, and walking the grounds. Moms and dads seemed carefree and to be having the best time, and the kids ate everything up. What impressed me the most about the Martinhal brand is that every aspect of the resorts is designed with families in mind, and it rings loud and clear.
Families First at Martinhal
A wide variety of accommodations are available at each property, and they are outfitted from top to bottom for family’s comfort, convenience and fun. The style is very fresh and modern, using a colorful palette in each hotel room, suite and villa.
Attention to family’s needs include Italian-designed, very clever bunk beds that are completely hidden when not in use, and, upon request, the Baby Concierge Service supplies baby items and equipment from bottle warmers to potties, safety gates and strollers. For meals that you prefer to prepare in your suite or villa, there are fully equipped kitchens, and guests can buy food, wine, and other supplies at the Mercado at each of the properties.
Happy and Busy Kids = Happy Parents
Creative and attentive childcare is at the heart of a family holiday at all Martinhal properties. Kids Clubs rooms are cheerful and sunny, filled with the materials needed for a busy time. Outdoor play areas are inventive, with climbing and bouncing structures for little ones, and, at the Martinhal Sagres property, there are sports academies and a dirt biking hill for teens.
Raposinhos (Little Foxes) are the mascot of the Kids Clubs which do a great job caring for kids from 6 months up to 14 years in age-appropriate groups at all of the properties – check the web site for specifics. Beginning with the Creche for babies and toddlers, Raposinhos welcomes pre-schoolers, and the Fox Club entertains school age kids. The Blue Room (at some properties) offers PlayStations, XBox, air hockey, traditional games (pool, table tennis), board games and computers with internet access to tweens, teens and adults, free of charge. At the Martinhal Lisbon Chiado property, the Pyjama Club provides group evening care for 3 to 9-year olds in a cozy environment.
Private babysitting is also available at all of the properties, Note that all of the locations provide the Baby Concierge service, and that reservations are highly advised for the Raposinhos Clubs.
Mealtimes at Martinhal
The a la carte restaurants range from very casual to “somewhat formal,” considering that children are welcome at even the gourmet restaurants. A buffet, with additional made-to-order options, is served at breakfast. Lunch and dinner are sit-down only and every restaurant has a supervised kid’s corner where children can play at mealtimes. They can sit and eat (from the special kid’s menu) for a while, get down to join their little pals, and re-join mom and dad when they want. Most people without kids might find this arrangement unacceptable and chaotic, but I thought it was delightful, even if a bit noisy, and it seems to keep everyone smiling. There are also cafes and bars throughout the properties. Attention to the food is very serious – everything is fresh, well-prepared and creative.
While the Martinhal resorts all share many features, let’s look at some unique characteristics of each.
A Beachfront Resort in The Algarve
Located in a protected natural park, directly on the beach, at Martinhal Sagres Beach Family Resort guests can choose from 37 hotel rooms 155 private homes, and luxury villas with up to five bedrooms.
Families gather in the Village Square to enjoy the huge outdoor play area, and in the four pools scattered throughout the property. Offsite, families enjoy exploring the area on rental bikes, available at the resort. While kids have fun with other kids at the clubs, adults can swim, enjoy watersports, play tennis, go horseback riding, or use the gym, sauna and steam room. Pampering takes place at the Finisterra Spa.
There are three restaurants with menus to please everyone, and extensive choices for babies and children.
A Gated Village in The Algarve
Located in the Quinto do Lago area of The Algarve, Martinhal Quinta Family Golf Resort offers two-bedroom townhouses to five-bedroom luxury homes with private pools and gardens within a gated community.
The hub of family activity here is the Pool Hangout, a large pool with a waterslide, as well as a baby pool with sprinklers. There is also an indoor pool, and play features such as a trampoline, and a sand pit for the little ones. While the kids are cared for at the clubs, parents can go windsurfing, waterskiing, horseback riding and more nearby. Spa service are available to guests in their homes.
There is one full restaurant on site, and casual food and snacks can be purchased around the pool. Families can purchase the makings of meals to prepare in their accommodations at the Mercado. The region boasts many excellent restaurants, not far from the resort.
A Haven for Golfers in a Lisbon Suburb
Located within the Sintra Cascais National Park, Martinhal Lisbon Cascais Family Hotel is in suburban Lisbon, on the Atlantic coast. Proximity (19 miles) to the capital’s airport makes daytrips into town a real option, and this property is ideal for families who want a taste of both the city and the country. Accommodations range from 72 hotel rooms and suites, to 12 two-bedroom luxury villas with kitchens.
Families enjoy three pools and spend time together at creative playgrounds throughout the property. Thanks to the Kids Clubs and private babysitting, parents can work out in the gym, be pampered in the Finisterra Spa, go to nearby Guincho Beach, play golf at two championship courses, and definitely make plans to explore the culture in Lisbon.
There are 3 full service restaurants, a bar and the Mercado on site.
Capital City Welcomes Families
Opened in 2016 and located right in the heart of Lisbon, is Martinhal Lisbon Chiado Family Suites. The Martinhal folks refer to it as the “world’s first city-center elegant family hotel.” Created from an apartment building dating from 1855 with design features and comforts of 2016, 37 deluxe apartments (studios with bunk beds and cooking facilities, and one and two-bedroom units with a full kitchen and washer/dryer), are yours to choose from for your Lisbon home.
Lisbon is a splendid, small European capital with charming, winding streets and lots of history and culture to explore with and without the kids. There are UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the Oceanario de Lisboa, Europe’s second largest aquarium; antique trams; interesting shops and enticing restaurants. You could certainly consider spending a few active days in Lisbon and end your vacation with a more relaxing time at the Cascais hotel.
Trying all the local restaurants is probably what you will want to do, but the hotel does offer a cafe lounge for breakfast and snacks, and room service.
Trip Planning Tips
Martinhal Family Hotels and Resorts are well-priced for such upscale facilities and settings. Do note that they are not all-inclusive properties, and meals, childcare and some activities are a la carte. However, some room rates include breakfast, and there are seasonal packages that include some meals, some activities and some childcare.
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