I sit in a comfy chair out on the decking, tipping my face to the sun and feeling its warmth on my feet as I slowly sip a hot coffee and smile to myself. This is a very rare moment of peace and quiet from my normally hectic life. I’m on my own, so the kids aren’t here to distract me from enjoying my coffee, however even if they were, I have no doubt I would be enjoying it whilst it was still hot. The luxurious surroundings have a child friendly element, as in front of me, on the landscaped gardens, there are garden toys for the children to play on. I’m at Martinhal in Cascais for their Luxury Family Brand event and their moto is “the place where parents get to drink their cappuccino with the foam still on”. Straight away I completely agree! It’s obvious this place has been designed by parents with adults and children in mind. And we all know if the kids are happy, the adults are happy too!
During my trip it’s these little well thought out details, throughout the hotel complex, that blow me away. I’ve never been anywhere quite like it, the mix of luxury and family friendly is a real treat. As I step into my hotel room, a little squeal of excitement escapes my lips, it is stunning! The patio doors stretch the width of the room letting the sunlight stream into the spacious room, and through the glass window, behind the bed, into the luxurious bathroom. I’m greeted with a bathtub big enough for two, a walk in shower, matching robes, flip-flops and twin basins. Not to mention the gorgeous smelling Voya products. I decide I could quite happily live in the bathroom alone!
I lay back on my king size bead and my head slowly sinks into the soft, plump and fluffy pillow as I look out the patio doors to my balcony and the glinting sunshine. Not being able to decide between making myself a coffee with the in-room Nespresso machine and sitting outside with it on my large balcony, or exploring the spa. I opt for the spa, quickly changing into my swimsuit and head down in the lifts to be welcomed by the scent of jasmine, my favourite smell, as the doors open. With a gym, inside and outside pool, sunbeds, a steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and tropical shower I’m spoilt for choice. The lure of the sunshine wins and I head outside to lie on a sunbed and chat to some of the other bloggers and journalists that are here for the conference too.
Before our evening meal we have a tour of the hotel. It’s not only the main areas, like the reception with it’s sparkling white, clean design, that impress. The rooms, like mine, are all spacious. There are suites with sliding doors, interconnecting rooms and even separate apartments with a kitchen, garden, lounge and separate bedrooms. All have the family friendly touches, mini robes and flip flops for the kids, laid out on their fold down bunkbeds. Steps, toilet seats, potties and even nappies are available for you during your stay along with a whole host of other items you need when travelling with little ones but don’t necessarily want to pack.
The kids area is a whole other world, housed in a separate building. As soon as I walk through the gate I feel a pang of guilt that my children aren’t here to experience it. I know they would absolutely love it! With a football court, basketball, zip wire, sandpit, bouncy pillow and even a converted VW van, the outside area leaves me a bit stuck for words which doesn’t happen often. Then there is the bright and spacious inside with clean, well looked after toys for kids of all ages, with a baby room and separate activities for the older tweens, no one is left out. Martinhal, really have taken the idea of a kids club to a whole new level! There is even a kids pool housed in a giant bubble dome, with a baby pool, comfy beanbags dotted around and towels handily there, so no having to traipse to a central towel giving point.
Martinhal encourages family time with a huge outdoor pool, open in high season and bikes to hire for all ages. You can arrange tours and even book adult and child spa experiences to have together.
It’s early evening now and I’m dressed up, the sun is still shining, which instantly puts me in a good mood as I walk across to the M Bar for a pre cocktail, before heading into Cascais for a meal. M Bar is above the kids club just opposite the main hotel and as soon as I step in the relaxed atmosphere puts me at ease. With basket seats, sofas and tables out on the spacious balcony we choose to sit with the sun streaming in and I order an Aperol Spritz. I stand on the balcony in the sun drinking it, the bubbles tickling my nose as I inhale the Aperol scent, the smell of holiday! The M Bar serves family friendly food, with an ice cream cart for the kids and a relaxed atmosphere, I can imagine us as a family, sitting here enjoying the early evening sun and fresh air out on the balcony.
They also serve a delicious Hendricks gin cocktail for other gin lovers out there.
Everyone who is here for the conference is treated to a meal by the Cascais tourist board in the heart of Cascais, the California of Europe. The food is delicious and my first experience of the Portuguese cuisine, a good one. We hear all about Cascais and how Portugal is one of the safest places. As I’m travelling on my own this fact is a huge bonus.
My first morning in Portugal I wake up to sunlight twinkling through a gap I deliberately left in the curtains. Waking up to sunshine is one of my favourite things about travelling abroad, so I open the curtains and get back into bed for a bit, luxury! I make myself a coffee and sit out on the decking, enjoying the peace and quiet and morning fresh air with a hint of cut grass. Today is going to be a busy day at the conference so I head to breakfast and wow what a spread! There is everything you could want from cooked food, to fresh fruit, pancakes and even donuts. With plastic cups and plates for the kids we have breakfast in the O Terraç0 restaurant which has a separate play area for the kids with a member of staff from the kids club there to play with them should they need it. There are no lack of high chairs either and in my three mornings of having breakfast there, despite the kids, adults and it being full, the atmosphere was relaxed and didn’t at all have a noisy, holiday buffet feel.
During the conference we are treated to a talk from the passionate Cintra Stern, the co owner of Martinhal. Herself and husband Roman have four kids themselves and it’s obvious they really are passionate about creating a wonderful holiday experience for families. I think they’ve got it right! Other speakers left me feeling inspired and I’ve since put some of the advice into action! We were given little treats throughout the day, massages during a coffee break, an English themed afternoon tea with scones, clotted cream and jam, a delicious lunch with wine and more. We even had some time in the sun before eating dinner together in the M Bar.
Staying in Cascais for three nights means I have the third whole day to myself to relax and explore. I wake in the morning to sunshine, but by mid morning sitting outside the spa, on a sunbed reading my book, I feel the first drips of rain on my head as the air begins to cool. I decide to venture into the spa and spend a few hours here siting in the sauna, jacuzzi and reading some more of my book. The spa is family friendly so families are having fun around me, laughing and chatting, but it’s not noisy or crowded despite the poor weather. After a while I head up to reception and arrange a shuttle to take me into Cascais. It’s still raining, unfortunately, so I spend some time in the shops and stop in a little coffee shop, the smell of fresh pastries luring me in. I opt for a latte and a delicious, custardy donut. I love all the pastries they have here!
After a busy few days I’m pretty tired, so my evening consists of room service, which even offers different meals for babies through to older children and adults. My bed is turned down with chocolates left on my pillow as usual and I treat myself to a long, hot bubble bath before sinking into my bed for a fantastic nights sleep.
The staff in Martinhal are always extremely friendly and helpful. My last morning I’m greeted with a smile at reception as they help me to arrange an earlier transport into Lisbon, so that I can have a little explore, before heading to the airport for my flight home. I arrange to leave my suitcase at Martinhal Chiado which sounds like the perfect place to head to for a family friendly city break. It’s situated in the centre of Lisbon and a friendly face on reception helps me with a map and tells me some places I can visit with the time I have.
Lisbon blows me away, its a beautiful, friendly city. As I wonder around I stop and take pictures of all the colourful tiles that adorn many of the building, this place is tile heaven! I stand in a busy street off the main square, the sun is shining again and although I’m alone, I don’t feel nervous. Looking around I find the famous yellow, number 28 tram. Unfortunately it is too busy for me to get on, so I vow to come back and experience more of this beautiful city another time. Hopefully with a visit to Martinhal Chiado and Cascais with the kids so they can experience the Martinhal way too.
Martinhal have 4 hotels in Portugal, 2 in the Algarve area, Sagres & Quinta, along with two in the Lisbon area, Chiado and Cascais. All four are designed with families in mind and offer a luxury holiday experience.
Thanks Martinhal for having me.