Travelling with a baby
We spent October half term with Martinhal Cascais and can not stop raving about these luxury family vacations. Our 4 years old cried as we left, hugging Martinhal’s Rafi, which is now getting to visit and sight-see Holland Park and London. Portugal with a kids has been a blast and an exquisite retreat at Martinhal Cascais.
We have done quite a bit of fine family hotels in the last 4 years with our kids but we rarely felt so at ease or in love. Some of the family hotels were just a stark realisation that our lives have changed, we can no longer climb errupting volcanoes, go diving or partying as we wish, indulge good food or travel in style with our kids.
But Martinhal demonstrates effortlessly that one can really have it all on a holiday with kids.
The set up has been very carefully designed and well thought so one could have breakfast in peace – cappuccino still with foam on; lunch by the pool lying on sun-chair sunbathing with little ones splashing around; dine & wine at Mbar watching sunset over pine-trees whilst the kids are having a blast in the garden and adventure playground.
There’s also a kidsclub from 9-6pm (one should book in advance for school holidays) catering for all ages in separate and beautifully bespoke areas: 6 months old to teens; plus kids corners at breakfast (inside and outside) and Martinhal mascots Rafi and Rositta coming by.
Unless you have a strong willed toddler ( like ours), one does not need an ipad on Martinhal Cascais with kids holiday.
The parents around are also good fun and quite an eclectic mix of Europeans – we never had a dull conversation or a moment. Hats off again to Martinhal for such a diverse and beautiful crowd. Conversations flew over aperols, at the pool or dinner; kids made friends instantly and personnel is warm and accommodating, going the extra mile entertaining.
Food choices are great for all parties: from bellinis at breakfast, to all sorts of fresh fruit, to Portuguese specialities, casual Italian and seafood delights.
Dinners at Terracao are very smartly organised with buffet options for kids – so they get to see, pick themselves and if they are starved and impatient like ours, eat straight away whilst parents enjoy an aperitivo. The wines are superb, our favourite by far has been a Esporao Alentejo Reserva 2015 that we got us completely hooked.
One may easily overindulge in such circumstances, and with friends joining us for a birthday celebration, the parents had quite a blast. For overtired little ones, wifi is impeccable around the hotel, so one could opt for a baby monitor on the phone and parents at the bar. One evening we also booked a sitter to stay with our sleeping overtired kids and us headed with friends to Furnas do Guincho – superb fresh seafood restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
One does not need to postpone freestyle adventurous holidays – Martinhal has the options for parents to indulge in with or without kids. Restless parents could go surfing, kayaking or paddle boarding in Cascais or sailing even to Lisbon. There are bikes for all ages and abilities; luxurious and great value for money transfers and many Portuguese beauties like Cascais, Sintra or Lisbon to be explored around. For Lisbon, one has also the option of dropping the little ones to sibbling Martinhal Chiado kidsclub that runs sessions until 10pm. For a great list of suggestions for Lisbon head to Savy Globetrotter’s post 10 best things to do, see and eat and for a review of Martinhal Chiado check the Minitravellers’ cool review in here.
Design wise, Martinhal Cascais is sleek and contemporary whilst very kids friendly. We stayed in an elegant room overlooking the pool – huge bathroom with a transparent glass charged with positive messages in various languages.
There’s no attention spared to detail and as we arrived there were 2 goodie bags for our kiddies – both with flip flops, hats and a little present: fluffy Rafi for our 18 months old (Martinhal cutest fox mascot) and a ball for our 4 years old.
There are 5 pools to pick from including an impeccable luxurious child friendly spa.
Outside pool and pool hangout area have very shallow areas perfect for babies and toddlers – our 18 months old just roamed freely completely absorbed in so many toys and amazing discoveries whilst we sipped aperols and caught up with friends.
There’s trampoline, table tennis, football area, lots of games around and a lot of Zen for the parents: pine trees and blue skies, this area end of October looks unbelievably green and so untouched by the autumnal season.
The spa area design is equally smart and sleek, lovely terraced overflowing little pools with pebbles – therapeutically feng shui and visually stunning.
We spent most of our swimming time in here as both outside and inside pools were heated – best for our 18 months old and our 4 years old who would easily spend 2 hours per day in the water.
The 5th pool is by the kidsclub and playground – a beautiful transparent dome roof and a great set up for the first swim classes.
Portugal is known as the California of Europe but we did not expect to be so spoilt. End of October and for 4 days summer was still on: over 25 C degrees reaching occasionally even 30C.
We left Portugal in love, so sad to leave Martinhal (to be actually read devastated for our 4 years old) and fully energised. Looking forward to going back soon!
For more impressions on Sintra, Cascais and a something more visual, check our article published with Trips 100 UK.
Disclaimer: we enjoyed 2 nights complimentary stay and one night with a press rate – many thanks again to Martinhal for warmth, hospitality and impeccable services. Pictures, opinions, enthusiastic cheeky kids – entirely ours.