Following the glorious British Summer we had this year, a visit to Sardinia in September finished the season off in style.
Destination Forte Village, renowned for the refined traveller and a well-known holiday destination with celebrities.
The white sandy beaches, warm Mediterranean waters and glamorous guests were on my mind as we flew to Cagliari airport. The latter thought, I have to admit, was one of complete trepidation. How on earth was I going to feel relaxed in my bikini amongst their many A-list visitors, including the Beckhams and the owner of Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich?
Still, I didn’t have much time to think about it as just a little over 2 hours, and a very pleasant flight with Sardatur Airways, later, we had landed in Southern Sardinia. The transfer from Cagliari to Forte Village was a very comfortable 50 minutes. My two girls, Holly and Daisy, enjoyed the views and the many flamingos we spotted on the journey while dad had a revitalizing snooze.
On arrival, there were several smiling faces to greet us, as we were welcomed at their impressive complex. Everyone was so friendly and happy, and they were fantastic with the children. As soon as we hopped in our Forte buggy being driven through the village to our villa, receiving our first views of this enormous resort, there was plenty of excitement and eagerness brewing to get our holiday started.
With eight top-class hotels, a network of villas, seven swimming pools, an award-winning spa, tennis courts, a golf practice area, football pitches, and 18 restaurants, my only concern whilst looking at the map was where on earth to start!
Village map and suncream in one hand, and a daughter’s hand in the other, the four of us made our way down the path passing an array of tropical plants and palm trees as we walked towards the beach. Luckily for us we were staying in Le Dune (stay either here or Villa del Parco) and in less than two minutes we had arrived at the picturesque beach, and it all felt a little bit too good to be true.
The impressive mile-long beach with soft golden sand and turquoise waters reminded me more of the Caribbean than the Mediterranean. The low winds, gentle waves, and shallow waters made it perfect for paddling with toddlers and I felt totally relaxed.
Any concerns I had of supercilious intimidation from the rich and famous visitors of Forte Village were completely put at ease within minutes of arriving. The atmosphere was tranquil and it was surprisingly intimate for such a large resort. The settings made for perfect relaxation and engagements for family enjoyment.
We spent the first few days getting to know our way around the different swimming pools, some with seawater and some chlorinated. Two of the pools had diving boards from which dad tried to perfect his diving technique, without much success. Our girls especially loved the two large water flumes and waterfalls at Baia Delle Palme.
Around the rest of the complex wide, smooth, bricked paths linked everything up and pushchair journeys were made really easy. In fact child-friendly touches were notable everywhere, of course there were the obvious pizza, pasta and ice-cream delights, but Forte Village had gone more than the extra mile to ensure family needs were fully catered for.
For example, you could hire pushchairs from Kids’ City, you could buy nappies at the shop in Piazza Maria Luigia, and hire bikes to suit all family scenarios.
There were many shaded areas with inviting four-poster beds at the beach and swimming pools too, which I felt added enormously to the comfort for families.
At the Mini Club, Citta’ Dei Bambini, there were several large and shallow toddler pools fitted with padding and edged with Astroturf, and lovely play facilities as well as indoor toys and equipment. The activities were extremely well organised to successfully cater for babies and children up to 12 years old. Holly and Daisy especially enjoyed arts and crafts, and pizza making in the children’s restaurant.
The children’s restaurant, Fortino, was somewhere children could choose to dine either with or without their parents. The area was fully equipped with several children-sized chairs and tables, tasty and healthy menus and bottle sterilizers, another touch of ultimate family-friendliness shown by the resort.
One of the girls’ other main highlights from the holiday was Forte’s resident three parrots, Mario, Kyra and Brigida who entertained old and young alike with an almost showman like performance. They would swoop from the tall trees and playfully squawk and entertain the delighted children below. We were lucky enough to see them daily in different locations around the village.
Each morning we enjoyed our breakfast at La Duna, just a stone’s throw away from our villa and overlooking the beach. A perfect way to start the morning, with panoramic views across the water from the largest and most beautiful, fully-sliding, windows you could possibly imagine, sounds of Frank Sinatra with an added zesty aroma from the freshly squeezed Sardinian orange juice from neighbouring village Muravera.
As a family, we love our food and always shop locally for our fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meats. One major plus-side to this is that our girls have become accustomed to experimenting with new foods and are often adventurous with their choices, the downside though is when we eat out we have become a family with a hard to please palate.
Forte Village, however, did not disappoint. Their food was certainly of the best we have experienced abroad, helped by their Michelin-starred chefs of course, and most notably to our English clientele, none other than Mr Gordon Ramsay himself.
Their collection of fantastic restaurants was ideal for families, with a mix of local Sardinian and Italian cuisine to world dining – consistently scrumptious throughout the village. There was enough variety to keep little minds attentive each and every evening.
Our absolute favourite though was the Belvedere, offering an al fresco dining experience overlooking the exotic tropical gardens. The night we dined there was one of the main highlights of our trip. Sitting out on the balcony around a candle lit table for four, delighting on chef’s appetizers and several delicious courses made for an enchanting and unforgettable family experience.
The attentive service of the staff was incredible, and we were especially impressed by Marco, who put several smiles across all of our faces throughout the evening and treated Holly and Daisy like mini-princesses.
For lunch the most popular destination was the pizzeria situated on the beach, serving irresistible freshly baked pizzas and fresh salad. To keep costs down I would recommend the enormous salad bowls where you could pick from a plethora of choices including anchovies, crab, tuna, prawns, squid and octopus, easily enough for four with a couple of pizzas shared.
The ice-cream hut opposite the pizzeria offered around 25 different flavours, which you were welcome to sample before making your choice, they were all so wonderful that every day we faced an indulgent battle.
Given it was early September when our family visited Forte Village, we were exceptionally lucky with the weather, most days were around 27 degrees and with hardly a cloud in the sky. On the one day we had which was overcast and raining, Leisure World was the perfect choice for keeping the children (and dad!) fully entertained.
The bowling and go-karting there was great fun – and come the evening they have a children’s disco, buckaroo and climbing walls. The resort offers plenty of activities for keeping the older children happy on a family holiday. There are four legendary sporting academies to start with.
They’ve teamed up with sporting stars such as rugby player Austin Healy and cricketer Paul Nixon to provide hands-on training and practice. For young footballers, boys and girls, there’s even the chance to learn, practice and play at Forte Village’s own Chelsea Soccer School.
Dad enjoyed his round of golf at the nearby Es Molas course, and our afternoon relaxing at the spa, Thalasso del Forte (while Holly and Daisy had pastry lab fun at the Mini Club) was another point scorer during our time at the resort.
Recognised as one of the leading spas in the world and renowned for its gifted therapists, Thalasso del Forte offers a unique thalassotherapy treatment, based on the beneficial properties of seawater, sand and seaweed to boost health and vitality.
The spa experience consisted of moving through 6 outdoor pools for set time periods, each with different temperatures and with varying salt concentrations. Set in the tranquillity of blue Sardinian skies and surrounded by tropical foliage, it was a truly relaxing and detoxifying experience.
Our seven days at Forte Village were pure bliss, a truly family-orientated resort, where we were fortunate enough to gain memories for a lifetime. ✿
Special Reader Offer
Forte Village Resort, Sardinia, offers 7 nights at Il Villaggio from £3,081 per family based on 2 adults and 2 children (aged 2-12 years) sharing a room on a half board basis, including return BA flights from Heathrow and airport transfers, booked through Sardatur Holidays (020 8973 2298, www.sardatur-holidays.co.uk)
✽ For further information on Forte Village please visit www.fortevillageresort.com