Fancy a family holiday in Sardinia? Crowned the world’s leading resort, Forte Village is the perfect destination
Words Pendle Harte
Family holiday in Sardinia
If your idea of being on holiday is not having to do anything resembling a chore or make any decisions more demanding than what to eat next, Forte Village
is for you. And if you’re keen to do these things in an environment that’s beautiful
and stylish – and especially if you have active, sporty children – then this spot in the south of Sardinia is hard to beat.
The statistics on Forte Village are impressive. 15,000 trees; two million plants; 55 acres of lushness; 21 restaurants; over 700 bedrooms; more than 1,500 guests at a time. Named the World’s Leading Resort in the 2014 World Travel Awards, this is a sprawling world of its own, a destination that’s designed for an immersive luxury experience. And absolutely everything at Forte Village is world class. Its restaurants are run by celebrity chefs – Gordon Ramsay has an outpost here, as does Alfons Schuhbeck, and there’s a Hells Kitchen staffed by winners of the Italian reality TV show. Boutiques on site include Bulgari, Galliano and Missoni and the spa counts as one of the world leaders. Even the children’s football club is a soccer school run by Chelsea Football Club and staffed by world standard coaches. The beaches are among the world’s finest, the pools are impressive; the weather is faultless.
Arriving at the main gates, we are swept off in a golf buggy down terracotta-tiled pathways through lush gardens. Our destination is Hotel Castello – a five-star beachfront site and the resort’s only ‘vertical hotel’. Most accommodation here is in villas, small ones for couples and huge ones for extended families – but in Castello our family of four is housed in stylish connecting rooms, which as everybody knows is the best way to travel with children. A wall of glass doors leads to a sunny terrace with views of the sea and the rooms are full of luxurious touches and high-tech specs (multiple ipod docks are standard, but here there’s even a charger for my kindle). Bathrooms come with jacuzzis and what can only be described as disco lights in the shower, while nightly turndown brings a pot of chamomile tea and pillow sweets.
We are here with our two daughters, aged nine and six, and they are booked into the Superskills Academy, an organisation that is all about paring children with actual sporting Legends (thereby freeing up their parents to lie on the beach in peace, or hit the spa, of which more later). Options span cricket, netball and rugby, with coaches including Will Greenwood, Austin Healey and Philip DeFreitas. The girls are down for netball, which is led by Karen Atkinson from the senior England team, no less. The games are taken seriously and children are required to report at 9am prompt every morning, wearing their kit and ready to work hard. Which, of course, they are all delighted to do, especially since there’s a lot of emphasis on making friends and socializing. This includes the parents; we’re invited for an introductory drink with the Superskills team and throughout the course of the week various planned activities are devised to get the families together. The highlight for our children is the final prizegiving ceremony, at which each child is presented with an impressive medal and certificate along with a photo op with the Legends.
Forte is a sprawling site, best understood with the help of the fabulous 3D model map found near the main square, and navigated by bicycle. There are several pools, including our favourite, the small diving pool (which at five metres deep keeps us endlessly entertained with touching the bottom) and an entire children’s village with its own pool and special Barbie/Thomas world for pre-schoolers (here there’s a crèche too) while at the outer reaches of the resort there’s rumoured to be a go-karting track (this we never visit). Options for dining are many, even before the season is properly underway: there’s a big buffet option that serves a huge variety of different dishes every day and which can’t be faulted, but there are also the celebrity chef restaurants and a high class traditional Sardinian option, all of which need to be booked (and paid for) separately to the standard half-board arrangement. For lunch, there’s a pizzeria on the beach, while breakfast is a generous affair with lots of fruit, cold cuts, cereals and yoghurt in addition to classic cooked fare.
If children come here for the sports academies, adults come here for the spa. This is where the Italian school of thalassotherapy was founded and leading international specialists are based here. Thalassotherapy uses seawater as a cure for virtually all ills and the spa’s stylish wellness circuit takes in six seawater pools at different temperatures and with different salt concentrations, with specific timings for each. It takes over an hour to complete, and starts with a bizarre pool that’s so salty that you’re defying gravity as you float on its surface – and it feels more like bathing in olive oil than anything else – but despite looking like Thames water and tasting unspeakable, it is deeply relaxing and otherworldly. The following pools vary in size and temperature, some of them with strong massage jets and currents, and the final stop is a large relaxation pool. We emerge feeling lighter, faster and happy, my skin soft and glowing.
At 40 years old, Forte Village is still leading the way for luxe holidays, though due to local laws it can’t actually expand. Instead, there’s a move towards creating more bigger villas for larger groups, at the expense of some of the smaller accommodations. So organise your extended family and make a booking.
Forte Village Resort, Sardinia offers a 7 night stay at Hotel Bouganville from £7,699 for a family of four booked through Classic Collection (classic-collection.co.uk) based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing a family bungalow on a half-board basis. Price includes return flights from London Gatwick to Cagliari (other UK departure airports & airlines available) and private transfers. Departs 23rd July 2016.