Last weekend Mini Turtle and I flew to Sardinia, one of Italy’s stunning islands famed for its sandy beaches (which Italy itself mostly lacks) and mountainous interior. It was our first time on the island and, despite a 3:30am wake up, we were very excited when we landed in her capital, Cagliari (also worth a visit apparently).
We were collected by the shiniest Mercedes I have ever seen, who drove us 45 minutes south to Forte Village, our home for the weekend.
Forte Village is known to be one of the best (and most expensive!), family resorts in Europe. It is comprised of 8 different hotels, two four star and the rest all five star. The beach is perhaps one of its biggest selling points – it’s private and the sand is super soft and as close to white as a European beach can be. The sea is calm and crystal clear. During the day the beach is filled with sun loungers but in the evening these are cleared and this is when the beach is at it’s most beautiful (especially at sunset).
The resort itself is like a huge well maintained garden, with a huge array plants and flowers, brightly painted buildings just visible behind high pine and palm trees and the stunning Sardinian mountains as backdrop.
We stayed at Hotel Castello, one of the resorts’s best hotels, which is right by the beach. I’m not a huge fan of multicoloured buildings, but Hotel Castello’s dark pink does actually work. We were given a Prestige Plus room – the highest room category under a suite. Completely white, with a large terrace and a bath outside with views of the gardens and sea. Not bad. Hotel Castello’s pool, right by the beach, has also been recently renovated and is lovely and peaceful.
Forte village is, first and foremost, a family resort. It is a paradise for children – the young ones have the kids club and the Barbie House, where they can make pizzas and play games, while constantly monitored. The older children can take part in the Chelsea Football Academy (at an additional cost, but a big draw for families world wide), and there is also a basketball, cricket, rugby and tennis academy to keep the kids busy. Teens can enjoy Leisure Land – with go karting, bowling and a disco. There is so much to do. For parents used to seeing their kids obsessed with iPads and iPods, it must be incredibly satisfying to see their kids outside all day, making new friends and learning new skills.
The food was a real highlight for me. They have a huge selection of great restaurants and bars – the best of which is Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, which is practically on the beach. This is easily one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at.
The Belvedere restaurant got a Michelin star last year, and the food we had here was excellent too. I especially loved the fois gras escallop. Lunch options were Beachcomber and the Pizzeria (others will open at the beginning of July). The Pizzeria is the place to be for families, so expects lots of noisy children. But that’s what you get at a family resort and wow, the pizza we had (with Burrata, rocket pesto and courgette flowers) was incredible. Beachcomber is much quieter, with a lovely view of the beach.
Another exciting addition to their restaurants is Hell’s Kitchen – the winner of Italy’s Hell’s Kitchen will be the chef at this new restaurant, opening this summer. The only disappointing thing food-wise was breakfast. There was a big selection but compared to our other meals, it was distinctly underwhelming. More quantity than quality. We did have some cheeky parrots to keep us company though.
What can you do in the area? Most people don’t need the resort, as you have everything you need here. But since it was our first time in Sardinia we wanted to get a glimpse of life outside the resort. So we hitch-hiked (yes, really) to Pula, the near by beach town. From here we walked (20 minutes) to Nora, where you find an ancient Roman and pre-Roman (Phenician city). Sadly because of it’s sea front position most of it has been engulfed by water, but you can still see some of the remains. Plus, the coast is so beautiful here and it is very un-touristy. There were only locals on the beach.
What did I think? From a weekend perspective we had a fantastic time, were utterly spoilt and very well looked after, so thank you very much Forte Village! The staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful. It is a rather pricy resort which, in many places, needs renovation (which they are working on). And I also believe things like wifi and water should be complimentary. But the resort is constantly fully booked, with many repeaters, so most guests obviously think it is totally worth it. I think if I was a parent I would view Forte Village in a different way, because I would fully understand and appreciate how much kids love it and just how fantastic the facilities and activities are.
Santa Margherita di Pula