As far as resort hotels go, the five-star Martinhal is in a league of its own. A luxury hotel that opened in 2010, it sits in prime location high up above the beautiful Sagres bay to the very western extremity of the Algarve that comes highly recommended. Divided up between contemporary wooden two storey rectangular villas that overlook the glistening turquoise waters, and more conventional blocks of accommodation, the enormous site is otherwise planted with original local vegetation left semi wild. With all sorts of facilities one could ever want from a resort, from a tennis club to several restaurants, Martinhal is especially tailored to families.
About a two-hour drive from Faro airport, Martinhal is in the quiet beachside village of Sagres to the very west of the region. The hotel is just a couple of minutes from the main bay, and otherwise, apart from a handful of local eateries, there isn't much else in the immediate surroundings - ideal for a break away from everything, the natural landscapes of Sagres are worth exploring cycling.
Although seeing the location of the hotel and the quality, it is aimed at families, so couples or groups of adults should keep this in mind.
There is plenty of parking space at the resort and Wi-Fi access all over the resort is included in the room rate.
The huge site is divided up with two parts: a resort and a hotel both of which are clearly set apart in the style of accommodations; the more conventional blocks of rooms sitting side by side in the resort part and lovely rectangular sea facing ocean houses make up the hotel part. For sea views, the hotel is the best spot, although depending on how near you are to the main outdoor pool, it can be a little noisy for those of you dreaming of an afternoon siesta out on the terrace.
When we stayed at the hotel, there were two separate entrances - one to the resort, which is more family oriented, and one for the hotel, aimed at adults. However, all the resort facilities are shared and there isn't really a divide once checked in. Our host also mentioned that Martinhal was going to be more exclusively a family resort.
The defining feature of the resort hotel, is its beautiful garden that have been kept semi wild, giving the site a more natural and authentic character than other resorts. For guests lucky enough to grab a room facing the sea up on the cliff as opposed to within the resort itself, will feel like the luckiest holidaymakers in the region, as the sea view is beautiful.
In terms of facilities on site, the Martinhal has it all. A shop selling tasteful souvenirs to bring back home, a deli, an outdoor playground for young children, a large health club with a gym and indoor pool and exercise classes are organised daily (book as much in advance as possible). A kids' club with plenty of activities is complimentary for young children and teenagers also have their own room with computers, video games, cinema evenings and other events. There are also several multisport courts and a full-size tennis club.
The first Voya spa outside of Ireland, the organic brand is ideally suited to the Nordic-looking spa of wooden decking, soothing white walls and natural materials at the Finisterra spa at Martinhal. There is a wide range of treatments on offer (not included in the room rate) but it does get very busy book with as much advance notice as possible in order to avoid disappointment.
The spa is separate to the health club, which is also open to children and is located closer to the main resort entrance.
In total there are more categories than we have fingers, ranging from the gorgeous and very stylish Ocean Houses, of which there are 55, to luxury villas with their own private pools and rooms in the 'hotel' part of the property. Mapping all the accommodation is extremely difficult as there are so many variables - saying that there really is something for absolutely everyone here is accurate.
What won our hearts over, the location aside, was the colourful contemporary interiors, which vary slightly depending on the accommodation category, but the same chic natural décor is applied throughout the resort and hotel parts. Expect the rooms to be very spacious, the materials and finishing touches to be of a high standard, always looking brand new, and all the mod-cons like a large flat-screen television, mini-bar (all items here are included in the room rate) and Bose iPod docking stations. The bathrooms, equally spacious and soothing, are fully equipped with middle size Voya products, which smells delicious and are used in the Finsterra spa.
Like with everything else at Martinhal, there is a fairly varied choice of places to eat. A deli at the entrance of the resort entrance serves food and beverages throughout most of the day and closes in the late afternoon. There is also the Club 98, tennis club, bar, where snack-food and beverages are served throughout the day. The pool bar is open for lunch and close by, the very smart, all white As Dunas serves seafood, a local speciality that comes very highly recommended and is open throughout most of the day and in the evenings. Otherwise there is also Os Gambozinos, an Italian evening option, and O Terraçao, where breakfast is served, and which is also open for dinner.
We tried O Terracao, which sadly failed to impress as it was so noisy due to rowdy tired children running around, and the décor felt extremely cold and temporary (including the office chairs, which were somewhat surprising to see in a restaurant). The food itself was bland and overcooked, and although the menu looked enticing, the restaurant fell short at a high-end resort that we otherwise rate highly. Breakfast was also a manic experience, with yet more children being noisy, meaning it isn't the ideal place to start your day if children aren't your thing. The food was presented as buffet and the selection on offer was of a good standard and varied to keep all tastes happy.
The beach is just a couple minutes' walk away. Fairly spacious, the bay down below is rarely full of crowds due to the fairly remote location of Sagres from Faro airport. However, the water is deceivingly cold and actually takes all summer before it is of a reasonable temperature - hence why you probably won't see the locals taking a dip until September. The waters here are fairly calm. Sagres is also known as one the region's top surf spots, and to find the waves you need a car or a bike.
Hotel reviews based on comfort, location and price ratings of its categories
Hotel reviews based on its services and facilities.
Mark out of 10 for geographical location
flights June : average price