I had the biggest privilege to be invited back to Martinhal Cascais this year for their annual Luxury Family Brand Conference. Martinhal is an absolutely incredible place and they have pushed the boundaries when it comes to combining luxury and family-friendly. They have proven that both can exist together, and at Martinhal they really do – in abundance.
Martinhal is a family-run business. Chitra & Roman Stern are business partners who have created four stunning five star hotel resorts in Portugal. They also happen to be married and loving parents to their four wonderful children. They are entrepreneurs who are passionate about sharing Portugal with the rest of the world. But first and foremost they are parents who understand first-hand just what families want and need from a holiday experience. Together they have created a stunning empire of luxurious hotels spanning across Portugal. Martinhal can be found in Sagres, Quinta, Cascais and Chiado. All encompass the traits and qualities of a five star luxury resort and at the very same time offer a genuine relaxed and enriching family-friendly experience.
When you walk in to Martinhal, Cascais you immediately feel that you are somewhere luxurious. I think I used the word “fancy” the minute we drove in the gates. I don’t say this lightly but truly every single moment at Martinhal is spent feeling like you are being made a fuss of. The very first staff member you meet. The first piece of furniture you lay your eyes upon. The first drink you sip. All perfect. All luxurious. Every single thing about the experience feels… special.
This time around I found myself thinking about a family honeymoon. I can’t speak for everyone but I personally found it difficult to leave my son for three nights when we went on honeymoon. We got married after we had our son and therefore a luxurious honeymoon to Mexico or The Maldives just wasn’t really on the cards. I was happy to go to Rome for three nights. But I feel that somewhere like Martinhal would have been perfect. Imagine getting to experience THAT once-off luxury holiday without the guilt of leaving your children? A familymoon shall we say. You could get alone time if you wanted to avail of the really brilliant kids club and on-site babysitters. You could experience the Spa Facilities, Bike Rides, Walks and Dining and at the same time the kids would be having a ball. On top of this you would have some really special family experiences also. I actually think it would be perfect, and it’s only a 2.5 hour flight from Ireland. We flew with Aer Lingus and it was a really pleasant flight. My friend had her 7 month old baby with her and it was the perfect amount of time.
There is so much to talk about when it comes to Martinhal that I struggle with knowing where to start. For fear of rambling, and because I don’t want to miss out on anything, I’ll break it down in to sections. First things first – what makes Martinhal so family friendly? EVERYTHING. Even now that I’m home I’m noticing little touches on other people’s Instagrams and photographs. For me these were the things that really stood out.
- The handrails. Weird thing to mention right? THIS is what makes Martinhal so special. When you enter the lobby at reception there is the opportunity to walk down the stairs to the main restaurant and bar area. There is a standard hand rail for adults but under it, at small child height, is a lower hand rail for children. Like, WOW.
- Robes, slippers and flip flops for your children so they can feel just as special as you do when you head down to the Spa Pool (it is AMAZING and has an indoor heated pool connected to an outdoor pool that is surrounded by a fresh-water rockery. Like you’re genuinely sitting there asking yourself is this real life.)
- The kids club have their own heated pool that is encapsulated in a bubble dome. It means that the pool is appropriate in all weather and it also helps to keep it nice and warm.
- The food. In the “M Bar” restaurant every single dish has the option of being served as a standard adult portion or a child’s portion. I LOVE this. I love that children can have curry, pasta dishes and seafood without having to order an adult sized portion. I love that children’s choices are not limited and plain. There are of course plainer options also.
- The kids club in general. It’s really impressive. The staff are fantastic, the facilities are top of the range and it’s pretty much the stuff of dreams for your children. They have a beautiful baby-room where they will take babies from 6 months and then they have a large play area for older kids which has in door and out door slides and climbing frames, ball pits, toys and arts and crafts. The outdoor play area has amazing trampolines (two different types), a zip line, swings, slides, sand pits and much more.
- The vibe. It’s funny because everything about Martinhal screams luxury and yet everything about Martinhal feels family friendly. You’re looking at these beautiful pieces of furniture, food offerings and grounds and at the same time you’re hearing children laughing, playing and yes… tantruming. You’re never self conscious or feeling as though you have to tell your child to not touch that, do that or go there. It’s designed with children in mind.
It’s hard to believe that somewhere that looks this luxurious and “adult” could actually be so child-friendly but that really is what makes Martinhal so unique.
The food at Martinhal is incredible. The breakfast is out of this world. Every type of fruit you could possibly wish for and there is a good chance that it will be the nicest fruit you’ve ever tasted… just saying. They have all the regular hot food offerings including eggs, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes. There’s pancakes, a plethora of pastries and fresh-from-the-oven breads, numerous cereals, honey (on the actual comb, like COME ON!), overnight oats (muesli) and fresh green juices. It is beyond delicious and everything is so fresh. They have accessible plastic children’s plates and cutlery as well as a station that allows you to make freshly squeezed orange juice yourself (I just know Billy would love this). We dined at the buffet restaurant twice and in the below photograph you will notice myself, Laura, Kellie and Olivia loving life during our lunch break at the conference. The room is so bright, clean and modern. You might also notice the lovely Chitra Stern (owner of Martinhal) doting on Laura’s beautiful baby girl Milla.
After the conference we had the opportunity to relax and have a drink and I can also confirm that the Aperol Spritz and Gin Cocktails are amazing.
The actual conference was so brilliant and if you are a family brand I really can’t recommend it enough for 2019. Some of the speakers spoke about the amazing things that have happened in the previous 12 months as a direct result of networking that happened at the previous year’s conference at Martinhal. It is an amazing opportunity to showcase your brand and network with other brands and businesses from across the world.
I felt truly inspired after the conference. A full day of stories, anecdotes and advice from people who are excelling in businesses catering to or specializing in families. One brand that stuck out in particular was Trunki. Rob Law is the owner and founder of the hugely successful brand and he was massively inspiring. He was on the receiving end of one of the media’s most famous rejections on the tv show Dragons Den. His resilience and determination is something we can all learn from. He is living proof that even bad press (and I mean bad, you can watch it here) can end up being a positive in the long run.
Olivia Cannon was the MC for the entire conference and she did an amazing job. I had the pleasure of being asked to sit on a panel of bloggers for a forty minute panel discussion. It really felt like an honour and it was quite surreal. One of the best moments was when I talked about the fact that I originally set up my blog “for the craic”. Chitra had to later publicly confirm to the entire conference that it means something very different in Ireland than they may have been thinking. It was one of the many laughs we had on the day.
Hand on heart I truly hope that I will get to experience Martinhal with my son and husband. The only downside (as if there could possibly be one during such a fortunate experience) was that being in such a family-friendly and child-orientated place was a little strange when my child was not with me. He would have absolutely adored Martinhal and some day he will.
If you are looking for a special holiday then Martinhal will be right up your street. If you want a luxurious and high-class holiday that is exceptionally family-friendly then Martinhal is for you. It’s a high end holiday which may be a higher price point than your typical standard package-holiday but every single penny will be well-spent. There is also the option to go off-peak which many Irish people enjoy doing. There is nowhere like Martinhal and booking a family holiday with them will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.
If you decide to book, or if you’ve been to Martinhal please share it with me. I would love to hear about it on my Facebook page.
Chita and Roman Stern thank you sincerely for a truly wonderful experience at Martinhal once again. I hope our paths will cross again soon and that my little family will be holidaying at Martinhal very soon.
Disclaimer – I was invited to experience Martinhal and the conference as part of a media trip. However as always all words and opinions are completely my own. Thank you for supporting my blog, and the brands that support it too.