Everybody likes to feel a bit special from time to time, but when you're piling onto transfer buses, fighting for a sunlounger or battling for the best bits of an all-inclusive buffet, it's easy for a family holiday to make you feel anything but. This is why, from the moment you make you way through Sardinia's Cagliari airport and spot a driver holding a card with your name on it, you have an inkling that your stay at Forte Village is going to be different. And if there's one thing a family holiday at this exclusive resort in Sardinia does really well, it's make you feel special. It's true, you might be one of many making a similar journey, to enjoy a similar holiday, but you certainly won't feel that way – because every step of this vacation feels exclusive. Like it’s all created especially for you.
Sardinia's southern coast is absolutely stunning
Where is Forte Village?
This 116-acre resort is perched on the edge of Sardinia's south coast, about an hour’s transfer from Cagliari airport. Set on a white sand beach (a fairly slim strip of sand peppered with unobtrusive sun loungers and umbrellas) it’s aptly named, as it really does feel like a little village of elegant, low-rise holiday homes set in luscious, established tropical gardens. There are eight different hotels, so upon arrival at the resort’s main reception you are swiftly dispatched onto a golf buggy to be taken to check in at your property’s front desk. As you zoom past restaurants, wine bars and designer boutiques, it feels like this village is huge. In fact you can walk from one end of the property to the other in about ten minutes so golf buggies are not a required mode of transport (unless you’re ten years in old, in which case it’s the coolest thing in the world, and nothing else will do!).
What is the accommodation like?
This is where the feeling of exclusivity really is perfected. Although there are over 700 rooms, suites and villas (with a choice of 4 and 5 star hotels), the grounds are so cleverly landscaped, with mature trees, bushes and shrubs surrounding all the properties, accommodation feels very private. There is a huge choice – with differing amenities catering for different requirements and budgets. The 4 star properties are still luxe, but easier on the pocket. You can opt to stay in a hotel, a seaside villa, a family suite with the kids on a very comfy sofa bed - the options are endless. UK-based Italian holiday specialist Sardatur Holidays can offer advice and talk you through the options as it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which option is right for you if you haven't visited the resort before. They're also great at pulling the whole holiday together (complete with flights and private transfers at a better rate than going direct).
Forte Village is not an all-inclusive resort, but there are half board options available, enabling families who wish, to eat breakfast and dinner at one of the elegant gourmet buffet offerings, complete with live piano music. Those preferring a la carte dining experiences are in for a treat - there really is something for every budget and taste. The launch of the new restaurant by 3 Michelin star chef Heinz Becks takes the food offerings to new heights, and with over 20 on-site eateries (including one just for kids) there’s somewhere for every night of the week. For a special dinner, the gourmet restaurant at Dune, on the sea front, is a fantastic experience. The children’s menu here deserves special mention. With 4 courses, like mum and dad, kids are treated to an incredible range of simple, delicious Italian cuisine, a very welcome change to pizza and chicken nuggets on offer on most kids’ menus. Ours were delighted when their sea bass and breaded chicken Milanese main courses arrived and were bigger than the adults’ plates!
What is there to do?
Forte Village prides itself on having something for every member of the family to enjoy at all times. There is a Children's Wonderland (from babies through up to teens) where mum and dad can drop their children while they head off to indulge in a spa moment or a spot of tennis training, but it’s also fine to head to Mario’s village with your little ones for some family time in the incredible surroundings. A fantastic mini world awaits, with a toddler-sized diner, hairdresser, TV studio and supermarket among others, and kids will literally spend hours here, lost in a land of make-believe.
For bigger kids there are a multitude of academies. Those who are football mad will adore the Chelsea Football academy – where expert coaches impart their skills and games are fit for the premiere league. There’s rugby, magic, fencing, swimming and a host of other academies to suit all sporting tastes. And the tennis courts and facilities are impressive. Those wanting to explore the site (or go further afield) can hire bikes (there are no cars around so little ones can whizz around on balance bikes with no concern). Kids enjoy an unusual level of freedom and many love zooming off to football practice on their own, with mum and dad safe in the knowledge the paths are safe.
The Oasis pool in the centre of the resort
Pools are plentiful – from the aquapark at the top of the resort, with slides, a pirate ship and even lane swimming so everyone’s desires are catered for. The Instagram-worthy central Oasis pool has submerged seating around the bar and loungers just beneath the water so you can tan while keeping cool. There’s a heated pool with sea views, a deep pool for scuba diving trials, a pool with see-through sides for those keen to parade or show off their synchronised swimming skills. And of course the glistening Mediterranean is right there too. Apart from the spa pool, kids really are welcome everywhere – it’s a proud family resort and no pool or restaurant is off limits.
If the sun gets too intense, there’s an indoor bowling alley. And speed demons (or those in the making) can go for a zoom around the go karting circuit in the resort's fancy Leisureland (which also houses a disco perfect for teens) set in the foothills of the surrounding mountains – picturesque and high tech, with a leader board and automatic lap timings so there’s no arguments about who really won.
What's not to miss?
There were many highlights for our family – some simple, others more indulgent. The massage at the Aquaforte Thalasso & Spa was truly out of this world and put right a bad shoulder that has been niggling for months. A wander along the beach to a quiet spot for a private swim was another high point, jumping in the waves completely on our own, enjoying the peace of nature in a quiet corner of a Sardinia’s most well-known holiday resort.
Views out to sea across the Forte Village resort
And a pre-dinner cocktail at the Mahiki cocktail lounge (with non-alcoholic versions for the kids) was one of those holiday moments you know will stay with you forever. It wasn’t cheap (four cocktails cost the same as our entire lunch at the pizzeria) but that hour and a half, relaxing on a swing chair, looking out across the water as the sun set, with a fabulous ‘80s playlist surrounded by magical tree lanterns, was utterly perfect.
Tips and tricks
There’s a piazza in the centre of the village where live music and shows are performed each night, with a psychadelic dancefloor at the top – this is where most families congregate after dinner. It’s a great spot for meeting up with friends from sporting activities or kiddie clubs earlier in the day, and a very family-friendly experience.
As the resort is not all inclusive, costs can rack up. If you’re driving yourself from the airport it’s an idea to stock up on a few big bottles of water. Likewise, ice creams are tempting when out and about in the day, but buffet dinners come complete with an ice cream area – where kids can add toppings and sauces to their hearts’ desire so if you can persuade your little ones to wait, it might be worth it.
Cocktails and wine bars serve delicious pre-dinner treats (and the local Sardinian wines are really good) – it’s a great way to start the evening off and if you’re a bit peckish while waiting for your 8pm dinner the aperitif snacks really hit the spot.
A 7 night stay at Forte Village this Summer starts from £5423 per family (2 adults + 2 children) including return flights, staying in a deluxe family bungalow on a half board basis, with Sardatur offering a saving of 15% off advertised prices. BA flights run from London airports. The Stansted Express runs every fifteen minutes from London Liverpool St station and takes just 50 minutes.