Voted the 'World's Leading Resort' for 13 years running, the Forte Village Resort in Sardinia pretty much has it all.
Located on the island's south-western coast, 45 minutes' drive from Cagliari, the resort offers a choice of seven different hotels, 21 restaurants, an amazing range of facilities and infinite opportunities to have fun. Thanks to the chain of mountains just inland, this corner of Sardinia enjoys a special micro-climate that means temperatures never get too extreme.
The resort is set in 55 acres of green parkland, fringed by a long sandy beach. With a huge choice of activities, Forte Village is ideally suited to families - a paradise for kids while at the same time offering a relaxing Mediterranean holiday for parents.
As well as the beach, there are freshwater and salt-water swimming pools scattered around the resort, including shallow children's pools (that's shallow pools, not pools for shallow children). Sports facilities include a dozen floodlit tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts, and three five-a-side football pitches. There's also a practice golf course within the resort, and an excellent golf club a few minutes' drive away.
There is an excellent 'Five Star Sport Academy by Forte Village' with Chelsea FC Soccer School for kids from 5 up to 16 years old who train with coaches from the Chelsea team. The Tennis Academy runs from June to August with famous professionals and ex-professionals including the likes of Pat Cash on hand to train the youngsters.
As for watersports, there's a PADI-certified dive centre, qualified instructors to teach waterskiing or sailing, and a Boat House where you can rent all types of craft, from catamarans to kayaks and pedalos.
At the kids club near the beach for ages 2-12 (there's a separate nursery for the under twos) entertainers provide a range of games and activities. On the other side of the resort, and reachable by a mini-train, is Leisure Land, which has a go-kart track for aspiring Lewis Hamiltons, ten-pin bowling, trampolines and a disco.
If all that activity gets a bit too much for mum & dad, they can seek refuge in the Acquaforte Spa, which specialises in thalassotherapy.
When the inevitable cry of "I'm hungry" goes up, the only difficulty is deciding which of the many options to go for. The resort's restaurants serve everything from Brazilian to Japanese fare, ranging from gourmet dining (there are three Michelin star Chef restaurants: Gordon Ramsay, Forte Gourmet with the Italian famous chef Rocco Iannone, and Il Belvedere with Antonello Arrus) to a simple pizzeria, and - of course - a dedicated kids' restaurant. In the evenings, there's live entertainment in the piazza, the focal point of the resort.
There's really no need to leave the resort, but should you wish to spread your wings you can rent cars, mountain bikes or boats for excursions into the unspoilt interior of Sardinia or along the coast to nearby islands and beaches. Visits to the huge dunes at Baia Zafferanu and the flamingos at the Molentargius lagoon are among the other possibilities.
Why We Love It
Tell your children to bring their autograph books - there are training camps for top football teams.
In the heart of Sardinia, surrounded by ancient olive groves and vineyards, enveloped by the aromatic smells of rosemary, myrtle and bougainvillea, stands Su Gologone Experience Hotel, with its time-honoured walls and legendary hospitality. Originally a favourite local restaurant serving quality traditional dishes, Su Gologone became too irresistible to its patrons to the extent that guest rooms were added and the hotel was born.
Each room here encapsulates Sardinian tradition from the juniper wood beams right down to the authentic shepherding fabrics and white-washed walls with periwinkle inlays (the very same blue used to dye the traditional costumes of Oliena no less). The Art Suites are individually dedicated to iconic 20th century Sardinian artists, including sculptor Francesco Ciusa, with some featuring fireplaces, four poster beds and large terraces. The single Art Studio Suite used to be Giovanna's atelier, and is the perfect retreat for aspiring artists. This suite offers guests an outdoor double bathtub, verandah, private rose garden, butler service and artists equipment, and all just steps from the swimming pool.
The hotel was built up around the existing restaurant serving up fresh homemade pastas and lip-smacking roast meats on a hundred-year-old open fire - and these origins have certainly not been forgotten. Instead, what was once reserved for special occasions can now be enjoyed day-in day-out. Days at Su Gologone start with a no carbon footprint breakfast including Oliena honey, conserves, cheeses and charcuterie with breads and sweets fresh from the oven. Naturally they end with equally delicious seasonal dinners. If you ever encounter these rich aromas again they will take you back to long evenings on a Sardinian terrace with friends enjoying succulent porceddu allo spiedo (spit-roasted suckling piglet) and seadas al miele (honey fritters), glass of wine in hand. Guests can even take a wander through the herb garden, and select some infusions for dinner that evening.
You won't be stuck for activities at Su Gologone which offers guests a spring water swimming pool, tennis court, minigolf course, playground and fitness suite. Lack of time certainly won't be an excuse for those of you who fancy a paddle in a canoe, or a horse ride across the Barbagia landscape. There is plenty for the artistic types too, with classes in embroidery, sewing, pottery and painting. Alternatively, sit back with a good book in the Jacuzzi among the olive trees, sip a sunset glass of Champagne at the Tablao Sunset bar, find your zen with Yoga and Reiki classes, or completely switch off in the spa.
Once revitalised, you may have trouble deciding which of the many nearby wonders to visit first: a choice of ancient archaeological sites, the viticultural town of Dorgali, the dramatic stalagmites and stalactites of the Ispinigoli caves, the beach at Cala Cartoe, the astonishing Gorruppu gorge, the typical Sardinian seaside town of Cala Gonone... the list is neverending.
Why We Love It
The cellars host traditional wine tasting sessions - homage to the region's renowned Cannonau, the most ancient wine produced anywhere in the Mediterranean - complete with crusty flatbread and grappas.
Chia Laguna Resort
Chia Laguna Resort, on the stunning southern coastline of Sardinia, consists of three hotels booked on a half board basis and a range of villas that pull off that most difficult of tricks - appealing to both families and couples (although couples might want to avoid the school holidays!)
The elegant Laguna hotel is the Chia Laguna's 5* option, with 82 rooms and suites overlooking beautiful Chia Bay. Every room has a balcony, terrace or private garden, mosaic and marble bathrooms and very comfortable beds. Also overlooking the bay is the Laguna's exclusive restaurant, La Terrazza, which specialises in excellent quality Mediterranean dishes accompanied by a fine wine list. Guests at Laguna also have access to an exclusive VIP area on the white sands of Chia Laguna's beach, Dune di Campana, a short shuttle away. After a lazy day on the beach, enjoy a sundowner at Laguna's chic Champagne Bar.
The recently renovated 4* Hotel Village consists of 240 simple but comfortable rooms surrounded by strawberry trees and arranged around the resort's main pool. The hotel is also home to many of the resort's other key facilities, from the Wellness Centre to the Mini-club Kids Club and the boutique shops of the Piazza degli Ulivi where guests congregate - in true Italian fashion - in the evenings.
The hotel's Bougainville and Bimbi restaurants are also here, serving multi-national buffet cuisine and children's' meals respectively, while Bougainville is the breakfast and dinner restaurant for guests as Hotel Village is half board.
Above the Village sits the Spazio Oasi, with just 34 rooms and outstanding views down across the resort to the sea. The focal point here is a pool with a waterfall surrounded by gardens and reserved for guests of Laguna and Spazio Oasi. Spazio Oasi guests use the Bougainville restaurant for half board, except for those in Balcony Suites, who take breakfast and dinner at La Terrazza.
Other restaurants on site include Le Dune, the resort's main lunch restaurant, set back on Campana Beach. Choose from fresh grilled fish, pizzas and rice and pasta dishes, and come evening enjoy an aperitif at Chia, the restaurant's lounge bar. Elsewhere, Luna Restaurant serves gourmet Mediterranean cuisine, pizzas (because, quite frankly, why wouldn't you?) and the resort's very own Panino Giusto sandwiches of delicious prosciutto, pecorino, zucchini and tartare sauce (bellissimo), and turns into a bar and disco at night. The Steak House in the piazza, and the Pool Restaurant by the Village pool, complete the picture, and for a supplementary fee guests at the various hotels can enjoy the Dine Around programme where they eat in a different one of the resort's restaurants every night.
Activities on offer to all the resort guests include tennis, riding, trekking and a number of watersports from windsurfing and waterskiing to sailing, kayaking and diving. Less energetic guests can while away a day in the Chia Natural Spa enjoying massages, Turkish baths, a sauna, the hammam steam room, hydro-massages in dedicated pools and a dip in a hot tub with wonderful views of Chia Bay.
Why We Love It
Sardinia is famed for its beautiful coastline, and Chia Laguna Resort sits pretty in one of the most beautiful of all spots - the eponymous Chia Laguna.
Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu
Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu sits on the north coast of Sardinia, overlooking the clear waters of the La Maddalena archipelago, and provides a secret escape for those seeking tranquillity.
The hotel has 146 bedrooms and 66 comfortable apartments all of which are decorated with calming pastel colours to enhance the hotel's relaxing atmosphere. The suites are built over two floors and some boast a balcony Jacuzzi whilst the apartments are surrounded by greenery and feature an artisan kitchen and large terrace overlooking the gardens.
Dining in Poltu Quatu is varied with options including Bluebeck, a healthy fish-based restaurant overlooking the marina, L'Orsetto which sits in the town square and serves a tasty array of Sardinian and Romanian cuisine and Tanit a Mediterranean based eatery.
On-site facilities include a generous swimming pool, an inviting sauna and private gym. In the town of Poltu Quata there are more sports facilities including tennis courts, golf fields and a sailing school perfect for those seeking outdoor pursuits.
From the hotel take the free shuttle down to the private beach, head into Poltu Quatu (also called the 'hidden port') for a spot of shopping or visit the Aqua centre. Here you can enjoy an array of water adventures including snorkelling, diving, sailing and whale watching. Further out, horse riding excursions are available to ride amongst the rocky dunes of Sardinia's north coast.
Why We Love It
Enjoy a tipple at the marinas edge in front of the hotel as the sun sets over the distant cliffs.