There are hotels where children are just tolerated, then there are child-friendly hotels and then we have the super child-friendly hotels. Martinhal Cascais definitely qualifies for the last-mentioned category. After a 30-minute drive from Lisbon airport, we smell the sea as soon as we drive through the pinewood and enter the hotel’s grounds. When we stop in front of the large glass façade of the lobby, our daughters immediately spot the large playground between the villas. Yes, this sure is a child-friendly hotel.
However, before the kids can do any climbing, we get a warm welcome and a short explanation about all the facilities and activities at the resort and of course we want to explore the villa that we can call our own for the next couple of days. The ground floor has an open-plan kitchen, a comfortable living room and patio doors that open out onto a huge terrace. Upstairs, two spacious bedrooms and two bathrooms. Including everything a family with children may need: safety gates, kid’s cutlery, a complimentary basket of groceries, black-out roller blinds, etc.
If you are also fine with a bit less space, there are fabulous rooms and suites. The main feature in some rooms is a bunk bed that miraculously comes out of the wall and in the morning disappears into the wall again. A magic trick we had to show to our daughters over and over again. The suites have a living space that can be separated from the rest of the suite by a sliding wall. All rooms and suites have their own balcony and – whoever is in need of some privacy – several rooms have connecting doors.
Not only the rooms but also the other spaces in the hotel are beautifully designed and decorated. The 5-star hotel can even be labelled as luxurious, yet without the stiff ambiance. Because of the focus on children, the staff don’t care much about mugs that are knocked over or children’s fingers on a glass door. The pinnacle of child-friendly design can be found in the lobby: an enormous purple knotwork made of a very thick material. It is art, though art on which the kids can horse around. Still, they are better off outside in the playground that we spotted when we arrived here. More than 2,000 m2 of sheer entertainment: a zip line, large bounce cushion and a climbing tower for hours of unbridled fun. With a drink in their hands, relaxing parents can watch their offspring from the nearby terrace.
Need some cooling down? You can choose from no less than three swimming pools: a heated pool adjacent to the playground and the kids’ club, a non-heated inside and outside pool in the Spa and a large pool with a sunbathing lawn that is surrounded by pine trees offering plenty of shade – especially in summer. This part of the hotel can also be booked for wedding parties.
Martinhal Cascais is situated between two golf courses and is a mere 10-minute walk to the sea. It takes 15 minutes by car to reach the sandy beaches. Or drive to Lisbon, Sintra, Guincho or Cascais; these are all authentic cities that are worth a visit. For culinary delights, in particular seafood, go to the restaurants in the vicinity of the hotel. We had the most delicious freshly caught octopus. Traditionally roasted and served with a salad and boiled potatoes. Finger-lickin’ good.
Now there’s no reason for you not to enjoy your dinner at one of the restaurants of Martinhal Cascais. The restaurants O Terraço, Os Gambozinos and M-Bar serve good food and are child-oriented. Not only do they have an extensive kid’s menu but also a children’s play area supervised by a member of the staff who plays games with the kids. This was a first for us and a perfect display of their focus on children.
Every morning O Terraço provides a breakfast buffet. Although they also serve bacon and beans as part of a typical English breakfast, O Terraço mainly offers a healthy breakfast that includes fruit and vegetable smoothies, a variety of health foods and delicious bread rolls with or without gluten. Os Gambozinos has an Italian cuisine; their pizzas, pastas and ‘Trattoria’-style dishes are all mouth-watering. Furthermore, M-Bar serves quick snacks throughout the day. It is also a great place to linger on super-sized sofas with a book or magazine. For example, when the children are enjoying themselves in the kids’ club located in the same building.
This paradise for children deserves a special mention. The kid’s club, with over 700 m2 of play space, welcomes kids of all ages – from babies as young as 6 months old to overactive teens. A place of honour is reserved for the Vintage VW camper van that now serves as a play corner. Our daughters still can’t seem to stop talking about it. Various play areas have been set up to appeal to the interests of the different age groups; no child gets even the slightest chance of getting bored thus making it possible for parents to make a trip in the surroundings. It is also possible to have a babysitter come to your room. Parents travelling with a baby can have the baby concierge arrange all sorts of baby items beforehand. This special concierge makes sure that bottle warmers, high chairs, pushchairs, baby cots, etc. stand ready upon arrival. That saves parents a lot of hassle.
Martinhal Cascais is located near the Sintra Cascais National Park, alongside a mesmerising coastline flanked by a hilly countryside near the beautiful city of Sintra. The coast has an irresistible appeal to water sports enthusiasts, such as surfing, sailing, diving or going on a boat trip. It’s just as easy to organise a hiking trip or a horse riding tour, book a tennis court or rent a bike to explore the area. You won’t get bored!
# Serious thought has been given to the needs of a family with children. In such a manner, that the focus on children is not being exaggerated. Parents can have a great time here as well. The hotel has a good eye for design and is worth all of its five stars.
# Although not far from Lisbon airport, the hotel’s surroundings are very peaceful. Do not expect any large-scale entertainment but enjoy the peace and quiet, nature and each other.
# The great number of facilities makes it easy to stay here for one or two weeks without getting bored – also thanks to the possibility of making trips in the area. The resort is set up in such a way that it is easy for children and parents alike to make new friends. However, if you prefer to keep to yourself, there’s enough room to do so. Both literally and figuratively.