January 07 2010
After a decade investigating luxury family resorts, I have discovered two things. While there are several in Europe that are perfect for children, few work equally well for parents. And virtually none caters adequately for teenagers. Happily there is a glittering exception for which we now vote annually with feet and wallet. Forte Village in southern Sardinia is hardly new, but with its genius for reinvention it might as well be.
This year’s innovations include tennis coaching by Peter Lundgren, the man who honed Roger Federer’s skills. Trainers from Chelsea FC will also be raising youngsters’ game. Critically the kids’ club has been recreated as a children’s hamlet with three swimming pools and imaginative programmes for different age groups. There is even a junior restaurant reached on a “train”. For teens, the resort has its own go-kart track, bowling alley and disco (although an ice rink project has been abandoned as an eccentricity too far for the subtropical microclimate). What all this means is that parents can confidently spend time together – or at one of the world’s great thalassotherapy spas, where masseur Guido is gifted with“healing hands”.
What you do need to know is where in this jungly beachfront estate to stay. While many of the cottages have been enlarged, the secluded but spacious bungalows of Villa del Parco (second picture) are best for families. These have lovely terraces to which complimentary wine and canapés are delivered each evening. They are also surrounded by gardens perfect for games of hide and seek. Of the 21 restaurants in the resort, the most romantic is right here: tables at Belvedere look out over the treetops towards sea or mountains, depending on your mood. Choose the former and Marco will bring a round of Bellinis; for the latter he will propose Rossinis. Salute!