Discover the spectacular resort in Sardinia that's taking family breaks to the next level
With a kid’s football academy run by Chelsea FC and an unrivalled spa, Forte Village Sardinia has become the go-to resort for an active family break
As a strength and conditioning coach with a number of high-profile clients, it takes a lot for a holiday resort with sporting credentials to impress me. I’ve taught the best athletes at some of the world’s finest hotels. And, on a recommendation from one of those clients that I really do trust – someone who travels for a living – I booked the family in to Forte Village Sardinia for a week. Then I just forgot all about it until it was time to pack. I did no research; I just went with the flow.
The island of Sardinia (I now know) sits to the west of mainland Italy, floating between the Tyrrhenian and Balearic Seas. Its nearly 2000km of coastline is studded with sandy beaches but its hinterland is all rugged mountains and forests. Peppered with more megalithic monuments than anywhere else in Europe, Sardinia has its own dialect, culture and cooking traditions.
All that combines to produce more centenarians than anywhere else in the world. Perhaps it’s the mix of lifestyle and genetics but the consensus seems to be that the food culture of the island is the quintessence of the lauded ‘Mediterranean Diet’ – not so much pizza and heavy cheeses and more plant-based dishes rich in good oils, beans and fish. Combined with activity, this diet seems to hold the secret to a long and very healthy life. >>
After a 45-minute drive from Cagliari, Sardinia’s southern airport, my wife, son, daughter and I arrived at the sporting haven that is Forte Village, appropriately, feeling hungry. There are eight hotels (five of them five-star and some with their own dedicated pools), stand-alone villas and 21 restaurants. All are set in the 116 acres that make up the resort, with blue sea and flawless white beaches to one side and the mountains behind.
The overwhelming impression is of green – lush gardens and semi-tropical plants and trees heavy with flowers and fruit. It’s big but it all feels luxurious and manageable – classy without glitz and less a generic ‘resort’ than authentic Sardinian in style. Forte Village is private but it’s as far from impersonal as you can get. Guests whizz around on bicycles or in golf buggies. It’s all action – this is the original resort dedicated to family activity – but there’s a peace about it too that comes, we discovered, from the seamless, exceptional service of an army of friendly staff.
So to eat at the Pineta restaurant. What a dinner. This is the opposite of a boring hotel buffet – it’s a feast packed with more fresh food than I thought possible. It’s top-notch nutrition – fish grilled for us, just as we like it. Pasta cooked to our taste; a variety of vegetables, fruit and herbs that sent the head spinning... and tomatoes that tasted just incredible. We tried several of the many other restaurants but kept coming back to Pineta. >>
We’re pretty vigilant parents but the Village worked its magic despite our anxieties. Four-year-old Savannah went off to Barbie Academy and Children’s Wonderland (she loved them) and threw herself into the Baby Disco every evening. Samuel, nine, enjoy what Forte does best – the football academy under the direction of Chelsea Football Club. This is where Inter Milan comes to train, alongside the national teams of countless other countries. Some of my most peaceful moments were sitting by the bar with a pineapple juice watching Samuel enjoying himself with hordes of other kids. Honing his football. Concentrating on sport. Burning so much energy that ice cream for dinner was, for once, a non-argument.
So I watched the football and looked forward every evening to the dads’ game alongside pro-players we’re used to seeing on TV. These are mixed ability, mixed generation teams – there’s lots of competition as well as a laugh and a slap on the back.
My wife Aguss did yoga, walked the trails, worked out and made the most of the beach. There’s a stellar gym, acclaimed thalassotherapy spa, impressive pools, basketball, rugby and tennis courts, hockey and cricket pitches, cycling for all abilities and even a go-carting track. This go-getting place is just unrivalled in the diversity of sports opportunities and Academies on offer.
Unbelievably - brilliantly - there’s not a dull moment and it all adds up to a falling-away of stress and a feeling that all’s right with the world.