Although Europeans have flocked to Sardinia as a summer playground for decades, it’s not on the radar for many Americans traveling with kids. We recently had the chance not only to experience Sardinia itself, but also to stay at Forte Village Resort on the island’s southern tip — one of the premier family-friendly beach resorts in the world and a destination in and of itself. Many of Forte Village’s counterparts in the luxury market tout a huge menu of activities and amenities for all ages, but nowhere near the mind-boggling number of choices on offer here.
Charles Forte (Sir Rocco Forte’s father) opened Forte Village in 1970 as a destination resort that would make the most of its beautiful surroundings in southern Sardinia. The property today is enormous yet feels incredibly intimate; there are 120 acres of gardens, 720 rooms spread over eight separate hotels, and 21 restaurants with 80 chefs. Each hotel has its own style and character, but each is so cleverly integrated into the leafy landscape that they flow together seamlessly.
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True to its name, Forte Village Resort really feels like a village; guest needs and essentials are available within a few minutes’ walk of any room. Staff and guests alike enjoy scootering and biking along the well-groomed pathways to get from point to point. With a compact and well-designed footprint, the property feels extremely safe; parents can feel comfortable allowing school-age and older kids the independence to explore and play on their own.
Forte Village’s 4- and 5-star accommodation options represent a range of shapes, sizes, views and price points. For more privacy, families can book one of the 11 independent villas, which include private gardens, pools and 24-hour butler service.
We found the food to be exceptional throughout our stay. Each hotel has onsite dining facilities for breakfast, but no matter where you’re staying, you’re free to sample the dining venues at any of the other hotels; settings range from lush waterfront gardens to rooftop terraces. Ample fresh fruit and vegetables, baked goods, charcuterie and made-to-order dishes were on offer at each restaurant we tried.
The cuisine is globally inspired and consistently high in quality, including the buffets. Highlights for us included freshly caught fish at the Beachcomber Restaurant overlooking the ocean; the a la carte menu at Le Dune Restaurant; and the exclusive Belvedere Restaurant, an artful blend of European classics and traditional Italian fare. Families also will love the many spots around the property to grab ice cream and snacks.
The resort’s long, powdery white sand beach is the focal point, fronted by crystal-clear water in undulating blues. While there’s enough wave action to keep kids happy, it’s shallow enough that smaller ones can wade out some distance without having to swim. With plenty of beach umbrellas and chairs, there’s no need to wake up early to claim a shady spot. Plus, the resort has so many other things to do that the beach isn’t the activity on any given day; it’s an activity.
For families, Forte Village delivers well beyond most all-inclusive resorts. Among the multiple swimming pools, the highlight for kids is likely to be Aquapark, with slides, tunnels and water toys. Young kids can enjoy age-appropriate fun at Children’s Wonderland, while babies and toddlers have a separate staffed nursery and mini club. Little Barbie doll fans will fall madly in love with the themed activities and branded toys at La Casa di Barbie. The just-for-kids Mario’s Village, meanwhile, occupies tots with a fire station, beauty center and cinema.
For school-age kids, there’s mini club programming geared toward their interests as well as Leisureland, with a go-kart track, bowling and a full-size football pitch. And finally, the Forte Fortissimo nightclub is geared just for teens.
One of the biggest differentiators at Forte Village Resort is the Sport Academy program, through which kids can take a professionally run lesson in more than half a dozen sports. The Chelsea Football Club leads soccer instruction; there’s also rugby, basketball, tennis, boxing, fencing and more. Less strenuous classes include cooking and chess.
Where to soak up the sun with kids of all ages >
Detox and rejuvenate at Acquaforte Thalasso & Spa, featuring six seawater soaking pools at different temperatures and with varied levels of salinity and mineral content (each of them is intended for a specific purpose). Or choose from a menu of massages and body treatments, as well as a comprehensive personal fitness program with a private instructor. The resort also has a new 300-meter private spa with three pools, a hammam, an emotional shower, private lounge areas and service for groups of up to 10 people.
In the mood for nightlife? Sample the live entertainment in the heart of the resort at Piazza Luisa, where families and couples alike enjoy music and dancing under the stars. In July and August, the open-air Forte Arena theater hosts concerts and performances from artists like Sting and Andrea Bocelli, with special access for resort guests.
With reliably sunny weather, southern Sardinia feels much less developed and laid-back than the northern part of the island and its international jet set clientele. The region offers sensational excursions and day trips; we visited Zuddas Caves (some of the oldest caves in Europe), the pre-Roman Nora Ruins and the delightful historic districts of Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital. We also found time to stop by Santadi Winery, part of the island’s emerging wine tasting route, which I wholeheartedly recommend.
Reaching Sardinia is easy from the mainland. We took a short 45-minute flight from Rome to Cagliari’s Elmas Airport in southern Sardinia. Flights from Italy’s main cities and other European hubs are inexpensive and frequent. The resort is less than an hour from the airport by car, along a scenic roadway that runs through beautiful villages and coastal views.
Editor’s Note: Amie received a media package in order to review Forte Village Resort for families. As always, all opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy.
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