Portugal has been a destination familiar to European families for decades. The golden sand beaches of the Algarve have drawn a steady stream of visitors to the country’s southern coast. Lately, the country has come out of its shell, and travelers are booking tickets to the “California of Europe” in record numbers. The country has beautiful cities, charming locals, and stunning scenery. It’s the perfect destination for a family vacation and Martinhal Cascais sets the bar high when it comes to family friendly luxury in Portugal.
It can be difficult to find family accommodation that truly ticks all the boxes, but families will be pleased by the luxury accommodations at Martinhal Cascais. When coming from the east coast of the United States, Lisbon is about a 7 hour direct flight. The property is a quick 45 minute ride from the Lisbon airport and about 10 minutes from the beautiful fishing village of Cascais. The resort prides itself on being child friendly, and it goes above and beyond the definition.
Martinhal Cascais: Family Friendly Luxury in Portugal
There are several room choices at Martinhal Cascais. Deluxe Rooms have two twins or a super king bed and can be connected to another room if needed. All deluxe rooms are a massive 440 square feet with a luxurious bathroom that includes a shower and soaking tub. Deluxe Superior Rooms have a super king bed and bunk beds that fold down from the wall for kids (see below). All rooms have balconies overlooking the beautiful courtyard area and waterfall, perfect for relaxing with a cup of coffee or wine in the evening. A Deluxe Suite is another option for families. It has an extra 220 square feet of living space for families to spread out.
Another option is one of the twelve Grand Deluxe Villas, which can sleep six people comfortably. There are two bunk beds on the main floor and two full bedrooms and bath upstairs. These are 1100 square feet with two bedrooms and two baths (with showers, not tubs). The villas also include a full working kitchen, living area, patio, and balcony. The full tour of a villa is available below.
One of my favorite things about this property is that you can leave your baby gear at home. That’s right! Don’t bring your bottle warmers, high chairs, pack n’ plays, potties, or safety gates. This property has them all and they will deliver it to your room to make your stay hassle free with their Baby Concierge. Their drivers also have car seats so you don’t need to bring yours. What a novel concept!In room babysitters and evening baby room care is available for an additional fee.
One of the main reason families will want to stay at Martinhal Cascais is the complimentary kids club. Parents can leave their children while they head to the restaurant, stay in their room, or if they want, to Cascais or Sintra for the day. The play areas within the Kids Clubhouse (ages 6 months to 9 years) are divided by age, and infants have their own room to sleep. On the upper level of the Kids Clubhouse is the Fox Club, the area for 6 to 9 year olds. Here’s where there are arts, crafts, and games perfect for this age group. While the kids are engaged, parents can enjoy a cup of coffee and a book at the adjoining M Bar. During the summer, Martinhal Cascais offers an Explorer Club for kids ages 10 to 14 and the Blast Club for 15 to 17 year olds. Kids can enjoy special programs like biking, horse riding, surfing, and fun things like a pool party. Reservations must be made in advance, but it sounds like a great way to entertain older kids while on vacation.
Outside the clubhouse is a massive play space. This area is unsupervised, but it is surrounded by a gate and only accessible by a key card. Kids can jump on the in-ground trampoline, swing from a zip line, and play multiple sports. There are so many things to entertain the kids, they will never want to leave!
There are three restaurants available on-site for dining. All of them offer a children’s menu and even a BABY menu which featured different puree foods, something I had never seen before.
O Terraço is where families meet for a spectacular buffet breakfast in the morning (I highly recommend having this as part of your room package) or a finer dining experience in the evening. Near the entrance of the restaurant is an enclosed space where children can play while parents are eating or enjoying some quiet time.
Os Gambozinos is the Italian restaurant on site, offering family favorites such as pizza and pasta for lunch and dinner. This is a great place to have an afternoon coffee or lounge in the common space. If it is a rainy day, there’s a pool table and board games nearby.
M-Bar is located above the Kids Clubhouse and has coffee, snacks, and pastries available during the day.
Of course there are plenty of restaurants in Cascais to choose from if you choose to leave the property. The concierge can provide recommendations to fit your family’s needs.
Spa and Recreation
The spa at Martinhal Cascais is called Finisterra, or “End of the World”, a nod to the property’s original location in Sagres, located at the most southwestern tip of Europe. The spa offers a variety of therapies and treatments, as well as five treatment rooms, sauna, a steam room, and jacuzzi. Families who want to enjoy the spa might want to try one of the family treatments or sign up their tween or teen for a facial or manicure.
There’s an indoor heated swimming pool located next to the spa and it is separated by glass with an outdoor pool (not heated). There is also the Pool Hangout another outdoor pool and restaurant area open during the summer only. The resort is currently building another swimming pool near the M Bar that will be available to use as well. There is a fitness center on site with a fair amount of cardio equipment, weight machines, and weight machines.
Martinhal Cascais is located in between two Championship Golf courses, Quinta da Marinha and Oitavos Dunes. This is all part of the Sintra Cascais National Park, and the landscape varies between the stunning Sintra Hills, amazing coastline and UNESCO’s world heritage sites. Guests have access to the golf courses at special rates and can arrange tee times through the hotel.
Martinhal Cascais is less than a ten minute drive and an easy bike ride (bicycles of all sizes are available to use on property) from the town of Cascais. Cascais is a quaint village on the ocean and is perfect for a late afternoon stroll or day at the beach. Historically it was the summer residence of the Portuguese Royal Family in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Visitors may want to tour the 16th century Cascais Cidadela, a fortress that sits majestically overlooking the bay. The town is full of historical buildings, museums, and beaches, and many restaurants have ocean views.
A mile further away from Martinhal is the town of Estoril. The Estoril Casino is one of the largest casinos in Europe and the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s hero, James Bond. Estoril has beaches too, but lacks the charm of smaller Cascais. There is a coastal promenade that connects the two towns.
Another reason to love Martinhal Cascais is its proximity to Sintra, a stunning hillside town and UNESCO World Heritage site, a quick 20 minute drive from the property. From Lisbon, Sintra takes an hour to reach on the train. Sintra is unique in that it manages to have many historical monuments in a relatively small area. My husband and myself visited Sintra many years ago and it was magical. For us it was a priority to visit the Pena Palace and the Castle of the Moors. Staying at Martinhal had us on the road early and we arrived at Sintra and the Palace before any other visitors that day. Our family will never forget being able to explore the Romanticist castle before the tour groups arrived.
Martinhal Cascais is doing many things you won’t find elsewhere. The resort has some of the most spacious rooms in Europe (and we’ve been to twenty countries there, so we have seen quite a few). Their kid friendly programming takes it above and beyond many resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. The baby/toddler menu with meals tailored to these ages is a first, as is the play area within a restaurant for the kids to play while mom and dad eat. Then there’s the baby concierge that thinks of everything. Really, leave the baby gear at home and just head to the resort!
The real people to please are the kids, so here’s what ours thought:
“The indoor swimming pool was really nice and I loved the water buckets you could dump on your head.”
“The playground area was my favorite place to spend time and I wish we had one of those trampolines at home.”
“The staff was super nice and I loved being able to play inside when it was raining.”
What did we love the most? All of the above, but we really loved the family feel of the place. Children were embraced at Martinhal Cascais, and when you find a property like this, you count down the days until you return.
*Although I was a guest of Martinhal Cascais, these opinions are all my own.