Martinhal Village - Sagres
Developers Chitra and Roman Stern, working with hoteliers Nigel Chapman and Nicholas Dickinson, have completed their Martinhal project with the addition of a family friendly resort featuring designs by Michael Sodeau and Carole Taylor.
When Sleeper first visited Martinhal in May 2010, owners Roman and Chitra Stern had just completed the boutique hotel element of their development, with the remaining ‘resort village’ still in the final phases of construction. A year later, the project is now complete, and well on its way to establishing itself as one of Europe’s leading family-friendly luxury resorts.
The Sterns worked in partnership with UK hoteliers Nigel Chapman and Nicholas Dickinson, best known as the founders of Luxury Family Hotels (Fowey Hall, Woolley Grange, Moonfleet Manor and Ickworth) and Alias Hotels. With backing from Patron Capital, Chapman has recently re-acquired these properties, as well as other hotels added to the brand by its interim owners von Essen: The Elms near Worcester, New Park Manor in the New Forest, and Thornbury Castle, ten miles north of Bristol. “We are planning to take the old (and ‘new’) hotels on quite a bit from the previous trading formula – the market has changed its needs,” says Chapman.
Perhaps some clues as to the future direction of these properties under Chapman’s newly formed Halcyon Hotels & Resorts are to be found at Martinhal’s village resort; where the boutique hotel is targeted primarily at adult couples, the resort is emphatically a family affair.
At the heart of the resort is a village square, beyond which a series of one-, two- and three-bedroom houses spread inland. The square has an array of facilities to keep children of all ages entertained, whilst their parents can enjoy an early evening drink or a leisurely meal at the informal Oz Gambasinos restaurant. The Rapasinhos kids club (named after the Portuguese word for ‘little fox’) is geared towards younger children. Designer kids furniture by Magis – ‘Puppy’chairs, ‘El Baul’ containers and ‘Paradise Tree’ coatstands – keeps the creche in tune with the contemporary feel of the rest of the resort. The ‘Blue Room’ allows teenagers to hang out together and play a range of games from table tennis and table football to computer games. These areas will provide parents with a few hours respite from their broods, but the real beauty of Martinhal is that it encourages families to enjoy their holiday together. The El Mercado food store offers locally sourced ingredients and high quality pre-prepared meals so that guests can cook family meals in the village houses’ well appointed kitchens. A cinema above Rapasinhos shows sports events and family films.
The Sterns have identified a trend toward healthy, active family holidays and other facilities – a sports club, tennis courts, and additional swimming pools – are located at Club 98 on the Northern edge of the development. The club is also the gateway to a huge range of external sports activities, including surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing, mountain biking, horse riding, snorkelling and scuba diving. In addition Martinhal offers five swimming pools and a state-of-the-art gym.
Adult guests can escape to the Finisterra Spa, hidden away within its own secluded grounds. Maintaining the resort’s philosophy of ‘barefoot luxury’, the spa is wrapped in timber and features vaulted ceilings, with naturally lit treatment rooms arranged separately around the garden to provide an ambience of both privacy and seclusion.
Accommodations comprise 55 two- and three-bedroom Ocean Houses perched on the highest point of the resort with breathtaking views over the sea. In addition, 28 spacious two and three bedroom Bay Houses enjoy a quiet location on the eastern border of the resort, overlooking a wooded valley, with uninterrupted views of the Costa Vicentina National Park to the East and the ocean to the South. In the heart of the resort 39 one-, two- and three-bedroom Garden Houses are arranged around a large walled, natural garden, with a large children’s freeform ‘Oasis’ pool, along with a snack bar. The semi-detached villas are joined by a continuous high Algarvian garden wall, to provide both privacy and a carefree environment for families with younger children. Completing the development, ten individual Pinewood Houses are set apart in their own ‘close’ each with their own small private swimming pool.
The resort has been masterplanned by Matthew Wood of Conran & Partners, who has taken an environmentally sensitive approach with a series of low-rise buildings that merge into the landscape. The construction details were then delivered by JLTP Architecturo from Lisbon, who have used natural materials such as traditional plaster, stone and wood in the construction with much of the rock that was removed during the excavation process being recovered and used in the buildings.
The interiors have been designed by London-based designer Michael Sodeau in collaboration with Carole Taylor and Nigel Chapman of Four Winds Hotels & Resorts. The design team has taken inspiration from the dramatic beauty of the Western Algarve and architectural simplicity of the resort.
Their vision was to use simple forms and structures, in keeping with the exterior of the buildings and their surroundings, and create a very comfortable, homely yet luxurious interior with clean lines in an unobtrusive open plan style that would not get in the way of the magnificent views.
These ideas were then translated by Sodeau who has created a series of unique pieces for Martinhal through the use of muted tones and local natural materials, such as cork, cane and stone. Says Sodeau: “The décor is accented with the use of as much natural material native to Portugal. Everything is unique and has been specifically designed for this project to create a soft domestic feel, not your standard contract pieces”.
To this extent Sodeau travelled extensively in Portugal, sourcing a unique stone from the local town of Monchique for a series of tables and glass lamps from Porto-based glassware company Atlantis. He also worked with Granorte an old Portuguese company that recycles cork to produced a collection of tables and stools using a high tech pressed process and was able to find a local artisan to rekindle the old traditional craft of cane weaving using the reeds that grow naturally in the Algarve, commissioning him to hand-make a series of the cane woven lamps (cestaria em cana).
In addition Sodeau called upon Italian furniture company Gervasoni to produce his designs for a series of rattan floor lamps and Somerset-based Modus produced upholstery and furniture designs. He also designed a series of rugs produced by Christopher Farr in India and using a hard wearing fabric from Bute in Scotland, he designed a series of bean bags in a variety of colours.
Words: Matt Turner Photography: Courtesy of Martinhal