OK! hangs out in the millionaire's playground of Sardinia's Forte Village
When our plane landed in Sardinia, the captain informed us that we were in good company – Rihanna, Sir Elton John and Janet Jackson were all staying on this dreamy Mediterranean island!
Famous for its emerald-blue waters, the Italian isle has long been a celeb magnet and, during summertime, you’ll see a myriad of A-listers on board their yachts in the glitzy harbour of Porto Cervo.
Just 45 minutes after landing at Cagliari airport, OK! arrived at the lavish Forte Village Resort on the island’s south-west coast and immediately found ourselves eyeing up the two gleaming Maserati sports cars in the driveway.
This place is a millionaire’s playground and OK! was keen to feel right at home!
Why should I visit?
There aren’t many resorts where you can dine at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, kick about a rugby ball with Martin Johnson and take in a Salvatore Dali art exhibition.
But then, Forte Village isn’t your average resort. It boasts three Michelin-starred restaurants, a Chelsea FC football academy, a pond with pink flamingos and an outdoor ice skating rink.
It’s a vast, sprawling property comprising eight hotels offering extensive facilities. The resort, however, doesn’t appear overly big – many of the hotels are hidden within the 55 acres of lush vegetation and backed by the Sulcis Mountains.
Where can I stay?
Forte Village offers a range of hotel categories and styles with varying price tags.
Couples will love the tranquillity of the beachfront Le Dune, while the super-rich check into the Castello suites.
David and Victoria Beckham, Sting and Tina Turner have all stayed in the Royal Suite located atop Castello, with its private lift access and own rooftop pool.
Families may prefer the bungalow-style accommodation of Il Villaggio and Le Palme, while OK!, as a family of four, chose the Royal Pineta, comprising 34 double and triple rooms, either with a balcony or ground floor patio.
OK! stayed on a half-board basis, which allowed us to enjoy breakfast and dinner in many of the resort’s restaurants.
Our two interconnecting bedrooms were decorated in soothing Mediterranean hues and, from our balcony, we had beautiful views and aromas of the fragrant pine trees.
On our first night we sat on our balcony sipping a local Sella & Mosca Torbato sparkling wine before ordering a Nicoise salad with tuna and quails eggs from room service as our kids happily watched a DVD. Bliss!
What is there for families?
If your kids want to be the next Rafael Nadal, David Beckham or Jonny Wilkinson, this is the place for them. Forte Village ships in some of the UK’s top sportsmen to offer training weeks at their summer sports academies.
OK! was rather surprised to see former England rugby stars Martin Johnson, Austin Healey and Will Greenwood relaxing by the pool – until we saw them the next day teaching rugby to 40 kids! This summer also saw England cricketer Michael Vaughan working with Forte’s Cricket Academy, and there’s a tennis academy with 12 floodlit courts.
The idea for Forte’s Football Academy, using in-house Chelsea FC coaches, was developed after Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich had a kickabout at the resort with the hotel’s general manager, Lorenzo Giannuzzi.
Parents can also play against some of the stars in very competitive hotel-organised matches! If your teenager doesn’t want to sign up for an academy, the hotel’s dedicated Leisureland offers a bowling alley, go-kart track, trampolines, climbing wall and a Nintendo entertainment area.
Beach or pool?
There is a beautiful white sandy beach that runs the length of the resort, where the water is calm and shallow, so perfect for kids. There’s also a watersports centre with an array of equipment such as kayaks and pedalos.
One of the beach concierges helped us find our sunbeds when we arrived – the same ones are allocated for your entire stay, so there’s no need to get up at 4am to bag your spot!
If you want a change of scenery, there are nine swimming pools (both seawater and fresh) to choose from. OK!’s favourite was the one by Castello, where we taught our youngest daughter to swim, while both our kids loved the Baia delle Palme pool with its huge slides.
What can I eat?
With more than 20 restaurants to choose from, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Whether you want Japanese, Brazilian, Indian or Italian, Forte offers them all and more! You’ll find plush gourmet offerings at Gordon Ramsay and Le Dune, while on the other end of the scale, Aquarium is an eatery designed solely for kids.
OK!’s favourite lunchtime dish was a baguette filled with San Daniele ham and Sardinian pecorino cheese at the Thaermae del Forte Bar and our restaurant of choice was the Beachcomber, which overlooks the beach. Here we feasted on beef carpaccio, lobster linguine and the wonderful burrata, a creamy local mozzarella cheese.
Of course, being Italy, the OK! kids loved the wood-fired pizzas and handmade gelatos.
One evening OK! dined at Sardo, which serves local specialities such as the Carta da Musica Sardinian bread (literally translated as music sheet as it’s so thin) and succulent roasted suckling pig. After dinner we ordered a glass or two of sparkling wine and sat back to listen to a local band. Heaven!
Where can I spa?
The Thaermae del Forte is not the type of fluffy pampering spa you might be familiar with. Yes, you can choose one of their indulgent treatments from the lengthy spa menu, but the centre of this Roman villa-styled spa is its series of six seawater thalassotherapy pools, with massage jets, set at varying temperatures with different salt content.
As OK! dipped in and out of the pools as we were told that the therapeutic mineral-rich waters would help relax, restore and re-energise. You may bump into a footballer from Inter Milan, Bayern Munich or Juventus, as they’ve all used the pools for rehab programmes!
How do I get there?
Italian travel specialist Citalia (0844 415 1987; www.citalia.com) offers a seven-night half-board package, including return flights from London Stansted to Cagliari and private hotel transfers, staying at a four-star Il Villaggio bungalow at the Forte Village Resort, from £1,315pp.
Price based on September 2012 departure. A similar seven-night half-board package for departures in May 2013 costs from £2,585 for a family of four, with two free child places included.