I'm sitting writing this from my home in Bristol, it's 26 degrees outside which is quite unusual for a British summer isn't it? I love the heat. I never complain when it's sunny but without a cool pool to slip into and a cocktail in my hand it's just not the same as being on holiday. So as I think about our Mark Warner holiday to Sardinia I'm feeling rather wistful and suffering from a serious case of the holiday blues...
In 2016, we were really lucky to go on two holidays with Mark Warner. One sun and one sea. We skied in Val d'Isere, an incredible experience and our summer escape was to Levante, which was just stunning. It was then that we caught the Mark Warner bug.
Skipping a holiday in 2017 due to house renovations was a sacrifice but this year we were more than ready for a break and chose to book with Mark Warner because I honestly can't imagine any other way now! And I've heard SO many people say that. There's a reason that holidaymakers stay loyal to Mark Warner and it speaks volumes when you find out people are on their 2nd, 3rd or even 10th trip away with them.
Picking a destination was hard but we settled on Perdepera Beach Resort in Sardinia as neither myself nor my husband had visited before. We were both intrigued by what this little island had to offer; with its long golden beaches, turquoise water and mountains that stretch as far as the eye can see. It didn't disappoint.
Flight and Airport Transfer
Mark Warner charter their flights which makes an enormous difference and gets the holiday off to a calm and relaxing start. We flew with BA from Heathrow to Cagliari airport, it was around a two-hour flight and really easy going. The red t-shirts of the Mark Warner staff are a welcome sight, they usher you seamlessly into coaches for the transfer to the hotel. Again, this makes the whole experience super easy and chilled which is exactly what you need, especially when travelling with little people.
There is a 2-hour transfer from the airport to the resort but the scenery is so beautiful and the deeper you go into the island the prettier it becomes. Perdepera Beach Resort is small and quaint and very authentic. The accommodation is homely and comfortable, set in individual stone rooms and split mezzanine houses as opposed to one big hotel.
The Resort and Water Activities
The on-site restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were staying on a full board basis so all meals were included as well as wine at lunch at dinner.
There are three pools: one for children, one for adults and a large family pool at the heart of the resort. The pools are really well maintained with a lifeguard on duty. Beach towels are available when you arrive and can be swapped midweek. With a five-year-old we spent A LOT of time at the pool, it was great that it was so close to the bar area which meant we could sit and have a coffee while Rose played in the shallow baby area of the main pool.
We met so many other families with kids the same age so we ended up hanging out together at the pool most afternoons. The kids had the time of their lives with the giant dolphin and swan inflatables and the adults got to join in the fun by taking aqua aerobics classes in the afternoons!
As with all Mark Warner holidays, the resort is set just a short stroll from the private beach where all the water and beachfront activities take place. There's a beach briefing the morning after you arrive and this is the time to find out about organised activities such as SUP yoga, a two-hour kayaking trip along the beach or a half day snorkelling trip to an underwater paradise.
The watersports equipment is included in the price of your holiday and you're free to take out a sailing boat, stand up paddle board, windsurf or kayak. The beachfront staff are really helpful and will show you how to use the equipment if you're not sure what to do. They operate a flag and tag system to ensure you stay safe.
We booked the snorkelling trip which was absolutely fantastic and I wholeheartedly recommend trying snorkelling if you've never done it before. The trip cost about £28.00 each which is worth every penny because it's such a unique experience. It was quite hot while we were there so the water was nice and warm and we got a chance to see lots of colourful fish as well as diving through underwater caves.
Over the course of the week, we met loads of people and at least two of the families we spoke to have been returning to Perdepera Beach Resort for a number of years. You get a real sense of what is important on a family holiday. You want a break and you want to know your children are safe. Which leads me on rather nicely to the exceptional childcare Mark Warner offer.
I think it's fair to say Mark Warner is well-known for the childcare they provide because it's faultless! Rose was a member of mini club (3-5 years) the childcare is run by British nannies and there is a very strict ratio of nanny to child. The resort ensures that the children have the same nanny for the duration of their stay.
We chose morning sessions for Rose so that we could spend the afternoons doing activities with her. Rose has been at school for a year and has done various holiday clubs so she's used to being dropped off. In fact, she was raring to go and didn't want to leave when it was time for us to pick her up. The childcare centre is amazing, it reminded me of a mini school with lots of toys, books, games and crafts for the children to play with. There is a board outside with the list of activities for the day so you always know what your child is going to be doing. If you're lucky you might see them heading off for a tennis lesson or down to the beach to try windsurfing or sailing.
It was wonderful to watch Rose flourish throughout the week and she was beaming after every session. We were made to feel completely at ease and totally trusted the childcare staff with Rose, especially when they were doing anything near the water. Rose had a life jacket on at all times and I honestly felt from observing that Rose’s Nanny looked after her as if she were her own child. The staff don’t let the children out of their sight and are constantly talking to them and reassuring them which in turn, makes the parents feel totally relaxed because we all know how hard it is to let our little ones go.
As well as the daytime childcare sessions there is also an evening listening service from 7.30pm until 10.30pm. There is an early tea for children at 5.15pm which left plenty of time to go back to the room, give Rose her shower and change into PJs ready for movie club. There are little beds and sleeping bags in the movie room and the children are put into the same bed every night so it’s familiar for them. Rose was always fast asleep well before the movie ended. We would pick her up around 9.30-10.00pm and tuck her straight into bed back at the room.
When we're back at home and in 'real life' Rose is never left with a babysitter so to have the daytime childcare plus the evening listening on holiday is wonderful. It allowed Justin and I to spend some really valuable time together and we got to be a couple again which is what holidays and time off work is all about.
The food can really make or break a holiday, can't it? At Perdepera Beach Resort meals are served 'buffet style' which is our idea of food heaven! There is so much choice it's a good idea to sweep the food-laden tables to get an idea of what you're going to put on your plate. There is absolutely masses of variety from cold starters and soups, an array of salads and bread and more hot meal variations that you can shake a knife and fork at. There must be a whole army of chefs beavering away behind the scenes in the Perdepera kitchens.
There is something for everyone and the standard is very high. Although it's a buffet it doesn't feel like a 'free for all'. Dinner is a relaxed affair with guests sitting in the outdoor covered restaurant soaking in the last few rays of sunshine and enjoying a good glass of wine with a gorgeous meal and even better company.
Breakfast was very good with a selection of continental items as well as cooked. We're vegetarian but found ample options and the morning chef was happy to make plain omelettes for us which was lovely.
I could have lived off the salads at lunch and dinner as they were amazing. I almost didn't have room to sample all the local Sardinian pasta dishes. Yeah right. Who am I kidding? It was spaghetti heaven, seriously!
Wine is available at lunch and dinner and there are reasonably priced cocktails and soft drinks available from the bar when the restaurant was closed. We had a small bar bill at the end of the holiday which was mainly coffee throughout the day and ice cream, obvs.
I do only have Levante to compare this summer holiday to and I will say that Levante is very posh and shiny in comparison to Perdepera. Yes, the room we stayed in was more traditional, but what it lacked in polished fixtures and fittings it made up in oodles of charm.
If you're after 5-star glitz and glamour then Perdepera may not be for you. But if you truly want a family-friendly experience with like-minded holiday goers who you can eat and drink the free-flowing wine with while watching your kids dance barefoot to some crazy Italian song. Go ahead and book it now!
Seriously, just book it and you'll never look back.
It's taken me an age to write this post because there is just so much to say and we crammed a lot into our week. Mark Warner holidays are faultless, the staff go above and beyond to make your holiday the best it could possibly be.
The Perdepera Beach Resort is beautiful the childcare faultless, the food sublime and the activities unforgettable.
And the ONLY question I had on my mind when we returned from this holiday was...
Which Mark Warner holiday should we book next?
*We received a discount from Mark Warner in exchange for a feature here on the blog, however, I would gladly pay full price and will continue to rave about Mark Warner to anyone that will listen!