Liz McIntyre and family explore the stunning Delphina resort of Valle dell’Erica on the island of Sardinia
As far as firsts go, this one is pretty special. It’s our first family holiday overseas and the first time our daughters, Tilly (five) and Harriette (four), have been on a plane. Until now, they have only experienced the beautiful landscape of Britain.
We’re taking them to the Delphina resort of Valle dell’Erica, a five-star beachfront hotel on the island of Sardinia.
The take off is as magical as we’d hoped, the girls flap furiously to ensure we get up up and away, oblivious to the smiling faces around them.
On arriving at Sardinia’s Valle dell’Erica Hotel, they stand open-mouthed, rapidly trying to process the azure blue of the sea and the rugged shore line that contrasts so starkly with the contemporary white furniture of the terrace.
Of course, as with all kids of this age, wonder soon transitions into excitement, and in this case culminated in a series of shrieks and screams, dances and hopping-pleas to plunge into one of the six onsite salt-water swimming pools they could see sprawling out beneath them.
My other half and I are shown to our spacious family accommodation which, like the other villas and rooms at the resort, is hidden among natural herbs and wild scented shrubs that enhance the rugged feel of the 280,000m parkland in which the hotel sits.
We have a private terrace that boasts views of the coastline, two bathrooms with ocean facing showers that allow you the most incredible views, as well as two comfortable sitting areas.
It’s been a long journey for us and the beds look inviting, but through a child’s eyes, there’s a whole world to discover!
We walk (or more accurately, are dragged) down the path towards the inviting water and are enshrouded by the most hypnotic scents of Jasmine and other fauna that grow wildly all around the resort.
The girls are fascinated by the geckos, busily making their way from tree to tree before they’re distracted by the laughter of other children who are equally engrossed in their games and splashing around in the shallow waters.
The atmosphere of each of the pools is welcoming but with two inexperienced swimmers, we found the family pools were a joy. They boast fountains to squeal under and rocks to explore and climb over. The deeper pools are just a few metres away, ideal for parents wanting to keep one eye on the frolics that are unavoidable and entirely welcome. There are also pool-side cafes, a swim-up bar which is a real novelty for my two and ice cream in abundance close to every site.
The resort itself is east of the Straits of Bonifacio, and sits in front of the uninhabited island of Spargi. Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria bask in the distance while Corsica bathes in the lapping waters that surround it just a few miles away. The resort encompasses two of Delphina’s hotels, Dell’Erica and La Licciola, which between them have 271 rooms. The family facilities are second to none and from their very first visit, our girls can’t wait to spend more time at the kids club, Ericaland.
I’m a parent familiar with the cloak of guilt that suddenly appears when the ‘having a couple of hours to yourself’ conversation arises. Here, there’s no need to wear it. The club is totally inclusive and parents can stay all day if they wish, taking part in the many and varied activities which run from 9am to 10pm.
There’s a creche which is cool in the hot Italian sunshine, offering all the facilities any nursing parent could wish for, while older children from the age of three to 14 can make friends and enjoy everything from treasure hunts and mixing Harry Potter spells, to winning medals in the Olympic games and having fun in the soap bubbles lab. My girls particularly enjoy Junior Masterchef and making pizzas in the kids only kitchen which boasts its own wood-fired pizza oven. (It’s kids-only, apart from their very own Children’s Chef of course, who supervises all culinary activity).
If your kids choose not to eat with their new-found friends at Ericaland, then families can take their pick of six restaurants and with a fussy eater in tow, this is pure bliss. Platter after platter of inventive dishes are there to be enjoyed, fish and lamb are typical of Sardinian cuisine although this is by no means the limit of the menu. There’s plain food available that is palatable for even the fussiest of children and of course, endless ice cream.
If your little ones have chosen to abandon you for a few hours, then time can be whiled away at the Thalasso Centre and Spa, nestled in the middle of the resort. This oasis of peace and serenity allows parents a few quiet moments. I was new to the concept of thalasso and soon discovered it to be the epitome of relaxation. It involves using heated un-recycled seawater that is continuously drawn from the ocean leaving both you and your skin feeling totally invigorated. The pools within the spa are as luxurious as the surroundings, and as becomes the norm at this stunning location, the views are spectacular.
Apart from the range of activities available through the miniclub there are many other ways to entertain your little people.
There are beaches within walking distance of every room, although to the joy of shorter-legged guests, you can hail one of the ‘golf buggies’ to drive you to wherever you wish to go (they’re are also perfect if you’re laden with buckets and spades as we often are).
The waters are shallow and there’s a multitude of little hidden coves to choose from if you’re looking for an exclusive family spot that’s just for you.
The hotel chain also has a fleet of boats, a great opportunity for families with older children who can join one of the island tours, while those with a thirst for adventure can take a private trip and visit some of the best snorkeling sites nearby – the bread and cheese on board is to die for!
But our adventure has come to an end, this first for our little family is over, but what a time it’s been…and fancy missing the first flight you were ever booked onto!
How to get there: Flights leave from Gatwick daily and take just 2.5 hours to Olbia airport. Transfers can be arranged through the hotel which is around 45 mins drive from the airport.
Best time to go: May – October
Price: For a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children under 12) the junior suite Mirtilla starts from £555 per night in half board (breakfast and dinner)
The family suite, Erica, has a sea view and 2 connecting rooms, starting from £634 per night in half board (breakfast and dinner)