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September 4, 2022

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Forte village is located just a 45-minute drive from cagliari airport

It’s 8.30pm on a sultry Sardinian evening and I am contemplating the heavenly aroma emanating from the ravioli with summer truffles set before me. I’m at the two-Michelin star restaurant San Domenico in Forte Village Resort on Sardinia’s south coast. The sun has dipped over the horizon, alleviating the hothouse-like heat of the afternoon. The waves of the Med are lapping onto the shore nearby and I’ve got a glass of crisp Vermentino on my hand. I reckon life couldn’t get much better. 

Then it does, briefly. A dolphin hoves into view about 25 metres out, breaching the surface of the water and causing mild commotion among the diners. It is quite the spectacle and transfixed us for a few minutes before it glided off to surprise diners elsewhere. I return to my truffle pasta: a signature dish of the restaurant, which migrates from Imola in northern Italy to Sardinia for the season, it turns out to be as thrilling as any impromptu dolphin sighting. The size of a small pancake, its surprise is a yellow egg yolk in its centre, providing even more depth of flavour to the dish. 

The five-star villa del parco

Why stay here

It’s a peak experience among many we had during our stay at Forte Village, an upscale resort whose USP is providing a vacation with everything at your fingertips. Just a 45-minute drive from Cagliari airport, the resort covers an area of 50 hectares of dense tropical forest plus a stretch of dazzlingly pretty coastline warmed by its own microclimate. Opened in 1974 by Italian-born hotel magnate Charles Forte as a holiday park for sports-mad guests, over the decades it’s changed hands and it’s now a swish oasis of luxury with five five-star hotels, three four-star hotels, 40 suites and 13 luxury villas with private gardens. 

But it’s not about accommodation alone – Forte Village’s specialty is offering activities for those who want to do more than lever themselves on and off a sunbed during their stay. Had I possessed more energy I could have gone boating, taken a Zumba class or trained with a champion boxer. 

We were installed in the five-star Villa del Parco, one of the Leading Hotels of the World and enveloped by so many lush trees it’s impossible to discern the hotel’s shape from the outside. But no matter, because inside it’s all understated elegance. Our sizeable room was decorated with well-chosen pieces: a buttoned headboard, an expanse of distressed mirrors above and a handsome dark wood desk were complemented by neutral walls and floor. A floor-to-ceiling sliding door opened onto a wrought iron balcony that overlooked majestic palms and hibiscus. The bathroom, with a floor of gorgeous travertine marble, had walls painted in a muted blue that I immediately decided to copy in my bathroom at home. 

Relax in one of the pools at acquaforte thalasso & spa

What to do 

We were here for Sardinian R&R and excellent Italian cuisine, and we got that in spades. We spent our days on the resort’s private beaches, where famous Italian footballers on the sunbeds near us were pestered for selfies by excited kids. Between stints dozing under our umbrella, we’d cool off in the clear, shallow waters of the sea, little silver fish darting between our feet, gazing at the yachts moored in the distance and the rugged hills that jutting up behind the village. 

When the blazing sun became too much for these pasty Brits, we’d retire to the resort’s famous Thalassotherapy spa, arranged under the forest canopy in a series of winding covered walkways. Its six pools of varying degrees of saltiness and temperature are said to have a detoxifying effect, and certainly, floating on my back in saltwater staring up at waving palm fronds was more relaxing than I anticipated. 

The spa offers a wealth of wellness programmes for weight loss, detox and health, but I was here for a relaxing beach-and-food holiday and opted for just one treatment, the spa’s signature honey-and-salt massage. In a glass-sided room with only forest creatures looking on, the expert Alessia massaged salt, honey and oil into my skin and then hosed them off while I lay dozing on a heated waterbed. The contrasting textures made for a lovely sensation and left my skin soft and wonderfully aromatic. 

There are many restaurants and bars to choose from at forte village resort

Eating and drinking

Afternoon siestas set us up nicely for dinner, which is a night event at Forte Village. In summer there are as many as 21 restaurants on site – many, like San Domenico, migrate to the resort for high season to serve Italian haute cuisine to the well-heeled. We got our evenings started at the resort’s wine bar run with bustling efficiency by Sofia. On a terrace in the central piazza and flanked by designer clothes shops we sipped Sardinian wines and nibbled at a generous plate of cured local meats and the sharp pecorino sardo cheese while Gaston, an Argentinian bard, entertained us with his eclectic song line-up that encompassed both Coldplay and Hank Williams. 

We dined at Belvedere, on the roof terrace of our hotel, a gourmet eatery whose chef executed an excellent fusion of Italian and Japanese flavours. A more informal meal at Sardinian restaurant Sardo centred around the rustic dish of curlurgiones, pasta parcels stuffed with potato, pecorino cheese and mint. At Le Dune, on a terrace overlooking the glassy Med where fishermen were hauling in their nets, Italian food was served with imaginative twists. 

The presidential suite at hotel il castello at forte village resort

Verdict and how to book

From the fine food to sporty activities to beach or spa-based relaxation, Forte Village has it covered. It’s a Sardinian oasis where a dedication to high quality ensures guests won’t want to leave. They can guarantee everything but the dolphins. 

Forte Village Resort has rooms from €530 (£458) per room per night based on two adults sharing a deluxe bungalow on a half-board basis (excluding drinks); 

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