Hotelier Charles Forte is said to have fallen in love with the site where this luxury resort now stands when sailing around southern Sardinia half a century ago.
Despite many changes of ownership, Forte Village still bears his name. Now in Russian hands, it’s had a £40 million makeover in the past three years. Jonathan Prynn gives a guided tour…
The sheer scale of the 120 acres of Forte Village is almost overwhelming. There are more than 700 rooms in more than eight hotels, including the Castello, where the Presidential suite costs €10,000 a night; and 11 villas with butler service. Even with maps it’s easy to get lost. Cars are banned but electric buggies can be hailed.
The resort was built in the Seventies so older parts have a charmingly retro, even mid-century, vibe. The modern refurbishment adds a gloss of oligarch chic but the effect has not spilled over into vulgar. Dense plantings of endless watered palm and banana trees, bougainvillea and plumbago, give the resort a subtropical canopy that softens the worst of the mid-summer heat.
Unapologetically opulent: where the time-poor wealthy come to reacquaint themselves with the families they once knew. We saw three world renowned footballers happily hanging out around the pool with their children — much to the slack-jawed astonishment of our sons. The Beckhams and the Abramovichs are also regulars and all signs are written in English, Italian and Russian. Although it’s a full-on family resort, there are adult-only diversions such as the offshoot of Mayfair’s louche Mahiki nightclub overlooking the Mediterranean. The 1,200 staff — close to one per guest — are immaculate, impeccably trained and good English speakers.
The range of things to do is remarkable. There are 21 restaurants — from a pizzeria to La Terrazza San Domenico overseen by the two-Michelin-starred Italian chef Massimiliano Mascia — and 14 bars. There is a football academy run by Chelsea — former player Tore Andre Flo was coaching when we stayed — and a rugby academy, a chess academy set up by Russian former world champion Anatoly Karpov, tennis courts, classes in fencing, water polo, dancing and chess; and a go-karting track.
For children there is a nursery with its own vegetable garden and one-on-one staffing, and a Barbie house (the Barbie package including themed bedding, toiletries and towels is very popular with American guests, apparently).
That said, lounging on the white sand beach ogling the superyachts anchored offshore is also an attractive option. Even more relaxing is the Acquaforte Thalasso & Spa with its six seawater pools, each filled with a different mix of oils and salts. There’s even a private spa that can be hired.
Forte Village is a self-contained world apart, with few reasons to leave the compound. One is the 5,000-capacity outdoor concert arena across the road, where we saw Sting and Shaggy do their stuff. The Sardinian capital, Cagliari — famed for its medieval hilltop Castello — is about 45 minutes’ drive away.
If you’re looking for authentic Sardinia this is not for you. Even the shopping village is like a mini Bond Street, with a Versace and Gucci.
In a nutshell
Ideal for overworked families who are looking for an escapist mix of sun, supreme-quality dining, the highest quality childcare and children’s entertainment — but it comes at a seriously high price.
Rooms at Forte Village, Sardinia, start from €630 per night. Children under two stay free. fortevillageresort.com