The Costa Smeralda and Porto Cervo in high season can feel a little like shul on Rosh Hashana – a packed-to-the-brim, holiday fashion show!
But don’t be put off, for this Italian gem of an island has many facets. I fell in love with its wild and rugged natural beauty, rustic food and amazing hospitality towards families.
Sardinia is often seen solely as a destination for the super-rich, but go before peak season and you reap all the benefit of 5-star luxury, without the price tag to match.
Interestingly, the second largest island in the Med has quite a Jewish past. During the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius, 4,000 Jews were exiled there.
A settlement in its capital, Cagliari, with a synagogue followed.
The island is steeped in history; its catacombs are one of the few in Italy containing Hebrew inscriptions.
Prospering in the 14th and 15th century they were subsequently banished. In current day Alghero, as an apology and to rectify the injustice, a main square was inaugurated as The Square of the Jews by its mayor, inviting Jews back to this now idyllic island.
So, we arrive at Delphina’s Valle dell’Erica in the dark. Not until morning did I really take in the beauty.
A huge natural park in the north of the island and low rise buildings; suites made with natural stone, covered in plants and flowers that blend into the surroundings, so much so, that you almost feel alone on your balcony, despite the nearly 300 rooms.
We took my mum with us. On the continent, grandparents are a welcome addition to holidaying families and why not?
I want my mum to enjoy every minute with the grandchildren before they grow up and she’s also my best friend!
Sardinia is famed for its sandy beaches, nearly 2,000km of coastline and turquoise sea. Valle dell’Erica has beach in abundance; long stretches and little coves dotted around their own mile of shoreline; the sort of beach that you would expect to drive far off the beaten track to find, but here, it’s a stroll through fragrant flora and a beach bar offering service direct to the sand.
For us, food is key; we’re a particularly foodie family, so whether it be the kids eating their body weight in artisan ice-creams and sorbets or a cold glass of Sardinian vermentino and some local cheese and olives for me, quality matters.
Provenance and ingredients are priorities at Valle dell’Erica. The region, Gallura, is as big on food as it is on small, co-operative vineyards.
Unlike in the dim and distant past, I won’t go anywhere without a kids club. Ours are too young to entertain themselves and holiday is the only time I get to read a book. Ericaland is a dream come true; amazing, energetic, caring staff, from the crèche to teen club, the options are extensive both indoors and out.
The kids were more than happy, cajoled by their very own pizzeria and dedicated chef! Delphina has their family offering honed to near perfection; all baby paraphernalia, including nursery, pushchairs, sterilisers, changing tables and more are all free, as is a 24-hour baby food preparation area, complete with fridge stocked daily with fresh vegetable purees, stocks, fruits, yogurts and milks.
Active children have their own pool, mini hockey pitch, five a side football and volleyball courts to play to their hearts content.
Facilities aside – yes there’s golf, a destination thalasso spa and more – it’s the vibe here that I love the most.
Despite its daunting size, it feels private. No overcrowding by pools, but still there’s atmosphere.
A pianist at breakfast somehow isn’t annoying, no piped music and no try-too-hard clubby vibes.
Instead, quietly playing in the background to complement the vintage ice cream cart, over lunch you might hear Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole or Ella Fitzgerald; old school classics in their original forms.
Our room felt more like a villa. Overlooked by no-one, two balconies, our own entrance directly into the park and newly refurbished in typical Sardianian style, it served us well during the week.
Crucially, the living room was split off from the bedroom, making it possible for the kids to sleep without being disturbed by the adults.
We left just once to go to the picturesque Santa Theresa, a 10-minute shuttle-ride away.
A little retail therapy in a typical, Italian village with a lively square, flanked by cafes and bars was enough for us.
Valle dell’Erica in half term is a great call. Don’t wait for high season, its prices and people. This is a real option for a relaxed family holiday – and you get the best of everything at a fraction of the cost!
Caron stayed at Valle dell’Erica, Sardinia, hotelvalledellerica.com. A week for a family-of-four staying at the end of May costs from €3,748 for a Junior Suite on a HB basis, booking through Delphina Hotels, delphinahotels.co.uk. You can follow Caron’s latest adventures at pregnantcitygirl.com, instagram.com/pregnantcitygirl and twitter.com/pregcitygirl