Month: May 2018

Martinhal Cascais, Portugal. A Family Five Star Hotel – Review

Two weeks ago I had the absolute pleasure of attending Martinhal’s Luxury Family Brand Event and stay as a guest in their stunning Cascais Hotel (Total pinch me moment!!). I had heard many amazing things about the hotels before but I had never been lucky enough to experience it myself. But, the great things that I had been told about the hotel didn’t even begin to scratch the surface on how fantastic it really is.

Martinhal is a hotel chain that have luxury family hotels across Portugal. Martinhals motto is “Martinhal is a place where parents get to drink their cappuccino with the foam still on it”
If that isn’t every parents dream I don’t know what is! So, from their supervised play area in the restaurant, to their fantastic kids club, playgrounds, pools, trampolines, astro pitches and basketball courts – Martinhal really has you and your little ones covered.

 

I want to gush all in one go about what a fantastic time I had but instead I will tell you about my experience bit by bit. The childcare, the conference and the hotel.

The Childcare
Milla is six months old and breastfed so she came along too (She really is becoming quite the blogger!). The day care in Martinhal accept babies from six months old so it was perfect. As most mothers, I was a little apprehensive about leaving her especially with strangers and in a different country. We had a dinner the first night where Milla would stay in the hotel with a babysitter and then she would spend the full next day in the baby room of the kids club/day care. She is also fed on demand and in no structured routine so I was a little unsure of how it would all work out. But from the moment we arrived all those fears disappeared.

When we first arrived we were given a tour of the hotel (Which I will get into more detail a little later). We were having a look around the fantastic playground and two of the women who work in the kids club happened to be walking passed and stopped me. “Is this Milla?” She was in my arms and I said “yes” the woman replied and said “I’m Rita, I will be looking after her tonight”. Immediately I sighed with relief. There was a lovely sense of calm about her and the resort and for her to already know Milla’s name before we even arrived and to come and introduce herself was just the icing on the cake for me.
Rita arrived at our room just after I had gotten Milla to sleep in the bed. We co-sleep so this is always the easiest option to ensure she falls asleep easily. I mentioned to Rita that we don’t let Milla cry-it-out or self-soothe and that if she woke up it was fine to just play with her or hold her till I got back. And out I ran. I left my number just in case. Rita text me about an hour later just to let me know that Milla was still fast asleep. Amazing. The relief I felt from that one little text. I was so grateful! When I got back Milla was awake and so happy and content with Rita. Truth be told I think I was happier to see Milla than her with me!

The next morning when I dropped Milla into the baby room I was thrilled to see Rita was there as I was just so happy with how she had looked after Milla the night before. I gave another amazing woman Elsa her rough schedule and my number to text me when she needed a breastfeed. I also mentioned that she wasn’t used to a cot and she probably (most definitely) wouldn’t nap in it for them. I left her buggy and again ran out the door. With genuinely not a worry about a thing! I felt like my baby would be very safe. You cannot pay for that kind of ease. I text every now and again and Rita would reply “text as much as you want, that’s what we are here for” I also received this picture as I was sitting in the conference…

Honestly, can you ask for better than that?! I got a text to breastfeed her a few times, they also made her some homemade puree which she devoured. I popped over twice unannounced too- if we had a coffee break or if i felt my milk come in!! One of the times I popped over she was asleep in one of the girls arms. The girl was rocking her and I was just ecstatic. They really listened to what I had told them about Milla and respected it and I was thrilled.

I genuinely feel like the child care is just outstanding in Martinhal. To say all my child’s needs were met doesn’t half cover it. She was cared for in the exact manner that I as her mum would care for her. Not only is that very rare to come by its also priceless. I have never come across anything like it. This for me sets Martinhal high above the rest.

The conference
I had never been to a conference like this before. I have to say I was so inspired hearing all the speakers. All entrepreneurs and all with a different story to tell. A fantastic way for family brands to network but also a fantastic way to feel inspired!

Olivia Cannon was MC for the conference and is so inspiring in herself. She was fantastic! We heard from Rob Law-owner and founder of the now hugely successful brank Trunki  He told us about how a disastrous Dragons Den pitch ended up being the best thing that ever happened to him and how he has managed to make a hugely success business on the back of that bad press.

We heard from a panel of bloggers which my lovely friend Tracey was a part of. She had us all smiling and also crying laughing. Hugely inspiring again to hear how bloggers have made their own brand and built it through social media amongst other things.

We heard from Andrew Dent who is founder of Family Traveller Magazine. He actually told us how last year he attended the conference and through networking he met a man who helped him break American with Family Traveller Magazine. How amazing is that??

The hotel
As soon as I walked through the door (that had been opened for me by a beautiful member of staff) I noticed the fresh scent. Martinhal have a unique scent in their hotels. How amazingly unique is that? I also noticed how incredibly clean every where is. It was SPOTLESS which is also true for all of the kids toys, playgrounds and the kids club. Which, with four kids at home I was impressed to see!
The hotel is scattered with friendly staff all more than happy to help you with anything or for just a friendly hello. I noticed every staff member I ran into whether it be in the reception, the restaurant, the playground or even in the spa all took the time to say hello to Milla too. Not that a six month old baby would specifically notice, but I did. And it left me with a really lovely feeling.

As Im sure you can gather I loved every second of my stay. My one and only con of the whole experience was not sharing it with my three other little ones and my husband. They would have loved it as much as I did. Maybe one day?

If you have been or are planning to go I would love to hear about it!

**I was invited to stay as a guest in Martinhal. But, as always my opinions and thoughts are mine entirely.

Haaka and Cocoona baby Review

As a mum of four, I’d like to think I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way… That I knew all the must haves and the essentials but evidently I did not. I am suprised to say since having my fourth I have found two must haves that I didn’t have on the others… I don’t know how I survived without them!!!

The haakaa

I’m not a fan of pumping. Never was, never will be. So when I saw all the talk of this new must have I was eager to try. The haakaa breast pump is a handheld, portable milk expression device. It’s small and discreet allowing mum to express without the noise and fuss of an electrical pump. According to the manufacturer, it accommodates different breast sizes and collects up to 4 oz of milk. I’ve only ever got max 3oz when I’ve used it. 
It is a godsend. I have an over supply. Which, most people would kill for. But I also have a A/B cup bra size. So combined together makes for some extremely painful let downs. In the early days the haaka was a godsend for releaving a little bit of pressure from a letdown. 
The haaka works best attached to the opposite breast while breastfeeding. There is a knack to it, you suction your breast into the opening and it suctions on. It catches your let down and it is an amazingly easy way to store some milk in those early days. I am still using my haaka and Milla is now 6 months. As I mentioned though I do have a fantastic supply. Every breastfeeding journey is different but they say it works best up to 3/4 months. It is dishwasher safe and BPA free. It is the only reason i have a freezer full of frozen breast milk. A 10/10 from me. I got mine from Earth Mother and it is on sale at the moment for 24.99euro. For me it is worth every cent hands down. Its is discreet, makes no noise and also above all else does all the hard work effortlessly. All you have to do is try not to spill the liquid gold!!!

Cocoona baby 
The Cocoona baby is also something I never used on my other three babies. It is a sleep aid. A comfortable newborn nest with added health benefits to reduce Plagiocephaly, reflux and colic – but it does come with a large price tag. At 169.99 I was sceptical as to weather my little one would even sleep in it or not. Her favourite spot was stuck to my chest, where she stayed for two weeks straight! 
The Cocoona baby I feel helps newborns transition from the womb to the world very easily. Due to its ergonomic design and its perfect for your little ones physical and emotional well being through the fourth trimester. 
You may have read recent reports about the safety of baby sleep positioners, anti-roll products, baby wedges and baby nests. But Lullaby Trust came out and clarified the issue by saying sleep positioners are different to baby nests/pods. Therefore confirming the Cocoona baby safe to use. 
Milla loved it from the get go. She was so snug and content in it. Its as if when she lay in it she sunk down and it moulded around her. There is also a firm base so i always felt as if she was very safe in it. The wedge is a great extra in it and it allowed her legs to bend in a very natural way. She was as content in it as when i was holding her asleep. Except for the added benefit of me being able to get some rest too. When she would fall asleep if i lay her on a mattress she would wake STRAIGHT away, with the Cocoona baby she would stir a little when I lay her down but she would snuggle straight in. 

The Cocoona baby is not meant for co sleeping. They recommend using it in a cot or the floor for naps and day time sleeping. It is also worth noting they recommend the Cocoona baby to be 20cm lower than the top of the cot you are using. 
We used it for co sleeping. We took into account that this is against the safety regulations that Cocoona baby recommend but we made an educated and informed decision to co sleep with it. I loved this aspect of it. We placed it between our pillows and Milla slept that little bit higher than us both. It meant for me, (who would have been co sleeping anyway) that she was higher than our pillows and also out of reach for duvet to cover anything other than her feet.

It is recomended that you stop using it when baby starts to roll over! Which for my lazy lump was 6 months old!!

Would i pay 169.99 for it?
Yes, I would. Granted I would try get some cash as gifts and use it or if a family member wanted to but it for her. I understand it is expensive but from a busy mum of four can you ever put a price on a good nights sleep?? 

My cocoona baby was also from Earth Mother. A small Irish owned company who I would order all my must haves and baby bots from in a second in a second. Siobhan the owner is so lovely and helpful to deal with. You could contact her with any questions you might have.

The haaka was gifted to me from Earth Mother and Siobhan from Earth Mother kindly lent me the Cocoona Baby. But, as always my opinions of the products and the company is mine entirely.