Coronavirus antibody testing and luggage cleansing are just two of the safety measures being adopted by luxury Sardinia resort Forte Village. Jennifer Morris pays a visit
Sitting on my lounger looking out at the changing blues of the Mediterranean Sea as the sun beats down on my shoulders feels remarkable.
After months of lockdown and the global stoppage of travel, my appreciation for the sense of freedom a holiday brings has skyrocketed.
And our resort – Forte Village in Sardinia, boasting a 50% repeat customer rate – has put a special emphasis on this freedom, keen to enable holidays “without excessive restrictions that could compromise the spirit and enjoyment”.
Forte Village has forgone very strict social distancing in-resort, opting to test guests for coronavirus antibodies on arrival, alongside other measures such as enhanced sanitisation; transfers in a “Covid-secure” vehicle with a plastic screen and hygiene kits; and all luggage cleansed.
Set in more than 100 acres of private parkland with a lengthy white beach, and with almost all restaurants outdoor, Forte Village offers plenty of space for guests to roam freely and breathe fresh air.
On arrival, my husband Jamie and I are politely directed into a private area of the reception for a rapid Covid-19 antibody test with a doctor in full PPE – in previous times this would be alarming, but in this instance it is reassuring.
The finger-prick test takes one minute, and within six minutes we are both given a negative result. We head to our secluded bungalow with a little garden in the five-star Hotel Le Dune – one of eight four- and five-star hotels, 13 villas and 40 suites that make up Forte Village.
Anyone whose antibody test is positive is accompanied to a lounge for a molecular PCR test, which indicates whether a person currently has the virus. If this proves negative, the guest can proceed normally with their holiday. If it’s positive and they’re able to stay at the resort, they will be accommodated in a dedicated area until they test negative to two consecutive molecular tests within 24 hours. Forte Village also has a team of 11 doctors.
As it takes some days for an individual with coronavirus to develop antibodies, the “stage one” test will not detect whether a person is in the early phases of having the virus. However, Forte Village says the testing combined with a visual check by the doctor carrying it out and other mitigating measures mean “the risk of contagion is minimised”.
All guests also have to pass through thermal scanners, and anyone entering Sardinia has to declare they have no Covid-related symptoms and have not been in contact with people who have tested positive in the 10 days prior to travel; there is criminal liability for false claims.
The resort’s longstanding general manager and chief executive Lorenzo Giannuzzi tells me Forte Village worked with the Universities of Rome and Cagliari to produce its Covid protocol, with the Italian and German football leagues Serie A and the Bundesliga adopting similar processes.
“We wanted to lead on this [in tourism] to make our clients feel safe and secure,” he says.
During our stay, Forte Village has about 900 guests of a possible 1,600, so capacity is already returning, with the UK its biggest market – one which it hopes to continue to “nourish”, and evident in such resort features as the Chelsea FC foundation football academy, British coaches for the multitude of other sports available and historic partnerships with British chefs.
“There is a strong demand for a longer season,” says Giannuzzi, adding the resort will extend its opening “as long as possible” this year. He adds Forte Village has seen a record number of guests extending their stays this year to 12 to 14 days. “Here people can forget about what’s going on outside for a while – they feel extremely secure and relaxed.”
My husband and I certainly feel this way, enjoying long lazy days on our designated sun loungers – rising only for a dip in the sea or to share a stringy Italian pizza – or bobbing around in the tranquil six-pool outdoor thalassotherapy spa at Acquaforte. Each pool is a different temperature and saline density.
In the evenings Jamie takes part in the daily football match or we sit on the palazzo enjoying Sardinian wine from the Wine Bar before heading for dinner at one of the numerous restaurants. My favourite dish is uovo in raviolo (runny egg ravioli with malga butter, sweet parmesan and truffle) at the twinkly gourmet (with supplement) San Domenico by Michelin-starred chef Massimiliano Mascia – part of Forte Village’s Celebrity Chef Nights offering.
Sitting under the stars marvelling at the meal, as the midnight sea stretches out before us, I wish I too could extend my stay. There is no question Forte Village offers a luxurious and exciting holiday, but what you can’t put a price on in these times is the ability to roam freely, confident your health is being looked after.
Book it: Citalia has seven nights at Forte Village, staying at Hotel Bouganville half-board including flights from £1,685pp. Departs 17 October. agents.citalia.com
Smarter: Forte Village has developed a three-day Immune System Programme including specialist examinations and therapeutic treatments aimed at strengthening the immune system.
Better: Book clients’ airport parking in advance through Holiday Extras, which offers Meet and Greet at Stansted from £66.42 for three days’ parking (holidayextras.com).
Fairer: Sunbeds, walkways and other surfaces at Forte Village are sanitised using eco- friendly products that have low environmental impact.