The Delphina Valle dell’Erica resort in Sardinia is huge.
Even the name is on the big side and when I looked at its website I had misgivings, not least because I have stayed in so many unwieldy hotels around the world that I always long for something small and personal.
I had visions of elbowing fellow holidaymakers at the breakfast buffet and setting the alarm to grab a sun lounger that might actually face the sun.
Mum’s the word: Jodie and her son Indio enjoyed their first trip to Sardinia
What’s more, this was to be an important holiday for my three-year-old son, Indio, and neither of us had been to this Italian island before.
But, from the moment we set foot in the 28-hectare resort near Santa Teresa Gallura, I realised my worries were entirely misplaced. Frankly, we were bowled over. Yes, it is big – in fact it is really two hotels joined together – but it never felt big and there were days when we hardly saw a soul.
It helps, of course, that there are five or six different beaches to choose from, four swimming pools (three with salt water), five restaurants, five bars, a mini football pitch and golf course.
Our room faced the sea. On clear days we could see Corsica looming over the Strait of Bonifacio and every evening we were treated to spectacular sunsets.
Whoever designed this place should take a bow.
There were children’s areas, adults-only areas, family areas and ones where no one seemed to go at all. Everywhere there was an abundance of trees, shrubs and pots spilling over with all the colours of the Mediterranean.
You could potter about for hours along shaded walkways as if wandering around your own private garden.
The word that kept coming into my mind was ‘tranquil’, which, given there are more than 250 rooms, is amazing.
Even the staff seemed completely relaxed, but they were also highly efficient and went out of their way to make everyone feel special. On a couple of occasions I arranged for a babysitter for Indio and, believe me, I am not a mother who readily leaves her child with a total stranger.
But I trusted them completely and Indio seemed to look forward to their arrival.
There were very few British people staying – and lots of Italians.
I took that as a good sign because Italians love children. They also love food and wine and are at their best in the sunshine. Come to think of it, food, wine and sunshine rate high on my own list of priorities — especially food, after MasterChef, where to my astonishment I reached the final.
The big morning decision was whether to make camp by the pool or on one of the beaches.
Bolts from the blue: The hotel sits on the serene waters of the Strait of Bonifacio
I liked having that choice and what I liked especially was that the beaches were quiet and not overrun with jet skiers.
One day, I dropped Indio off at the kids’ club and booked in for a day of windsurfing and kitesurfing.
I learned to windsurf in Barbados, where my mother and brother still live and where I try to visit as often as I can. But I had never attempted kite-surfing.
Kite-surfing is great fun once you get the hang of it – and you need a good teacher.
It’s also fantastic exercise, because it depends a lot on core muscles and, as we are relentlessly told by fitness gurus, it’s those core muscles that form the basis of a well-toned body.
With kitesurfing, you first have to learn how to fly a kite, which means getting to grips with the direction of the wind. In fact, there’s a lot of preparation work to do before going on the water and having a board strapped to your feet. I seemed to get the hang of it.
Perhaps our best day was when we went out on Poseidon, one of the resort’s fishing boats.
We went exploring around the north point and then visited the island of Maddalena. It was magical – and the ice creams were the best ever. We called in at the church of Santa Maria Maddalena and then I swam back to the boat and was met with drinks and canapes.
Delphina has a Thalasso spa, where I spent as much time as I could.
It has lots of jets that pummel your body into submission but afterwards you feel amazingly invigorated and ready to conquer the world.
Actually, I think Indio and I both felt ready to conquer something or other after our a week at Delphina. More importantly, our holiday worked brilliantly for both of us.
I know we will be back and just hope it’s soon.