Covid tests passed, Bryony Gordon and her family enjoyed a much-needed break in Sardinia
The last time I came to Forte Village, the luxurious family resort on Sardinia’s south coast, we were greeted with a welcome drink.
Today, we are greeted with a welcome drink and a coronavirus test, which is an interesting way to start your holiday – or what you hope will be the start of your holiday, for if it comes back positive, you’re off to self-isolation within the resort, where the sound of the lapping Mediterranean will torment you until you have managed two negative tests.
The stakes are so high here that for the week leading up to our trip to Sardinia, I had worked myself into a state of such heightened anxiety about catching the coronavirus, that my husband warned I was going to “make myself ill with stress”. As if we aren’t all suffering from that anyway.
Undeterred by his rather blasé attitude towards our precious summer holiday – “It’s the only one we might get for the next YEAR!” – I refused to leave the house or let anyone into it. “Why don’t we just go for a little walk?” asked my husband, one hot day when being stuck in our tiny London home finally threatened to overwhelm him. “A tiny walk around the block.” He begged. But I wouldn’t allow it. Forget post-holiday quarantines – I had effectively put us into a pre-holiday one.
At long last, the day of our flight arrived, and as I packed 3.4oz hand sanitising gels into everyone’s hand luggage – not to mention snacks and sandwiches, to prevent us from the threat of catching anything at the airport – my husband noted that we might need a holiday just to get over the stress of trying to book this one.
Italy seemed like a safe bet, but some worrying news reports had started coming out about youngsters causing a surge in cases after partying in Sardinia, and for at least two days I catastrophised about the island being struck from the exemption list as soon as we arrived there. Indeed, arriving at Heathrow, I was aware of every possible flight back, should we need to return to beat quarantine. I felt mad. I felt paranoid. I felt in need of a holiday.
On the transfer from Cagliari airport to Forte Village, I was a ball of nerves. Neither the vibrant sight of the flamingoes that are native to this island, nor the stunning mountains that dot its horizon, could persuade me to relax. Arriving at Forte Village, I held my breath. The reception had been turned into a “triage” area where incoming guests could be tested, our luggage whisked off for immediate decontamination.
The team smiled – or at least I think that’s that they were doing from behind their masks – and ushered us towards some thermo-imaging equipment that took our temperatures. My face flushed with nerves (a year or so ago, I was almost prevented from boarding a flight in Uganda after a perimenopausal hot flush was mistaken for a fever that could be symptomatic of ebola, but that’s another column entirely). Thankfully, we passed through this stage of proceedings successfully.
Into the reception we went, where we were seated at sofas separated from our fellow guests. A doctor in full PPE came to tell us that she would be taking a pain-free prick of our blood, and within six minutes she would know if we had antibodies or not. If we did, we would be taken for a swab, which would confirm if we currently had Covid-19. If we didn’t, we could begin our holiday.
I thrust my finger at her, shutting my eyes tight. “Mummy, you are SUCH a baby,” said my seven-year-old, who happily offered up her blood with no such bluster. The doctor in full PPE went away with our blood, and was replaced by a waiter brandishing ice cold mineral water. We sipped and awaited our fate.
Reader, it was the longest six minutes of my life. Would we get to walk out of the reception and into the resort proper, to enjoy long swims in the sea and delicious pizza at one of its multitude of restaurants? (My God, how I longed for their pizza).
Would we get to bob through the enriching waters of its thalasso spa, which would be just the tonic after months locked in our home? Would I enjoy blissful moments to myself as my daughter veered between the Chelsea Football Academy and the Barbie Academy (kids nowadays don’t like gender stereotypes, thank goodness)? Would we spend afternoons in the resort’s brilliant water park, a place so exhausting that we would all sleep through the night like babies? The minutes ticked by, until the doctor returned, grinning from behind her visor. “You’re all fine,” she said. “Now go and enjoy your holiday!”
That we certainly did. We have never enjoyed a holiday more. As we were taken to our room with our newly sterilised suitcases, all the stresses and strains of the past six months melted away in an instant. And for the rest of the week, we floated around Forte Village as if in a dream. We switched off our phones, and decided to give ourselves completely over to this holiday from reality, where nobody wears masks or talks about Matt Hancock.
There were even days when I didn’t think about coronavirus at all. “I’m so glad we did this,” said my husband, as we went to check out. “It was exactly what we needed!” Then he reminded me we needed to fill out our passenger locator forms, and within five minutes, it was like we had never gone away.
Forte Village (www.fortevillageresort.com) offers stays in a Deluxe Family Bungalow sleeping two adults and two children from €795/£720 per room per night on a half-board basis.