Get a taste of luxury at Celtic Manor, Wales
Celtic Manor is a 5-star resort in every sense, exuding class and quality in every aspect of its service – but perhaps its most endearing character is that it does so without any hint of pretension.
I was very happy staying in the hotel during my last visit, but now that I have tried the Hunter Lodges, I’ve had my eyes opened to a completely new way of holidaying. If you go away with a group of friends, you will never want to return to staying in a hotel again!
Currently, there are 10 identical lodges for up to eight people, with more in the pipeline, and I could happily live in one of them. With names like ‘Giggly Goose’ and ‘Swanky Swallow’, instantly bringing a smile to your face, the grin will only broaden as you step inside to vast swathes of wood and glass.
With four delightful double/twin en-suite bedrooms, and a family bathroom, to choose from, plus a sauna, a spacious lounge set around a log burner, a dining area and a glossy kitchen, you could be tempted to stay there for your whole trip.
Then there is the hot tub on the terrace overlooking the panorama of the Twenty Ten course, boasting changing lights and speakers – which I languished in at a toasty 37.5 degrees. There is a further multi-purpose chill out room which can even be set up as a spa treatment room with massage table or nail bar for your own personal pampering session if you didn’t want to drag yourself over to one of the two main spas.
I say drag, but moving around 2,000-acre estate couldn’t be simpler. Wherever you are, and wherever you want to go, the free shuttle service is never more than 10 minutes away to take you.
Technically, the lodges are self-catering, but the holidays are there for you to set up as you wish. Simply order takeaway or a gourmet hamper if you don’t want to cook, or at the other extreme, a chef will come down and cook a three-course dinner for you in your kitchen. Although, wonderful as that sounds, you would be missing out on some other gastronomic treats.
Smart casual dress is the order of the day, and jeans mingle with suits very happily in any one of the seven restaurants. My best advice is to diet before you go, because you will certainly have to when you come back!
I can heartily recommend going for cocktails before visiting Steak on Six (where the whole floor is dedicated to adults only) – a restaurant bedecked in cow hides and horns round the mirrors. You even get to ‘choose your weapon’ from a box of beautifully crafted steak knives brought to each table, ranging from a Jack Sparrow imitation, to one costing over £70, or a mini cleaver.
Personally, I loved the little touches, like the four different salt choices, the amazing herb butters served in ring pull cans and the bread rolls in mini flower pots. If Asian cuisine is more to your style, the newly opened Cen restaurant is a must. Run by Larkin Cen, a 2013 Master Chef finalist, the innovative choices and creations are exquisite.
Alas, word limits are approaching, and I haven’t even started on the golf. With a marvellous two-tier driving range and fantastic short-game facilities, as well as three championship courses, you will be spoilt for choice.
Clubs are cleaned, stored and delivered to the tee ahead of your round. As a self-certified fair weather golfer, I should have been miserable playing in wet, windy and bitterly cold March conditions, but I wasn’t. In fact, I loved it.
The Roman Road was perhaps my favourite, with wonderful views, although the Montgomerie had amazingly generous ladies tees, with many being well over 100 yards ahead of the yellow tees.
This made a huge difference. Long slogs are not fun, but thoughtful teeing, rather than sticking ladies’ tees a few yards ahead of the men as an afterthought, made all the par 3s on every course delightful and many of the par 4s were reachable with short to mid irons.
The Twenty Ten Ryder Cup course played longer, with plenty of water, but not unfairly. Usually, you would have to be a long way off line to find it. You also probably wouldn’t need a buggy to play it, since only the last four holes involve a climb, whereas the other two have some serious hills.
Yes, they are quality courses, but my overriding impression was that you don’t have to be a serious golfer, to enjoy playing here. In fact, you don’t even have to be a good golfer to have a really good time.
And I can’t tell you how much fun I had on the elaborately designed Adventure putting courses – think crazy golf on steroids!
This was my second visit to Celtic Manor, and yet I feel I have still only scratched the surface of things to do. honestly, I cannot wait to get a group of friends together and go back. Girls, we’re going to Wales!