Review by Ceri Wheeldon
Better known as a golf resort, I hopped down the M4 with a friend to have a girlie break at Celtic Manor hotel and spa.
Sometimes it’s good to get away for a couple of days with a complete change of scenery – set in more than 2000 acres there are walking trails as well as golf courses, and of course great spa facilities.
As we approached we were initially struck by how large and imposing the building was. From the moment we pulled up outside the entrance the staff could not have been friendlier or more welcoming.
We arrived too early to go straight to our room, but were assured our luggage would be well looked after – as we went off on a tour of the facilities. The site is huge – with 3 golf courses (one a championship golf course which has hosted the Ryder Cup) several club houses, and a manor house. I was really interested to see the manor house – it had previously been a maternity hospital – in fact Terry Matthews who owns Celtic Manor was born there. I had met Terry and his wife many years ago in Canada who shared this fact with me – asking me as a fellow ‘Welshie’ where I was born. By coincidence I was also born in Newport – but not at Celtic Manor.
The grounds and facilities are imposing. The views stunning. We were unlucky with the weather – the heavens opened as we arrived – so although we planned on taking a long walk we had to opt to spend the afternoon in the pool and spa area instead ( life can be tough sometimes!)
Afternoon tea was superb – far too many cakes for us to manage – in fact we decided to sadly skip the scones as we had dinner booked for later that evening. It would appear that the Celtic manor afternoon tea in the Olive Tree Garden Room is quite famous locally – with lots of people booking for special occasions.
Our rooms were in the main hotel building – they were spacious and comfortable – with Elemis toiletries in the bathroom, but next time we visit we will probably try to have a group of us go and share one of the lodges in the grounds . They were absolutely superb – incredible vaulted ceilings – 4 bedrooms which can be set up as double or twins all with ensuite bathrooms, a luxury open plan kitchen and their own sauna and jaccuzzi – perfect for a girlie break or even an extended family weekend away. In fact we met a group of ladies who had booked a lodge to celebrate a birthday – with some playing golf and others enjoying the spa facilities.
Day 2 and more time spent at the spa (more rain!!!) taking advantage of the sauna and steam room with a fabulous ‘signature’ massage at the Forum Spa (thank you Nicola) to really relax. The friend with me also had a facial ( with Elemis products) which she thoroughly enjoyed and was left with her skin glowing.
As we had had the buffet breakfast we decided to skip lunch (and the fabulous afternoon tea) although were plenty of options to choose from in terms of places to eat at the resort – sample menus are on display in the hotel foyer which made choosing where to eat much easier. Crepes Suzettes prepared at your table (as we had at the Patio restaurant on our first night) always lend a bit of drama to the occasion.
On our second evening we ate at the Terry M restaurant in the main hotel building. The service and food could not be faulted. Of course we had to start the evening with the Terry M cocktail.
I started with wild sea bass served with pasta risotto, followed by pollock with langoustines in a delicious frothy seafood sauce. I didn’t really have room for dessert but had my arm twisted to have the passionfruit souffle. Coffee and petit fours followed . All in all a fabulous evening.
As we prepared to leave the next morning the sun finally appeared. We took advantage of the weather to have a quick game of adventure golf. As we pulled ourselves across water features on rafts and giggled our way through rescuing our golf balls from various water hazards we started to talk about potential dates for a return visit – and more fun and relaxation.
Celtic Manor is a lovely venue to escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life and take advantage of some well deserved pampering.