If luxury means large to you, then the sheer size of Celtic Manor Resort will be sure to impress.
Host venue for The Ryder Cup in 2010, the property is set in more than 1,400 acres of panoramic parkland at the gateway to Wales.
With two hotels – a pleasantly buzzy 330-room luxury hotel and a historic 19th century Manor House with 70 rooms – two exceptional spas, two state-of-the-art health clubs, a shooting school, fishing, adventure golf, archery, treetop high ropes course, tennis courts, mountain biking and walking trails, plus three championship golf courses, gold academy and two luxury clubhouses, what more could business, leisure and golf travellers want? Perhaps the choice of six restaurants will be enough to keep you entertained…
Mr Husband and I pulled up to the resort, receiving a high level, efficient service from the staff (which resonated throughout our entire stay). Not only did they ensure our car was valet parked for us, they also arranged our check-in in split seconds and our bags were sent straight up to our spacious suite in a jiffy. Luxurious Magazine readers may also like to know that as well as the obligatory concierge and front desk to a five star property, there is also a guest relations manager, who knows the complete ins and outs of the resort like the back of her hand.
We were running late and so headed straight down to our dinner reservation at the hotel’s finest gourmet restaurant, Terry M. Dressed in elegantly fresh tones of white with a crystal chandelier, the space felt contemporary chic yet comfortable enough to completely let your hair down. In fact, the entire resort was just what we needed to help unwind after being caught up for so long in the frenetic pace the city of London commands.
Terry M proudly carries three prestigious AA rosettes but we got the impression a Michelin star is probably not very far out of reach for them. We went for the tasting menu, which left us feeling deeply satisfied and settled in for the weekend stay. Notable dishes include poached skate fillet with the unusual yet exciting combination to serve it with clams, sprouting broccoli, potato gnocchi, hazelnuts and Monmouthshire ham and the pear soufflé, baked to perfection, with an almond milk sorbet and butterscotch sauce. Fine wine pairings selected by the sommelier were astonishingly appropriate to the flavours served up on each plate.
The next morning was filled with our main raison d’etre to visit Celtic Manor – my first ever lesson to learn how to play golf at the top golf academy and Mr Husband’s chance to hit some balls at the driving range before getting out on to the spectacular, pristine lawns. Celtic Manor offers the challenge of three 18-hole championship golf courses, including the Montgomerie, the Roman Road and the Twenty Ten course, the first course in history to be designed and built specifically to host The Ryder Cup.
Nowhere near to course-playing standard, under the plush wing of its excellent training facilities and outstanding private tuition by PGA professional Daniel Warwick, I was soon getting to grips with producing a steady half swing. It took a couple more sessions the following day with another golf teacher, Alex, to improve some more. This time, I learnt how to make a full swing to try and reach the fairway, the way to chip, put on a green and the basics on using a driver. Whether a total beginner like myself, or a pro already playing on the course, the instructors here are fully equipped to give you the best pointers to help you get to be at the top of your game – not matter what you’re level.
All that swinging had beaten up my arms and shoulders and so time out to relax at the resort’s Forum Spa was certainly in order. We revived our weariness with a signature Forum massage. Spa facilities include a swimming pool, shared hydropool, plus separate whirlpools for him and her in each changing area, sauna, steam room and plunge pool.
We had clearly worked up an appetite and that same evening, we took the complimentary shuttle through the country lanes to Newbridge on Usk, a separate country inn with a handful of rooms and two AA rosettes. Just when we thought nothing else could top Terry M, we tucked into beautifully seared scallops to start and fresh local produce including Welsh lamb for my main. Mr Husband sampled the beef (also Welsh) and lobster feast. A creamy yet deliciously tart apple crumble pudding for myself and chocolate dessert for him helped round both our meal and our trip off very nicely.
This summer, guests also get to watch players and ponies from across the UK compete on a specially constructed polo field – called ‘Polo at the Manor’. Attendees can take advantage of a host of hospitality packages that allow you to enjoy a visit to the polo village, the delights of the champagne bar, a pampering treat on the Elemis SpaBus and fantastic live entertainment throughout the day, with an after party at night.
For more information on Celtic Manor, visit the official website : www.celtic-manor.com