Kirsty visits Celtic Manor
Globe’s Kirsty recently enjoyed a short stay at Celtic Manor – famous for Golf (think 2010 Ryder a cup – one of the wettest on record when the event ran into Monday; the logistical nightmares are now legend). But Celtic Manor Resort is so much more than golf, as Kirsty was to experience as she tells us more about what his venue has to offer…
The Resort is a huge imposing building which towers above the M4 from the hilltop as you arrive into Wales. On arrival, we were greeted by valet parking and the lovely men who took our luggage straight to our room. After registering with our hosts, we were taken on one of the Resort transfers (they have shuttles which run from each part of the resort throughout the day) to the Twenty Ten Clubhouse where we enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch and met the rest of the guests on our trip. After lunch we all headed off to our prebooked activities, my first choice being chocolate making. This was held in one of the Resort’s Hunter Lodges: these are self catering accommodation units on the Celtic Manor ground and offer stunning residences for a romantic retreat, family getaway, and even a business meeting – the main rooms can be setup as a boardroom, with the en suite bedrooms used as breakout rooms. There’s also a barn and farmhouse on site for bigger groups. Don’t want to cook? Don’t worry – have your food delivered from the main resort hotel!
After my pathetic attempt at chocolate making (they were edible – just), there was time for more refreshments (gin afternoon tea: delicious!) and then onto falconry. Watching these beautiful birds soar above us was wonderful – even little Thimble the American hawk who played “bird roulette”on our heads -just where was she going to land next?
Once all activities had ended we were transferred back to the main Resort so we could head to our rooms and freshen up for dinner. The rooms are very sumptuous – traditional and homely – with a big marble bathroom with plenty of space for a bath and separate shower. Our room was over the front entrance, but still very quiet.
Dinner was held back at the TwentyTen Clubhouse and we enjoyed cocktails (I would recommend the gin based cocktail – gin was consumed widely!) prior to sitting down to dinner. Group dinners can often be quite bland with chicken usually on the menu. Not so here, where the main course was a beautiful piece of beef, which melted in the mouth. I have never enjoyed a group dinner so much -it was prepared well, tasted amazing, and little touches like the waiters remembering your name made the evening such a lovely relaxed affair. I sat next to the Conference Director who regaled me with stories of some of the bigger events they’ve hosted and I was so impressed by the passion she had for her job. It was also good to learn that many of the staff at Celtic Manor have been there for many years – our Account Manager is married to one of the chefs! It seems a real family affair (indeed, the man who owns the Resort was born in the original Manor House when it was a maternity hospital, and he bought it many years later when it had closed down).
Dancing followed dinner, with a fantastic local band brought in by the venue. The TwentyTen Clubhouse is so versatile as we moved easily from pre-dinner drinks to dinner and then back into the UK side of the Clubhouse (the Clubhouse has two main rooms which were used by the US and UK Ryder Cup Teams). I left about 11.30pm with the party still going strong and headed to my comfy bed.
The following morning was a beautiful day and after a leisurely breakfast, we met for a full tour of the venue facilities at the Resort – and WOW – how much space does this place have!!! From a ballroom which seats 1100 to exhibition space, small boardroom meetings for 6, and then outdoor space which includes a barn for BBQs, acres of land for team building activities, private dining rooms in the Manor House, and of course the new ICC which will give Wales the much needed large international centre it needs, means Celtic Manor has a space to suit every size (and type) of event you can think of.
It’s not the most modern venue you’ve seen – so if you’re after a Shoreditch/Hoxton type venue then this isn’t for you – but it’s a very versatile, traditional space which will fit with whatever your plans are. The staff (from the Directors right down to the waiting staff) are friendly and absolutely passionate to give you that Welsh welcome, and I certainly hope that I can place some business there in the not too distant future.
Yes, some of you may say “It’s Wales and it’s miles away”. It’s around 2 hours drive straight along the M4 from London, 10 minutes from Cardiff Railway Station, and 45 minutes from Bristol Airport so easily accessible.