Can a 5 star hotel really welcome children? Celtic Manor Resort Hotel and Spa
Like any frazzled parent in need of a pick-me-up, the thought of spending a weekend away in a five-star luxury hotel with its own spa more than appeals.
But - call me insane - I like to spend my weekends with my children. And five star spa hotels that welcome children (I mean really welcome children and don't ban them from dining rooms after 5pm or expect them to keep the decibels down and sit still all day) are few and far between.
So when I heard that the five star Celtic Manor Resort in the Usk Valley, South Wales had recently invested £500,000 in building new family friendly activities including a high ropes treetops challenge and two Adventure Golf courses, I was more than a little interested.
Could a deluxe resort really cater for families with active children?
The simple answer? Yes. This top quality complex manages to merge luxury with relaxed and active family fun – so you all end up feeling indulged yet energised at the same time.
WHAT'S AT THE RESORT?
The resort consists of two hotels, a country inn, two golf and country clubs plus a Health Club and three championship golf courses, including the Twenty Ten, the first course ever specifically designed and built to host The Ryder Cup (which came to the resort in 2010).
ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN
There's plenty on offer for kids – including a family games room and soft play, an outdoor adventure playground, a programme of supervised children's activities at weekends and during school holidays ('Forest Rangers' and 'Princess Pamper Parties' for example) plus the chance to book an 'Evergreen Nanny' who can take the kids off your hands and play face painting, dressing-up and colouring with them or even take them for a woodland walk or a splash in the pool if you want to take a break.
Also on offer are tennis, mountain biking (this is a great way to see the huge golf courses and woodlands surrounding the resort), table tennis, walking trails and fishing.
The Adventure Golf courses for children feature water hazards, bridges and rafts to travel on as you putt. But our favourite activity was Forest Jump, a course of both high and low ropes courses to suit all ages of children (and levels of fearlessness), which takes you along bridges, walkways and perilous obstacles in the woodland canopy (all whilst you're safely harnessed in at a great height, of course). End your adventure with a 'leap of faith' from the 'Power Fan' jump.
Over the summer school holidays, the rooftop Garden at the resort is transformed into 'Adventure Land' with a Bouncy Castle, Inflatable Obstacle Course, Trampolines, Water Zorbs, Tractor Trails, Giant Darts, arts and crafts plus barbeques.
The resort is also in the process of building 'SkyWire Wales' – the UK's longest zipwire experience plus an 'On Target' paintball, laser combat, crossbow and laser clay pigeon shooting experience is just opening in time for the holidays.
THE FORUM HEALTH CLUB & SPA
The health club hosts a 40 station gym, 20 metre pool plus a spa bath, steam rooms, saunas and plunge pool. The award-winning Spa (voted the Best Hotel Spa 2011 in The Spa Traveller Awards) is a haven for parents offering indulgent Elemis treatments.
The staff and service here are top notch. But book before your stay so you can be sure of an appointment as it's a popular venue. Also on site is a shopping complex and hairdresser – what more could a girl want?
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
You're spoilt for choice with several restaurants on site, including Terry M a fine dining venue with three AA rosettes, café and cellar bars and a French Bistro. The Olive Tree & Garden Room offers a special children's buffet on Saturdays and daily through the school holidays.
We highly recommend a visit to the Resort's Newbridge on Usk Restaurant. It's a short drive away (the hotel's car service will take you there and back) and situated on the idyllic banks of the River Usk. This traditional country inn features wooden floors, fireplaces and delicious high-class country food. We loved it.
Prices start at £116 per night based on 2 people sharing or £171 for a family of four.