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Fantasy Village – Part 3

Posted by on Jan 30, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Fantasy Village – Part 3

Fantasy Village – Part 3

Once you arrive at this enchanted place its natural that you are going to want to unwind. The incredible gardens and waterside views hypnotically invite you to drop all of your worries and just relax, benches, patches of grass and the hotel pools will make for your first port of call when you first get here. As the days go on however you will be more open to wandering around the village and seeing what it has to offer, embarking on a mini quest to uncover what the locals have in store.

Eat, Play, Love

Cafes are unquestionably ideal places to disconnect and Portmeirion has a handful that caters to several different tastes as well as some very interesting eateries. Caffi No 6 and Caffi’r Sgwâr both operate as fairly regular coffee houses, with their marine blue paneling and outdoor seating they have a very British seaside feel about them, whereas Caffi Glas effortlessly brings the sensations and tastes of Italy to all of its guests. Here you can watch your pizza get freshly baked or enjoy some filling pasta or a light salad, with cakes and sweeter options available too. And if you are a fan of sugary Italian treats you will be spending all your time at Caffi’r Angel. Here their in-house gelato delights all the guests in the village, with a platter of intense flavours to choose from alongside the classics in their retro café that will chill you out even more. The town hall also provides great food and atmosphere for those stopping by. Open from 10 to 5 everyday the sandwiches, baguettes and hot meals here will keep you going throughout your stay as will the novelty of its 1950’s style diner interior. This is yet another place in Portmeirion which once again pleasantly distorts time for those who stop by.

For those truly wanting to commit to leaving their troubles elsewhere, the Mermaid Spa here is going to be your top priority. In a peaceful soft-lit environment you will be pampered by expert therapists who only use the best completely natural, and cruelty free products so that every part of your experience is calming and mindful. There are full body massages, seaweed and mud wraps as well as salt scrubs and hot stone treatments all available here. Ideal for special occasions here makeup and hair styling are available as are day packages for several hours of decompression and downtime.

If retail therapy is more your thing, you aren’t at a loss here either, Portmeirion has a great selection of shops where you can purchase everything from handmade crafted items like mugs and jewelry to brand name clothes, gifts and gadgets from some of the biggest name stores on the high street. Browse products from Laura Ashley, Wild and Wolf, Ted Baker and more. This once virtually unknown village has grown into a delightful one of a kind getaway in Wales, boasting both natural beauty and a magical time warping sense all around it that makes it impossible to ignore and just as hard to leave.

Fantasy Village – Part 2

Posted by on Jan 22, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Fantasy Village – Part 2

Fantasy Village – Part 2

Not So Secret

Despite it being a quiet and preserved place to visit, the ‘secret’ of Portmeirion is one that hasn’t exactly been kept well over the years. In fact this sleepy little village has been the destination for several TV series as far back as the 1960’s when it was the destination in the spy fiction show The Prisoner. This show may have been the beginning of the areas rise in popularity as more and more television crews have chosen this charming area as their backdrop including popular British show Doctor Who and Children’s TV series Wigglebiz.

Many musicians have also come here to escape, the colourful look and calm feel of the area are clearly both relaxing and inspiring. Beatles members Paul McCartney and George Harrison have both stayed here early in their career. TV host and musician Jools Holland enjoyed his time here so much that he had buildings at his home designed to emulate the style of Portmeirion. In recent years musicians have flocked here to perform on mass thanks to the annual Festival N°6 which began in 2012. This mix of live music and culture has since featured acts such as New Order, Welshman Gruff Rhys, The Pet Shop Boys, Beck and hundreds more. Meaning that the hideaway town that once was, is no longer so off the radar.

Where to Stay

By now you no doubt are incapable of not making a journey here, so you will need to know where to lay your head when you break through the veil and find yourself in this world of its own. Beginning with the aforementioned castle, Castell Deudraeth is now a four star hotel. Here you can sleep in luxury surrounded by the protective stonewalls of this gothic keep. With only 11 rooms its sure to fully book if you don’t plan ahead, its sizable beds, oak floors and real fires will have you feeling regal in no time.

Another iconic stop is the Hotel Portmeirion, the villages flagship hotel has been operating since 1926 and has just gone from strength to strength. Opened by the man himself Clough Williams-Ellis, this place has the hallmarks of Portmeirion all the way through thanks to its mix of historic and geographical elements such as the Victorian interiors, Italian fireplaces, and the Art Deco dining area. The award-winning restaurant here serves tasteful and exquisite foods all through the day and happily caters to Vegans. From the rooms here you can view the entrancing waters of the adjacent estuary or stare at the mountains of Snowdonia in the distance.

You may just wish to stay amongst the wonders of the village instead which booking one of the many village rooms can easily accomplish. Here rooms or suites are unique and with their own individual charm depending on which quaint abode you pick. Finally if you want to feel even more at home here there are 13 different self catering cottages available for visitors. Stay here if you have a larger group, are independent or are testing the waters for moving to Portmeirion in the near future.

Fantasy Village – Part 1

Posted by on Jan 18, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Fantasy Village – Part 1

Fantasy Village – Part 1

There are many very visually pleasing destinations in Wales, some love the great and all-encompassing views from the mountaintops making themselves and their problems feel insignificant, others prefer the vast open expanse of the beaches as they look at the infinite horizon. Some people love the idea of the small villages and towns that are dotted around the country, many people enjoy the comfort and community of a quiet collective of people all nestled into the same area. Despite this the wet weather can put some people off, which is why so many British folk venture closer to the equator every year.  But many people may not be aware that tucked away in Wales is a place that emulates the look, feel and tranquility of the Mediterranean bringing its own very green blend of pleasure to all who visit.

How Did It Get Here?

Portmeirion almost seems like it isn’t real. The lush greenery that surrounds it mixed with the buildings and structures that are clearly not from Britain, all arranged in an unconventional manner that doesn’t replicate anywhere else nearby makes you feel like you have stepped through the looking glass without realising. In fact many people who visit agree that the place has a fantasy feel about it, the colourful exterior walls of the buildings no doubt help with this as they add a vibrancy to the area that the plain brick buildings of Wales just don’t have.

Much of this was intentional as the village’s designer Sir Clough Williams-Ellis was inspired by a fishing village in Italy when he set out to make something different in north Wales. A mix of these foreign elements and some postmodernism made for the palette in which he pulled from, many also believe he deliberately aimed for something more elaborate and something which reminded him of a jovial past. To make this place authentic he made sure that buildings, relics and other overlooked pieces of architecture were transported here. Therefore, instead of starting from scratch the builders had many genuine articles to begin construction on, restoring any dilapidated pieces along the way. Another reason this is so fantastic is that Portmeirion now remains a historic place for all of this old design, many of these walls and designs would have been deconstructed if they were left back in their home town, but now remain loved and admired here. Maybe this is one of the reasons that the area feels so timeless.

As the place has grown in popularity slowly but surely, the area has had to expand to accommodate the growing number of tourists that head here annually. Luckily however this doesn’t mean that huge hotels and chain stores have overshadowed the essence of the place, in fact the exterior of the village remains the same and the buildings have instead changed their function. Iconic buildings like the castle here have been made into hotels and the old shops have simply become modernised, another reason that the entire area seems like a theme park – in the best way.

Anglesey – Wales’ Most Exciting Island – Part 3

Posted by on Jan 13, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Anglesey – Wales’ Most Exciting Island – Part 3

Anglesey – Wales’ Most Exciting Island – Part 3

History and Nature

There are many different activities available for you to explore while in Anglesey, whether you want to delve into some ancient history or if you prefer the rural natural outdoors there is plenty to keep visitors happy. First of all, the castles here are popular tourist attraction, bringing thousands of curious guests inside there walls every year. Castell Aberlleiniog was very recently opened up to the public, originally built in 1080 this Norman structure was constructed with wood. Placed in the spot here strategically so that they could visually communicate with another castle, the timber structure that once stood here has long since disappeared and by the 17th Century the stonework that now stands here was built over it. This place has been painstakingly restored steadily since 2008 and now can be seen from the inside by those who choose to visit.

Beaumaris Castle is the real big hitter here though. An unfinished feat of great design this expansive and intricate castle is named as one of the finest of its era. Today you can visit the grounds, walk over the moat and see the walls and battlements still intact, then enter the huge courtyard space at the centre to really get a feel for the scale of the building. As the guides will explain to you when you visit the structure here is iconic in that it is not only concentric (meaning there are walls within walls) but it is also symmetrical. Any fan of castles or indeed buildings from earlier times should make sure they check this place of their list.

If you prefer the sights and sounds of the great outdoors instead, you will have to choose how you want to get around and what you wan to interact with. Walking or cycling are both very viable options with terrific countryside riding routes that take you through fields, over hills with expansive sea views and across the sandy flats for a steady change of pace. Of course, a much more exciting way to take in the greenery is
to ride horseback. At the Anglesey Riding Centre you can learn how to mount and ride a horse or pony and take it for a trot around their five miles of property.

You are in luck if you want to sample the untouched beauty of the island or want to see some animals in their habitats because Anglesey is officially sanctioned as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Not only does this mean that there are certainly many areas where you will be awestruck by the sights but also the powers that be are doing what they can to keep it that way. Scientific study, plant and animal conservation and protection all occur here so you can be happy in knowing these wonders aren’t going anywhere fast. Take a visit to the Dingle Local Nature Reserve yourself and be awestruck by the thriving life their both big and small. Anglesey has all of this available and more, which makes it a wonderful place to getaway, and one that should not be overlooked.

Anglesey – Wales’ Most Exciting Island – Part 2

Posted by on Jan 8, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Anglesey – Wales’ Most Exciting Island – Part 2

Anglesey – Wales’ Most Exciting Island – Part 2

Gorgeous Gardens

Thanks to the weather of Wales which brings plenty of water as well as some scorching coastal sun rays, the plant life here has a chance to thrive. On top of this the National Garden Scheme is a caretaking initiative which oversees the restoration and upkeep of gardens here, supported by the donations given by visitors the idea here is to make sure that all of the wonderful locations remain preserved and are expanded without overreaching. What this means for visitors is that there are a bunch of natural getaway spots where you can escape into greenery for next to nothing.

The Plas Cadnant Gardens are one of these places, with its restoration beginning back in 1996 the flora of this 200 acre estate continue to flourish. What’s most exciting about this is that the gardens are hidden from sight and require you to wander down a pathway that eventually guides you into a bright and colourful world of plants and trees that you would never have though could be kept hidden away. It is gardens like this that have inspired so many tales about the unexplainable things in nature. Fairies, nymphs, fawns and other creatures can all be imagined as part of the vivid fantasy environment that these hundreds of flowers help create.

Another destination is Plas Newydd, where an 18th century manor house and its gardens are all open to the public. In spring you can walk through the five acres of pink and purple blooming Rhododendrons, while Autumn visitors can enjoy the typical oranges of the season and the beautiful blues of the hydrangeas. As you wander through the grounds here you can take time out at the tearoom while children can play endlessly in the adventure garden, and eventually take something away from the gift shop.

Wondrous Walks

If you enjoy taking some time out in the gardens here it is likely you are partial to a good walk. Anglesey’s climate, size and terrain make it a fantastic place for walkers, whether you choose to visit in the heat or in the cold, the views don’t stop being breathtaking. Depending on how much you want to be on your feet, or how many sites you want to cram in there are many public footpaths you can use to freestyle your day out. If you want to maximise your stay however the local company Anglesey Walking Holidays are ready to share their award winning insight and cater to your needs for the best walks around. Take the coasts or the hills, head through towns and see the castles all at your own pace here, their packages are totally customisable so that you get to do everything you want and nothing you don’t. They will provide you with maps, guides and transport you to and from where ever you feel you don’t want to walk. They can also take care of your accommodation and show you where is best to eat, which covers all your planning, meaning you can relax, enjoy the beautiful views, plants, animals and open air all without a care.

Anglesey – Wales’ Most Exciting Island – Part 1

Posted by on Jan 3, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Anglesey – Wales’ Most Exciting Island – Part 1

Anglesey – Wales’ Most Exciting Island – Part 1

On the far opposite side of Cardiff, westward from Wrexham, off the north coast of Wales is Anglesey, an island only connected by a pair of bridges. Although it remains separate from the mainland, this disconnected entity remains both Welsh and incredibly popular despite its detachment from the soil. Home to Hollyhead which is an incredibly bust destination for ferries, carting millions each year from its shores to Ireland and further, this stretch of land reaching out into the Irish Sea has a great deal to offer.

Bountiful Beaches

Thanks to it being an island Anglesey has an infinite coastline which means no matter where you go, you won’t be too far from a beach, so if hitting the sun lounger or playing dead on a towel is your type of getaway, you are in luck. Both the Welsh and the British love a good day at the seaside so expect to see plenty of folk lapping up whatever sun comes their way, as well as the tokens of a UK beach such as ice creams on cones, fish and chips and possibly a donkey ride or two. Depending on which beach you pick, you can expect a different atmosphere, so make sure you select one that aligns with your preferences. Places like Benllech are popular thanks to their broad sandy beaches, but there are quieter destinations such as more secluded semi-pebble beaches like Church Bay or quiet coves such as Porth Dafarch.

However, if you aren’t one for simply getting a tan, there are plenty of engaging activities available to keep you entertained by the sea. Sailing, surfing, kayaking and more water sports can all be found here so make sure you pack a wetsuit. Diving classes are also available at Hollyhead, which introduce a fantastic opportunity to really see the sea in a more relaxed manner. The classes here provide training for absolute beginners so there is no previous experience needed.

Sea Inside

If the weather isn’t great outside but you want to get close to the waters – there is always the Anglesey Sea Zoo, which is Wales’ largest marine aquarium. Here young ones and adults can marvel at a vast selection of creatures that live in the water, including featured favourites like their lobster hatchery and the adorable and tiny sea horse nursery. Visit their wave tank where two tonnes of water splashes in every minute, then watch as the sea anemones and other sea life reacts to the changes. In the rock pools you can see urchins and crabs just like you will encounter out on the beaches, without having to spend all day searching. There are over forty tanks here that stretch around the huge semi-dark indoor areas, where you can marvel at rays, sharks, jellyfish octopi and more. If you plan to stay longer there is also a restaurant and some play areas for kids who need to let off some steam. With select talks from expert biologists, interactive exhibits and plenty more this is a fun, mesmerising and educational place to stop by.

Activities for The Holidays

Posted by on Dec 28, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Activities for The Holidays

Activities for The Holidays

The holidays are coming, and though Christmas day itself is no doubt going to be amazing all on its own, all the other days of advent don’t quite have the same impact. If you have kids you may already be wracking your brain over how you are going to keep them entertained as soon as the schools break up all the way into the new year. Board games, flashing lights, singing plushies and new socks aren’t going to sustain their eager minds and diminishing attention spans for long, so you may have to look elsewhere for family activities. Here are some great ideas to keep everyone happy in Wales.

Cardiff Ski and Snowboard Center

Embrace the cold that comes with the shorter days and often the snow. Here you don’t have to keep your fingers crossed for the latter as they don’t need it here, but still make sure you wrap up warm. You can take to the slopes and learn the ropes whether that includes putting on a pair of skis or trying the giant skateboard of the alps – or as everybody else calls it snowboarding. Tubing is also available here, which has you sit in a giant rubber donut as you descend down the steep hills. You wont need any instruction or previous experience on this as gravity will do all the work for you. However, if you are more into the more refined winter sports you can practice freely on the declines here. Group lessons are available to book which is ideal for families trying it out for the first time, whereas intermediate riders can join in on the freestyle events for more advanced work and tricks.

Inflatable Arena

If the idea of anything outside is an already sending a chill down your spine, then this may be a more suitable option. Through the legs of a red dragon the inflatable arena a warehouse full of giant inflatables awaits excitable guests. Filled wall to wall with huge red and black soft play apparatus this place has an inflatable everything. Work your way around a pitch-black maze, battle one another in the gladiator style inflatable combat areas or simply run jump and slide your way around from one side of this place to the other. Energetic adults may want to try and compete in their assault course, which will test your speed, balance, and even stamina as this place is sure to wear you out quick.

Red dragon Center

If you and your kids are looking for something more conventional then this multiplex in Cardiff will save you. Here you have all your bases covered, bowling will keep you pleasantly active and competitive, while they also have a gym and a casino for older visitors. Their Odeon cinema features an IMAX 3D screen which means eye popping visuals unlike any other, here you can enjoy films like Aquaman, Mary Poppins and Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse which will all be showing over the Christmas period. Finally, all of this will make you hungry but no need to fret, restaurants and cafes are all here to keep you festively plump including Bella Italia and Five Guys burgers.

Celtic Manor – A Christmas Getaway

Posted by on Dec 23, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Celtic Manor – A Christmas Getaway

Celtic Manor – A Christmas Getaway

Currently offering a free day for those booking three nights here, this plentiful complex is set amongst the picturesque landscape of the Usk valley in South Wales and offers an unrivaled selection of packages for those planning on escaping more than just the duties of Christmas dinner. With their own palette of varied resort rooms, you can pick the type of place you want to stay in whether that be an adult orientated spa type getaway for two, a family friendly hotel room or a fun and exclusive hunter lodge which facilitates both smaller and larger parties. This ability to customize your stay all while benefiting from everything the main hotel has to offer is fantastic, meaning you can enjoy your Christmas just as you envisioned it without compromising on space, facilities or the amount of freedom you have. Once you have managed to pick your room you will be delighted to find that the Celtic Manor doesn’t just leave you to your own devices, there are plenty of engaging and social activities that commence inside its many venue halls.

During December the team here will be engaging in a series of fun festive feats that include exciting activities and parties for all types of guests. Kids will be able to take part in the Santa’s workshop of treasures where they will be guided by the elves themselves who will help them craft and create personalized gifts for themselves and their families. Dylan’s Den team will take care of your little ones while you enjoy the resort, meanwhile they will be singing, dancing, and making everything from Christmas crackers to chocolate, as they get deep into the Christmas spirit.

Adults on the other hand will have much to keep themselves busy, not just because of the on-site Spa and beauty treatments of the selection of golf courses here. Those big kids or those youngsters in not so youthful bodies can get into a harness and take part in the forest jump, this treetop adventure puts you high above the ferns and conifers as you work your way over a series of obstacles way above ground. If heights aren’t your thing but excitement is there is laser tag here too, with a variety of different game modes you and your party can team up to shoot at friends or zombies. And if this wasn’t enough why not keep it wintry with the great skate. On their rooftop garden you can ice skate against in the crystal blue lights to your hearts content. Warm yourself up with a hot chocolate or something boozier and return to the rink for more fun.

All of this occurs before Christmas Day even arrives, and the resort will keep you full until the New Year with its packed festive menus. Expect your traditional Christmas day treats with turkey and trimmings, but there is much more, devour ribs, steak and a selection of lunches and snacks in between meal times. There are tiny treats to snack on like éclairs and pastries or heartier sandwiches and gourmet spreads, your only task is to choose. At Celtic Manor Resort, choosing is the only effort you will have to put in at this incredible getaway perfect for Christmas.

Superior Christmas Dinner – Part 2

Posted by on Dec 20, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Superior Christmas Dinner – Part 2

Superior Christmas Dinner – Part 2

Cawdor

For a modern menu of captivating Christmas culinary creations why not visit this hotel in the town of Llandeilo. Cawdor is a fairly petite establishment compared to chain hotels you may be more familiar with, here their ample 25 rooms allow them to focus less on the cleaning and more on the guest services which include their exemplary dining. Proud of their heritage they strive to make sure as many of their ingredients are from Wales as possible meanwhile their menu is filled with indulgent savoury and sweet presents for your palate. Their Christmas Day selection features starters that include a trio of salmon including the soft silky smoked variety and a gin and tonic cured special. Following a refreshing cleanser of mulled wine sorbet you can then choose from the British favourite turkey accompanied by bacon wrapped sausages, Welsh roasted sirloin with red wine gravy, a nut and cranberry roast for vegetarians or even sea bass on saffron risotto. All of this is finalized with a Christmas pudding or instead a plate of desserts.

Grey Restaurant at Hilton Cardiff

If you love a good hotel and are fond of the bigger brands then you already know the reputation of the Hilton, and Cardiff’s offering is no different. Get all the contemporary features of an up to date hotel and know that all your creature comforts will be catered to. Dining here for Christmas means you get to munch on their hearty menu which opens with delights such as ham hock & foie gras terrine, then proceeds to the selection of finely cooked meats hand cut by their chefs, a highlight being their honey & rosemary roasted lamb. Finish it all of with a dark chocolate and salted caramel tart and tea or coffee, which can be followed up by one from their Costa just down the corridor. Staying and eating at the Hilton may not be the most groundbreaking option, but its safe, easy, and you know you will be in good hands.

The Hardwick

With their kitchen led by chef Stephen Terry who has traveled the world and cooked alongside greats such as Marco Pierre White to acquire his Michellin stars, this restaurant in South Wales is a hidden Gem of quality that wont break your bank account. With an expansive regular daily menu, their Christmas one is luckily a little more concise which means you won’t spend all day choosing which great dish you want to enjoy. Its easy to see at just a quick glance that the dishes here are a little more experimental than those elsewhere, which makes for a much more exciting and surprising taste experience. Start your Christmas dinner of with a warming Squash soup that comes with savoury granola, creamy yogurt and is dressed with roast pumpkin seed oil. And if that doesn’t sound up your street why not try their pear salad with Boksberg blue cheese for a mix of smooth and fruity flavours interlaced with the twang of winter chicory and topped with walnuts. Mains obviously include turkey breast, the choice of salmon or beetroot and goats cheese risotto cake. Dessert comes in the form of a date loaf with toffee sauce or an intriguing bread & butter pudding brûlée.

Superior Christmas Dinner – Part 1

Posted by on Dec 16, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Superior Christmas Dinner – Part 1

Superior Christmas Dinner – Part 1

Christmas dinner is renowned for being a laborious task, and often a thankless one at that since now the tradition has overwritten the practicality of serving food for extended families. The whole thing is time consuming, stress inducing and after you have finally consumed all your efforts, then you have to clean up the messiest kitchen you have seen since last year. It makes sense that you might not be excited about doing all that again so why not treat yourself to something different this year? Wales offers a great selection of fine dining options where you can eat the tastiest dishes without breaking a sweat, here are some desirable locations you may want to consider.

Bodysgallen Hall

Sat atop of Pydew Mountain this grand Manor house is a high-class getaway. With accommodation over Christmas this could well be the retreat you have earned after all the Christmases gone by. The stunning grounds here include a beautiful and elaborate set of gardens, both open lawns and uniquely trimmed hedges that make for a visual treat. With their property ranging over a total of 200 acres, there is plenty of space to walk but you may wish to stay cozy indoors thanks to their spa and treatment areas. Christmas here is threefold; it starts on Christmas Eve with drinks in the reception followed by dinner and treats later on for anyone who exited to attend midnight mass. On the big day you will be served with plates full of traditional Christmas dinner while you enjoy the company and atmosphere of the house, followed by a buffet supper later on in the evening. Boxing Day allows more time for swimming, massages, steaming and more as you find your favourite way to work off yesterday’s dinner. Finally, to bid you farewell there is champagne, live harp music and even more food to keep you content on the road.

Coast

This purpose-built restaurant sits on the shoreline with the sands right outside its door and the views from its glass dining areas made infinite by the horizon. What’s different about coast is that although everything about its look and its quality is as expected from a top-class eatery, their service is fairly informal. Though professional they aren’t one for over the top formality, as can be seen by their jovial tattooed head chef. This means that this could be the perfect for a Christmas Day location for anyone who isn’t versed or excited by the upper-class pleasantries of a manor home, here you can relax, unwind and not have to worry about your appearance or enjoying yourself too loudly. The menu here is just as inviting as its laid-back approach with locally sourced ingredients where possible your Christmas dinner is set to be fresh and filling. Start with Goose Liver or maybe haddock with Bacon foam, get stuck into a turkey or maybe a halibut with truffled potatoes and finish up with a luscious chocolate ganache or a classic Christmas pudding. These options and more will make you wonder why you haven’t spent Christmas dinner here before.