Reviewed by Lee-Anne McCarthy
I begin this review by letting everyone into a secret, the Celtic Manor is not just any old hotel resort it is also a child whisper. I write this review with two children and a husband completely out cold at 8pm thanks to the fab fun time we all had today using the Celtic Manor’s adventure pass.
I was asked to review the Celtic Manor Resorts Adventure Pass along with my husband, 9 year old Caitlin and 7 year old Jack. We were all very excited. We’d all heard great things about the Celtic Manor but never really had the opportunity to visit. When we arrived we parked in main resort underground car park. This car park provided very easy access to the hotel itself. There is a fee for this car park however it would seem no more expensive that some of the car parks I use on the high street. We made our way to the kids club first to collect our passes. The kids club was signposted and very easy to find however there were also lots of staff around on hand to ask for directions if they were needed. The Kids Clubs room is a lovely colourful and bright room with computer games, movies, foosball and chill out areas for the younger clientele. Both Caitlin and Jack enjoyed a short time between activities in this room. This would be ideal for anyone staying at the Manor on a hotel visit. There were also advertised a number of organised activities at the kids clubs which again would be a great attraction for my children if we were ever to stay at the resort. When we collected our passes we were greeted by a really delightful member of staff who explained the way to use the passes. Each pass provides you with access to laser combat, archery, 18 hole adventure golf, Forest Jump low ropes and lunch. Laser combat, archery and the low ropes were all booked in at a specific time. Adventure golf however we could enjoy at our leisure. When receiving our passes we were also provided with lunch pass which allowed us to order our lunch for a specific time of our choice. We were directed straight to our first activity.
Our first activity, and for me with a fear of heights the most terrifying, was the Forest Jump low ropes. There is the option of enjoying the higher ropes experience however the high ropes have 1.4m height requirement and as both our children fall below this height we opted instead to all have a go on low ropes. However don’t be fooled into thinking that the ropes are just a few feet off the ground. At a good 6-7ft off the floor in places I’m very proud of myself for having a go. We, as advised, arrived at our activity 15 minutes beforehand. We were met by the friendly staff who provided some disclaimer forms. These were easy to fill in and not at all time consuming. Then we were given a quick introduction by two instructors who also showed us how to climb into our harnesses. Each member of the group taking part was checked thoroughly by the member of staff who also made great efforts to put each of us at ease explaining to myself it wasn’t difficult yet admiring and advising our 7 year old the best way to take on the zip wire. There was a group of 8 of us taking part in our session. This was an ideal size there wasn’t lots of waiting around and we all had numerous goes on the entire course. Despite being terrified I along with my children and husband had a fantastic time tackling each of the roped obstacles. Not the easiest on the hands but that may have been a result of me holding on for dear life for fear of falling. After having our initial turn we were able to redo the course as many times as we wished within our session. Our 7 year old monkey moved with speed and dexterity so went over and over and over again. I on the other hand went at a snail’s pace and managed just a couple of attempts. There are some lovely picnic tables placed around the bottom of the ropes allowing anyone not taking part to be a spectator and take lots of photos.
The lunch that was provided was a packed lunch. The sandwiches were very obviously freshly prepared. We had a choice of bread along with a choice of four fillings. There were fillings that would appeal to everyone. The sandwiches were accompanied by crisps, a drink and a piece of fresh fruit. It was brought to us in a bag so should we have needed to eat on the go we could. There were plenty of areas in which to eat. We chose to eat in the forum spa bar. There was seating both inside and out. The staff at the bar were friendly and helpful.
Next we went on to laser combat. This is something we have tried before and were all looking forward to. We were accompanied to the laser combat room by our instructor. I imagine it would be quite difficult to find without a little guidance as there didn’t seem to be a lot of signage. When we arrived we were given a safety talk along with instructions about how to use the weapons. To say we were itching to get going was an understatement. The battle of the sexes was on. The combat room was an incredibly large conference room that had been fantastically transformed with nets, inflatables, screens and lighting. We had a number of games. Some were survivor matches that allowed you to die and restart the game on numerous occasions, my own death count was 9, and others were death matches caught out once and dead for the match. It was really good being able to vary the games. It made you much more tactical and competitive. It gave us old folks a chance to breathe between games and allowed the children to be more focused in short sharp spurts. With just the four of us playing we had great fun and I imagine with many more people in the room it could be even more entertaining with less and less places to hide.
As we had quite some time before our final session of archery we decided to have a go at the 18 hole Adventure golf course. This is definitely a very popular activity at the resort and was very busy when we arrived. However the course is cleverly broken down into 2 separate 9 hole courses therefore allowing at busier periods to start on one course rather than the other and then alternating. We picked up our clubs and balls from the staff at the course and once again staff couldn’t have been more friendly, helpful or welcoming. The courses themselves provided challenge for my golf loving husband but fun entertainment for myself and the children who are definitely not going to be giving up the day job for a professional golf career. The courses were beautifully managed and presented with clear instructions at every hole.
Lastly today we got to become Robin Hood himself with an archery lesson. We were greeted by our instructor Sam who then carefully went through the required health and safety measures. He then slowly guided us through the use of the bow. He answered our many questions and provided endless reassurance to our unconfident 9 year old. We were given plenty of time to practise then Sam got us competing against each other in numerous games from chase the colour to points scoring. This particular activity was definitely one of my personal favourites especially since I got to beat the husband once or twice. Sam was helpful, encouraging and incredibly patient with both of our children. Even humouring our 7 year old who seemed to have developed verbal diarrhoea during this session. Sam the instructor was absolutely outstanding and definitely the most helpful member of staff we encountered on our day out.
The Celtic Manor resort adventure passes cost £29 each. Now some people may gasp at the cost however this does provide each family member with a day packed full of fun activities and all without having to take your own picnic with you too. All of the activities can also be paid for separately so families who maybe don’t have a whole day to spare or would like a somewhat cheaper experience it is a very definite possibility. I also noticed that there is a summer activity pass also available. This pass is available at £39 per person and includes all the activities (except lunch) we took part in including two rounds golf however these can be enjoyed anytime between 19th July and 23rd August. This maybe an ideal alternative to those looking to entertain the kids over a number of days during the very long school holidays.
We have had an absolutely fantastic day and we really feel this pass provides real value for money. We give the Celtic Manor Resort Adventure Pass a resounding 5/5.
The Celtic Manor Resort activity passes are suitable for adventures from age 6 years upwards and cost £29/£39 per person depending on the pass purchased (there are 3 different ones available, 2 include lunch).
For more information or to buy your passes online visit www.celtic-manor.com/activity-pass.
The Celtic Manor Resort. Coldra Woods, The Usk Valley, Newport, South Wales, NP18 1HQ