We are lucky to have a five-star luxury resort right here in Newport. And there’s so much on offer as David Barnes finds out...

WHO on Earth has steak for breakfast?

There seemed something ever so decadent and naughty about taking two days off midweek to immerse ourselves in the unabashed luxury of a five star resort hotel.

The place towers above me on the hillside that I pass at least twice every day on the M4.


It’s become even more imposing now that the International Conference Centre Wales, complete with gigantic Welsh dragon, has joined the multi-award winning Celtic Manor Resort.

Newport’s welcome to the world entering Wales looks really quite something, but what’s it like to stay there for a couple of days?

A Tuesday’s work over for us both and as it’s just up the road we nipped home, threw a few things in a couple of overnight bags and dashed back down the M4 to check into our double aspect, corner suite on the Signature sixth floor at Celtic Manor for our two-night stay.

A quick change later and we were on board the complimentary minibus whisking us across the golf course and down the super steep hill to the 2010 Ryder Cup club house for a meal at Rafters. We’d been placed at an intimate corner table facing the glass wall through which was the famous golf course, which would have been quite a sight had it been day time.

The a la carte menu offered a fantastic Tastes of Wales experience. There’s a map, which annoyingly cut off our corner of Monmouthshire, which shows where in Wales the fabulous produce used in the restaurant originates. We feasted on pigeon breast, Welsh coast mackerel, Monmouthshire pork belly and Welsh coastal sea bass - all washed down with an excellent Argentinian Malbec. Red wine with fish and white meat? We’re rebels.

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Food served at Rafters

The coconut rice pudding and vanilla panna cotta to finish, were superb.

While eating dessert, a fellow diner close by was being served the restaurant’s signature Twenty Ten Steak Diane (£34.50) experience with the at table cooking service seeing brandy flames soaring almost to the rafters - I'll have to try that next time we go.

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Food served at Rafters

Then it was back on the minibus for the trip back to the main hotel where our white cotton covered bed of quite exceptional size and proportions awaited. Welsh cakes and a complimentary bottle of chilled Prosecco were on the side. The devil in me urged a peek in to the mini bar - it was locked!

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Food served at Rafters

The resort offers so many things to do - from enjoying the swimming pool or a round of golf, to plenty of activities to keep children occupied if there for a special half-term break.

Next morning after breakfast at Steak on Six, where steak, as the name suggests, is indeed on the morning menu, we were at the golf academy for an hour’s tuition with professional Daniel Warwick. Both complete novices, Daniel soon put us at our ease and by the end of the session we were confidently whacking balls out onto the driving range. A keen interest in golf has now been sparked and we've even been checking out the cost of lessons at the resort.

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The hi-tech Golf Academy at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport

After a stroll round the grounds and a chuckle at the antics of some blokes on the Forest Jump we were booked in for a massage in the Forum Health Spa.

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The Forest Jump

This place was a buzz of activity with people coming and going for all sorts of treatments but once you are in your designated room with your therapist, you can relax and forget the world outside even exists for a while.

Then it was another stroll where we discovered the adventure golf courses, archery and even laser clay pigeon shooting on offer.

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The Forum swimming pool

The second evening we were off to the Newbridge on Usk - another of the resorts six restaurants which offer something for every taste.

Once more aboard a minibus and, after a brief stop at the Hunter Lodges to pick up a well-refreshed giggling group out for an evening of fun, we arrived at this hidden gem of a restaurant.

The service is attentive but never over powering. Cornish crab mayonnaise and the Newbridge butternut squash soup were superb. The pan roasted cod was fresh light and flavoursome; the sirloin steak with shallot and whole grain mustard was fantastic. The rhubarb and hibiscus trifle and lemon and stem ginger crème brule was unbelievably good.

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Newbridge on Usk

The minibus back was a hoot with our driver, songster Wyn, at the wheel and the returning group even more ebullient.

We stopped off at Merlin's bar in the main hotel for a night cap excellently recommended for us by head bar man Marcus Arrowsmith. Our cognac and malt was enjoyed among the packed and convivial atmosphere. Merlin’s, with excellent accompaniment from the resident pianist, is the beating heart of the hotel.

I didn’t want any more booze but thought I’d try the door of the mini bar once more just to see what was on offer. This time it opened.

The next morning breakfasting at Steak on Six we had smoked salmon and a la carte mushroom omelette.

A fellow diner, a TV celebrity familiar to those who favour quiz shows and loves a round of golf, was presented with a hinged wooden box. Surely, we thought, he’s not going to have a cigar at this time in the morning? He reached out and selected a gilt steak knife. A few minutes later a sizeable plump, steak arrived, at his table directly behind ours.

Decadent or what?

For full details go to www.celtic-manor.com