Category Archives: News

Vote for us in the British Travel Awards

plas y mor champagne

Over the years Best of Wales has been successful in a number of awards on a local and regional level, and this year we are pleased to be nominated for the British Travel Awards in the Best UK Holiday Cottage/Self Catering Booking Company (Small company) category.

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Over the last 7 years we have grown as a company and now offer nearly 300 cottages on our website. As well as growing we have built a wonderful relationship with our owners and guests which is so important to us.

The awards winners will be decided by you the public and we’d appreciate it if you would be so kind in casting a vote for us. All voters will be in with a chance of winning a number of prizes and voting is open until the 30th of September. Winners of all award categories will be announced in a prestigious awards ceremony later on in the year.

Please get voting and wish us luck.

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For more information on the awards and for voting for the other categories click here.

Locations announced for Wales’ first pop-up boutique hotel

A while back we told you all about the exciting project we’re involved in, Epic Retreats (to recap head here). Epic Retreats will see Wales’ first pop-up boutique hotel appear over the Summer and it’s time for some more great news, with the announcement of the locations and also that bookings are now open (get in fast).

The Llŷn Peninsula, Southern Snowdonia and lush West Wales have been confirmed as the locations for this luxury one-of-a-kind experience inspired by Welsh legends.

Fewer than 200 bookings are available and will allow guests to choose from eight unique cabins inspired by Wales’ past. There will also be the option of including legendary experiences tailored to each location or having a more relaxed stay where you explore at your own pace.

Inspiration for the units includes the legend of King Arthur, the iconic Welsh dragon and the country’s famous industrial heritage.

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Launched in celebration of Wales’s Year of Legends, Epic Retreats promises to immerse visitors in the most impressive landscapes and adventures the country has to offer.

During their stay, guests will get the opportunity to meet local characters, legendary figures and entertainers that will help bring the story of Wales to life.

Carmarthenshire, West Wales – 5th of June to the 3rd of July 

The eight bespoke cabins will venture to the abundant green backdrop of Carmarthenshire, West Wales.

Visitors can delve into a history dating back thousands of years, hunt down gold and tread in the footsteps of the heroes of Camelot, pursuing the elusive Lady of the Lake and the heroic wizard Merlin.

There will also be an opportunity to discover the area’s wildlife on bespoke wildlife walks where guests will get the chance to meet some rare species.

Surrounded by plentiful local food and drink, guests can tantalise their taste buds with award-winning, local gin and cheeses.

Llŷn Peninsula – 10th of July to the 7th of August 

The unique units will then journey north where they will reside along the spectacular coast of the Llŷn Peninsula.

After spending the night overlooking a secluded beach, visitors can spend their days strolling along the famous Wales Coast path, enjoying a boat trip to Bardsey Island, rumoured to be the burial site of King Arthur, and exploring Snowdonia National Park – home to the highest mountain in England and Wales.

Snowdonia – 14th of August to the 11th of September

Finally, the boutique hotel will pop-up in the foothills of the mythical Cadair Idris mountain in Snowdonia. The remote valley location and magical surrounding, including the romantic Castell y Bere, Snowdonia mountains and stunning steam train journeys, will offer a limited number of people the most unique of summer holidays.

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Co-founder of Epic Retreats, Llion Pughe said, “The locations we have chosen provide a choice of seascape, mountain and valley, a true reflection of Wales’ legendary landscape.

“We have carefully selected sites that will show Wales at its best, alongside an itinerary packed to the brim with trips and activities crafted by Wales experts Cambria Tours, featuring only the finest local produce and unique accommodation inspired myth and legend – guests will be immersed in a truly Welsh experience.”

For more information on the project or to book one of the limited spaces, visit www.epicretreats.wales

Plans unveiled for Wales’s first ever boutique pop-up hotel

Plans have been unveiled to launch a new boutique hotel that will ‘pop-up’ at three secret, breath-taking locations across Wales next year.

It’s all part of Epic Retreats (which we’re proud to be partners of), a completely unique hotel that will celebrate Wales’s Year of Legends 2017 by allowing people to enjoy the best landscapes and experiences Wales has to offer while staying in one of eight bespoke cabins, designed specifically for the project.

Less than 200 bookings will be available, meaning a select few will get the opportunity to stay in the three locations with unparalleled views of the Welsh landscape. They will be treated to unique Welsh experiences during their stay inspired by their location – from sea fishing and beer tasting to having meals prepared by top Welsh chefs.

Today Epic Retreats has unveiled designs of the high quality ‘boutique’ cabins that have been inspired by Wales’s legends and its past – from the country’s famous industrial heritage to the story of King Arthur.

The designs were chosen through a competition tender which invited architects from across the world to design unique glamping units themed on the mythology, tradition and beauty of Wales. And we are pleased to announce the 8 winning designs as:

Arthur’s Cave

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Arthur’s Cave

This design is inspired by the legend of King Arthur and a cave where he and his knights slept while travelling – it is said it could be discovered once but never again. Locally sourced sheep’s wool insulation will be placed within the panels to provide a high level of thermal insulation and the build benefits from a full width sliding door to offer panoramic views of the Welsh landscape.

Black Hat

This unusual structure is inspired by France’s failed attempt of a British invasion through Fishguard back in 1797. It is said that as the French began their assault, hundreds of local Welsh women came to witness the fighting between the French and the local militia.

black-hat

Black Hat

Dressed in their traditional scarlet tunics and tall black hats they were a formidable sight and at a distance may have been mistaken for British army Redcoats – suffice to say the French didn’t stick around for long. A king-sized bed fits within the upper floor of the hat and the domed roof allows for stargazing opportunities.

Cabin in the Woods

This nature-inspired building sits on legs high above the ground and explores the theme of the ‘animated forest’ shaping the Welsh landscape. Inspired by the poem Cad Goddeu, meaning ‘battle of the trees’, from the medieval Welsh manuscript known as the “Book of Taliesin” the unit will be developed to give the impression of movement.

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Cabin in the Woods

Its highlights include a padded sleeping area and a stove area with featured chimney above, as well as a box window designed to catch the morning sun to wake travellers naturally. It will use raw materials derived from the Welsh landscape including timber, steel, slate and leather.

Dragon’s Eye

Inspired by the legend that is the Welsh dragon, this eye-shaped pod could fool passers-by into thinking such a creature was hiding in the great outdoors. The walls will be covered with recycled plastic cut in the shape of a dragon’s scales. And the cabin features a wet room and Hungry Penguin wood burner for cooking and heating.

Little Dragon

This vertical unit celebrates the best Wales has to offer. The three prongs represent the dragon’s foot, the overall design is inspired by Wales’s famous industrial past and the steel door displays the country’s iconic

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Little Dragon

Celtic knotwork. The layout features a sleeping area upstairs and panoramic glazing at both levels provides for magnificent views across the Welsh landscape.

Miner’s Hut

This cabin is a tribute to the Wales’s mining industry – a Welsh legend that spans generations and landscapes across the country. Visitors are invited to enter the cabin by crawling through a small tunnel, allowing them access into an angular corridor space only lit by borrowed light.

From here they can follow a glow of light from the main space which extends to the full available height with large windows that provide scenic views of the great outdoors beyond.

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Miner’s Hut

Visitors must return into the tunnels to discover the washroom and to climb a flight of steep steps to the sleeping area, from where they can enjoy panoramic views from their bed.

SKYHUT

As a country, Wales has the highest percentage of sky designated as an ‘International Dark Sky’ area making it one of the most outstanding places in the world to stargaze. The SKYHUT is designed to provide a unique place to experience the sky, taking its inspiration from Cadair Idris where legend states that travellers sleeping out under the night sky awaken as madmen or poets.

sky-hut

SKYHUT

The tradition of sleeping out under the night sky is manifested in the roof with a simple geared cable system; borrowed from proven sailing technology, allowing it to open fully. With the doors open too, the SKYHUT can be configured as a glamping-observatory.

Slate Cabin

This cabin is based on the material Wales is built on, and of – slate. The cabin is a single room with a bathroom tucked behind. A kitchen and built-in table frame make up the sitting space, while the bed sits on a raised platform – at one end, this platform pulls back to provide space for a seat and desk.

Slate Cabin

Slate Cabin

The Epic Retreats project is a partnership between Best of Wales, Cambria Tours and George + Tomos Architects and is part funded by the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund.

Best of Wales director, Llion Pughe, said: “We are thrilled to announce the designs for the Epic Retreats pop-up glamping units. “With three incredible locations, an exciting programme of activities and eight unique buildings, Epic Retreats will celebrate the best Wales has to offer during 2017 – the Year of Legends.

“Our passion for Wales and its history has provided a great source of inspiration for this project and we look forward to giving guests the opportunity to wake up to Wales in the country’s first ever boutique pop-up glamping hotel.”

For more information on the project or to register your interest in booking, please visit epicretreats.wales. You can sign up to ensure that you are the first to find out about important updates, including how and when exactly bookings can be placed, from early January 2017.

Llangwm, Pembrokeshire launches its first literary festival

Llangwm, Pembrokeshire launches its first literary festival with a line-up of talks on Rival Royals, Rajahs, Russia, Refugees and Roots, and workshops inspired by Roald Dahl

Venues in Llangwm, Pembrokeshire – Friday 12 August – Sunday 14 August 2016

Llangwm launches its first ever literary festival this year with a fascinating selection of literary highlights from writers, famous and emerging. From the Kremlin to Calcutta, Refugees to Roald Dahl, Richard III to Henry Tudor, Children’s Writing to East Germany’s Stasi, Caldey Island to Caerphilly, Damascus to Delphi, there’s something here to capture everyone’s imagination.

 

Llangwm literary festival 2016

A new literary festival in Llangwm, Pembrokeshire

Griff Rhys Jones explores his sense of Welsh identity and the land of his aunties while Ferdinand Mount discovers mutiny, money and marriage in India from a very personal viewpoint. Bobo Lo examines the resurgence of the Kremlin under Putin, the emasculation of the West and the new multipolar world order while Anne Lauppe-Dunbar takes us back to East Germany for a chilling murder mystery and tales of a regime that systematically doped its best athletes to superhero status. Jerwood-winning Jo Mazelis navigates the twilight between reality and the supernatural within an icy wrap of ebony Gothic and Harry Mount walks us through Ancient Greece in the footsteps of Odysseus. Nick Taylor asks whether today’s problems are the result of the historic male domination of religion, politics, the economy, and culture and Rachel Mann intrigues us with Elsie Shufflebottom’s attempts to reclaim The Book of Providence and decipher the mysteries of its blank pages. Historian David Horspool delves into the Byzantine intrigues of Royal Rivals, Richard III and Henry Tudor and Diana Darke, an Arabic-speaking woman born in the Gower, talks of her restoration of a Damascus town-house and the genesis of today’s crisis in Syria.

Local author, Pamela Hunt will be regaling us with the hilarious adventures of Miss Daisy, her vintage Austin and Caerphilly-born author Tom Morris will be reading from his vivid collection of short stories “We Don’t Know What We’re Doing”. Ben Rawlence brings us nine lives from Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp.

In addition, there will be a bilingual writing competition for children (Welsh and English), workshops on creative writing for children and adults, and discussions about strategies for getting published. Paintings by local artists will be on sale at the festival site. Local musicians and composers will be performing a variety of music, including songs in Medieval Flemish to remember the Flemish communities of South Pembrokeshire.

For more information on the festival (tickets, attendance, participation and sponsorship opportunities), please contact llangwmlitfest@gmail.com or call 07970 812050. For local accommodation in Llangwm, Pembrokeshire and all across Wales visit www.bestofwales.co.uk

Looking ahead to the Summer holidays – top 10 for Wales

The Summer holidays is a time to enjoy with the family and if you haven’t got your holidays booked yet then we’re here to help you out with some great suggestions of activities that will keep your children (and you) entertained.

1. Dolphin spotting in Cardigan Bay

Yes that’s right, dolphins. We have one of only two resident populations of Bottle nose Dolphins in the UK in Cardigan Bay. Head out on a boat trip to watch them in their natural habitat. Trips go from New Quay in West Wales.

2. Tackle the trails

Wales is one of the best places to mountain bike in the World – fact. With trails for beginners as well as the pros why not head to Afan Forest Park in South Wales, Coed y Brenin in Snowdonia or Brechfa in West Wales.

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3. Explore the coast path

Wales’ coast path is 870 miles in length, but don’t be daunted by that. There are some lovely family friendly sections that for you to experience the beauty of the coast.

4. Experience our history at our castles

Wales has 600 castles so there’s plenty to choose from. Over the summer months many of them also have events and children’s activities taking place. How about a visit to Conwy castle, Carreg Cennen Castle or Caerphilly Castle?

5. Explore our wildlife

We are well known for our wildlife here in Wales, whether its puffins on Skomer island or Red Kites at Nant yr Arian. Experience our wildlife in their natural environment – something the young ones will never forget.

red kite

6. Theme park adventure

We have so much natural adventure in Wales however a day out at some of our attractions is also fun, try Oakwood Park, or Glasfryn Park or for the younger children head to Folly Farm.

7. Adventure

This year is the year of adventure in Wales, so why not try coasteering, ride the longest zip wire in Europe, surf at our inland surf lagoon, or try your hand at numerous other activities on offer.

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8. Summer events

Our events season in the Summer is packed with things such as the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, the National Eisteddfod for Wales, Llangollen International Eisteddfod, the Green Man festival and more.

9. Scale Wales’ highest mountain

If your not feeling energetic then getting to the top of our highest peak is easy, why not catch the train from Llanberis all the way to the summit. Wish for a clear day to experience breathtaking views.

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10. Have a fun day out at the beach

Tenby, Abersoch, Broadhaven, Port Eynon, Cefn Sidan, Llangrannog, just some of the family friendly beaches to visit. Build a sand castle, go paddling in the sea or sit and relax – its up to you.

Traeth Abersoch

If you’re planning your Welsh holiday and looking for accommodation then head to our search page or contact one of our friendly customer service team on 01650 511101/info@bestofwales.co.uk

Wales The Year Of Adventure

2016 is the year of adventure here in Wales, and we’re inviting you to explore it with us. Wales is a land of glorious scenery, poetic language and delicious foods, all waiting for you to experience.

Adventure can be defined as ‘An unusual and exciting or daring experience‘, however an adventure means different things to different people, whether it’s a dare devil adventure, a cultural adventure or a food adventure.

As part of the year of adventure our Best of Wales team are poised and ready to get involved and will be taking part in an adventure of their choice throughout the year. Each month a member of staff will feature in our Best of Wales Adventure series, trying something new, and what’s best it will all be filmed and shared with you on our social media channels using the hashtag #WalesAdventure

We start filming this month and we look forward to sharing the first adventure with you shortly

In the meantime here’s a taster of just some of the things that you can get involved in during your visit to Wales and if you take part in any of your own Wales Adventures why not share them with us on our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #WalesAdventure ……

Half Term Fun in Wales – Events for all the Family

School may have only been back a day but if you’re anything like us we are already looking forward to the next holiday. And with October half term only 7 weeks away we’re going to take you through some of the great events taking place in Wales at the end of October:

1. Gwledd Conwy Feast, Conwy, North Wales – 24th & 25th October

Head to Conwy for this celebration of Food, Music and Arts. With Chefs, Street Food, Farmers Market followed by live entertainment and music.

Gwledd Conwy Feast

Gwledd Conwy Feast

2. Elan Valley Dam Open Day – 1pm – 4pm, 28th of October

A great opportunity to take an exclusive look into the Pen y Garreg Dam at Elan Valley. Come and join their rangers for great views of the reservoir and to learn about how the dam was engineered.

3. History and Hauntings at Newton House, Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo – 23, 24 & 25 October

Join this spooky tour of Newton House by night, explore the National Trust’s most haunted house in Wales.

4. Spooky tours and Halloween Crafts, Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire – 28th – 31st of October

Fun for all the family at Picton Castle this Halloween with themed Craft Workshops followed by a live interpretation tour with a magical twist.

5. Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve Events – 27th – 31st of October

Choose from Cors Dyfi Walk and Talk, or My Wild Life – Hedgehogs, Afternoon Art or Cors Dyfi’s Halloween Special. Plenty of choice for a week full of activity.

6. Vale of Rheidol Railway Halloween Special – 29th – 31st of October

Take the Halloween Special from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge and be in for a spooky ride.

Head on a spooky ride on The Vale of Rheidol Railway

Head on a spooky ride on The Vale of Rheidol Railway

7. Monmouthshire Walking Festival – 25th of October – 2nd of November

Join this walking festival with walks from 3 miles to 18 miles. Explore the beautiful countryside of Monmouthshire.

8. Snowdon Marathon – 24th of October

Even if you’re not taking part in this event it is well worth going to watch and show your support. Voted Best British Marathon in 2007 & 2011 head to Llanberis to soak up the atmosphere.

So whether you and your family are interested in sampling some of the food of Wales or some Halloween activities, it is all taking place over Half Term week. Looking for accommodation head to our availability page to search and book now.

Enillydd Gwobr Y Gorau o Gymru 2015 / Best of Wales Award Winner 2015

Bob blwyddyn rydym fel cwmni yn noddi gwobr Y Gorau o Gymru, sydd yn gwbrywo y myfyriwr sy’n arddangos rhagoriaeth trwy astudiaeth busnes yn yr iaith Gymraeg. Eleni yr enillydd oedd Megi Williams o Ben Llŷn.

Yn ogystal â gwobr ariannol o £250, rydym hefyd yn cynnig profiad gwaith gyda’r cwmni i roi cychwyn cadarn i’r enillydd yn y byd gwaith. Ond eleni mae Megi wedi sicrhau cyflogaeth yn barod ac rydym yn dymuno pob lwc iddi yn y dyfodol.

Llion Pughe yn cyflwyno y wobr i Megi Williams

Llion Pughe yn cyflwyno’r wobr i Megi Williams

Meddai Megi: “Roedd y wobr yn sioc go iawn. Doeddwn i ddim yn ei disgwyl o gwbl, ond dwi’n hynod o ddiolchgar. Mae wir yn rhoi hwb ychwanegol ar yr hyn a oedd yn ddiwrnod graddio gwych i mi. Roedd graddio yn deimlad gwych, ond efo chydig o dristwch o wbod mai hwn oedd fy niwrnod olaf fel myfyriwraig yn Aberystwyth – tair blynedd orau fy mywyd hyd yn hyn ”

Each year as a company we sponsor the Best of Wales award in conjunction with Aberystwyth University, which recognises a student who displays excellence through business study in the Welsh language. And this year we are pleased to announce that the winner is Megi Williams from the Llyn Peninsula.

As part of the prize the winner is awarded £250 as well as a work placement with us to give them experience and assistance to the first steps of the working world. However this year Megi has already secured a post and we wish her well in the future.

Megi said:

“The award was a shock to me. I was not expecting to win it at all, but i am extremely grateful. It certainly has given me an extra lift on my graduation day. Graduation was a wonderful feeling, tinged with a little sadness that it would be my last day in Aberystwyth – the best three years of my life so far.”

A Wonderful Holiday in West Wales…..

We recently gave you all the wonderful opportunity to win a short break in the fabulous 5* Bwthyn y Traeth in West Wales. You entered in your thousands and the lucky winner was Mary Jordan. Mary and her husband Alan headed to West Wales last week and kindly sent us the message below:

“Just returned from a fabulous six days at the wonderful 5* coastal cottage Bwythn y Traeth in Burry Port, West Wales. The cottage was outstanding everything you could need from Tea, coffee, milk , and a lovely bottle of wine, it was home from home with a very warm welcome from the proprietor Kay who couldn’t do enough for us.

The Marina at Burry Port

The Marina at Burry Port

The area had a few surprises too with plenty of walks, cycle paths, and lovely beach nearby, a real hidden gem. It was a very interesting break with visits to the local towns of Llanelli and Carmarthen and for the younger members there is the Pembrey Country Park, and Kidwelly castle for exploring. For the food lovers eating out was a real treat with a few local pubs and restaurants specialising in local seafood and a visit to the lighthouse cafe which is only 5 minutes away on the harbour/marina is a must.

I must finish with my thanks to Llion from Best of Wales who organised this holiday for us both to celebrate our Anniversary which was a lovely surprise to win this competition. Finally to thank Kay Lenyk for the use of her amazing cottage to which we would certainly return without hesitation.

Thankyou again so much Best of Wales. Mary & Alan Jordan.”

We’re so glad you had a wonderful time Mary and Alan. And for the rest of you keep an eye out on our Facebook page for more competitions later on in the year and next time you could be the lucky winner.

Welsh Business Awards Finalists

We are delighted to announce that Best of Wales have been shortlisted as a finalists in the South Wales Chamber of Commerce ‘Welsh Business Awards’.

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We have been selected as one of three finalists in the ‘Welsh Rural Tourism Achievement’ category and face stiff competition to see if we will be crowned winners. As a company with over 250 holiday cottages in Wales in 2014 we welcomed over 11,000 people to Wales.

The awards ceremony will take place on the 26th of February at The Vale Hotel and we look forward to celebrating our achievements so far and finding out whether we will take home the award.

WELSH RURAL TOURISM ACHIEVEMENT

Good luck to all finalists and wish us luck!