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The Vale Resort, South Wales : Review

I recently spent a couple of nights at The Vale Resort, a four star resort in 650 acres of beautiful Welsh countryside.

Normally I travel to, from and around Wales by car but I went by train to Cardiff this time which took no time at all from Reading, a mere hour and a half of nothing more than looking out of the window, listening to music and reading - having given up on WiFi.

I had no end of offers from friends of lifts up to The Vale which of course was lovely but the timings weren’t conducive so I looked at taxis. A taxi from the station rank was £35 whilst Uber was £21. Needless to say I took an Uber. Again staring out of the window at familiar surroundings, really staring this time and taking it all in as I was not the driver.

Checking into The Vale was easy and the staff were friendly and polite. As I was really early they pointed me in the direction of the bar (I didn't say no) which was again staffed by friendly and polite people. I had a glass of wine and a baguette with ham, cheese and Welsh red mustard which was abs

The thing I love about being in Wales is people are so friendly and inquisitive, Big W (who is 100% Welsh) once said that everyone is much friendlier in Wales, I said "I know, I am". Sorry I digress. I had a snack in the bar which was tasty (the snack not the bar), well presented and served with a smile. As it was the night before the Wales v France game there were lots of supporters arriving and a few players on account of the world class sports training facilities.

My room was spacious and my bed was HUGE, the bathroom with a bath and separate shower was well stocked with products, fluffy towels and there was plentiful hot water on tap. Sorry. The bed was so comfortable that I slept all night with the added bonus of not being woken up by dogs, children or the hustle and bustle. The hairdryer was a proper hairdryer not one you have to hold the button to get a pathetic stream of air. There were plenty of plugs dotted around the room, a proper kettle with a good selection of teas and coffees.

The first evening I stayed at The Vale I went to Thomas by Tom Simmons in Pontcanna, my favourite restaurant for an evening with the Wales France Business Forum. I had planned ahead and booked a taxi earlier in the afternoon, it arrived on time and we set off to pick up Mike and then head to Pontcanna. I would suggest booking your taxi in good time and don’t rely on Uber getting you into Cardiff - there were no Ubers out that way. The taxi to town cost £25, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t a king’s ransom when you consider it costs £30 to go from Reading to Wokingham, which is half the mileage. The taxi on the way back was £27. On the way there down the M4 and on the way back via Llandaff (birth place of Roald Dahl).

I booked in for breakfast at 8am (at 3am I thought that was a good idea). I couldn’t decide between fruit or fry up so I had both. There was a huge choice and the plates were hot so I filled my plate with bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms. Sometimes breakfast rooms are loud and there’s crockery clanking but this wasn’t the case at The Vale. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t deathly silent either, it was perfect.

There’s lots of facilities at The Vale with a health club (20m pool, Sauna & Steam Room, Whirlpool Bath, Gym and lots of classes), spa (19 treatement rooms, 5 relaxation zones, lot of treatement to choose from, Chai Cafe and a boutique shop), golf (2 championship courses, 16 bay driving range {did you know driving range in German is driving range?}), Pro Shop and Clubhouse, conference facilities and over at Hensol Castle (which is available to book on an exclusive use for weddings, house parties or events) there's Hensol Castle Distillery where I was given a gin tour in the afternoon which you can read about here. As I wasn’t sure how much free time I would have I didn’t take my gym kit or swimmers, but next time I will.

I did have time for coffee with a friend, well saying that I looked over the Lunch Menu and got taken in by a Jacket Potato and Chilli which was really nice. The Bar Menu is varied.

On Friday afternoon there was a frisson of excitement amongst the guests as the team transport and familiar rugby faces appeared. I got chatting to two traffic officers, one of whom was in Thames Valley Police some years back - I know I know, small world!

Then it was time to go to the stadium and as I waited for Big W to arrive who was stuck in traffic (if you’re heading to or past Cardiff on match day be sure to leave plenty of time, on this occasion he did but Bristol was a pinch point and he got redirected at Newport and did a circuitous route to junction 34) the excitement mounted further as a throng of people came out to wish the Wales team well.

Getting into Cardiff on an International Day wasn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things, we parked in Pontcanna and walked to the stadium. On a non match day there are loads of places to park in Cardiff and plenty to see and do, no wonder it’s my favourite UK city. One place you must put on your list of places to visit is St Fagans the National Museum of History which will give you a real sense of place.

The Vale is conveniently situated just off the M4 at Junction 34 making it easy to get out and about by taxi or car. Next time I go by train I might get the Maesteg train to Pontyclun (which takes 12 minutes) and get a taxi to The Vale. If I take the car I can easily head off to the beaches at Llantwit Major, Barry Island or Ogmore by Sea which are approximately 25 minutes away, I can be in Cardiff within 20 minutes, it’s roughly an hour to Carmarthen, with Laugharne just over an hour away (familiar to many for Dylan Thomas and Keeping Faith) and an hour or so to the Brecon Beacons - so convenient.

"The Vale Resort is so much more than a hotel" says their website. "For a four star hotel and leisure experience nothing short of special the Vale Resort will not disappoint." It didn't.

Thank you to The Vale Resort, Hensol Distillery and team for looking after me and for my gifted stay. I will definitely be back.


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