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Golfing with Family -- Activities and Sightseeing Trips

You want to take a golf trip with your buddies or your family. You want to go somewhere different, somewhere you can play golf among the dunes and also soak up a little ancient culture. You'll find this in Wales, and much more too.

There are female-friendly golf clubs ready to welcome single or groups of lady golfers. There's a wide range of accommodations including Welsh Rarebits-designated country house hotels (some boasting a Michelin star); five-star golf and spa resorts, cozy inns, public inns (pubs), B & B's, and charming self-catering cottages on the edge of a vineyard.

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With their ayurvedic treatments, range of swimming pools, specialized classes such as boxercize, tai chi, range of dance; and their child-care activity rooms, some of the spa hotels and golf resorts make it particularly easy for golfers to enjoy a family holiday with non-golfing spouses and children in tow. On the other hand, staying in an inn or hotel in a town allows non-golfers to walk to Victorian shopping arcades, craft centers and museums, or to explore the boardwalk and beaches from seaside residences.

No matter where you decide to stay, after a morning of golf you're ready for other activities and sightseeing side trips, which will keep the family happy. There's so much going on in Wales there's something for everyone to do including sailing, surfing, fishing, horse riding, pony trekking, bird watching, hiking, and rock climbing.

The pristine, sandy beaches are perfect for walking, watching dolphins, collecting shells, and building sand castles. There are also medieval castles and gardens near many golf courses; taking a guided tour provides an enjoyable way for all the family to learn about the history and culture of the ancient Celts.

Many festivals are taking place in Wales throughout most of the year, so it's possible to time a vacation around one devoted to food, agriculture, art, the Welsh language, and music.

Then, of course, what every golfer wants to hear is that Wales offers inspiring golf and that they can have the unique experience of playing old links courses as well as enjoying some of the new parkland courses.

When they play Wentwood Hills at the Celtic Manor Resort, they'll have the satisfaction of knowing that the pros will be playing in their footsteps when they tee off in the Ryder Cup in 2010. Or that when they play the Vale Hotel, Golf and Country Club's new Wales National -- which will be launched on the international golf circuit at the end of June -- that it is on the short list for the Solheim Cup 2007.

1. "Wale of a Deal" offered by bmi

bmi is offering travelers a "Wale of a Deal" that includes air, hotel and car rental for travel to Wales from May 15 through December 15, 2003.

For $1,499, travelers, who purchase bmi's round-trip airfare in its new economy cabin from Chicago or Washington, D.C. to Manchester, England, receive one week's Avis automatic car rental with unlimited mileage and seven nights accommodation at a choice of 16 handpicked Welsh Rarebits Gold Collection hotels. If purchased separately, the air, hotel and car rental would cost more than double bmi's $1,499 "Wale of a Deal" price.

Among the benefits in bmi's new economy 48-seat cabin are extras such as ergonomic seats with 38 inches of comfortable leg room, telephone, dataports and laptop power. Welsh Rarebits is Wales' leading collection of 43 country house hotels, historic inns, luxury farmhouses, and resorts.

Manchester, less than an hour's drive from North Wales, is an ideal gateway to Wales -- the land of castles, known for its ruggedly beautiful scenery and wonderfully warm welcome. The wonders of Wales -- from Snowdonia National Park in the North and the green rolling hills of the Brecon Beacons in Mid Wales to cosmopolitan Cardiff in the South, and Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park and Dylan Thomas country in the West -- are waiting to be discovered.

To book bmi 's "Wale of a Deal" offer, call Undiscovered Britain & Ireland (UBI) toll free at 1-866-508-8804. For more information on the promotion, visit the Wales Tourist Board Web site at travelwales.us/bmi.

bmi offers daily nonstop flights to Manchester, England from Chicago and daily, except Tuesday from Washington, D.C. Its transatlantic service features new Airbus aircraft, provides three classes of service: business, new economy and economy, offers state of the art video equipment with individual seat back screens featuring 16 audio and 20 video channels as well as the latest NintendoT and classic PC games. Passengers also have a bird's-eye view of their journey throughout the flight as a result of cameras mounted on the nose and belly of the aircraft.

1. Price is based on double-occupancy and does not include air taxes of approximately $138 per person.

2. Supplement fee of $477 charged to single travelers.

3. Travelers can upgrade the Avis rental car by paying an additional fee.

4. All car insurance costs are extra.

5. Travelers can upgrade hotel accommodations to a choice of 26 additional properties by paying a daily supplement.

2. Golf Courses near Welsh Rarebits included

The 16 Welsh Rarebits below are included in the bmi-Wales package. However, if two or more people book the special rate, they receive additional credit to upgrade. They can also upgrade by paying an extra per-day charge. welshrarebits.co.uk)

Bae Abermaw, Barmouth. This modern hotel is on the west coast between Aberdovey and Royal St. David's golf courses, and not far from Porthmadog, Pwllheli, and Nefyn golf courses.

Bear Hotel, Crickhowell. Twice winner of the "Best Pub in Britain," this historic inn is in Southeast Wales near to Marriott St. Pierre, Monmouth, Rolls of Monmouth, Woodlake Park, Raglan Park, Bryn Meadows golf courses. Within easy distance of the Celtic Manor Resort's Wentwood Hills (Ryder Cup 2010), Roman, Road and Coldra Woods golf courses in Newport. It is also an easy drive to the new Wales National course at the Vale Hotel & Golf and Country Club in Hensol.

Castle Hotel, Conwy. An old coaching inn near Conwy Castle and the north coastline, it's practically within walking distance to Conwy and Llandudnu golf courses. Not far from Northop Country Hall near Chester on the border. In the other direction there is gloriously scenic driving along the coast to many other links courses including Prestatyn, Rhyl, Abergele, St. Deniol, and Caernarfon. This is a perfect seaside trip for families with young children.

Crown at Whitebrook, Near Monmouth. A gastronomic hideaway located in the Wye Valley, not far from Tintern Abbey. See Bear Hotel for golf courses.

Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon. A traditional pub at the southern end of Mid Wales, it's close to Cradoc and Brecon golf courses and not far from the courses listed under Bear Hotel.

Groes Inn, Conwy. An ancient inn near the medieval walled town of Conwy. Close to Conwy and Llandudno courses. See Castle Hotel above for full listing.

Harbourmaster Hotel, Aberaeron. A seafront, Georgian hotel on the west coast near to Cardigan, Penrhos, Aberdovey and Royal St. David's golf courses and within easy and scenic distances to Tenby and Haverfordwest in the south and Nefyn in the northwest.

Inn at the Elm Tree, Newport. A traditional inn of the 21st century, it is renowned for its culinary excellence. Close to Cardiff and Newport, its location is ideal for playing Royal Porthcawl, Southerndown, the golf courses at the Vale Golf and Country Club, the Celtic Manor Resort, and the Marriott St. Pierre.

Milebrook House, Knighton. This 18th-century, country house hotel is in Mid Wales on the border looking over the River Teme to England. Renowned for its excellent cuisine, formal herbaceous gardens, and one-mile stretch of fly-fishing on the Teme, Milebrook is located in some of the most beautiful countryside in Wales. The scenic drives to golf courses in the southeast and west coast take about one hour in either direction.

Olde Bull's Head, Beaumaris. Located on the Isle of Anglesey, this 1472 inn produces some of the finest cuisine in North Wales. Close to all the coastal golf clubs from St. Deniol to Prestatyn, this is another great seaside location for families. See list of golf courses under Castle Hotel above.

Old Post Office, Cardiff. Scandinavian style located right in the heart of cultural Wales with museums, waterfront attractions, Victorian shopping arcades, craft centers and music festivals. This hotel is within easy reach of several of the major courses including Royal Porthcawl, Southerndown, the golf courses at the Vale Golf and Country Club, the Celtic Manor Resort, and the Marriott St. Pierre.

Penbontbren Hotel, Cardigan. On the southwest coast, this hotel is an award-winning transformation of old stables, granary, and barn. Close to some beautiful beaches on the Cardigan Bay Heritage Coast and picturesque seaside villages, it is about a 45-minute drive to Tenby golf course in the south, and one hour driving north up the coast to Aberdovey. Continuing north along this beautiful coast brings Royal St. David's, Porthmadog, Pwllheli, and Nefyn golf courses in close succession.

Penhelig Arms, Aberdyfi (Aberdovey). Overlooking the River Dyfi, this handsome hotel is located in a sailing center. Practically next door to the Aberdovey golf course, it is also within easy driving distance of some of Wales' top coastal links courses. (See Penbontbren above). Penhelig Arms is celebrated for its charming accommodations, fine cuisine and extensive wine list, some of the attributes which contributed to a Best Hotel in Wales award.

Plas Dinas, Caernarfon. Once the home of the Armstrong-Joneses (Anthony Armstrong-Jones/Lord Snowdon was the former husband of Princess Margaret), this lovely country house hotel provides a spectacular view across the Menai Strait to the Isle of Anglesey. This small hotel reputed for its fine cuisine and wine list, is near to many coastal golf courses including Nefyn, Caernarfon, Llandudno, and Conwy.

Ty Mawr Country Hotel, Carmarthen (tent accent over y). Located near the Brechfa Forest and about 4 minutes from the south and west coasts, this small, white-washed inn has the thick stone walls, low ceilings, and old beams characteristic of a 15th century building. Lots to do in the area, such as hiking, fishing, birdwatching, castles, gardens, Ty Mawr is near to Carmarthen, Haverfordwest, and Tenby, and not far from Pennard, Ashburnham, Southerndown, and Royal Porthcawl golf links situated along the south coast.

Wolfscastle Country Hotel, Haverfordwest. This cozy, old stone house, updated with all modern comforts and facilities, is only a 15 to 20-minute drive in each direction from the bays and beaches of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park on both south and west coasts. Near to golf courses listed above for Ty Mawr in Carmarthen and the Penbontbren Hotel in Cardigan.

For more information on the Welsh Rarebits country house hotels visit welshrarebits.co.uk. To request a Welsh Rarebits Collection guide call: 800-873-7140, Email ann@undiscoveredbritain.com or info@rarebits.co.uk

3. New! Country Lodge in Mid Wales adds a spa

While it's not part of the Welsh Rarebits selection and therefore not included in the bmi package, Nant Ddu Lodge is a country inn in the Brecon Beacons of Mid Wales and close to many golf courses -- see those listed under Bear Hotel above.

Spa Packages at the Nant Ddu Lodge. To celebrate the opening of the new health club and spa, the Nant Ddu Lodge ((www.nant-ddu-lodge.co.uk) is offering introductory overnight Spa Packages from £99 (British Pounds) per person, including accommodation, all meals and two hours of beauty treatments, available until July 2003.

Introductory Rates: per person per night (British Pounds) Overnight Spa packages DO SO Monday-Friday £115.00 £135.00 Saturday £125.00 £150.00 Sunday £99.50 £120.00

Great Value Spa Days: (From March 2003 until further notice) Use of facilities without an overnight stay: Half-Day Spa Packages Includes the use of pool, spa and "saunarium" before a 1 hour treatment of choice with a light lunch: £49.95 Full-Day Spa Packages Two hours of pampering with a light lunch and the use of spa all day: £89.50

Spa and Health facilities include: 18 metre indoor swimming pool 15 seat "saunarium" -- a more relaxing alternative to sauna and steam rooms Air-conditioned gym with state-of-the-art cardiovascular and weights equipment 3 treatment rooms offering a range of beauty and relaxation services Large hydro-spa Solarium Conservatory lounge and bar

Spa Body Therapy Treatments include: Hydro-Active Mineral Salt Scrub (sea salt, dried seaweed and fruit enzymes). Sunless Bronzing: The Hydro Active Mineral Salt Scrub precedes application of moisturizing tanning cream. Enzymatic Sea Mud Wrap: The salt scrub precedes the purifying seaweed and mineral mud poultice infused with aromatic botanical extracts and fruit enzymes.

Contact: Nant Ddu Lodge Hotel, Cwm Taf, Near Merthyr Tydfil, Powys, CF48 2HY Tel: +44 (0) 1685 379111 Fax:+44 (0) 1685 377088 (nant-ddu-lodge.co.uk) Nearest airport: Cardiff International Airport, 45 minutes away. Nearest railway station: Merthyr Tydfil, 10 minutes away

4. Female-friendly golf clubs

The Vale Hotel, Golf and Country Club, the Celtic Manor Resort, Marriott St. Pierre Hotel, and Penrhos Golf Club are noted for their warm welcomes to lady golfers. Other clubs hosting Welsh Ladies Golfing Union events include: 2003: Aberdovey, Radyr, Cardigan, Southerndown, Pontypool, Royal Porthcawl 2004: Royal Porthcawl, Vale Golf and Country Club, Vale of Llangollen, Ashburnham, Padeswood & Buckley, Haverfordwest (2002: Pwllheli, Northop Park, Llandudno North Wales, Cregiau, Royal Porthcawl)

5. Guides available for sightseeing

Not all golfers want to play 36 holes a day. Those who plan to play 18 holes will find there are all kinds of other activities in Wales to enjoy with non-golfing spouses and children.

The Wales Vacation Planner and the Wales Tourist Board's other special guides: Golf Wales, Fishing Wales, Premier Gardens, Cycling, Walking, Beaches, Waterfront Wales, Riding & Pony Trekking, Bed & Breakfast Touring Map, Farmhouse Holidays, and Touring Wales (self-drive itineraries), can be requested via travelwales.org, Toll free: 877 872 1133 or Email: Walesbrochure@visitbritain.org. Outside of the US call +44 (0) 8701 211251 Email: info@visitwales.com or online: visitwales.com

Wales Official Tourist Guide Association : There are times when a tour guide specialist can turn a vacation into a much more interesting trip. If you would like the expertise of a tour guide for one day or longer, contact www.walestourguides.com

6. Wales triumphs at seaside awards

News from the Wales Tourist Board visitwales.com

This year Wales has a staggering 103 Seaside Award winning beaches -- more than the English Riveria, Scotlland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands put together. The record total, five up on last year, sees two new entries (Dale West and Criccieth West) and a stunning seven re-entries, including seaside favorites Llandudno North and West, Prestatyn and Rhyl (all back in the fold from 2001).

Any beach achieving a Seaside Award this year, will have passed strict tests on beach management, including making sure they provide first aid facilities, good access for disabled visitors and have sands that are free of litter and dog fouling. The water we paddle and bathe in also has to be up to EU minimum legal standards for cleanliness and this information together with details on all the facilities on offer at the beach, must be displayed on easy to read signs for the public to see. Then and only then, can beaches fly the distinctive Seaside Award yellow and Blue Flag throughout the summer months. Seaside Awards

7. Should you lug your golf clubs?

Not if you don't want to -- just rent them in advance and they'll be waiting for you in Wales, either at your hotel or a golf club. Contact: Barry Thomas/James Thomas at St. Mellons Golf Club, Newport, South Wales: JamesThomas@hotmail.com or Tel: +44 1633 680101

For more on traveling light: Should you still lug your clubs, read Shane Sharp's March 25th column on TravelGolf.com:

"You see the guy and you have to pity him. You know the guy -- the one standing in the three-mile-long check-in line at the airport with a travel golf bag the size of a coffin. You feel for him because you know he'll have to lug that bag onto the rental car bus in a few hours while the other passengers look on in awe. And just when he thinks the lugging is over, he'll have one last Herculean lug out to the rental parking stall in the most remote corner of the lot.

"In a few days he'll go through the exact same painstaking procedure just to get back home. Perhaps even with a hangover. It is all worth it, you see, for the comfort and familiarity he derives from swinging his own clubs throughout the duration of his golf trip. How do you know this guy? Because you are this guy."

To read the rest of the story go to: All-Access Pass archives

8. Festivals in Wales: June to end August: festivalsofwales.com Music

June 22-29 Cardiff Singer of the World: International competition featuring 25 of the world's best singers, along with BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the orchestra of Welsh National Opera. www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk

July 8-13 Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod: Gathering of singers and dancers from all over the world perform in the town of Llangollen, North Wales. First held in 1947 to help heal the wounds of war by bringing the peoples of the world together, it was attended in 1955 by a young, unknown Luciano Pavarotti who had travelled with his father to the Eisteddfod as a member of Chorale Rossini, a male chorus from his hometown of Modena. When they won first prize in the male chorus competition, the 19-year-old Pavarotti knew then that he wanted to be a tenor. In what promises to be an emotional concert, Pavarotti returns to this years' Ts festival on Saturday 5th July at 6 p.m. with the New Symphony Orchestra. In a series of farewell concerts before his planned retirement in 2005, Llangollen is the first stop among the many places that have meant so much to this famous opera star during his long career. www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk

August 8-10 Brecon Jazz Festival: International festival in the southern region of Mid Wales that attracts the top names from the world of jazz. According to The Times, it is "The most enjoyable of all Britain's festivals." www.breconjazz.co.uk

August 22-25 Bryn Terfel's Faenol Festival: Held at the Faenol Estate in Bangor, North Wales, this musical festival is a series of evening performances ranging from opera to Welsh rock. Wales' premier opera singer Bryn Terfel will appear with Jose Carreras, another major international singer. brynfest.com

Food and Agriculture:

July 21-24 Royal Welsh Show: Of all the agricultural events in the UK, this is the biggest and its four days of entertainment attracts a wide audience to Builth Wells in Mid Wales. www.rwas.co.uk

July 25-27 The Big Cheese Festival: Held on the outskirts of Cardiff, South Wales, in Caerphilly -- home of the famous castle and cheese of the same name -- the festival showcases the many cheeses produced in Wales.

Cheese making has a long tradition in Wales with the early cheeses resembling the famous Caerphilly. During the war, hard cheddar was produced at the expense of the more flavorful farmhouse cheeses. Since the 1970s, farmhouse cheese production has been growing in West Wales; Mid Wales is home to a British Champion of Champion cheese maker; in East Wales some of the best recognized cheeses are produced in Abergavenny; in the South, Caerphilly is producing cheese again after a hiatus of many years; and in North Wales, particularly the Llyn peninsula, cheesemaking has a fine reputation. gov.uk/bigcheese

Welsh Language: August 2-9 National Eisteddfod of Wales: This year held in Meifod, near Welshpool, Mid Wales, it is Wales' most important cultural festival dating from 1176. Dedicated to Welsh, Britain's oldest living language, there are competitions, choirs, concerts, stands and exhibitions. www.eisteddfod.org.uk

Town and city festivals: August 16-24 Llandrindod Wells Victorian Festival: This Mid Wales spa town celebrates its Victorian past with over 300 events including street theater, walks, talks, drama, exhibitions and music. www.victorianfestival.co.uk

July & August Cardiff Summer Festival: The capital city of Wales celebrates summer with an ongoing parade of festivities including street performers and vendors. cardiff-festival.com

9. Tour operators offer golf packages to Wales

The list is growing and can be viewed at www.visitwales.com and also on oewcommunications.com

Update: The World Airline Golf Alliance still has a few openings on its Connoisseur Golf Tournament to Wales from August 30 to September 5.

Stay at the Vale Hotel, Golf and Country Club, and play courses: Vale, Tenby, Royal Porthcawl, Celtic Manor Resort (Ryder Cup 2010), Pyle &Kenfig, and the De Vere Belfry near Birmingham (Ryder Cup 2002). Email armlass@optusnet.com.au WAGAgolf.com

The Latest: One tour group that sometimes gets overlooked is WorldGolf.com's TravelGolf site. Access Magazine, a widely read publication included in hundreds of Sunday newspapers across the U.S. and Canada, featured TravelGolf.com in their "Best Sites of the Year" edition. According to the magazine, "TravelGolf.com, one of the Internets' most high-profile golf tourism sites, is a fine place to start. The deals are often so good that non-golfers take advantage of them." Also under WorldGolf/TravelGolf.com's umbrella is GolfEurope.com, a site providing readers with information on Wales golf courses and tour packages: GolfEurope.com

10. Homeopathic remedy helps jetlag

Compared to most foreign destinations, it's just a short hop over the pond to Manchester or London and then not much more than an hour's drive to get to Wales. However, when your goal is to get off a transatlantic flight and hit a golf course the same day, you might need a little help.

There is a homeopathic remedy that has helped passengers on long-haul flights to reduce the effects of jet-lag fatigue -- such as swollen feet, headaches, disorientation and lack of concentration -- which interferes with driving skills and playing well on the golf course.

Called No-Jet-Lag, the homeopathic pills -- they contain Leopard's Bane (Arnica Montana), Chamomile, Daisy, Clubmoss, and Ipecac -- are available at Whole Foods, and Wild Oats markets in the United States. For more information visit nojetlag.com

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