Archive for the ‘Dragon Hotel Blog’ Category

Want an Authentic South Wales Experience? Visit a Vineyard

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

grape

(image: Anders Ljungberg)

Are you booked into stay in one of the many hotels in Swansea this winter and are looking to have an authentic taste of Wales? Then you may want to pay a visit to one of the vineyards here and experience the aromatic flavours of the locally grown and pressed wine.

Sound perfect to you? Then check out 4 of South Wales’ most successful vineyards:

Llanerch Vineyard, Hensol

Set in the picturesque Glamorganshire countryside around 20 minutes from Wales’ capital Cardiff, Llanerch vineyard is a 22 acre estate of a working vineyard, restaurant and bistro. Pay a visit to this vineyard and enjoy a self-guided tour of the vineyard before sitting down for some wine tasting or even one of the popular cooking classes.

This is the perfect relaxing setting to enjoy a good meal and a smooth glass of wine while enjoying the winter sun from a newly refurbished building. Or if you want to make a day of it and are a fan of sport, head around the corner about a mile to the Vale Resort and Spa. The resort is home to the training ground of the 2012 and 2013 RBS Six Nations Championship winners, the Wales National Rugby Team. You may even get a few autographs.

Glyndwr Vineyard, Cowbridge

One of the oldest and most established vineyards in Wales, Glyndwr Vineyard has been in the same hands for over 30 years and currently has over 6,000 vines planted on its land. With a high reputation for great quality wines that are sold across Wales, the vineyard has even catered for European State banquets and the House of Lords.

If you pay a visit to Glyndwr then say hello to the chickens, ducks and pheasants that roam freely amongst the environmentally friendly green fields before strolling around the nearby gardens and the immediate area.

Cwm Deri Vineyard, Martletwy

For ventures to Pembrokeshire, Cwm Deri Vineyard would make a well worthy stop. This vineyard is part of a working smallholding that overlooks the stunning National Park, so head out onto the patio and terrace to enjoy the views while sipping on a glass of red.

And when you get a little peckish there is a conservatory restaurant that can cater to your hunger needs with deliciously fresh produce that is bound to impress.

Jabajak Vineyard, Whitland

The only vineyard in Carmarthenshire, this venue is so beautiful it is often used as a location for weddings. New to the wine making business the wine here is a work in progress, however it has established its place on the Wine Trail Wales and hopes to bring in a great yield in Harvest 2014.

Do you prefer a beer to a glass of wine? Then try out the Mumbles mile!

Golf Tips for Kids: 7 Tips to Teach Every Budding Golfer

Monday, October 20th, 2014


Children's golf
Every golfer starts somewhere. How can your budding Rory McIlroy or Annika Sorenstam hone their game? Get them started the right way with these 7 top golf tips for junior golfers:

#1 Have fun

Cheesy and clichéd, perhaps, but this is the golden rule of kids golf. It’s only a game. If they’re not having fun then they should go play something else.

#2 Make their own decisions

Good coaching is all about mastering the balance between giving great advice and letting them to do their own thing. Golf is all about decision making, so show them how to read situations but trust them to make the right call for them. They’ll discover the best solutions along the way – and have more fun while they’re at it.

#3 Develop a comfortable grip

A solid grip is key to good golfing technique. Try to ensure that their hands are close together, with all of their fingers are in contact with the club for optimum control.

However, it’s important to remember that at an early stage a conventional grip isn’t essential. If they’re hitting it well and showing a good eye, that’s perfect. As #2 specifies, good coaching is all about letting them make their own decisions – and mistakes.

#4 Start with your short game

Not everyone can hit a ball 300 yards, but everyone can putt. That’s why it’s great to get youngsters adept around the greens. After all, the majority of shots are played with a putter. If you can master your short game you’ll go far.

#5 Roll the putt, don’t hit it

Putting is all about coaxing the ball towards the final goal. If you hit it, the ball will roll too far. So teach your protégé to keep the putter head as close to the floor as possible and roll the ball before the putter comes back up so to avoid hopping.

#6 Practice, practice, practice

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell developed a concept back in 1993 called the 10,000 hours rule. Its basic premise was that to become an expert in a specific field, you have to spend at least 10,000 hours of your life practicing it. That’s 417 days of non-stop practice and nearly 14 months.

He identified people such as Bill Gates, The Beatles and Tiger Woods who put the hours in before becoming universally acknowledged as the best in their field. This rule has been proven particularly true in golf, where American Dan McLaughlin quit his job having never hit a ball in his life to test the concept. Halfway through, Dan has a handicap of four.

Of course, unless you’re the pushiest parent ever (and we’ve outlawed that on point 2), 10,000 hours is near enough unfeasible. That means that if your son or daughter starts playing aged 8 they’d have to play four hours every weekday until they were 18 to reach the mark. But it does highlight how essential practice is.

Does your child want to improve? There’s only one place to do it – out on the fairways and greens.

#7 Maintain your etiquette

Golf is, of course, a game of etiquette. If you can teach your protégé the importance of fair play and sportsmanship, they’ll have a greater respect for others and be more likely to love the game in the long term.

So while you help them hone their golfing skills, why not plan a trip to stunning south Wales, for a weekend away to visit some of the country’s best courses? Find out more about golf in Swansea and surrounding areas from our local staff here at the Dragon Hotel, and don’t forget to check out our golf special offers!

Swansea Marina’s Best Restaurants

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Swansea marina is a great place to take a leisurely stroll and admire the bobbing boats on the water, but it is also a brilliant spot for wining and dining. Our very own Dragon Brasserie and Cafe Bar is perfect for casual dining, but here is our pick of the best rest to try in the marina:

Gallinis Brasserie, Unit 3, Fishmarket Quay, SA1 1UP

gallinis

Gallinis is the home to contemporary fine dining in Swansea marina. Under new ownership since March 2013, the restaurant has thrived with new dishes and innovative ideas. But it still maintains the classic favourites, prepared by long-time employee Guiseppe.
The menu is mainly Italian, with flares of other European dishes and fresh locally caught fish. And is a favourite dining place for Swansea City FC players among other celebrities.

Panshee, 29 Singleton Street, SA1 3QN

Panshee combines traditional Indian cuisine with a modern flare, in the contemporary surroundings in the heart of Swansea. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the menu here, and it’s affordable too! Whether you love a hot and spicy vindaloo or you’re more of a korma kind of person, there’s a dish for you.

The Grape and Olive, Meridian Tower, SA1 1JW

view

If you are looking for drinks and dining with a panoramic view of Swansea bay then there is nowhere better than the Grape & Olive at the top of one of the tallest buildings in Wales.

The Grape & Olive believe in using only the finest quality ingredients, so you can expect a hearty meal; almost as good as the view!

La Fina, 33 Kingsway, SA1 5LE

Step away from the modern marina and escape to the rustic charms that is La Fina, a Spanish restaurant in Swansea. Sit underneath timber beams among Mediterranean décor, and enjoy a myriad of tapas dishes or their famous ‘espetada’ specials. Finish off with a brownie or the sticky toffee pudding for a fabulous sweet treat.

Shang Restaurant & Club, 18-22 Anchor CY, Maritime Quarter, SA1 3XA

For a taste of the orient and a sea view head down to the Shang Restaurant & Club on the waterfront. Whether you opt for the a la carte menu or enjoy the large buffet choice, this is a great location for an evening meal.

Try to get a seat in the glass conservatory for the best views!

Salento Ristoriante, Pilot House Warf, SA1 1UN

salento
This is a unique Italian restaurant, which takes its influence from the Apulia Region of Southern Italy. Salento has fish and lobster delivered every day from the fishermen that sail out across the bay, giving you the freshest locally sourced food in the area.
Share in the traditions of this family-run restaurant with a good hearty meal and a large glass of wine, under great service.

Do any of these restaurants take your fancy? They’re the best Swansea marina restaurants on offer!

 

Read more:

The Mumbles’ Best Restaurants 

Where to Eat in Swansea? Quintessentially Welsh Restaurants 

 

 

 

(images: Gallinis Brasserie,  Wedding Venues,  Shang Restaurant & Club and Salento Ristorante)

Five of the Best Burgers in Swansea

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

burger
There’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into a nice juicy burger, but not all burgers were created equal. If you’re in Swansea and are looking to get your hands on a burger that will absolutely blow your mind – and taste buds – away, then these are five places you need to go:

(more…)

Pyle & Kenfig Golf Course Review – Your Essential Guide

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

pyleken

(image: Welsh Golf Breaks)

The latest edition of our Golfing in Swansea review series sees us play a round at Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club. Because it’s just 10 minutes from Royal Porthcawl, P&K is often seen as the regal course’s little brother, but it’s so much more than that.

Let’s learn a little more:

Where is Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club?

Just south of Swansea, Pyle & Kenfig is just 5 minutes’ drive from J37 of the M4 and just half an hour from The Dragon Hotel. After taking the A429 south, pass through two roundabouts then take a right onto Heol Drewi. Pyle & Kenfig will be on your right.

How Pyle & Kenfig plays out

Originally a 9-hole course, P&K was extended to double that after World War II and this course certainly does seem to have a split personality, combining links with parkland golf.

Get your driving right and hit the fairways consistently during the front 9 and you could end make it to halfway with a very decent score indeed, when the course is relatively forgiving and plays straight.

However, if you’re looking for a decent score and can’t get a few birdies during the first 9 then you could be in trouble. During the second half the course starts weaving around sand dunes and becomes markedly more difficult with some decidedly challenging golf – especially on a windy day around the coast.

That’s not to say it’s no fun to play – the twisting run of holes from the 11th to the 15th is one of the finest streaks you’ll encounter in South Wales. The 11th is a long 525-yard par 5 with plenty of sand dunes to battle against, while the par 4 14th – a tough links hole with views of the Gower peninsula and a stunning amphitheatre green – is probably the highlight.

If you’ve got to the 16h intact, you’ll find the holes ease up a little and you might have a chance of getting to the clubhouse with a decent score under your belt.

Why you’ll love it

Like we’ve just said, the short run of 5 holes really does offer some exhilarating play. If golf were a 5-round sport, P&K would be one of the country’s very best.

Like South Wales’ other great courses, P&K allows some particularly impressive panoramic views. Depending on where you are on the course, you’ll be afforded a view of the Bristol Channel, the Gower Peninsula, Sker House, Rest Bay or the Welsh Mountains. There’s a lot to take in.

And unlike some South Wales courses like Pennard, P&K doesn’t have any mean, unhelpful tricks up its sleeve or hidden hazards that spoil your scorecard. If you get your technique right and hone your decision making, there’s every chance you’ll do alright.

Why you might not

While it’s true that the greens and fairways are immaculately tended at P&K, some golfers do complain that the course can lack a little magic outside of its highlight holes – particularly the front 9. That means it’s perfect for golfers who need a few holes to get their eye in, but not quite so good if you want to be consistently challenged from the very start.

Looking for a golfing hotel near Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club?

At The Dragon Hotel we specialise in creating memorable golf breaks in South Wales. If you’re looking for a hotel near Pyle & Kenfig, we can provide a home from home in Central Swansea for you and your golf buddies to stay.

Let us build you a break that sees you visit South Wales’ best courses. Talk to us today – call 01792 657140.

How to Buy the Right Golf Equipment: The Basics

Monday, October 13th, 2014

golfbag

(image: John Fischer under CC BY 2.0)

Whether you are completely new to the game or have been playing for years, buying golf clubs can at times be a little tricky. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few things to consider in how to buy the right golf equipment:

Be Realistic of Your Abilities

Let’s face it, you’re not Rory McIlroy. Knowing your skill level is important, as it will influence what type of clubs you use.

There’s, broadly, three groups:

• A beginner
• An intermediate player (someone who hits an 80 to 95 regularly)
• An advanced player (breaks 80 consistently)

We’d assume, if you are an advanced player you’ll know what you’re looking for, so we’ll focus mainly on the other two categories.

Absolute beginners should not spend money on a fitting programme, as you don’t have your swing down just quite yet. Clubs should instead be fitted according to your strength, posture and size. A basic set of clubs will have 2 or 3 woods, a handful of irons and a putter. And that’s plenty to get you started!

If you fall into the intermediate category, and most of the golfing population do, then you can experiment a little more with your set. Opt for clubs that have forgiveness, so that any dodgy swings don’t do too much damage, and shop around manufacturers to find some clubs you feel truly comfortable with.

Bigger is Better, But Short is for Sport

Have you seen the drivers with the hugely oversized heads? They may look a bit silly but they could really help your game. A large surface area creates more inertia, and if made of titanium the driver will transfer energy from the club to the ball more fluidly.

We wouldn’t recommend going bigger than 400 cubic centimetres though. This is simply too cumbersome for many and will have a diminishing effect on your game.

Longer shafts however aren’t such a good thing. A standard driver is usually 45inches but many of the world’s best players opt to go for 44s. This is because a slightly shorter shaft with a low grip will improve your accuracy, without impacting on your distance.

What Can You Afford?

Budget is a huge influencer on what kind of golf equipment you buy. We’re not all made of money unfortunately. You can spend a small fortune on getting the best balls and clubs out there, but if you are a recreational player it is unlikely you will feel much of a difference compared to the middle-of-the-road models. If you want some great balls, why not put them on your Christmas list?

Other Things to Consider

Grip Thickness – Aim for a grip that allows your fingers to gently touch your thumb when in grip. If they don’t touch or overlap then you may need a different size.

Shaft Length – Although, shorter is generally better, if you are very tall a longer and stiffer shaft may be more appropriate.

Loft – Do you find yourself slicing a lot? Then pick a club with less loft or an offset head.

The Iron – If you can hit the ball precisely on the clubface then purchase a forged, muscle-backed iron. The rest of us should stick to cavity-backed irons instead.

 

Did these tips help? We hope you feel more confident in choosing your clubs now. Don’t forget about your balls, glove, bag and trolley too! And if you fancy a golfing weekend in Swansea, we know a great place you can stay – with us!

 

What’s on in Swansea This Winter?

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Summer is now long gone and winter is on its way. But that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Here’s our pick of things to do in Swansea throughout the next few months.

Mumbles Oyster and Seafood Festival 2014 – 16th to 19th Oct

mumblesoyster

(image: Visit Swansea Bay)

This October sees the annual return of the Mumbles Oyster and Seafood Festival at Southend Gardens, Mumbles, Swansea. Last year saw live music, cooking demonstrations and talks from top chefs and the organisers are promising this year will be even bigger and better than ever before. We for one can’t wait!

Ghostbusters in the City – 31st Oct

Halloween 2014 will be celebrated with style, as from 10am to 4pm the city centre will be filled with ghost busting activities. This free day out is fun for all the family and will include a Ghostbusters live show at 11am, 12pm and 1pm. As well as the show there will be a pumpkin carving competition for the chance to win a great prize. And don’t forget to dress up because you may also win the best costume competition at 3pm. Expect to see the following throughout the day:

 

Swansea Castle Courtyard

  • Ghostbusters shows at 11am, 12pm, 1pm

 

Oxford St and Swansea Market

  • Make your own slime
  • Pumpkin rodeo, games and freaky face painting
  • Gruesome grub activities
  • Pumpkin parade
  • Ghostbusting hunt and prizes
  • Tricks, treats and top tunes from Nation Hits!

 

Swansea German Beerfest 2014 – 25th Oct

On the evening of the 25th October Swansea will be filled with all the fun and excitement of an Oktoberfest. There will be plenty of beer to sample in traditional steins, as well as live oompah music, bands and magicians to keep you entertained. Make sure to try the schnitzel, sausages and pretzels too! They’ll be served by people in traditional mädchens. Tickets are £15 on the door.

Waterfront Winterland – 14th Nov to 4th Jan

 

waterfrontwonderland

(image: BBC)

Pay a visit to Swansea’s award winning Christmas attraction this festive season and enjoy the wonders that lie in store outside the Waterfront Museum. Take to the floor on one of 2 ice rinks, experience the thrill of the Sky Ride and the rest of the funfair, or say hello to Father Christmas in his grotto. There’s plenty to see and do here for all the family.

Christmas Craft Fayre – 22nd and 23rd Nov

Parkmill down the Gower will be the location of all things artsy this November. The Gower Heritage Centre will have a Christmas market, selling plenty of local produce and handmade craft pieces. And this event is free to attend all week! See, there’s plenty to look forward to in the run-up to Christmas! There’s never a dull moment in Wales’ second biggest city.

We have a number of amazing Christmas offers, so if you are in Swansea over the festive period, be sure to check them out.

Sophisticated Guide To The Best Wine Bars In Swansea

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Swansea’s great for a night out. Wind Street in the middle of the city is a particular favourite with revellers, but there are places you can go that are a little more, ahem, refined.

Which are the best places in Swansea for a marvelous Merlot? Where can you find a classic cocktail? Here are our faves:

Wine(Image: Alex Brown under CC BY 2.0)

No Sign Wine Bar – 56 Wind Street

All things considered, it’s a Swansea institution. South Wales’ wine lovers have been visiting No Sign in some guise or other since the 15th century and Swansea’s greatest son Dylan Thomas was particularly fond of the place in the 1930s.

Today, it’s still just as good. With old beams, stone floors and character oozing out of every nook and cranny, it offers a welcome contrast to some of the rowdier, more faceless chain pubs on Wind Street. Serving ales, beers and food, it may not be solely a wine bar any more, but No Sign’s staff sure still know their way around a wine list.

Morgans – Somerset Place

While No Sign positively swims in old-school charm, Morgans is a good option for sophisticated ladies. Its Champagne Bar offers a range of classic cocktails with a modern twist and – of course, a great range of wines and champagnes.

Kon-Tiki Bar – 10 The Strand

There’s no way we can compile a list of Swansea’s classiest drinking establishments without mentioning Kon-Tiki. Oozing in quirky cool, Kon-Tiki is a bar that puts imagination and expertise into some of your favourite cocktails – as well as introducing you to some you’ve not heard of before.

We recommend.

Ten – The Kingsway

Describing itself as “luxurious” and “sumptuous”, Ten is the sort of high-end establishment in Swansea where you’ll be likely to see the great and good of South West Wales – from Premiership footballers to leading businessmen.

As you’d expect, it’s pricey but you do get what you pay for. Wear your highest heels.

Mosaic – 218 High St

Specialising in food, but also great if you’re looking for a thorough wine list, Mosaic is a well-decorated, upmarket location in the heart of Swansea.

We recommend its tapas nights, where you can enjoy a range of tastiest, varied and hard-to-find wines while enjoying some of the most authentic tapas this side of the Pyrenees.

Peppers – 42 Newton Rd, Mumbles

It may be a few miles outside of Swansea, but the distinguished atmosphere and enviable drinks list of Peppers makes it well worth the short drive to the Gower.

It’s intimate, and never quiet (especially when the sun’s shining), but a must-visit if you’re planning on taking a trip to the scenic Gower coast.

The Dragon Hotel Piano Restaurant

With a great array of wines – many of which are available by the glass – knowledgeable staff and a a relaxed atmosphere, our very own Piano Restaurant is very popular with groups of discerning drinkers in Swansea.

Its first-floor location offers excellent views of Swansea City Centre and is the perfect place to start, or end, a classy night out.

Planning a night out in Swansea?

Why not stay for the weekend? With twin or double rooms starting at £75 in our opulent accommodation, there’s no reason not to! Take a look online today.

5 Things to do in The Mumbles When its Raining

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

The Mumbles is extremely well known for being an area of natural beauty, with its long stretches of soft golden beaches and miles of well-preserved countryside. This makes it an extremely popular attraction for people who love to escape into nature or enjoy the sun on Britain’s best beaches, but what is there to do in Mumbles when it’s raining?

#1 Hit the Shops

Home to dozens of unique little shops, the Mumbles has plenty on offer for even the most dedicated of shoppers. From boutique shops to art galleries and with lots of hidden gems in between, you’re sure to find gifts for all the family as well as more than a few things for yourself. The shops may not be covered, but they are close enough together to allow you to dart between them when the rain is lighter.

There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from if you start feeling a little bit peckish, or simply want to rest your feet for a little while before launching on the second leg of your shopping adventure.

#2 Skidz Karting

What better way to escape the rain than to speed around an indoor go-karting track? This is perfect for people of all ages and gives you an great way to get your thrills when outside there is practically a monsoon happening. Found in Swansea West Business Park, it is only a short drive from the Mumbles and is definitely worth the trip.

If you came to the Mumbles and fancied rock climbing or mountain biking in the Gower but got rained off then this can be an alternative way to get your thrills.

#3 Oystermouth Castle

Built in the 12th century, Oystermouth Castle is one of the finest castles in the Gower and, thanks to being so well-preserved, it gives you a great way to escape the rain. This beautiful, ancient castle will give you an in-depth history of the area and let you understand more about how the Mumbles has developed over the ages.

Oystermouth

In bad weather the interior of the castle is a safe-haven, but if you bring your umbrella or a raincoat the grounds are well worth exploring. This is a very peaceful setting and can provide you with a complete insight into just some of the treasures that the Gower has to offer.

#4 Swansea Grand Theatre

The Grand Theatre has a wide assortment of shows to watch throughout the year. This provides you with a brilliant way to escape the rain and thoroughly enjoy yourself while doing so. Depending on what’s on during the nights, you may need to book up in advance although there are often seats available for people arriving on the night.

#5 Just Get Wet

You’ve come all the way down to the Mumbles, you’d kick yourself if you left without exploring some of the scenic walks, hikes or bike rides on offer here. Why don’t you stick on your waterproofs, say goodbye to the landlubbers and prepare to get wet! Many of the hiking trails, bike paths and coastal routes are well equipped for the Welsh weather and won’t get bogged down or become inaccessible.

Best of all, if you’re staying with the Dragon Hotel you’ll have a lovely warm, dry place to unwind afterward. This will make your walk even more enjoyable, reinforcing the idea that you weren’t completely bonkers to go out in the rain in the first place.

Join The Dragon’s Macmillan Coffee Morning

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

The Dragon Hotel team is delighted to announce that by accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge, we raised £108.14 to Macmillan Cancer Support. Thank you to all who supported.

However, the fundraising doesn’t stop there…

As is our usual practice, we shall be hosting a coffee morning in the Lounge as part of Macmillan’s World Biggest Coffee Morning.

But there is one significant thing to remember this year… because of a prior reservation, The Dragon Hotel’s Macmillan Coffee Morning will be held on Friday, 19th September, and not Friday the 26th September as you might expect.

So come and join us, in the Lounge on the first floor of The Dragon Hotel from 10:00am -12 noon on Friday 19th September to enjoy a convivial morning of coffee and conversation, complete with an opportunity to win on the raffle, purchase homemade cakes and browse through the book stall.

Update…. thank you! 

It gives us great pleasure to announce that £410 was raised in The Dragon Hotel’s annual coffee morning as part of Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.

It would appear that holding the event a week early did not impact on visitors and our most sincere thanks go to Denise Rees and Lisa Anderson-Thomas for their tireless work in making the event a success, year after year.