Just under two hours from the capital city of Wales, Cardiff (Caerdydd) and just under two hours from Bristol and Birmingham airports and train stations, arrive in the green heart of Mid Wales, a Dark Sky Reserve. From the rolling hills of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park and dramatic mountains of Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri (Snowdonia National Park), to hidden coves and colourful harbours, Mid Wales is really a step away from busy life and provides a sense of wellbeing and relaxation, with some surprising venues and attractions to discover along the way.
Home to the famous literacy Hay festival, Europe’s foremost Eco-centre - The Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (WISE) at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) and Riversimple, specialists in the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport.
The chance to learn new skills
In the beautiful Elan Valley is the Elan Valley Estate and lodge, a multi activity and learning centre set within 73 sq miles / 189 sq km's of lush green countryside, reservoirs and lakes within the estate. With 5 star accommodation and activities such as kayaking, hiking and archery, groups are in safe hands with a team of experienced tour guides and instructors, developing skills in team working.
Experienced instructors, offer groups VIP kayaking adventure tours, across the Caban Coch reservoir. These two person paddleboats are a great way of team working, learning to steer and sail across the waters. It can be challenging, but don’t worry there is time to rest and discover more about the history of this breathtaking valley and its dams, with short stops along the way.
If land activities and a more challenging and competitive activity is more appealing to build confidence and skill, then the archery and high ropes is a great choice. Take the challenge and brave the course, across tree top bridges and obstacles, before zip wiring to the finish line. Set the final challenge in archery skills, with a qualified instructor on hand to help. The team at Elan Valley can help with planning and tailoring events and there’s also longer residential courses available, all ready for an adventure in Wales.
The train of thought
At Devil’s bridge, embark on a journey by steam train to Aberystwyth, in an exclusive private carriage on board the Vale of Rheidol Railway. Enjoy lunch or afternoon tea on board this 1920 steam locomotive, with a dedicated crew member who will explain more about this fascinating steam engine and region of Wales. Travel along this narrow gauge, through the mountains and see waterfalls nestled deep in the forest where red kites home. Once threatened with extinction, these beautiful birds of prey are often spotted here. A chance to revive the mind and soul with this experience of nature at its best.
The seaside stop off
Aberystwyth is a tourist seaside and university town, with spectacular views of the Ceredigion coast and Cambrian Mountains. It's also one of the main filming locations for the televised drama Hinterland. Visit the National Library of Wales, often said to be the most impressive library in the world, due to its extensive wealth of literature spanning several centuries and regular exhibits of everything from artwork to historical manuscripts, it also offers private hire for receptions and meetings. Alternatively, take a walk along the promenade where there’s a local tradition at the end of the promenade, to kick the bar.
The Michelin star quality
The Michelin star Ynyshir Restaurant and Rooms is a real treat and can be hired exclusively for business events. Gareth Ward, the chef owner with one Michelin star, five AA rosettes and number four in the Good Food Guides, will be the host and welcomes a truly remarkable 20 course dining experience of locally sourced produce with a Japanese twist. There are nine large beautifully designed bedrooms on site, three of which can be made into twin rooms. This beautiful retreat is set in 14 acres of open green space with its own vegetable gardens and has amazing views of both mountain and coast for a mouth-watering and relaxing stay to refresh the mind and body.
Centre for Alternative Technology
Transport to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), a world-renowned eco centre within the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere, is by one of Europe’s steepest water - balanced cliff railways. A member of the CAT team provides an exclusive tour of this remarkable centre and grounds to discover why this centre is truly remarkable in finding practical solutions in this ever-changing world, to reduce climate change. Meet CAT’s leading expert on the flagship research project - Zero Carbon Emission, for an exclusive presentation and opportunity to understand in more detail, the importance of the work CAT are undertaking.
Spend time with some hands on activities, from building a small eco house to an edible garden. There’s a whole range to choose from and can be tailored for events, from developing individual confidence, through to team working and collaborative thinking to reach a high standard of delivery outputs.
CAT also has a 24 bedroom 4 star graded accommodation and meeting spaces available for hire in this carefully designed eco building, heated with onsite biomass boilers and roof top thermal cells. The first floor opens up onto a shared garden balcony with spectacular views of Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri (Snowdonia National Park).
The idyllic location
Set in an idyllic position overlooking the crystal waters sits the 4 star Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa. A place to rejuvenate and unwind, with salt steam, whirlpool and luxurious body treatments available, that offers a journey through fire and ice. The hotel has 52 individually decorated rooms, the majority with lake views and some with private balconies and corporate facilities for up to 200 people, this 130 year old hotel is a world away from the bustle of busy towns and cities, set in acres of garden and woodland. There are conference spaces, meeting rooms and spaces for private receptions, gala dinners and product launches, whilst the AA rosette restaurant on site serves up the best by season locally sourced produce from Wales.
The place to team build
Just outside the Lake Vyrnwy hotel and nestled in the substantive grounds, are a number of activities including clay pigeon shooting and archery. On site fully qualified APSI instructors (Association of Professional Shooting Instructors) welcome groups and provide guidance through the first steps into this sport, teaching skills and techniques to improve aim and hit those all important targets, a great way to improve confidence and focus the mind.
The star gazing experience
Experience the night sky on an evening’s adventure in the Brecon Beacons Dark Sky Reserve with Dark Sky Wales Training Services. Using telescopes to explore the moon and planets in detail, whilst discovering constellations, planets and galaxies, Dark Sky Wales Training Services also offer bespoke group training events. Combine this with a stay at the 4 star family run Metropole Hotel and Spa, in Llandrindod Wells (Llandrindod) is just 40 minutes away. With 109 bedrooms and meeting rooms for up to 220 delegates, the Metropole makes a great location for larger groups who are looking to combine relaxation and out of conference experiences with meetings or conferences. For classic car enthusiasts, the Metropole also offer driving itineraries across Wales, to capture the best views routes and driving experiences.
The office escape
Experience the heart of Wales with tours by Cambrian Safaris. With capacity for up to six passengers in each vehicle, choose a bespoke package to suit your interest. Existing tours are also available including Sunsets and Stars, Cardiganshire's Silver-lead Mines, Picturesque Hinterland. There is also a Train and Tour experience from Devil's Bridge which offers spectacular estuary and mountain views along the way. Combined tours with the Silver Mountains Experience are also available.
This article has been designed to showcase just a flavour of the experiences on offer in the region. If you would like further ideas or information please get in touch with the team who will be happy to help.