Wales is a stunning country known for its diverse landscape, dramatic mountains, vast lakes and rugged terrain. Despite this, it is often overlooked as a holiday destination.
This is fairly understandable if sunbathing is the main focus of your holiday as Cymru isn’t exactly a suntrap but for adventurers and fans of the outdoor life, Wales should be on your list of places to visit!
Well, a huge new project in Wales (with some big-name backing) is hoping to change this and stick the country to the top of the pile for outdoor holiday destinations in Europe.
Targeted to be the ‘Centre Parcs’ of the extreme sports world, Afan Valley is a £130m project based in a 300+ acre former forestry plantation at Pen-y-Bryn by Croeserw and Cymmer.
The project has some really ambitious targets, but the people behind it have history of delivering. The Chairman of Leisure is Peter Moore OBE, and he was largely responsible for bringing Center Parcs to the UK 30 years ago!
To say he is optimistic about the project is an understatement, “I have the same feelings and anticipation about this project as I had 30 years ago when we launched Center Parcs. It will be something totally different, a resort the market is ready for and one which I genuinely believe will open a new chapter for the UK leisure market”.
But what is it that the team are trying to produce? Well, essentially the colossal development will have four distinct zones, with each based around a distinct activity.
You’ve guessed it, this zone will be home to a state of the art dry-ski slope, along with its own Alpine village and Apres-ski! Making use of the terrain at Afan Valley, there will be numerous slopes ranging from a beginners run to a steeper black slope.
With covered walkways, drag lifts and even chairlifts the scenic tree-lined slopes could be as close as you can get to an Alpine resort in wales!
For more experienced skiers there will be timed gates, slalom courses, park elements and moguls.
The zone will include the following amenities:
- Ski slopes with three runs,
- Ice skating,
- Halfpipe and jumps,
- Chair lifts,
- Fire Pits
- Children’s indoor soft play area,
- Ski simulators,
- Steam rooms and saunas,
- Alpine bars and restaurants,
- Live music,
- Nightly ski demonstrations and displays,
- Alpine markets.
It may sound like a terrible budget energy drink but the Xtreme Zone will actually be home to an array of thrilling activities.
Large areas of this zone will centre around all things two-wheeled, with mountain bike tracks and a BMX park taking centre stage. Skaters will also have a dedicated park area.
The Xtreme Zone will also house a trampolining area, parkour course, Ninja Warrier style assault course, roller rink, indoor skydiving and surfing facilities.
With themed bars and restaurants, BMX and trampoline displays throughout the day, there should be plenty to do away from the main activities!
Set amongst the thick pine forests of Afan Valley, the Forest Zone will have a number of outdoor activities ranging from zip wires and canoeing to a Bear Grylls Survival Academy. This area will play host to a wind range of physical challenges designed by the man himself!
With accommodation dotted throughout the forest, this area plans to be deeply reminiscent of Center Parcs.
Alongside the previously mentioned challenges, there will also be an aqua park, paintballing, indoor climbing area, crazy golf and nightly torch-lit forest trails!
This area is aimed at providing enjoyment of the outdoors through less physical exersion.
With winding off-road tracks for 4X4 and quad bike experiences, off-road Segways, go-karting and equestrian facilities there should be something for everyone in the Trails Zone.
The accommodation here is set away from the main complex providing an ideal sense of escape but should you want a taste of life’s modern luxuries, back in the main area there is a cinema complex, bowling and a wide range of bars.
Will It Actually Happen?
Projects like this often appear, get dragged around the media for a few years and then disappear. While no one can make guarantees that this will come off the project does appear fairly sound on paper.
Being backed by Northern Powerhouse Developments, the project has created ties with reputable figures such as Peter Moore and the planning application is set to be submitted in the first quarter of 2019.
But it is alarming to see that there are cabins for sale in the development already and the area has recently suffered with large areas of forest lost due to Phytophthora disease.
We are hopeful that this can come off, and if the promises are delivered on, it is not hard to imagine this becoming a top holiday resort in the UK. But the area does need more development than what is suggested on the developer’s website. This definitely isn’t a case of dropping a resort on the land that is already there, a lot of reshaping would be needed.
When you consider that £43m of public money was spent on the proposed garden bridge in London (which will not go ahead because let’s face it, it was a ridiculous idea!) the level of investment required for this project is not astronomical given the potential returns and the effect it could have on the surrounding area.
But with the current climate as it is, the bigger question is whether these sorts of projects should be indulged, or if the money should be spent elsewhere where the impact of the money could be greater.