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Review: North Wales

Escorted Tour - Coach

A 'Not So' Grand UK Holiday!

  • By SilverTraveller Rowsie

    136 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon

  • 2013
  • Adult family

161 people found this review helpful

I wanted to book a short break for my sisters birthday and as she had never been to Wales, a trip to Llandudno and Snowdon National Park sounded ideal. The Grand UK Holidays brochure looked good and it was relatively cheap. It is a coach holiday company for "Over 50’s" and my sister and I both do, unfortunately, fit that criteria!

The pick up system seemed well organised. I was picked up in London and my sister was picked up in Broadstairs and we were taken by feeder coaches to Newport Pagnell where we met up and boarded our coach to Llandudno. (Unfortunately we also went via Thurrock and Watford Gap services so we had a tour of the motorway services thrown in for free!)

Our coach driver was friendly but there was no tour guide until we picked her up near Chester. Anna was one of those tour guides who seems to think that anyone over 50 likes to be patronised or has a saucy seaside postcard style of humour! Although very knowledgeable, especially about Chester ( which was a little irrelevant as we were going to Wales!) her rather smutty innuendos were very irritating.

We arrived at our Hotel in Llandudno about 5.30pm. The hotel was The Grand Ash but unfortunately there was nothing grand about it! It looked like an old peoples home and smelt of cabbage (which was strange as that was one vegetable we were not offered during our stay!) We were slightly surprised to find that our bedroom was also a fire exit! It had a window leading to the fire escape. Should there have been a fire whilst we were there, people could have smashed the glass on our bedroom door, open the door and we would have been trampled in our beds by a stampede of grey haired holiday makers! The manager assured us that this was perfectly legal but in many years of travel I have never seen a room that serves as a bedroom and a fire escape route.

Dinner was at 6pm every night because all us old people like to eat early (or so Grand UK Holidays obviously think). To their credit there were 4 courses offered each night with a couple of choices for each course. However it would have been nice if any of them had been edible! I am vegetarian and each night my only choice was another variety of stuffed vegetable. If I had been staying longer than 5 days they would have had a real dilemma as I am not sure how many more vegetables they could have found which could be stuffed. My non-vegetarian sister’s meals were no better, fish too dry and hard to cut and an Eton mess with no meringue in it! Luckily Llandudno has a number of little restaurants where we could escape for something more appealing.

Llandudno is a beautiful seaside town. Slightly faded and worn now but the sweep of the bay is spectacular and a tram ride up The Great Orme gives stunning views. The inclusive coach trips offered by Grand UK Holidays sounded good, We had a day trip to Betws-y-Coed and Llangollen and both these towns are well worth a visit especially as the drive through Horse Shoe Pass is beautiful. The second day we were taken to Llechwedd Slate Caverns but did not have enough time there to do the tour. Instead we headed to the Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway which was a stunning steam train ride through the welsh mountains ending up in Porthmadog. Then we went to another slate mine, again with not enough time to explore it properly! I am sure Wales is very proud of it’s slate mines but did we really need to visit 2 in one day? The next day was a trip to Anglesey and we were very excited about seeing this island. The views as we crossed The Menai Straits were fabulous and our first stop, Beaumaris was a lovely little town with a castle and a harbour area. Clambering back onto the coach we were hopeful of seeing more of the island but we were then taken to Llanfairpwllgwyngllgogerychwymdrobwillanytysiligogogo! I am pleased I can now say that I have been to the place with the longest name in the world (well, I would be if I could actually pronounce it!) but once we had taken a (wide view) photo of the railway station sign, the only other thing there was an outlet centre (and a Scottish one at that!) We were given nearly 2 hours there which seemed such a waste when we could have been seeing more of the lovely countryside.

So to anyone considering visiting North Wales I would recommend it highly but our trip with Grand UK Holidays was definitely not grand, it wasn’t even very good and it is not a travel company I would recommend.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 3 Comment(s)

  • Su
    almost 2 years ago
    We visited Snowdon a while ago, but unfortunately it was the wrong time of the year to ride on the train going to the summit
  • Anna_4
    almost 8 years ago
    I would like to reply to the above message.

    May I kindly inform the writer of the above message that they are not addressing an idiot when they refer to the tourist guide as patronising and imply that the way in which they do their job left much to be desired.

    As the tourist guide mentioned in the epic essay above I would just like to point out a few valuable points that the two sisters may have failed to notice or indeed be aware of

    1) I am a fully qualified and registered Institute of Tourist Guiding Green Badge Guide for both North Wales and the City of Chester. I am also a member of the Wales Official Tourist Guides Association.
    2) I have a B A (ord) in Tourist Guiding as well as a B A (Hons) in Tourist Guiding which I achieved at a reputable University in Wales.
    3) My sense of humour, while not to everyones taste is polite and good natured, but never smutty.

    I have worked in the tourism industry for roughly 15 years now and I regard myself as an excellent ambassador for Wales. I work hard and put alot of time and effort into the delivery of each tour . The work is hard and very demanding both physically, emotionally and financially. I get to meet alot of really wonderful people who apprieciate the hard work and study that a tourist guide/manager invests into their work.

    I am appalled to think that because of one persons short sightedness and mis placed judgement that my work as a reputable tourist guide will be slandered in public for everyone to read. How unjustified and humiliating.

    However, in all fields of employment it is inevitable that you will come across people who are never satisfied no matter how hard you work.

    Sad, but inevitable.
  • ESW
    almost 8 years ago
    I'm glad you enjoyed North Wales, even though Grand UK Holidays didn't live up to the title of 'Grand'.

    The Ffestiniog Railay and two slate mines do seem a bit much to push into a day. You can easily spend a full day at Llechwedd if you do both the tours on offer - and they are both worth doing.

    The tram ride up the Great Orme is great fun.

    The two hour stop at the retail outlet sounds as if the tour guide and driver were on commission for taking tourists there.

    Don't let your experience with Grand UK Holidays put you off - do come back again and see a bit more of the area.