THE Celtic Manor Resort has hailed its staging of the globally televised All*Star Cup celebrity golf tournament as a huge success.
The landmark hotel, conference and golf resort in Newport was the venue for the inaugural event which pitched celebrities from the United States, which included Hollywood actors Michael Douglas and Cheryl Ladd, against a European team which featured Douglas's Swansea-born wife Catherine Zeta-Jones and singer Robbie Williams.
The charity event, which was televised live by Sky as well as being shown in Europe and by the US golfing channel, was organised by television presenters Ant and Dec through their production company.
Yesterday Dylan Matthews, chief executive of the five-star Celtic Manor Resort, which will host golf's premier event, the Ryder Cup in 2010, said Ant and Dec had been "bowled over" by the quality of the venue and the number of spectators attracted to the two-day competition - which climaxed with a European win on Bank Holiday Monday on the very last hole of the competition.
Mr Matthews, the son of the Celtic Resort's Newbridge-born owner Sir Terry Matthews, said, "The event was a huge success and exceeded all our expectations for what was a first time outing.
"Our projection was for the event to attract spectator numbers of around 5,000 a day. However, we had 18,000 on the first and a staggering 20,000 on the Monday - which made for great television.
"For the Welsh Open we only have an average of 15,000 during the week.
"We are awaiting the Sky viewing figures, which should be out shortly.
"However, everyone involved was delighted with the interest from the public and the quality of the facilities at the resort.
"The event was shown across the world, which is a major boost for the marketing of the Celtic Manor Resort.
"Ant and Dec shortlisted four venues before opting for the Celtic Manor and they were genuinely impressed by the facilities and how well the event was organised."
Mr Matthews said after an analysis of television viewing figures Ant and Dec would make a decision in the next few weeks on the location for next year's event.
"It could be that they will look to alternate, like the Ryder, each year between here and the US," said Mr Matthews.
"However, whether they ping-pong it across the Atlantic or keep it here in the UK, we are confident that the Celtic Manor will become a permanent venue for the event."
Negotiations are taking place with a global company looking to strike a title sponsorship deal on next year's event.
Simon Gibson who runs Sir Terry's Celtic Manor-based seed funding technology venture capital firm, Wesley Clover, said the All*Star Cup was the just the sort of high profile event needed to promote the resort internationally.
"If the Celtic Manor Resort is to fulfil its potential as a world-class facility and compete with the likes of Gleneagles and the Belfry then it needs events like this, which attract huge media interest, around three to four times a year," said Mr Gibson.
"The inaugural All*Star Cup was a huge success and an important vehicle in promoting the Celtic Manor Resort in the lead-up to the hosting of the Ryder Cup in 2010 and beyond."
The Celtic Manor and the world's biggest golfing resort, Mission Hills in China, have also entered in a joint marketing venture, which will see a new golfing tournament, which could be called the Double Dragon, alternating each year between the two venues.
The first event, which will feature some of the world's leading golfers will take place in China next year - and will also include a technology conference offer-ing Welsh companies the opportunity to break into the Chinese market.
This weekend the Celtic Manor will be the venue for a meeting of the European Union Council of Foreign Ministers.