Bluestone Wales: Review

Bluestone Wales ReviewNestled within the gorgeous Pembrokeshire countryside lies the golden treasure that is Bluestone Wales – 500 acres of magnificent woodland and eco-friendly lodges. If you’re looking for a UK holiday that will keep the whole family entertained, you have to check it out – it’s even Britain’s only Coastal National Park and we loved it!

Bluestone Wales

Off the M4, Bluestone National Park is well signposted and easy to reach. Although it’s a relatively long journey for us (it was just over 225 miles) it was an easy journey and one I would definitely do again – but perhaps for a week rather than just a few days.

Bluestone review

 

The overall service

Bluestone Wales offers you a brilliant luxury UK holiday destination and their communication with you regarding your booking is great; they are just as excited as you and will regularly update you with information and helpful hints before you travel. I can imagine though if you book a long time in advance, this may seem a little like overkill though! Because cars aren’t allowed on site, except for unloading and loading the car, I was anxious about travelling around the sight. There were two adult and four children 3 and under which meant logistically we couldn’t rent one of the buggies which lots of guests choose to do. The team were really helpful and explained about the shuttle service that is also available on site which eased my mind before travelling. The shuttle runs every half an hour at quarter to and quarter past the hour; we didn’t end up using it, but it was nice to know the option was there.

The lodge

The Gateholm detached lodge that we stayed in was excellent; it’s two story upside-down living comprised of three bedrooms and two bathrooms downstairs and the kitchen, living and dining area upstairs so you could really make the most of the amazing views across the park. Just off the master bedroom through some patio doors, you have your own patio area which was perfect for enjoying the last few sunny rays over a drink or even for eating outside- I loved this extra touch.

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All of the lodges have stairgates at the top and bottom of the stairs which was one less thing to worry about for me with a super active one-year-old. We had a slight issue with one of our stairgates breaking during our stay but it was replaced within an hour.

The kitchen is fully equipped with all the utensils you might possibly need on your stay and it meant making breakfast, lunch or dinner was just as easy as at home and made you feel as though you were staying in a home rather than a holiday park. Because the lodge was so well equipped, we didn’t feel we had to eat out. I’ve been to places before that aren’t very well equipped and it’s easier to just eat out rather than try and cook without everything you need.

Bluestone Blogger

The lodges also come with a high chair and a travel cot so we didn’t need to try and squeeze bulky items in the car. This meant we had more space to pack toys and scooters etc. Both the high chair and cot were clean and well maintained. You have to bring your own cot bedding but I think I would have done that anyway.

The beds were really comfortable and the pillows were plump and soft. You could request a linen change as and when you needed; as we were there for a short time, we didn’t bother but it’s nice to know you can. There is a laundry service available too if you need to use it. The whole lodge was well presented and spacious – plenty of room for buggies in the entrance as well as a large cupboard to store shoes, coats and even suitcases.  I really couldn’t fault the lodge in the slightest.

Staff

One off the most notable elements of the entire stay for me was just how friendly the staff were; nothing was too much trouble and all of the staff we encountered were more than happy to go the extra mile to ensure your stay was the best it could possibly be. All of the staff (not just the entertainers) engaged well with the children and made sure they were occupied, even during meal times. There were often characters walking around the site along with other staff and they read to the children or engaged them in activities or songs. The level of interaction from staff was brilliant and really did make a big difference to our stay.

Bluestone eating out

 

Arrival and check in

We arrived at the sight at around 1pm and were able to park the car and start making use of the facilities – check in wasn’t until 4pm. We headed for the outdoor play area to make the most of the gorgeous weather; the treetots play area isn’t massive and because the treehouse play area (for older children) isn’t a part of it, your child needs to be accompanied at all times. I can completely understand the reasons why this would be the case however, this can sometimes prove difficult if you are looking after more than one child of different ages. There was only one baby swing available in the play area and a small slide which included a tunnel to walk/crawl through. I would have loved to have seen a slightly bigger outdoor play area with a few more park type pieces of play equipment that wasn’t split up so the older children could still play alongside their younger siblings. This was only a small issue as there is so much else you can do but for me, it seems as though that’s one of the only elements lacking from the resort.

Bluestone park

Bluestone trees

If When I go again, I  will definitely pay for the early check-in as 4pm is an awkward time of day for parents with small children to go and get the car and start unpacking and settling down into the lodges. Not only that, but everyone seemed to have the same idea and the car park was a little jammed and meant we didn’t actually get to the lodge until nearly 4:45pm. Once in, we unloaded the car and tried to settle the children before cooking dinner. Everything in the lodge was perfect and we had more than enough in the kitchen to cook and serve dinner – it was just all a little later than we would have hoped. Being in a new environment also meant the three and two year old got themselves over excited and it took them a very long time to settle down to bed. Had we booked the early check-in (1pm), I don’t feel this would have been as much of an issue as they wouldn’t have been too excited come bedtime.

Things to do

We woke up early the next morning and headed straight to the village where we could book activities for the children at the booking office. I would strongly recommend pre-booking these activities. We didn’t and as a result couldn’t get on to all of the activities we hoped for. Nevertheless, the children had a great time panning for gold, searching for mini-beasts, making fairy gardens in the secret workshop and playing with Buzby Bumblebee. The prices for each activity vary from as little as £5 (although some sessions are free!) and go up to around £30. As we stuck to the activities aimed at the young ones, our average session price was around £7 which I thought was a great price really.

Bluestone Panning for Gold

If you are hoping to snatch a couple of hours adult time, there are some unaccompanied sessions that run for 2-3 hours. There are enough activates that provide this unaccompanied element that you could sneak off to the well spa and have a treatment or even just enjoy a drink in The Knights Tafarn. We decided to stick to the accompanied activities and thoroughly enjoyed taking part as well as watching the children so engrossed.

Bluestone things to do
The village is at the heart of Bluestone and comprises of shops, cafes, a pub, a bakery, restaurants, adventure playground, the booking studio and the Well Spa. There is literally everything you might need in one convenient location.

Bluestone the Village

Newton Stores is a lovely little shop which has everything you might need to stock your cupboards for your stay. We took a few items with us but needn’t have worries. Newton’s was reasonably priced and offered a wide range of cereal, breads, meats and so much more. You can even pre-book shopping to be delivered to your lodge ready for when you arrive.

We ate out one of the evenings and tried out the Farmhouse Grill. The menu was perfect for adults and children and again the food was really reasonably priced. Not only was the food great, but the staff again made the experience even better. Buzby came round to the play area within the grill and entertained the children while we were waiting for our meals which was a perfect distraction from hungry tums. When our dinner did arrive, inevitably one of us was called away from the table having to change a baby but the staff noticed and took the meal back to the kitchen to keep it warm – we didn’t have to ask; it really is these small details that make a big difference.

We had lunch at the Wildwood Café several times which was truly magical for the children. Situated above the Adventure Centre, sat like a treehouse, is the Wildwood Café is complete with twinkling lights and tree top. We loved the atmosphere here and enjoyed meeting the Wildwood characters. The children were able to dance and play while they waited for their lunch. Benjamin was completely enchanted by the whole experience.

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After lunch we headed into the Activity centre which was packed full of activities. You can putt a few balls on the mini golf course, climb a wall, play on the activity wall or even build Lego. There are a couple of small arcade type games you can play too if you feel the need. Isabella was desperate to drive a digger so she used some of her pocket money to play. Within the Activity Centre there are lots of sofas which work as a great base we could come back to. If you had just older children, you could sit and relax while the children explored.

I think our absolute favourite spot out of the whole of the resort though would have to be Camp Smokey; set deep in the heart of the woods, it feels like you are in a campsite complete with campfire. The children loved roasting marshmallows on the open fire and looking out to the stream. We sat and ate hotdogs while listening to music and watching others fly down the zip wires. This atmosphere was calm and we relaxed for a good few hours here before panning for gold too. The food and drinks were great, the staff were friendly and inviting and we were in a beautiful woodland were the children could get muddy and explore.

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On our final morning, I braved the Blue Lagoon Waterpark. The only reason I say braved is because in their T&Cs, you can only take one child under the age of 4 per adult. Well this was never going to work with two adults and four children under 4! However, the staff will allow you to take two children under 4 into the baby pool. There is enough to do in the baby pool to entertain the children for a short while (including a small ‘rock pool’ but the main pool was too alluring for Isabella; she was desperate to go in. Thankfully one of the entertainers arrived and played games with the children from the baby and toddler pool. Once that finished, I made the decision to leave as Isabella would have become upset that she couldn’t try out the wave pool. I completely understand why Bluestone have their rules – it’s about safety at the end of the day but I do think this is a negative for anyone with more than two children (or indeed single parents of two or more children). I would have been more than happy to sign a disclaimer and just paddle at the edge of the ‘beach’. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance.

Overall we had the most amazing short break away made better by the lack of mobile phone reception – you really can get away from it all. If you need to stay connected, you can make use of the free WIFI that’s available throughout the resort but I quite liked being cut off from technology. We only used the WIFI in the evening to Facetime Daddy and tell him about all the wonderful and exciting things we’d done. Bluestone is a wonderful family resort and I would highly recommend it families looking for a UK break. There’s plenty to do and it’s all reasonably priced. Despite the couple of negatives, I would most certainly go back again and would love to share the experience with my husband next time too.

If you would like some ideas on what to pack when you go away, why not check out my tips?

 

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