A Weekend at Bluestone
We have just got back from a weekend hosted at Bluestone in Pembrokeshire. It was brilliant! The girls had so much fun and loved it so much that we left with Emily sobbing that she didn’t want to leave. Since we got home, she keeps asking me about when we can go back. There are plenty of reviews of Bluestone from other bloggers, so rather than adding to all the well-deserved praise of the resort, I am going to assume you will want to stay there too, and share some tips and advice instead.
What is the accomodation like?
Bluestone have a range of different accomodation to suit everyone, from couples, to families, to large groups. The brightly coloured cottages and studios which house between 2 and 4 people, are found in the village. The lodges, which sleep between 4 and 14 people are found throughout the rest of the site.
We stayed in a Ramsey lodge, which sleeps 4 people. The lodge is “upside down” with the double and twin bedrooms (each with ensuite) downstairs, and the open plan kitchen and living area upstairs. Having the bedrooms downstairs made things a lot easier when bringing in luggage, and there were lovely views from the upstairs windows. However, I would have liked a little more space by the front door for muddy boots and coats.
What is provided in the accomodation?
On arrival, the beds are made up, and a bath towel and hand towel is provided for each guest. There is also a bath mat in each bathroom, a toilet roll for each toilet and hand wash. There is a welcome pack provided in the kitchen with washing-up liquid, a couple of dishwasher tablets, dish sponge, dish cloth and an extra bin bag.
Bluestone are committed to sustainable living, and it made me very happy to see that the handwash and washing up liquid were bottles that would be topped up. This is so much better than providing bars of soap which end up being so wasteful.
Do I need to book a table for the restaurants?
Yes! and no. If you want to eat at The Farmhouse Grill or Oak Tree then you will definitely need to book online a couple of weeks before your holiday. Otherwise, you may get lucky if you are happy to have your evening meal at about 4.30pm.
However, if you haven’t booked anywhere, then there are several other options available. The Knight’s Tafarn is the pub in the centre of the village. Tables aren’t booked in advance and they have a good selection of different pub-style food and a children’s menu. They also have daily specials – and I can thoroughly recommend a grilled halloumi burger! The other great thing about the Tafarn is it is right opposite the play area – so you can keep an eye on the kids whilst enjoying a pint. (The plastic cups are returned to the bar afterwards for recycling).
If you missed out on booking a table at the Oak Tree, you can get a takeaway pizza (adult and child-sizes), or something from The Chippy. You can then take them back to your lodge, or if it is nice day, get a table with a view.
If you would rather cook, the kitchen in the lodge is very well equipped, as is Newton Stores in the village. So you would be able to stay completely self-catered in your lodge for the whole of your holiday. If you do choose to do this, you can always treat yourself to a coffee or ice cream at the lovely Coffee House, Tŷ Coffi. Just like the Knight’s Tafarn, it is right opposite the play area, so the ideal place to sit whilst the children play.
Do I need to hire a buggy?
Apart from loading and unloading, cars are not allowed on the resort, so lots of people take advantage of hiring a golf buggy to get around the site. The buggies look like a lot of fun, and really need to be booked in advance to guarentee that you will have one available. They are a great idea if you have mobility issues, or a reluctant walker, but they are not essential. The Bluestone resort is fairly hilly, but easy enough to walk around. You cannot get right next to all parts of the resort on your buggy either – buggies cannot go right into the Village or down to Camp Smokey. I also feel that if you have paid to hire a buggy, you are less inclined to go for a walk, and there really are some lovely walks around Bluestone.
What can we do at Bluestone if we are on a tight budget?
Once you have booked your Bluestone break, you have a huge choice of different activities that you can book onto. There is something for all ages to enjoy. However, there are also plenty of activities and events included in your stay at Bluestone.
The jewel in Bluestone’s crown has to be the Blue Lagoon Water Park. It is open all year round and is free to Bluestone guests (you will be given your passes when you check-in). There is also exclusive access for Bluestone guests in the morning. The Blue Lagoon was the highlight for both of my girls. They loved going round and round on the Lazy River and bobbing up and down when the wave machine was on. There is something for all ages – from the Nipper’s Cove for under-5s, to the slides and flumes, and the outdoor patio and bubble pool.
If, like us, you enjoy walking, there are plenty of lovely walks around the site. You can pick up a Nature Trail map from the Booking Office and take one of the four marked walks ranging from the easy 1.5k walk to the harder 3.5k trail. You can head over into the woods surrounding Camp Smokey and look for the site of an Iron Age Fort, or towards Canaston Wood and see the remains of Castell Coch. During our stay, there was a Legends Trail running. The girls had to find 7 shields around the site, where they learnt about some Welsh legends. They completed their sheet by collecting a sticker from the Adventure Centre when they had finished. It was a great way to explore the resort.
There is also plenty to discover on just a walk through the woodlands – the wildlife of Bluestone, houses in the trees and a fairy village down by the river.
As I have already mentioned, there is a great play area in the centre of the Village. And if the weather isn’t great, there is lots of indoor fun in the Adventure Centre – including climbing frames and slides, a bouncy castle and mini-golf which are free!
Finally, Bluestone have a range of different “festivals” on throughout the year. During our stay it was the Myths and Legends Festival, and there were lots of themed activities running. On the Sunday afternoon, children could enrol in Knight School – where they could learn the basics of sword-fighting. There was then the Knights of Arkley Tournament March. Guests followed two knights on horseback from the Adventure Centre to the Tournament Field for the Jousting Tournament. Emily was chosen to carry a flag! Although she decided it was too heavy to carry and Rich was left to carry it.
The Jousting Tournament was very entertaining. At about half an hour long, it was the right sort of length to keep children interested, and we enjoyed seeing the knights display their skills – chopping cabbages in half with their swords whilst riding at speed, hitting targets and each other’s shields with their lances and then trying to knock a Welsh dragon off their opponent’s helmet. There was also some lovely audience participation to see if anyone could pull Excaliber from the stone. After the Jousting Tournament, the Legends Procession continued to the Village.
What happens if there is a problem during my stay?
I have read nothing but good reviews of Bluestone, and I was confident that we would have a great holiday. However, I did want to talk about how the Bluestone staff really do come into their own when there is a problem. On our first evening, just before 8pm, we discovered that we had a problem with running hot water for the girls to have a bath. There seemed to be a problem with the mixer tap. We phoned Customer Services and they said they would send a Maintenance team round. Within half an hour, the friendly and helpful staff had fixed the problem and the girls were able to have a lovely warm bath. I am sure that the majority of people holidaying at Bluestone have no issues what-so-ever, however, you can be confident that if something does go wrong, the team at Bluestone will get it sorted, quickly!
How does Bluestone compare to Centre Parcs?
When you are looking to book a break at Bluestone, it is only natural to see how it compares with somewhere like Centre Parcs. Both have lodge accomodation, woodland walks and cycle trails, fantastic water park and lots of indoor and outdoor activities. However, what I really think sets Bluestone apart from Centre Parcs, is the staff. Every member of staff we met at Bluestone were so warm and welcoming. So friendly and helpful. From the lovely lady who checked us in, greeting us like we were her first customer of the day (which I know we wouldn’t have been!), to all the staff in the shops and restaurants, booking office and customer services. The staff could not have been more helpful. I also really appreciated that the staff never tried to “up-sell” activities to us.
I really hope that you have found this useful. We had such a wonderful, magical break at Bluestone and are already looking in to a return visit. We would thoroughly recommend a stay at Bluestone.
Disclaimer: We were provided with our accomodation at Bluestone in return for an honest review of our stay. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.