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Tara who writes a great blog Mum’s Space, has just returned from a trip to Bluestone National Park. This review of her family holiday is excellent and we love the video at the end. You can also read more about Tara’s family holiday to Bluestone by clicking through to her links, also towards the bottom of the post. Tara can be found on twitter @MumsSpaceTara
For more reviews on Bluestone, please click here and type Bluestone in the search box.
We have recently just got back from a mid week stay at Bluestone in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The park is set in 500 acres, with a little village in the middle and is surrounded by almost 300 lodges, cottages and studio apartments. We made the drive up to Wales on Monday 2nd February 2015 and it took us 7 hours total travelling time so we was pretty tired when we arrived at 3pm. Check in was done by a drive-through system which was awesome, it meant we didn’t need to get out of the car and search for a reception, you just simply gave your booking reference and surname, and then you were given a welcome pack with a map on the back. We was put in a Ramsey Lodge, which is a 2 bedroom 2 en suite upside down lodge, to make the most of the view they put the bedrooms downstairs and the living area upstairs. We stayed in 42 Bartholowmew Rise, which was just set back from the beautiful lake, a short walk from the village and around a 10 minute walk from the long stay car park.
Drive through check in
Our Ramsey Lodge
We wasn’t allowed to check into our lodge until 4:30pm, so we went and parked the car in the long stay car park and headed off to the Adventure centre which wasn’t a long walk from the car park. Around 4pm we went back to the car so we could drive up to the local Tesco which was only roughly 20 minutes away, we bought some essentials like milk, bread etc. At 4:30pm the gate opens so you can drive the car to your lodge so you can unpack, this was so great as our car was jam full of stuff for our stay, the car had to be returned to the long stay car park before 12am. The site runs a no car policy, I thought this was really good as you always felt reassured that no cars could go speeding past with young children around, I noticed that if you was disabled you was allowed to keep your car outside your lodge, so the option is there if you have walking difficulties.
Once we had brought everything in from the car I got a chance to look around the lodge, I was really impressed with the size of the bedrooms, and also the en suites! The main bedroom was at the front of the lodge, and the en suite had a bath in which I was really happy about as Isla isn’t a massive fan of showers. Both rooms had drawers in, a wardrobe with hangers and also 2 bed side cabinets, so there was plenty of storage for all your clothes and bits, also in the wardrobe was a safe for you to use. The twin bedroom had a wet room which was lovely as well, nice and spacious and it felt really warm thanks to the towel rails, there was also a travel cot which we used for Isla, she is 2 years 1 month and she slept in it perfectly. There are 9 different types of lodges so there is something suitable for all types of families and group numbers. All lodges come with towels which was really useful and handy and meant less packing and washing for me!
We also had a cupboard under the stairs to store all of our shoes, wellies and there was a coat hanger on the door to hang all of our coats up. There was a hoover, broom, dust pan and brush so you could keep the lodge clean while you was there. I was pleased to see a baby gate at the bottom and top of the stairs, as this was something I was a little worried about when I knew we was going to be in a 2 storey lodge. I then went upstairs to explore the living area and kitchen, I was so amazed with the size of the living area, it was pretty spacious, we had 2 sofas, a coffee table, the TV stand with a DVD player, a dining table and 4 chairs, a unit for more storage and a high chair. We had to move the coffee table out of the way as Isla was running around it, but there was a space for it to go neatly out of the way without hardly taking up any room. The kitchen was very well equipped, it had everything you could possibly need, and everything was really clean, we was also supplied with a little starter pack which contained, a mini washing up liquid, 3 dishwasher tablets, a sponge, cloth, and tea towel. The only bad things I can think of was because it is a countryside area which you can expect to get muddy, the carpet by the front door was not big enough to get the pram in without getting the cream carpet they have ruined, a mat would be useful to put down or maybe a sheltered area outside to lock your pushchair? Also we found that the check in time was a bit late, after travelling for 7 hours we just wanted to get into our lodge but had to wait another hour and half, by the time we unpacked and put the food away it was getting late and when you have little ones it can be quite stressful. You can pay to get into your lodge earlier so maybe if you’re coming from far away I would probably pay for this option but it would be nice if the check in could be brought forward if at all possible.
There was plenty to do, we spent most of our time in the indoor Adventure Centre and also the Blue Lagoon water park which was also indoors. The Adventure Centre was very well spaced out, complete with a wooden climbing frame with tunnel slides, ideal for older children although Perry did take Isla up but said it wasn’t easy carrying her on certain bits, there was a smaller soft play area for under 4s, Isla really enjoyed this as it had a ball pit and smaller slides for her to enjoy, a mini golf area which is FREE – I was expecting to have to pay for it so was surprised, arcade machines, a bouncy castle, climbing wall, lego wall area, giant connect 4 game, sofa area to sit down, and also you could pay to do The Swing, The Drop, The Wall and The Sky Trail, which is great for older children, there was also a bar and eating area upstairs. We also popped into the NRG Zone and played a game of air hockey, they also had grabby machines, a dance game, pool table and little mini rides. Also in the Adventure Centre there is a Circus Zone and Messy Play, I also see Toddler Sensory as well but you had to pay and book these which we never got round to doing.
On Tuesday we headed over to the Blue Lagoon Indoor Water Park, we had to collect our tickets from the reception and then we asked permission if we could use our Go Pro to capture some footage for our video montage, we was told we could use it but not when the wave machine was on. I believe the changing rooms are in the process of being changed, but they were still pretty good and we managed to get a family room pretty quickly. We put our clothes in the locker (£1) and headed into the pool area, my first impressions was how warm it was in there, it was also very light thanks to see through roof, I was impressed to hear that the Blue Lagoon is heated by biomass from a nearby energy centre! There was plenty going on, lots of deck chairs for you to leave towels on or sit down for a break, a toddler area with a small slide and rock pool, 2 flume rides, another area designed like a pirate ship for younger children (although we found it quite chilly because of the spraying water), outdoor and indoor spa pool, and also the main pool which now and again would have the wave machine on, leading off of the pool was the lazy river which took you outside, this was definitely our favourite. If you’re hungry during or after swimming there was a poolside Fish Shack where you could get food and drink, we didn’t eat here but if we had been more organised we probably would of eaten here after swimming.
We went for a walk on one of the many nature trails, we walked up to Camp Smokey where 2 of the trails begins, we looked on the map and decided to take the Green route as it was starting to get dark and we didn’t want to be too long. We luckily had our off-road pushchair with us so it was no problem for us with all the mud, and uneven surfaces. It was a very enjoyable walk, lots of lovely scenery and we even had to cross the little stream twice. We was planning on doing another route but never got the time to do it unfortunately. When we walked down to Camp Smokey which was closed due to the season we was in, we noticed there was the Steep Ravine, you could do zip wires that range from 40ft to 240ft! You could also do the high ropes, Woodland Warrior Laser Combat and so much more! Great for older children and adults too, I believe it was closed at this time of the year though. You can also hire bikes and trailers if you want to go on any cycle routes, or even just to get around the park a bit quicker.
You can also visit the Treehouse and TreeTots parks, we found the TreeTots was perfect for our 2 year old, she could use everything and it was gated so we had no worry of her running off. We was lucky and had the park to ourselves, we did take her into the bigger area, but had to stay with her at all times, she did enjoy it so that was good.
For the adults, you could visit the Well Spa Retreat where you could use the saunas, steam rooms, treatment rooms and also the hydro pool. Being 27 weeks pregnant I couldn’t use the spa but I definitely will if we come back. There is so much to do at Bluestone’s, most of the activities are available in the warmer months so double check before booking, but we found we had plenty to do in February, even stuff that we couldn’t even fit in.
Eating, The Village & The Resort
We didn’t eat out much due to bringing so much food, so we ate at our lodge for 3 nights and on our last night we was planning on going to The Farmhouse Grill, but because we was all so tired we decided to use the Take-away service, we was really confused about how it works so Perry walked up to The Farmhouse Grill and returned with 2 pizzas and a bottle of drink, the pricing was OK and the pizza was nice but I wouldn’t get it again. We also ate breakfast in Miller’s Bakery, we had croissants which were fresh and delicious, we also had a hot chocolate which was yummy. So yummy I didn’t even get time to take a photo as we gobbled it up so quick, but I would highly recommend eating in there, its a shame as we ate in there on our last morning. We did buy a pack of 4 scones (£2) to take home with us, and they got huge thumbs up from family I wish we had got another pack. The park has 5 restaurants which all use locally sourced and produced ingredients wherever possible, there’s also a village pub so you will be spoiled for choice. You can find times for breakfast, lunch and dinner in your welcome pack and where to go so that was useful. Although a take-away menu and ways to order would of been helpful to go in the welcome pack too as we really didn’t know how to go about ordering or what we could have. In The Village you can find the restaurants and pub, bakery, Newtons village store, wine store, The Well Spa Retreat and lots more.
You could also hire a buggy to make getting round the park a lot quicker and easier, we decided not to but probably would if we was to come again. Isla (2 years) managed to walk from our lodge to the Blue Lagoon Water Park, although on the way home she did need to be carried for a bit, but the next time we just took our pushchair and then left it in the reception at the pool. To hire a buggy you need to be aged 18 or over and hold a valid driving license. The pricing for February was pretty good to hire a buggy, I’m not sure if the price changes every month though so always check, you can also book activities and a buggy before you even arrive at the park (just log in on line via the website) so you can ensure to get a buggy/place on a activity.
Overall we had a excellent stay at Bluestone, with a clean well equipped lodge, beautiful views, plenty of activities and also making unforgettable memories. We are an outdoorsy family anyway, we live in the country so this was a brilliant break away for us, we would definitely return, probably next year when the new baby will be a bit older, and I’d also love to visit again in a warmer month. The weather didn’t cause too much trouble for us, it was still just as enjoyable and beautiful, but if you have older children I’d recommend coming when all the outdoor activities are available. If you would like to read more in depth what we got up to every day then click below, also watch our video montage for a better insight into our stay at Bluestone, Wales. We will definitely return, and would recommend to friends!