Our review of Bluestone resort, Pembrokeshire
In March the Parent Friendly Stays clan spent five days at Bluestone National Park resort in Pembrokeshire as part of Bluestone’s #bluestonebloggers initiative.
Here’s our review of our Bluestone holiday – and don’t forget you can also read more about the resort in our full Parent Friendly Stays listing. You might also like to visit the Bluestone Wales website directly to start planning your own holiday!
Our accommodation at Bluestone
There’s a wide range of family friendly accommodation on offer at Bluestone with nearly 300 luxury lodges, studio apartments and country cottages in a range of sizes available to hire.
Our group consisted of four adults, two children aged 3 and 4 and two young babies so the perfect choice of accommodation for us was a Grassholm Lodge sleeping up to eight people. The lodge had one double and three twin rooms, three sizeable bathrooms, an open plan double height living and dining area with adjoining kitchen, and patio doors leading onto a private grassy area with picnic table.
“we felt our property and the surrounding areas were exceptionally clean and well looked after”
From the second we arrived in our lodge it was clear that Bluestone offers genuinely luxurious standards both in terms of the accommodation – well appointed rooms, comfortable sofas and beds, spacious kitchens and bathrooms – and also in the high standard of maintenance upheld; we felt our property and the surrounding areas were exceptionally clean and well looked after.
The view from our lodge, located in one of the resort’s cosy estates on the valley sides, was lovely and provided some wonderful sunset (and sunrise, for those of us woken early by excitable children!) views of the surrounding resort and countryside. As it was March we didn’t make as much use of our outdoor space as you might in the height of the summer but the garden area at the front of our lodge would have been perfect for a barbecue or a few evening drinks.
Despite the relative close proximity of neighbouring lodges to the front and side, we all agreed on the sense of privacy and space which the irregular layout of properties at Bluestone cleverly offered. It was also only a short walk from our lodge – as it is from any of the accommodation on the resort – to the centre of Bluestone ‘village’ where some of the resort’s facilities can be found; or to the separate swimming pool and entertainment complexes.
Could anything have been improved about our accommodation? The one thing which stood out for us was the absence of a washing machine (not that anyone had promised us one, but we’d wrongly assumed one would be available). It wasn’t a major issue but four young children can generate a lot of dirty clothes during a wet holiday week and it would have been helpful to have the option of washing a few key items. We hunted for a shared laundrette facility on site but unfortunately it turned out there wasn’t one. Other (petty) niggles: the hot water never quite got as warm as you’d expect for reasons we couldn’t work out, and we were surprised that the lodge didn’t have any plastic children’s cutlery or plates. But these were minor points.
“We wouldn’t hesitate to book a stay in a similar lodge in future”
Overall, we were left with a highly positive impression of the luxurious family friendly accommodation at Bluestone resort, and we wouldn’t hesitate to book a stay in a similar lodge in future or to recommend such a holiday to our friends and family.
Child friendly holidays at Bluestone
As soon as we discovered Bluestone resort it was clear that it offered a wide range of child friendly facilities and entertainment, but even that prior knowledge – and our extensive review of the holiday on Parent Friendly Stays – failed to prepare us for precisely how child friendly the place really is.
“Bluestone offers visiting families an unusually relaxing, care-free experience where you’re quite happy to let the kids roam around unchecked”
First off, aside from the spacious family friendly accommodation we’ve already mentioned, it’s worth taking a minute to reflect on the way the resort has been designed to encourage a safe environment for visitors of all ages. Bluestone is almost entirely car free – you can drive in on arrival to unpack but after that you’ll need to move your car back to a car park near the entrance – meaning it offers visiting families like us an unusually relaxing, care-free experience where you’re quite happy to let the kids roam around unchecked.
The 500 acre resort is criss-crossed with roads and pathways, perfectly suited to energetic children who can run, skip, scoot, bike ride or otherwise traverse the complex freely. There are some hills to contend with given the topography of the Bluestone site but we were based at one of the highest points and didn’t have any problems getting around – even with a pushchair in tow. There are bikes available to hire (including trailers for younger children) at Bluestone or alternatively you can hire a golf buggy for the duration of your stay.
We couldn’t resist the latter option having jealously looked on as other families sailed past us in their golf buggies, and must say it was money well spent (approx £80 for our four night stay). Each buggy can carry up to four adults and two children and they’re an incredibly fun and easy way to get around. It’s important to remember to keep your buggy charged using the plentiful free charging stations – as we found out to our cost on a steep hill as we gradually ground to a halt and pedestrians began overtaking us..! If you don’t fancy the extra expenditure there’s also a free minibus service which regularly circles the resort.
A big selling point for families with children visiting Bluestone is the free entry Blue Lagoon water park with indoor wave machine, a lazy river, spa pools, several flume rides and a dedicated paddling area for younger tots. We visited the water park every day of our stay – usually aiming for the daily 9-11am slot when Bluestone guests have exclusive use – and the kids loved it. Unfortunately our children were too young to be able to make use of the main slides but we had a great time dodging waves, travelling round the lazy river (including outdoor stretches) and splashing in the toddler pool. There’s a small cafe area at the pool but we didn’t make use of it ourselves. We did find that the changing facilities at the Blue Lagoon weren’t ideal – there were limited family changing areas with most of the showers, cubicles and so on divided by gender – which led to some difficult logistics while trying to get the whole family changed. But that was a small niggle in an otherwise impressive facility.
Near the swimming pool complex is Bluestone’s indoor Adventure Centre with adventure playground, climbing walls and crazy golf. Our children are too young for some of those facilities but loved the activities for younger guests like the soft play area, bouncy castle and Lego play area. The Adventure Centre was perfect for a wet afternoon’s entertainment and everything we used was free of charge, though you’ll pay extra for some of the activities aimed at older children.
On dry days we had a great time exploring the outdoor play park in the village centre with swings, slides, climbing walls, bouncy bridges and tunnels to explore. We also enjoyed walking around the scenic lake in the centre of Bluestone resort, and running around the vast acres of safe open space.
“Bluestone offers an incredible array of family friendly activities and entertainment to suit children of all ages”
Aside from these main facilities Bluestone offers an incredible array of family friendly activities and entertainment to suit children of all ages. It’s impossible to adequately capture them all in this brief review but here’s a selection of what we saw was available: zip wires, high ropes, tree climbing, rock climbing, gold panning, beast hunts, medieval tournaments, beast hunts, wild walks, lantern workshops, canoeing, rafting, archery, laser combat, pond dipping, 4×4 adventures…
Parent friendly holidays at Bluestone
Happy children usually lead to happy parents in our experience, and that was certainly proven true during our stay at Bluestone thanks to the broad range of entertainment on offer for our little ones. But we’re pleased to report, particularly given we’re called Parent Friendly Stays, that Bluestone hasn’t forgotten about its older visitors either.
There are a wide range of dining options available on the resort to make dinner time easier for mum and dad (and enjoyable for the kids too). Not being the culinary type we were more than happy to road-test the available venues! On our first night we made use of the Farmhouse Grill’s convenient takeaway service and were very happy with the quality of the pizzas which turned up at our lodge door 40 minutes later.
At other times during our stay we also enjoyed freshly cooked breakfast goods from the village bakery, a tasty pub lunch (and shelter from the torrential Welsh rain) at the Knights Tafarn, and a refreshing hot chocolate around the open fire at the unique Camp Smokey bar and restaurant set deep in Bluestone’s very own tree-lined valley. We also paid to take the children to an interactive tea time show at the Wild Wood Cafe, which was a hugely enjoyable experience for our three and four year olds. The resort also offers a separate upmarket restaurant for adults.
“we were genuinely impressed with the prices in the stores and the universally helpful and friendly approach of staff throughout the resort”
We were really impressed with Bluestone village centre where many of the above-mentioned restaurants can be found along with the bakery, a general store, wine shop, games room, information office and a toy and clothes shop. Not only was it convenient having all these facilities in one central traffic-free location but we were also genuinely impressed with the prices in the stores; there was no sense that prices had been inflated to take advantage of the captive tourist audience as is often the case elsewhere. We also liked some of the smaller family friendly touches, like a unique milk vending machine for those out of hours emergencies, and noted the universally helpful and friendly approach of staff throughout the resort.
Other parent friendly facilities available at Bluestone included two of our personal favourites – a babysitting service so mum and dad can enjoy some well-earned ‘us’ time in the evening, and a well-appointed luxury spa offering a full range of treatments and saunas, steam rooms and hydro pool. Sadly we didn’t have opportunity to take advantage of either of these during our brief visit, but certainly would have been more than happy to do so based on the high standards we encountered elsewhere throughout our visit.
In a single day at Bluestone resort we splashed in the swimming pool, laughed in the soft play, adventured in the park, strolled round the village shops, jumped in puddles by the lake, explored woodland trails and trundled around excitedly in our electric buggy; all punctuated with relaxing play and family meals in our luxury lodge overlooking the beautiful Pembrokeshire countryside.
There just can’t be many places where such variety and quality of family friendly holiday activities exist on your doorstep. And certainly not for the kind of affordable prices available at Bluestone; an off-season Monday to Friday break like ours cost just £300.
“we can’t wait to return”
Amazing is a word often overused but in the case of our Bluestone experience it’s entirely justified. We can’t wait to return. Thanks to everyone at Bluestone for giving us some family memories to treasure.
The Parent Friendly Stays team