Some families jet off to exotic, sunny beaches; others head to the slopes for a skiing holiday. For us, however, you can’t beat the good old British staycation. We don’t really ‘do’ going abroad (not having passports puts paid to that!), so we’re working our way through UK holiday providers instead. Our verdicts have ranged from “a bit grubby but fun” (Haven) to “amazing” (Butlins).
When we were offered the chance to review Bluestone National Park Resort in Pembrokeshire, it goes without saying that we said “yes”. Well, I said yes, and then begged Daf to get the time off work. He did, and here we are! Beautiful South Wales, and the gorgeous setting of Bluestone.
Bluestone is a luxury holiday resort with a great ethos – it revolves around free-range fun. We’re used to all-singing, all-dancing holidays with everything in one place and endless streams of entertainment, so we were intrigued to see how we’d get on with a slightly more self-sufficient style of holiday; being left to our own devices to entertain ourselves and a two-year-old.
To make one thing clear from the start, Bluestone is the sort of park where you could happily spend loads of money on activities and eating out every night. Authenticity is what I’m going for here; I want to see if it’s affordable and feasible for a family like ours – younger, with a limited budget – to do a Bluestone holiday and have a great time without breaking the bank. Call it “Bluestone on a Budget”, if you will.
What’s interesting is that Bluestone has a reputation for being expensive – like, Center Parcs expensive (seriously, those prices are terrifying) – but I had a look at what the break we’re on would cost if you were booking it for the same time next year – it’s only £149. I know “only” is subjective and to many that’s a lot of money, but for the quality of Bluestone itself, I’d say that’s one hell of a bargain. We were both shocked – we were expecting it to be into the £500s at least!
It was a lovely drive down to Bluestone – we took the coast road down through Aberystwyth and down to Haverfordwest to pick up some shopping (Bluestone breaks are self-catering), passing through lots of lovely little towns and villages on the way. The journey was actually bearable, thanks to SB being distracted by her new favourite film (Paddington) on the Kindle Fire in the back, although the weather turned from bright sunshine to grey skies, and it was pouring with rain by the time we arrived at Bluestone.
Check-in was remarkably easy. We literally just waited in a small queue, drove up to a little building, gave our booking details to the lovely lady in the building and drove on through. We arrived a little early, so although our lodge wasn’t ready, we were free to use the facilities. This was perfect – SB had been bugging us for the last four days to go swimming, so we grabbed our costumes and headed for the Blue Lagoon.
This place. Oh my goodness, The Blue Lagoon is incredible. I’ll talk in more detail about it in Thursday’s post, but you could literally spend all day there. More on that later… after almost two hours in the toasty warm pool, it was time to go and see our lodge.
We stayed in a Caldey lodge, which has two bedrooms and sleeps four people. It’s a really cute little lodge, and connects to another Caldey next door. There’s an interconnecting door, so you could have that open if you knew the people in the lodge next door, which is a lovely idea if you’re going in a bigger family/friends group! There are accommodation types for all family sizes, but the Caldey was perfect for us – plenty of space, clean and tidy and modern – but with gorgeous old-looking beams across the roof! It is the perfect mix of classic and new, and so comfy. All the little touches – the “starter pack” with washing up liquid and bin bags and dishwasher tablets; the freshener bag in the wardrobe – are all absolutely gorgeous. Even better, it’s so family friendly. There was a travel cot and a highchair already in the lodge when we arrived as standard; in most places these are extras that you have to pay for! Major family-friendly points gained there.
One of the things I love about Bluestone is that it has a ‘no cars on site’ policy. This works really well; it means you can feel safe to let your children play outside and you can walk along the roads without worries. You can bring your car to the lodge to unpack, and then you take it back to the long-stay car park and it stays there. You don’t have to worry about walking your little legs off; you can hire out golf buggies (although our eyes were watering a little at the price tag, almost £90 for the week!), cycle or catch the free bus that goes around the park (it shouldn’t surprise you to know that we chose the latter option).
Daf took the car back and brought us food from the chippy (Bluestone gets major brownie points from me; their chips are cooked in a separate fryer so they’re guaranteed gluten-free!), and then it was time to get an early night. We actually decided to be
completely crazy really brave and try SB in a big-girl bed for the first time – despite the option of the travel cot, we really wanted to bite the bullet. So far, so good…
Stay tuned (can you stay tuned to a blog? Anyway…) until tomorrow, for Day Two of our Bluestone Blogger break!
We were given a free stay at Bluestone National Park Resort for the purposes of this review. All views are my own honest opinions – I do love these blogging perks, but you know me, I don’t have enough of a filter to be anything but honest!