If you haven’t already, check out the day-by-day posts from our time at Bluestone National Park Resort:
- Day One: First Impressions
- Day Two: Adventure Centre & Circus Room
- Day Three: Local Area & Dinner Out
- Day Four: The Blue Lagoon
I have to admit, before coming to Bluestone, I felt a little sceptical. I’ve heard Bluestone described as being similar to Center Parcs, and Center Parcs isn’t something that’s ever appealed to me. I like our holidays to be jam-packed with entertainment and things to do. The thought of being left to our own devices was a little daunting. Would we be bored? Was it the sort of holiday you’d only enjoy if you’re the outdoorsy, cycling type?
If you’ve got similar concerns, it’s time to put them to bed. Our trip to Bluestone was different to any holiday we’ve had before, but it was definitely one of the best. It was such a new experience; to go self-catered in our lodge and not having any strict timings to stick to, but it was neither stressful nor boring. While Bluestone would be a fantastic park to explore by bike, it certainly isn’t a prerequisite. All of my reservations about a holiday at Bluestone were proved wrong.
I expected our break to be worth over £500. For the quality of the accommodation, the wealth of activities on offer, the facilities and the local area, I definitely would have expected that, just for a break in the winter. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the equivalent of our break can be booked for 2018 for around £150. It’s incredible. If you go during high season or during the holidays, obviously the price shoots up – but I’d imagine that the better weather makes for even more activities on offer, so I’d even argue that it’s worth it then. If you’re doing Bluestone on a budget, however, the time to go is during January.
Our lodge was perfect. I was struck by how many different lodge types there are, to cater for groups of all different sizes and demographics. It’s definitely made planning a group holiday much easier! There are so many options – it’s not like places like Haven, where if you go in a group, you’ll be spread out in lots of little caravans. Lodge options sleep up to fourteen people, in so many configurations – it’s so flexible. The quality of the lodges themselves are fantastic; the beds were super comfy (important when you’re sleeping after a busy day!), it had a very homely feel and everything we could have needed was provided. It was lovely walking around the resort and seeing rabbits and other wildlife around the lodges! You definitely feel closer to nature there.
Even in the winter, we didn’t need to worry about being bored. There was plenty to do without having to pay any extra money. One of the criticisms I’d heard prior to our stay was that everything costs extra money – but we were able to find plenty to keep us entertained, without spending a penny. The Blue Lagoon, Adventure Centre and Circus Room are fantastic, free facilities that are indoors (well, mostly indoors, in the case of The Blue Lagoon!) so you’ll find something to do, whatever the weather. We were amazed by the sheer scale and the quality of the facilities – it’s clear that so much thought has gone into the design and construction. The highlight for me would be the Blue Lagoon water park, which was just amazing. I think SB’s favourite was the Circus Room, and Daf loved helping Celyn with the LEGO wall in the Adventure Centre! We didn’t try any of the paid activities, but there were so many on offer for all ages – from baby sensory sessions for little ones, to high ropes courses in the Steep Ravine for older daredevils! We didn’t make use of the spa, but it looked lovely and I think it would definitely be high on my list of priorities next time. The light trail was a real highlight – it’s on until March 30th and well worth a walk up the nature trail if you’re staying before then!
We ate out twice while we were at Bluestone – once was a takeaway from the chippy, and once at the Knight’s Tafarn in the village. These were really good value for money, and I liked that they were very transparent and open with their allergy information, and happy to help when we had any questions. The food from the Knight’s Tafarn in particular was fantastic, and the atmosphere in there was brilliant too. There are other restaurants to choose from – we didn’t try these, but each one offers something different. We highly recommend the Knight’s Tafarn, for good food and good value in a lovely themed atmosphere. We did a shop at Tesco in Haverfordwest, as our break was self-catered, and managed to get all the food and supplies we needed for the week for £50. Haverfordwest is only twenty minutes away from Bluestone, so it’s worth the detour to save you lugging your shopping all the way there!
Pembrokeshire is beautiful. There’s no other word for it. All the villages we drove through on our way to Tenby were quaint and pretty, and the coastline is simply gorgeous. There’s lots to do – we were a little too cold to go further afield than Tenby, but places like Pendine, Laugharne and Pembroke are all within easy driving distance, with lots on offer. Folly Farm is only open at weekends in the winter, otherwise we definitely would have paid a visit! Oakwood theme park is right next door – you can see some of the rides from the Blue Lagoon – and although it wasn’t open when we were there, if theme parks are your thing then Bluestone is so convenient, with Oakwood right on its doorstep!
From start to finish, the customer service was excellent. Everyone we encountered – from the restaurant waiters to the lifeguards to the check-in staff – were polite, friendly and endlessly helpful. We were provided with helpful numbers in case we needed anything, but we didn’t – everything was done right first time. Still, it was good to know that we could get in touch with people if we needed to. Special shout out goes to the bus driver on the first two days of our stay – I wish I’d gotten his name because he was excellent; he was friendly, helpful and gave us some fantastic local knowledge about the area! The bus service in itself was a fantastic touch – they could easily have said “no, you need to pay money for a buggy or walk”, but having that complimentary bus service was perfect customer service.
Ease of Access
Everything was pushchair friendly – doors opened wide, there were pushchair parks all over the place – you could tell it was really well thought out. The park in itself is very hilly, so depending on where your lodge was, it could be a struggle to get a buggy or a wheelchair around, unless you are super-fit. The bus service made it much easier, and if you have the money to spare, the golf buggies seem to be a solid investment (although I think some of the other guests could have done with a few driving lessons in them first!). The benefit is that despite being largely car-free, there are adapted lodges with parking spaces outside, and the car rules are relaxed for disabled guests, which I think is important – it means that despite its hilly nature, Bluestone is easily accessible for all.
Overall Value For Money
If you’re savvy about what time of year you go, and you make full use of the free facilities, it is surprisingly easy to do Bluestone on a budget. If you’ve got the cash to splash, you can go later in the year and use the paid activities. Either way, I’m certain you’d have a great time. At the end of the day, it’s not as cheap as a Sun £9.50 holiday – but you pay for quality, and quality is what you get! Daf and I both agreed, we love our holidays at Butlins, but this was on another level. When you come back from places like Butlins, you can be more exhausted than you were when you left – we left Bluestone feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. It’d be perfect as a Babymoon location for a couple, because it can be so relaxing if you want it to be. That’s the crux of it – Bluestone is what you make of it. If you want an all-action holiday, you can have an all-action holiday. If you want a refreshing break, you can have it. When they say it’s free-range fun, they really do mean it.
We’ve had a fantastic time – thank you so much to Bluestone National Park Resort for having us! We’re already planning a getaway with some friends, because we think they’d love Bluestone too. I hope you’ve enjoyed our review – if you want to see more pictures from our break, take a look at my Bluestone album. If you’re looking for a high-quality UK break or holiday, I don’t think you can go far wrong with Bluestone.