Bluestone National Park Holiday Resort, Wales – LittleStuff Review
We were invited to review the Bluestone National Park holiday resort in Pembrokeshire, Wales for a midweek break and right from the top I can tell you that we give it a very positive thumbs up and definitely recommend it for a family holiday. We returned home with happy and relaxed smiles on our face and lots of “Yes, we had a really good time!” replies to those inevitable “How was it?” questions.
I must confess that prior to being asked to do a review, I had not heard of Bluestone. Those that had heard of it or indeed had stayed there described it as being similar but not exactly the same as the other, well known holiday park company in the UK beginning with a ‘C’, which we have stayed at quite a few times. So, I was curious because the differences described were all different and rather subjective. Well, I can tell you that there are differences and they are all positive in favour of Bluestone. From the superb accommodation to the greater feeling of space to the option of zooming around the rather hilly site in your own electric buggy, if I was choosing which UK holiday resort to book, Bluestone would be my choice.
I kept a journal during our stay so here it is…
Monday – arrival
First impression; the drive-thru check-in is very quick and easy. There was a small queue of cars but it did not take long for our turn. Second impression; as we slowly drove through the park to our lodge in the Preselli View section was how well the park is laid out and “wow, look at that view!”. The lodge is fantastic, clever that the bedrooms are downstairs so you can enjoy the beautiful view from your upstairs living room.
Once suitcases were unloaded from the car we parked it and grabbed our hired electric buggy – oh what fun! No matter that there is gloomy clouds and rain, we had a hilarious first evening, bombing around, exploring the village. They are fantastic! Top tip, if you want one, book it well ahead of time as they are very popular but limited availability.
We picked up a takeaway pizza from The Yard restaurant, very quick service, barely time to down the glass of wine I ordered while we waited. Back to our lodge, children tucked up in bed, so quiet and peaceful as the sun goes down. The lodge is cosy and warm, the wind is a-blowin’ with a bit of a chill but the lodge is just right, feels nicely insulated. One slight hitch though, I had intended to do Facebook posts and Tweets from the lodge, especially in the evenings but the WiFi signal has only one bar and it won’t load anything. The WiFi is only a trial at Bluestone and they do suggest purchasing an ethernet cable from the shop instead but unfortunately they are out of stock and no idea when more will arrive.
The weather is lousy today, low lying mist that did not budge all day and leaves everything coated in permanent damp. The beautiful, far-reaching view from our lodge is not there. Can barely see the lodges at the other side of the park. We have gritted our teeth, donned our warm waterproof coats with an attitude of carry-on-regardless. 9.30am, Dragon Egg Hunt activity in the woods for our youngest. A leave-your-kid-with-us activity (we didn’t know this beforehand) and our youngest wasn’t keen. Dad offered to stay with him but that wasn’t allowed. So, 9yr old brother was bribed into going with him and off they went in wellies and waterproofs to find dragon eggs in the woods for 3 hours including a packed lunch. Husband and I did not hesitate to enjoy a leisurely cooked buffet breakfast with a newspaper, an unpestered browse of the gift shop followed by a cruise around the park in the awesome electric buggy and a nosey of the Adventure Centre. Oh, we still have an hour and a bit before we pick the boys up – I guess we’ll just have to go relax, read a book back at the lodge – I may have had a 10 min nap….
The boys had fun and returned with mud camouflage-warrior stripes on their faces. They made some friends, got lots of fresh air but both were a little annoyed that the dragon egg was really rather fake (there was a small part of my 9 year old’s heart that was truly hoping they would find a real dragon’s egg – gotta love a 9 year old!).
We spent the afternoon at the Blue Lagoon water park – the boys absolutely loved it and the youngest was tall enough to go on all the slides, huzzah! The vast timber roof and window structure of the building is great, like an upside down boat hull. The snack bar is ok, the staff are very friendly, as we’ve found them to be throughout Bluestone. Sadly, the popcorn machine was broken which would’ve made a healthier snack alternative to a plate of chips. The park as a whole is not very busy, we’re a week before the school Summer holidays and can imagine it would be heaving in school holidays and it’s also open to non-Bluestone residents. A few minor constructive criticisms; not enough seating and the deckchairs are not comfortable.
We then had an evening meal at The Taffarn which was our only disappointment of the week- I admit it’s not really our kinda place, a very shabby pretend-pub. We sat in the Barn room (the main, bar side was full) and it was really rather unclean with sticky tables, I hate sticky tables. However, on a good note, the pub-grub food was really rather good (steak and ale pie, yum!).
All four of us enjoyed a leisurely and plenty-of-it buffet breakfast at The Yard, a very relaxed way to start the day. The rest of the very wet morning was spent at The Adventure Centre for our eldest to try out The Big Four activities – The Swing, Sky Trail, Climbing Walls and The Drop – in his words, they were “awesome!” and “The Swing and the Sky Trail were the best”. I was very grateful that they are all within the indoor Adventure Centre where plenty of coffee is available because of miserable rain outside.
Our youngest is tall enough for The Big Four but as he won’t be six years old for another three months he wasn’t allowed. He had a good time anyway playing crazy golf and air hockey with his Dad.
When we cautiously emerged from The Adventure Centre we were so pleased that the rain has stopped and, wait, there, just a smidge of sun trying to break through the clouds! Lunch at Camp Smokey was next on our itinerary so we took a precarious walk down through the woods to the campsite. Camp Smokey has a great atmosphere with it’s outdoor, open sided log cabin down in the woods where you share big tables with other diners. The food is ok, pretty basic and possibly a little over priced for such BBQ fare but it’s not just about the food.
Our eldest then did his leave-your-kid-with-us-for-3-hours activity, Woodland Survivor which he really enjoyed. It involved things such as zip wires in the woods, lighting your own fire with flint, making bread from scratch in the woods and he returned with yet more camoflauge face paint and a happy smile on his face.
One of the lovely things about Bluestone is it’s location, Pembrokeshire is one of the most beautiful areas of the UK, especailly the coastline. We left the park for a trip to Tenby, had a lovely stroll around, the boys had a frollick on the beach and we finished off with possibly The Best fish and chip supper at the award-winning Fecci’s – oh so good, the homemade mushy peas are to die for.
It was a hardship but we forced ourselves to have another breakfast at The Yard ;-) before meeting up with the truly lovely resident historian Terry John for a historic woodland walk around the Bluestone site. Hands down this was my favourite part of the week (the electric buggy a very close second). What Terry doesn’t know about the history of the area just isn’t worth knowing. We learnt about the medieval Newton North Church and the Holy Well and the part they played in the route made by pilgrims from all over and the safe passage they were given by the Knights Hospitallers. We also visited the ruins of the Castell Coch and heard about the myths and legends of the area. Both our children were fascinated with the legend of the Tanglwyst witch who was turned to stone for encouraging dancing on a Sunday. Both boys jumped when Terry had them turn around as the stone behind them was the very one she is said to be trapped in! My eldest was also rather wide-eyed about the legend of the dragon inside the the Preselli Hills!
We then had a very nice lunch at the Wild Wood Cafe in The Adventure Centre. We especially liked the hot and cold, all you can eat buffet for the kids, such a good idea.
Our last afternoon at Bluestone was spent at the Blue Lagoon swimming park followed by a very nice meal at the rather posh Carreg Las restaurant (the boys even donned button-n-collar shirts, get them!). So nice to enjoy a very delicious meal in a fine dining restaurant that welcomes (well behaved) children.
Friday – go home :-(
Our lovely little holiday at Bluestone is done. It all went by so fast, too fast, I guess that’s what happens when you’re having a good time. Check out couldn’t have been easier – after yet another breakfast at The Yard, we loaded up the car, dropped the key cards in the drive-by drop box and we were on our way.
Since coming back, had coffee with a friend, told her all about it and she booked that night and she also was able to take advantage of their Summer 2012 free break offer!
Bluestone, we love you and we will be coming back again soon, promise.