Bluestone National Park: Review and Video
Here is my final blog post on our recent holiday to Bluestone National Park in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with all the pros and cons of the stay, whether I think it is value for money and the fab video montage that my very clever Hubs put together of our time there.
Without further ado here is the video which includes (a lot of) climbing, much embarrassment of Mummy including jumping on a bouncy castle, climbing up a wall and swinging from the rafters, the kids helping out in our lodge and much more. I hope you enjoy it and get a feel of our time there (some sections have been speeded up to avoid the video being too long – Hubs and L don’t really climb that fast!):
Now onto the nitty gritty – what we really thought of it:
- Beautiful location: it really is stunning, with absolutely incredible views
- Great layout, both the national park, and our lodge itself. Although it does mean a certain amount of walking from lodge to shops to restaurants to water park to adventure centre etc, including up and down hills. We didn’t hire the golf buggies and didn’t feel we needed to, but we also had gorgeous weather so the walking was really enjoyable.
- Spacious accommodation: we had our own double bedroom while the girls were in a twin bedroom with enough space for a travel cot for C.
- Fantastic activities on offer for all ages (I’d say from 0 to at least 12): as you can see from the video above and from my previous blog posts, Bluestone Day One, Bluestone Day Two, Bluestone Day Three.
- Friendly staff: for all the activities we did, at the water park, at the adventure centre, in the shops and in the restaurant we went to, there was nothing but friendly, smiling faces and everyone was more than happy to help.
- Easy to get to on public transport: we travelled from London by train to Narberth (Paddington to Swansea then Swansea to Narberth). The change at Swansea is incredibly easy, the trains are timed to coincide so there’s no waiting around and you just cross to the adjacent platform. As you don’t need a car there this is a great option. We got a taxi from Narberth station to Bluestone when we arrived which cost £15, and that was for a people carrier with a booster cushion for L.
- 50% off total money paid in activities available in food & drink vouchers: If you book your activities up to a week in advance of your holiday start date, then when you arrive you have 50% of this amount in vouchers to spend on food and drink at the resort, which works out brilliantly!
- Wifi everywhere: this did dip in and out, but on the whole worked pretty well, and in all fairness if I hadn’t been reviewing the holiday for a blog post I would probably have switched off completely from the internet for the duration of our stay.
- Free access to water park & adventure centre during your stay: I cannot stress enough how incredible these two places are – we went swimming every day (no photos or video though), and the whole family loved the wave pool and the lazy river, whilst Hubs and L had a ball on the water slides (I came down one but I wouldn’t say it was that pleasant an experience!). The adventure centre had the best thing ever for me – a bouncy castle that grown ups are allowed on 🙂 It also had free mini golf, a lego area, soft play for little ones and more adventurous indoor play for slightly older ones, so L and C loved it there too.
- Reasonably priced activities (except the spa – see cons below): L, Hubs and I tried out all sorts of activities, including climbing walls, climbing trees, swinging from rafters and adventure courses up high. We also hired a couple of mountain bikes and the three of us went out cycling at various times in the beautiful countryside that the park is set in. C wasn’t missed out either as she got to have a morning creche session where she played with some children her own age and made a pirate hat.
- Emphasis on green, outdoor and physical: Bluestone is all about being green, with a no car policy, solar panels, recycling systems in place and much more, it also encourages you to get outdoors and be active, which made it a great family holiday.
- Well equipped accommodation with quality equipment: we were very impressed by the quality of everything in our lodge; all the furniture (except the mattresses – see cons below) was comfortable and worked well, and the kitchen in particular was well-stocked with good utensils (if you follow our food blog, Franglaise Cooking, you’ll know that this is very important for Hubs).
- Free travel cot & high chair: when we arrived there was a travel cot and a high chair already at the lodge waiting for us, which was such a bonus when travelling down by train. The first travel cot and high chair are free, and then you can pay for any extra ones you might need.
- Very hard mattresses and I’m used to a super firm one at home! Apparently if they are too hard you can request mattress toppers.
- A shower but no bath in our lodge: despite them knowing we were coming with a 19 month old, so this was a bit of a pain. I would suggest specifying that you need a bath if you are going with very little ones.
- Cloudy tap water in our lodge: no matter how long you ran it for, but not so in a friend’s lodge in a different section of the resort. Just a little thing but one that some people may not like.
- Massive amounts of seagulls: don’t leave children alone with food outside (or food on its own), even for a second or it becomes like a scene out of a Hitchcock film – I speak from experience of C being dive-bombed!
- Not much privacy: the accommodation may not appeal if you like to keep to yourselves as the terrace/garden areas are side by side with your neighbour, with no separation. This didn’t bother us at all, but some people may not like it.
- Mass emailing: I received 20 emails in less than 3 months, most of which were to encourage me to book activities during our stay, but it meant it was hard to know which emails were important ones where I needed to do something, and which were just sales ones.
- Lack of guest services: when we were there it was hard to get hold of anyone if we needed help with anything or any information, there was no phone number that led us to the equivalent of a hotel reception. So when our dishwasher didn’t work I rang a number that should lead me to guest services, where I had to leave a message but no one ever got back to me. (It turned out that the plates were too big for the dishwasher, stopping the arms from going round, so bit of a fail there as it meant washing them by hand!)
- London-priced spa: The spa looked amazing, but the prices were higher than the one in a luxury hotel in Central London where Hubs sometimes goes, which was a shame, as everything else was reasonably priced.
- Hard to book activities: the activities were incredible and there was so much on offer. BUT trying to figure out what was available, when, for what age group and at what price was almost impossible. To book L’s activities I ended up to-ing and fro-ing via email with Bluestone’s sales department as the website was so unhelpful. As for C’s creche session – I nearly didn’t book it at all as I couldn’t find it in the bookings area of the website, luckily Alison from Not Another Mummy Blog, who was going at the same time, told me that “creche” wasn’t mentioned anywhere and you had to search for “space adventure” or “underwater adventure” as each day was themed. Which made the lead-up to the holiday a tad frustrating as we waded through the activities on offer!
Was it value for money?
We went to Bluestone from Monday 23rd June until Friday 27th June; a 4 night self-catering stay in “Caldey Lodge” for 2 adults, a child and an infant at this period of the year costs £350. Coming from London and London prices I find this reasonably-priced for excellent accommodation, and varied facilities which guaranteed us a wonderful family holiday with fantastic memories.
However we did have to take L out of school to review the resort, which if you have children in state school in the UK you’ll know is almost impossible to do these days, and I wonder how much a similar holiday costs during school holidays….. A lot more I’m guessing.
Would I recommend Bluestone?
Although there are quite a few “cons” above, they are minor things, and unless you like to keep yourselves to yourselves I certainly wouldn’t let any of them put you off going. I think Bluestone is a great place to go on holiday for families with different aged children, as well as similar aged children, for friends who’ve got children and want to holiday together, or for holidays with larger families (grandparents, aunts, uncles etc). I would totally recommend it for a short break (3-4 nights) and really hope that we go back again on a future family holiday.
Disclosure: Franglaise Mummy was offered this stay at Bluestone National Park in exchange for an honest review. As always all words and opinions are my own.