As a family we love to get away for the New Year for a change of scenery and a fresh start. Part way through 2017 we came across a good deal for Bluestone and we booked it up immediately. We’d heard nothing but good reports from friends and family and so we had high expectations.
Arrival and Accomodation
When you book with Bluestone you’ll notice that, depending on the style of lodge you have booked, you’ll have a check in time of either 3pm or 4:30pm and they are rather strict on the timing. When you arrive you’ll be let into a holding car park until your designated check in time. You’ll be allowed to take your car on to the site to unload and then all cars must be returned to the car park by midnight.
Unfortunately, we had a 4:30pm check-in which isn’t ideal when you’ve got four tired and hungry kids in tow. However, check-in was speedy and we soon found our way down the hill, through the village, to our home for the New Year. Our lodge was located on Bartholomew Rise which was a great location near the lake and a two minute walk to the shops and restaurants in The Village.
Bluestone is a fairly large site and there is the option to hire a golf buggy to get around (see image below), however, we decided not to as the cost seemed ludicrous. The distances we needed to walk were manageable on foot. If you’re staying less centrally or you have someone in your party thats less able it might be more necessary. It’s worth bearing in mind that there is also a free shuttle bus that runs from the top to the bottom of the site every half an hour which we used almost daily and is accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
As we were trying to keep the costs down (being tight) we opted for a two bedroomed Caldey lodge. In all seriousness though it was probably the best option. Elsie loves nothing better than a flight of stairs right now and if her older brother and sister had been up and down them she’d have wanted to follow suit.
The lodge was clean, spacious and easily fitted the two travel cots we needed. Bluestone supply all lodges with one cot however we also brought a cot from home to save hiring another. Logan and Florence shared a room and Matt and I had the babies in with us. Probably a bad idea on reflection!
The kitchen was well equipped with a refrigerator (and box freezer), dishwasher, microwave, kettle and toaster – everything you’d want or need for a few nights away.
We stopped on the way to Bluestone and picked up a few essentials from Tesco using their Click and Collect service. I’d highly recommend doing this as the shop on site can be pricey if you’re buying a lot. The lodge had a decent sized under counter fridge and easily stashed our bacon, beers and milk. We did bring a few odds and ends from home such as coffee and tea bags.
The food offering at Bluestone is good; with dinner choices ranging from traditional pub grub to fish and chips, pizza or pasta. If you like a burger (and lets face it, who doesn’t?) head to The Flamehouse Grill – the burgers are delicious. We complained about our fries on our last evening as they were rock hard and the waitress very promptly apologised and offered the kids puddings free of charge. We gladly accepted as we were planning to have pudding anyway. Great service in my books!
The fish and chip van was probably my food low-light of the week. The service wasn’t great and the fish and chips were average at best especially when taking the cost into account. If you want decent fish and chips head to Tenby; there’s lots of choice in the town centre – Florence certainly enjoyed it and the beach and views at Tenby are beautiful.
The prices on site were good. We had expected them to be higher. I’d say they were on a par with a decent pub with a meal for all six of us (Mabel didn’t eat) coming in at around £80 including drinks.
If you fancy a pizza but not the fuss of eating in a restaurant head to The Oak Tree restaurant and grab a takeaway – the pizzas are delicious and I recommend the garlic bread if you love garlic!
Within the Adventure Centre is the Wildwood Cafe which is a lovely, calm setting to enjoy a drink or meal. There’s also a small room for the kids to decamp and watch movies. We ate in the Wildwood Cafe on one occasion and the food was decent, sadly I didn’t get a photo as Elsie was in an absolutely foul mood and it put a bit of a downer on the whole meal so we ate as quick as we could to get out of there. The cafe does have a microwave and bottle warmer which is invaluable for those of us with mini-me’s!
There’s also a coffee shop, which we didn’t use, and Camp Smokey, which I believe is closed at this time of year.
There is a lot to do – especially during the festive period. Bluestone put on a really good show at Christmas time. The lights in the evening were lovely and decoration in the Adventure Centre was in abundance. I really wish we’d visited prior to Christmas Day as it really does get you into the spirit of it all.
The Adventure Centre is home to the huge indoor wooden play frame, a bouncy castle, a small miniature golf course as well as a mini soft play for younger guests. My only complaint about coming at this time of year is that the Circus Zone is closed and used as part of the Kingdom of the Elves event. The Circus Zone is a room especially for babies and toddlers with sensory and soft play activities all laid out in a smaller, calmer atmosphere. Anyone with babies from 6-18mths is going to be a little stuck for things to do with them in there Adventure Centre as it’s all geared up for a slightly older age range. Mind you, that didn’t stop Mabel getting in on the action over on the bouncy castle…
The Blue Lagoon was a big hit with all of us. I’m not a fan of swimming or any of the faff that goes along with it but the facilities were second to none – better than Alton Towers in my opinion. The changing facilities were spotless and plentiful, baby changing facilities were also in abundance. The Nippers pool was ideal for all ages from 0+ and it was enclosed which meant I could safely keep an eye on the younger two whilst Matt took the older two on the flumes. The flumes were a lot of fun – just make sure your bikini is tied up tightly! There’s also a wave machine in the main pool which kept the kids laughing the whole time – especially when mum got taken by surprise! Considering the resort was almost full we pretty much had the whole of the pool area to ourselves – it was just how swimming should be!
There’s a lovely outdoor play area located in The Village which was ideal for when we fancied a drink but the kids still had some energy to burn as it’s right next door to The Knights Tafarn. There was usually a queue at the bar to order and the food looked good although we didn’t eat here. If you’re going in the winter months it’s a lovely spot to cosy up by the fire.
Kingdom of the Elves and New Year
Our booking included free tickets for the Kingdom of the Elves event, which runs over the Christmas and New Year period. We weren’t really sure what to expect so we just turned up at the Adventure Centre and upon arrival the kids were greeted by the ‘elves’ and issued with a passport each. We also had rosy red elf cheeks applied – you might just be able to make them out in the image below.
We went off into the Adventure Centre and listened out for our call to ‘Elftopia’. Basically the premise of the event is that you board a flight to ‘Eltopia’ and whilst you’re there the kids get up to all manner of things including visiting the Snow Queen and making enchanted reindeer food. A lot of thought has been put into it by Bluestone and the kids were all issued with an elf suit at ‘Duty Free’ before boarding the flight. I think this was possibly the highlight for my kiddies as they didn’t take them off all day! Elsie was given a large cuddly elf toy and Mabel was even given a small elf bib to wear.
On New Years Eve Bluestone put on a bit of a street party in The Village. All the restaurants were offering free samples of their food and dubbing it ‘street food’. We visited The Oak tree for a free slice of pizza each and then headed to The Farmhouse Grill for a burger and noodles. It was a nice idea but we hadn’t realised this was happening until the day and and so we found it a little tricky to find something Elsie, our one year old, would eat as all the restaurants were otherwise closed.
During the evening live music was played and the lights sparkled under the moonlight. It was a lovely atmosphere but as we had two very young kids with us we headed back to our lodge after about an hour and were all tucked up by 9pm. We did hear jubilant celebrations as the clock struck midnight but it soon died down and 2018 was upon us.
I really enjoyed our stay at Bluestone. We made a bit of a boo boo booking a smaller lodge than we probably needed but you can’t really fault the site or cleanliness and facilities within the lodge. People compare it to Centre Parcs and I can see why they would but, to me, it has a completely different vibe – more relaxed somehow.
I’d like to see a little more for the younger guests, granted they usually have the Circus Zone open, but that didn’t help anyone staying during the festive period and it would be nice to have something included within the main area of the Adventure Centre so families can all stay together.
We’ve already discussed when we might go back so that speaks volumes in itself! Have you been to Bluestone? If so, what were your experiences?