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We were gifted our stay in exchange for coverage. My husband and I absolutely love a holiday within the UK. It is really convenient for us to get in the car, or go on the train, and take Daisy on holiday for a week, or 5 days as we more commonly do. Daisy has FPIES, which means we require a lot of food and products to take her on holiday. Also, travel insurance is steep and bumps up the price of a holiday abroad considerably. For this reason, we have been sticking to having local (ish) holiday for the past 2 years, just so we know that we are near her hospital, and near to her team of consultants should she have a reaction and end up needing to visit the hospital. Anyway, we were recently invited to Bluestone Wales, as part of their #BluestoneBlogger campaign and we jumped at the chance – having heard that it is the Welsh version of Centerparcs!
If you’re an avid reader of mine or follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you will know that we absolutely love Centerparcs, and typically visit 3-5 times each year, with family and just the 3 of us. Anyway, this is my Bluestone Wales review and I hope it is going to be as in-depth as people seem to want it to be!
Getting to Bluestone Wales
Bluestone Wales is located at Canaston Wood, Narberth, Pembrokeshire, SA67 8DE.
Getting the train to Bluestone Wales
The closest train station is Narberth, which is a request stop. This means that when you’re on the train you’ll need to let the guard or driver know that you want to stop at Narberth, also, it means when you’re waiting for the 2 hourly train back you’ll have to wait on the platform and put your hand out, like you’re flagging down a bus – ha!
Driving to Bluestone Wales
If you’re traveling from the South East, like my husband was, then it is a pretty straightforward journey down the M4 for a couple of hundred miles basically. Thomas spent 215 miles on the M4 and he actually drove 299.9 miles from our door to the car park in Bluestone. This really is a crazy amount of driving for a 5 day holiday, and it really meant that the trip itself turned into 2 days of driving/traveling on the train for me, and 3 days exploring Bluestone Wales and the surrounding areas, which didn’t feel like enough time if I’m honest.
You might be wondering why my husband drove, and I took the train. The reason for this is that I have huge travel anxiety, and I don’t like to be in the car for more than an hour unless it absolutely cannot be helped. Thomas did collect me from the train station at Haverfordwest on the way in (train problems!) and dropped me off to Narberth on the way home. Narberth is just over 10 minutes drive from Bluestone Wales and Haverfordwest was around 25 minutes drive. The roads are smooth, with a couple of steep hills, but the journey in was pleasant enough and it wouldn’t be too cost prohibitive in a taxi if you’re a family that doesn’t drive or wants to use the train.
What is the Bluestone Wales resort like?
My first thought when we arrived was how pretty the resort is. Bluestone Wales stands quite high up on a hilly area, and there are quite a few hills within the resort itself, which is something to bear in mind if you’re planning on walking everywhere. The lodges all seemed to be well spread out, and the village area is absolutely stunning. There are cute little quaint cottages, that you can stay in, and the resort is fairly well spread out. For example, the car-park is near the exit, and near the swimming, but further in you have the village and other areas such as the steep ravine. I like a resort where it is all a bit spread out, rather than trying to cram things into the minimum space. For me, I enjoy exploring different areas each day, and also that the areas aren’t overcrowded either.
Is Bluestone Wales beautiful?
The Bluestone Wales resort is more than 500 acres of lush greenery, rolling hills and green fields. This makes it ideal for the time of year that we’ve visited, as you can get out and enjoy a picnic or barbecue. You can also enjoy a nice walk with the family, which is particularly useful for helping tire little ones out. Also, if you’re often surrounded by buildings and concrete spaces like we are at home, then you’ll probably appreciate this lusciousness even more. You can explore the nature trail which takes you past brooks and a river too, and is the ideal setting for a frugal family day out too. You’re never too far from your lodge, especially if you’re hired a buggy or a cycle, and you can feel like you’re miles away from anyone – thanks to the size of the resort.
The resort contains a village area, the Blue Lagoon swimming area, the Wellness Spa, the adventure centre (with climbing, a bouncy castle and more), the steep ravine (sky-wires, high ropes and more) and lots of beautiful views.
Our lodge in Bluestone
When we first arrived at our lodge it looked just like the photographs from outside. We had our own gardens area at first glance and we were able to pull our car up to right outside our lodge, which was really convenient for unloading with a 2-year-old on board. The lodge itself has a dining area, living area and a kitchen, all in one room. There were then two twin rooms downstairs, off the dining area and hallway area, and there was a bathroom downstairs too. This had a bath and a toilet.
The bathroom in our lodge
The bathroom was pretty nice with a heated towel rail, lighted mirrored, shelf for toiletries, hand soap provided and towels too. However, the towels we received, for placing on the floor I presume, actually had a couple of rips in where they were so worn and they were a little hazardous to use with a two-year-old, so we ended up using a bath towel on the floor instead.
Upstairs in our lodge
Upstairs in our Tenby lodge, there was a mezzanine area, to overlook the kitchen and living room area. There was a locked cupboard, presumably for the cleaners, and then there was the main bedroom. This was a double bedroom, with an ensuite. This had a curved shower cubicle, toilet and the same sink set up as downstairs. It was clean, functional and sufficient for the needs of 6 people on holiday. Each of the bedrooms also had a cubby hole type area with a wardrobe (without enough hangers for the 3 of us) and areas to put your clothes in shelves. Also, there was an electronic safe in the main bedroom upstairs, which was easy to programme and worked perfectly.
The kitchen in our lodge
The kitchen of the lodge was well equipped, with everything that we needed to make breakfast, lunch and dinner in our lodge. There was a fan assisted oven, a halogen hob, slimline dishwasher, toaster, kettle, cafetiere and a microwave. The kitchen came well stocked with cups, plates, glasses and wine glasses with separate plastic bowls, cups, plates and cutlery for children too. This was a lovely touch that I haven’t seen in many self-catering lodges in the UK. Also, there were plenty of utensils, although I would have liked to have seen a pair of tongs and a pizza cutter, maybe I just missed those? Also, the knives were in desperate need of a sharpen, which is a shame as blunt knives cause accidents and I never use blunt knives at home.
First thoughts about our lodge
When we entered the lodge we were fairly pleased, initially, but then we noticed some niggles. Our lodge was a connected lodge, called the Tenby. Now to be fair to Bluestone Wales it DID say this on the booking confirmation, but I never paid attention! It said that we had the Tenby lodge and then the size of it, number of bedrooms etc, and right at the end it said that it was a connecting door lodge. I was REALLY disappointed about this, especially as the connecting door on our side was unlocked. This was an annoyance that we had to get sorted, and hoping that the door on the other lodge’s side wasn’t unlocked too leaving someone to come through the door at any minute.
It does state on the booking page that this is a connecting lodge, but you have to click more info to see that. I’d prefer to see it right there, on the main screen to make it clear to people BEFORE they begin the booking process. Credit where it is due – I reported this when we collected our golf buggy and it was dealt with before we even made it back to our lodge, which was great service.
Honestly, though I have NO idea why the hell anyone would want to stay in a connected door lodge, even if holidaying with a large family. This lodge appears to be maybe £30 cheaper than other similar 3 bedroom stand-alone lodges, so I’m not sure why anyone would want to cheap out and book this lodge, and frankly, I would NOT recommend the Tenby to anyone who doesn’t want to share two lodges as a family. We were sharing connecting lodges with 6 girls in their late teens. They weren’t obnoxious or rude but they were SUPER loud. Every evening, until well after midnight, they were making noise. Why would we want to share a garden area with teenage girls when we have a 2-year-old?
Also, because the back doors are so close together we couldn’t let Daisy play in the garden as she would end up wandering into the lodge of the people next door. This wasn’t ideal for any of us, although the teenagers were really friendly and nice to Daisy when she did this – twice. I dread to think how bad the noise would be if you got someone rude next door, or someone who wanted to have a party. The teenagers next to us were just making a typical amount of noise for six young women and weren’t playing loud music or anything, yet we could still hear them every single night. As the television area was right next to the connecting lodges this meant that we had times where we thought the other person was talking, and it was actually the noise from the lodge next door.
I personally felt uncomfortable with the situation, and I know Thomas didn’t want to enjoy morning coffee in the garden in his shorts in the sun as he knew there were lots of young women nearby and it was all just a bit odd. I know that we could have complained, and asked to be moved, but I didn’t want to have to move all of our stuff once we were settled in and realised how annoying it was, also, I didn’t want to have to complain about the young women next door who were being as respectful as it is possible to be and were just trying to enjoy their holiday.
I’ll be looking out for a lodge situation like this now every time we stay somewhere new and I would actively go out of my way not to have a shared/connected lodge. We’ve stayed in lodges at Centerparcs 10+ times with neighbours joined on and not once ever heard noise from another party of people or another family.
The lodge was fairly well laid out for families, with stair gates on the top and bottom of the stairs. The curved staircase wasn’t ideal as Daisy was terrified of walking up and down it, and I didn’t find the rail well suited for holding on to while holding a child up and down the stairs. There was a cot provided but it was one of those travel cots, with a little piece of plastic as a mattress, and Daisy was REALLY uncomfortable by the end of the week – to the point of complaining that her back was hurting. She’s only 2 so not really equipped to know to lie about things like that either.
There was a garden at the back of the lodge, which was shared with the lodge next door, but there was a line of reed type bushes in the middle. These weren’t tall, at all, and the garden just felt really overlooked. Also, with our door curtains shut at night, it was actually possible for people in the next garden to look up and see through a gap in the curtains, to us standing near the main bedroom area. This is not ideal when you’re trying to get ready for bed and while I’m sure the youngsters next door weren’t interested in my body I still felt super uncomfortable about this, as there was nothing we could do to stop it happening.
As you can probably tell we found the lodge pretty average. It was great to have bed linen provided, but I’d expect nothing less for £500 for 5 days. The towels were not very luxurious and the ones for the floor were threadbare basically. The sofas in the lounge were knackered, with broken springs in places and to be honest they looked like an Argos plastic leather special. I wouldn’t buy them in my own home and I felt really uncomfortable sitting on them at night, the one time that we get to really relax on holiday as parents to a poorly 2-year-old. There were no cushions on them either, and they really were uncomfortable, to the point that we ended up using pillows from one of the bedrooms downstairs that we weren’t using.
We didn’t like the connecting lodge, or the garden situation, also, the one day we had no neighbours home, and we used the garden, a man appeared to cut the grass and we felt that we had to go inside because of the noise. Also, when we arrived in our lodge there was some food down the front of the fridge, inside and out, and there was some sort of sticky mess that had been wiped all over the dining table. For the average family this may not be a big deal but for us, with Daisy having multiple dangerous allergies, this was a negative start to the holiday and it meant I had to start cleaning as soon as we arrived. We also found some paperwork and tags off clothing in the wardrobe area in our bedroom, suggesting it hadn’t been cleaned very well.
What is the spa at Bluestone Wales like?
I was pleasantly surprised by the Wellness Spa at Bluestone Wales. It was clean, had nice compact rooms, including a couple of different saunas and steam rooms, and there was a lovely little hydrotherapy pool outside. This was perfect for relaxing in the nice weather we experienced while there, and there was seating areas around the pool and just inside the building too, where you could enjoy complimentary teas and coffees. There was also a fridge which had some fruit inside, and a little snack bar area with nuts and other goodies.
The spa had nice showers, listed as experience showers, but they were just showers with side jets and a rainforest head from what I could tell, nothing like the experience showers I have seen at other spas in the UK in the last couple of years. I was pleased that I paid £25 for 2 hours at the spa, as this was sufficient to feel relaxed and use all of the facilities, also, it was really reasonable for what was inside the spa.
What was the weather like at Bluestone Wales?
We were fortunate to get a glorious week of weather. Back home, in Essex, the weather was pretty miserable for most of the week. We got sunshine every day and the only rain we saw was on our final day when we were leaving the Bluestone Wales resort.
What is the wi-fi like at Bluestone
I have LOTS of friends who have been to Bluestone in the past and around 75% of them seem to agree with me that the wi-fi is dire. My own experience was that first I didn’t receive the codes I should have when moving in, and secondly, I had to ring, twice, to get codes that actually worked. The ‘premium’ wi-fi is far from it. It disconnects, regularly, putting you back to the standard wi-fi, which is even worse, and it is barely usable. In the end I ended up using my 4G signal, which was better than the wi-fi. I was not impressed by this, at all, however mine was gifted to me so I couldn’t exactly ask for a refund!
Can you get a day pass for Bluestone Wales?
Yes, you can add day passes to your booking, if you have people nearby you want to visit you. I don’t think you can get a day pass if you don’t know someone staying on site, however, you CAN visit the Blue Lagoon without being a guest at Bluestone Wales, in the afternoon.
What are the activities at Bluestone Wales like?
There are a variety of different activities, to suit most members of the family. You can take part in axe throwing, climbing, zip lining, visit the spa, watch shows and little ones can take part in a whole variety of different activities. We didn’t book any activities really, besides my spa visit, as the activities do book up in advance. We weren’t aware of this and by the time we looked, a few days before we arrived, a lot of the days/times that we were interested in were either booked up or there weren’t enough tickets available for the three of us.
So we were interested in visiting Camp Smokey but there were only children’s tickets left for the time that we wanted to attend. This was no use to us of course and was a bit disappointing. However, if you book your trip in advance then definitely get booking your activities in advance as what I have seen from others looks positive.
There is a creche available if you want to visit the spa, or just have a couple of hours of time alone without your children. We didn’t use the creche as Daisy has so many allergies, and with her FPIES, it just becomes a huge issue and usually leads to her getting ill in the middle of our holiday and spending the rest of the time feeling really unwell.
What are the restaurants at Bluestone Wales like?
We visited the Oak Tree and we also visited Ty Coffi and The Chippy. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get booked into Camp Smokey for the time/day that we wanted sadly, as it was already booked.
We went to the Oak Tree, to get a takeaway. It was pretty quiet, at 6-7pm, and the takeaway pizzas only took around 12 minutes. The prices were a little steep, although cheaper than Dominos etc, the quality was poor. The dough balls and garlic dipping sauce were nice but the pizzas were a letdown. For example, the children’s pizza, pepperoni, was around £6 and it had four small pieces of pepperoni on it. Also, the larger adult pizzas, around £11-12, had really minimal toppings on too. We got a chicken pizza, with poppadoms on, and each slice just had one piece of chicken on. It was a reasonable size but I would have preferred smaller pieces of chicken spread across the pizza.
Ty Coffi was absolutely lovely. We enjoyed two delicious flavoured coffees, which cream and a Lotus biscuit etc. They were delicious and reasonably priced. This place was really nice, with lots of seating inside and out, overlooking the park, and they had clean baby changing facilities too that was really useful.
We visited The Chippy, which was tasty. They had lots of nice chip shop style options, including curry sauce, cod & chips and even gluten-free chips for Daisy to enjoy. I know there was no cross contamination as Daisy wasn’t ill, and even a small amount of gluten flares up her FPIES. The prices were reasonable and the food was cooked fresh. Nothing sat around in a heated cabinet for an age. You did have to queue for a fair few minutes during busy times but it was worth it for the battered halloumi!
What to pack for a holiday at Bluestone Wales?
I’d say that really you want to pack the same type of items I recommend packing for Centerparcs. Make sure you have change for lockers at swimming (£1) and your own towels for swimming too, as the resort ones are not the best. Also, consider a sun-tan lotion, like P20, as parts of the pool are outside and there is even a little hot-tub area you can enjoy in the sun.
We stopped off at the Tesco Extra in Haverfordwest to pick up a click & collect shop, to save some money. This saved us a LOT of money versus buying items in the store. We did need a couple of supplies, for example, a carton of almond milk, and this was £1.85 in the store, versus £1.40 from Tesco. I don’t think the store was overpriced, just the typical prices that you pay at these type of resorts.
What is Bluestone Plus?
For £102.50 it was possible for us to add Bluestone Plus to our booking. This would have allowed us to choose our accommodation area, plus each adult member of our booking would have received a free spa entry and a bottle of wine. This was a saving of £35 per person. I feel that if you’re travelling as more than a twosome that this is pretty good value. The 2-hour thermal spa entry alone is worth £25 each, plus being able to choose your location may avoid you requiring bikes or a golf buggy to get around.
Travelling on-site at Bluestone
You can walk, cycle or use a golf buggy on site. We hired a golf buggy from Monday afternoon – Friday morning and it cost us £92.50. This felt a little steep when I paid for it, but we usually pay a similar amount to book bikes at Centerparcs. This way we were able to travel together, in comfort, quickly and safely, and we didn’t have to worry about where to put the pram or all of Daisy’s bags and items. This was really handy for getting to the swimming pool.
There is also a free land shuttle, which operated every day for the bulk of the day. We didn’t know about this before we attended but there are lots of bus stops around the site and we saw it a couple of times – it was never full. This would be a great way to save yourself some money or just travel together safely if you didn’t want to navigate the steep hills.
What is there to do near to Bluestone?
Pembrokeshire is beautiful and Tenby is a real must visit if you love colourful houses and the beach! There is also a farm nearby, Folly Farm, and a theme park called Oakwood. Out of season, this may not be open, and during the Spring/Autumn months, it is only open a couple of days a week. However, if you visit Monday – Friday it’s usually open for Thursday – Friday at least and it appears to be open most weekends too. The rides looked pretty scary from what we could see inside Bluestone and the prices seemed quite reasonable, cheaper than theme parks we’ve visited in the South anyway!
When do you check in / check out?
You can arrive on site from 11 am, and check-in is 3 pm for some areas (Ramsey, Skomer and Grassholm lodges) and 4:30 pm for all other areas. We arrived on site after 4:30 pm anyway so we were able to drive straight to our lodge, located in Castle Close, and get unpacking.
Blue Lagoon at Bluestone
As guests staying at Bluestone Wales we were able to access the Blue Lagoon from 9 am. What we didn’t realise however is that other people, not staying at Bluestone, are allowed to access Blue Lagoon too, typically from noon. As it is open until 9 pm this means that the afternoon is often busier than the mornings.
Blue Lagoon wasn’t too bad. When we entered there were two swim play areas for children, one for under 4s which was warm and lovely, and one for slightly older children that was absolutely freezing. It was so cold that Daisy wouldn’t stay in there, despite playing happily in a cold paddling pool for most of the past month at my Mum’s house. There was a lazy river which flowed outside, two hot tub areas (inside and outside), several flumes (one of which had a couple of outside pool areas to stop in) and the pool had a wave machine which seemed to activate every 20 minutes or so.
The Blue Lagoon was not bad. The lockers were decent sizes, and there were lots of changing areas with baby changing stations, ideal for families, which were helpful. It was fairly clean and there were showers too which worked fine. We found that it was quiet in the mornings, and busier in the afternoons, which is to be expected I suppose. I imagine in the school holidays this pool is just desperately overcrowded, as it was verging on that way one or two of the days that we visited.
One thing that was really disappointing is that we were stopped from filming ourselves in the swimming pool, despite there being no signs. Also, I was told myself, despite not carrying a camera, as the boy working was too nervous to address my husband directly. What made me more annoyed about this is we were only filming our daughter, not others, and also I saw several other people with Go Pro style cameras over the week, who were quite obvious about it and weren’t stopped. We also didn’t see a single sign advising us no filming was allowed, although maybe some people would say that seems honest. We were told that we could take photographs in the rock pool area of the under 4s area but this was ALWAYS busy and I couldn’t see the specific area and didn’t want to risk getting told off again.
The outside pool area was really nice, it was a small hot tub for people aged 12+ and reached by going through the lazy river and leaving by a little set of stairs. One thing that I did notice was that the last area of the lazy rapids didn’t have any obvious lifeguard presence the 2-3 times that we visited.
Would I visit Bluestone Wales again?
If it was 1 hour from home, like Centerparcs, then I would say yes. The views were beautiful, the resort was quite nice and we did have a good time. For the HUGE distance, we have to travel I’m honestly not sure right now. I still feel exhausted from the travelling, while writing this, but I’d say possibly?
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