Last month we were lucky enough to get the chance to visit and review Bluestone Wales. I had been looking forward to it so much, as I really needed the break and the opportunity to relax and spend some quality time with the family was much needed. We had a lovely time, I would recommend it to other families and would happily go there again.
Bluestone is a national park resort in Pembrokeshire, South Wales which offers a free range family holiday experience. The resort is pretty large with a variety of types of accomodation and lots of activities available on site. The resort is car-free, so you park up at the beginning of the week and then use golf buggies to travel around (or you can also walk) which helps to keep the environment more peaceful with out the noise and pollution of cars, and of course means that children can be a little more free without you having to worry about them getting run over!
We stayed in a Skomer lodge which sleeps 6 people and we were all so impressed with the size and quality of the lodge. It was bigger than I expected and much larger than your average “sleeps 6” holiday accommodation. Having so much space really made our stay more relaxing too.
The lodge was bigger than our actual house, with 1 double and 2 twin bedrooms, 2 en-suites and a large bathroom, a large open plan kitchen, dining and living room and an extra lounge area upstairs which the kids loved. They all wake up so early on holiday as they are over excited so they would chill out in this area for a bit before we properly started our day. Everything was clean and in perfect condition for us when we arrived.
Within Bluestone there was plenty to keep us entertained. We hired a golf buggy to save time in getting around the resort and the boys loved travelling in it.
I was undecided at first whether or not to get one, but I was glad we did. If you know that you definitely want one, you can book them in advance so it will be waiting for you as soon as you get there and I think in future we would probably do that. The distances in the resort are all walkable, but with 3 young children who can tire easily hiring a golf buggy made more sense. You need to have a valid driving license to hire the buggy, so I wouldn’t have been allowed to drive it but luckily the boys dad could do that job.
One of the main attractions within the Bluestone resort is the adventure centre. This is all in doors so if you are unlucky with the weather, there is still plenty to do. Most of the activities within the adventure centre are included for free within your break, so you can do mini golf, soft play, adventure playground, bouncy castle and play in the Lego play area.
There are also some more advanced activities for older children, like rock climbing and these are paid activities. None of my boys are old enough right now but it did look great, and if they were a couple of years older they would definitely have been tempted.
The boys had a great time in the pool with their dad. There are waves and rapids and there is also a toddler section which has a little slide. They didn’t go on the large flumes this time but they look like a lot of fun.
At the centre of the resort there is an area called The Village, which was pretty near to our accommodation. There you can find shops for anything you need to stock up on and all the restaurants. We bought some buckets, spades and football for the beach from one of the shops and the price was very reasonable. I would have expected the prices to be on the higher side but they were not inflated at all which was really nice to see.
There are some children’s activities which take place in the village in the evenings, including a free party hour. We took the boys along to that one night and they all enjoyed it. The party hour is very similar to the type of entertainment you would get at children’s birthdays with party games, dancing and the chance to win prizes. They also hold quiz nights, which we didn’t get chance to try out.
The village is also home to the Tree Tots play area.
This play area was loads of fun for the boys and we took them here several times during our stay as they kept wanting to go back to play again. There are two sections to the play area,one for the slightly younger children and one for the more adventurous ones.
We ate a couple of nights in the Knights Tavern nearby to the play area. We did think of trying the grill restaurant one night but there was a slight wait for a table and the Knights Tavern is much quicker, and a very easy and comfortable option for families with young children. The menu has plenty of familiar options for the children. It’s fuss free and we were very relaxed eating there. If you want a bit more high class food, you might be better waiting for the Farmhouse Grill but for young children the tavern is ideal.
One lunch time we went down the Steep Ravine to Camp Smokey where you can choose from a menu of freshly barbecued food. This was my favourite place to eat in Bluestone, because the atmosphere is so nice. It’s out in the open with forest all around and the smell of barbecue in the air. It really felt like something different, not the type of place you would often get the chance to eat so it’s more of an experience. There is no separate children’s menu in Camp Smokey but we got food to share between us and the children were happy enough to eat most of what we chose; chicken, potatoes, corn cobs. You can also roast your own smores here, which I would have liked to do if we had more time.
We had come down to Camp Smokey for the children to take part in the panning for gold activity. This was the only activity that we needed to pay for separately and cost 10 pounds per child. I felt it was fairly reasonable, although if we had chosen paid acitvities for them every day that would soon add up. I wanted them to have the chance to do the gold panning as it’s such a different activity that they hadn’t tried before, and they all enjoyed it. There are lots of extra paid activities available at Bluestone if you did want to fill out your child’s schedule while you are there, then you will find loads to keep them busy. There are activities specifically for babies, and for older age groups but the panning for gold is suitable for all ages which was perfect for us with three children who don’t all fall within the same age band.
I’ve written separately about the panning for gold experience, which you can read here. (and if you scroll up the picture of Mr T on the wooden train, that’s his gold necklace which he got from panning for gold)
Here’s the back of Camp Smokey. It’s surrounded by woodland so kids can have some free range fun building dens and playing by the stream down here. It’s a lovely place, and feels more peaceful and ‘back to nature’ than the main village. To get down there is fairly steep (as the name Steep Ravine suggests) and you will need to park your golf buggy and walk down.
We also went to explore some of the other quiet and countryside-ish sections of Bluestone. We had seen Castell Coch on the map and as we love castle ruins we thought we would go and check it out since it was within the resort.
It was a nice walk to the Castell Coch but when we got very near to it there were quite a lot of nettles, so it was not easy to take the kids right up to it which was a shame. If that could be kept a little more cut back then I think it would be nicer for kids to be able to get in there and explore. There are plenty of castles to explore in the surrounding area though. We didn’t get time to visit any as we had so many things to fit in, but maybe in future!
We spent a couple of days just in Bluestone enjoying all the activities available on site, and then we took a couple of day trips out – to Folly Farm, and to the local seaside town of Tenby. Both of these were lots of fun, and I’ll have separate posts up to share more about both of those soon! If you are looking for outings nearby you can easily find plenty to suit a young family.
We found that Bluestone had a great balance between being very peaceful and relaxing yet still having so much to keep children entertained. Your holiday at Bluestone can be however you choose – you could go for an action packed week with lots of cycling, archery, zip wires and rock climbing, you could get out and about and explore the many sites and attractions in the area each day, or you could just take it easy while letting the kids have fun in the adventure centre and the pool – or of course a mixture of all of those. Bluestone seems like it has plenty to appeal to all age groups and it would be great for multi generational holidays with the grandparents too if you fancy that.
We had a great trip! The boys all enjoyed it so much and I’m sure these are great memories that will stay with them as they grow up. It’s an ideal place for spending family quality time.
If you have been to Bluestone, share your experiences with me in the comments and if you are planning to go then feel free to ask any questions you have and I’ll be happy to help if I can!