Bluestone in Pembrokeshire has been a place that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time now. It ticks all of our boxes as a family – lots of outdoor activities on site, with things to suit every age, as well as being surrounded by beautiful countryside and beaches. So when we were invited to stay by Bluestone I leapt at the chance! But I had some reservations and I wasn’t completely sure if it would be ‘us’. We usually opt for a self catering holiday cottage for our holidays, as we like the flexibility and privacy it offers, and we’re not really that ‘organised activity’ loving family. My kids don’t do kids clubs, and often struggle with big groups, so I wasn’t sure if it would suit us on every level.
We arrived at Bluestone after one of the longest car journeys ever – all down to huge traffic jams only 30 minutes from our own house! Once we got past Reading we were finally away. We stopped a few times for service station breaks, and popped into the Tesco at Haverford West to collect our Click and Collect order (top tip if you’re going to Bluestone – we were asked if that’s where we were headed so it’s clearly a popular choice!). We arrived just before 4.30, which is ideal, as 4.30 was the check-in time for our lodge. We drove through the resort, following our map, until we arrived at our lodge. Now the photo below may be rather misleading – for our first two days it rained heavily and solidly, so much so that I couldn’t even get my camera out outside! But hey, everything looks better in the sunshine!
I was really impressed with the lodge. They’re all wooden cabin style, and so well equipped for families, with a travel cot, high chair, and stair gates in every one. We had 3 bedrooms, but ended up popping Ben in with us in the travel cot, and there was more than enough space in our room to put him quite far away from us so that we didn’t disturb each other too much. I’m not going to lie and say we got the best night’s sleep while we were there, but that’s more down to our bad sleeper rather than Bluestone’s beds, which were super comfy.
One of the best things about Bluestone is that it’s a car free resort, which means it feels really safe for your kids to run around and enjoy themselves. Cars are allowed in on check-in and check-out days so that you can load and unload your luggage, but apart from that, it’s a car free zone. You can either walk everywhere, or do as we did and hire a golf buggy. I baulked at the price (£90 for our 5 day midweek stay), but having spoken to other people who’d been before, everyone said that it was a must. And it really was – not just because the resort is big and hilly, or because of the rainy weather we had, but because it was an absolute hit with both our boys, and if you ask Max what the best thing about our holiday was, he’ll always tell you “golf buggy!”. Max loved charging it up and constantly asked if we do it, although it held a great amount of charge and we only had to do this once on our trip.
It was a bit of a rush when we arrived, as I’d rather foolishly booked dinner for 5.00, which didn’t leave us much time! So we rushed off to The Oak Tree, Bluestone’s pizza and pasta restaurant to get ourselves some food.
I really have to praise Bluestone for their restaurants. Ben and I are both dairy and soy free, as Ben has Cows Milk Protein Allergy, and although I find it fine on a day to day basis, eating out can be a frustrating experience. But Bluestone handled it so well. It was advised that you rang to let them know after booking if you had any particular dietary issues, which I did, and as soon as we arrived, the restaurant staff were aware of our allergies and presented us with a clear ‘tick box’ allergy menu, as well as confirming who at the table had allergies. There were plenty of things I could eat on the menu, which was a really pleasant surprise, and when the food was brought out, it was confirmed again that it was dairy and soy free. It was so reassuring and I don’t think they could have been more accommodating.
We headed to bed with full stomachs and tired eyes, dashing through the rain and having to wipe down the golf buggy seats with a towel to prevent wet bottoms (We still got wet bottoms anyway!).
What to do when it won’t stop raining…
We woke the next day to yet more rain, and it was clear that our plans for beach days were going to have to be rethought. And that’s when I started to completely understand the appeal of a resort like Bluestone. Doing your own thing in a self catering cottage is lovely when the weather is kind, but when you have days where the rain is heavy and constant, having activities on your doorstep is fantastic.
We headed up to The Blue Lagoon, Bluestone’s pool, which is the most perfect family swimming pool I’ve been to. There were loads of family changing rooms, so we had plenty of space to all get ready together, and plenty of lockers (although we had forgotten a £1 coin, so had to head back up to reception). The pool itself is definitely a leisure pool rather than a swimming pool, with separate areas for toddlers with balls, rock pools, water pumps, as well as pirate ships, a lazy river rapids, and a wave machine. It was Ben’s first time swimming and he couldn’t have loved it more – he was beaming the whole time and loved kicking his legs around. Max is Ben’s polar opposite, and he’s not a big fan of swimming pools, but this one won him around. He spent ages playing in the toddler area and even went round the rapids a few times. It was such a hit with him that he asked to go back the next day, which we did!
Bluestone run lots of kids activities, but they do make it clear in the run up to your holiday that you should try to book before you go and I really would agree with this. Everything we enquired about was fully booked, so it really is essential, especially if you can see that you’re going to have poor weather. Even if you’d rather be outdoors doing your own thing, I’d probably advise checking the weather the week before and if it’s not looking good then book a few things in. But even without booking anything, we weren’t short of things to do. In the afternoon we headed to the Activity Centre where we found more than enough to keep both the boys amused.
There was a soft play with Ben’s favourite, a ball pit, a large wooden treehouse structure with climbing nets, mini golf, as well as the sky ropes for older children. There was also a lady going around making balloons, and watching Max charging around the place with his balloon sword made me realise how little it takes to amuse a 4 year old!
The hidden gem though was the Circus Room. I’d been told about it by my friend Laura (Dear Bear and Beany), and even though I knew it was upstairs, it still took a bit of searching to find it! Through the restaurant and past the bar, Ben and I discovered his perfect play area. Despite it being a rainy day, it was really quiet and a wonderful space. It had an area for babies and toddlers, with a bubble tube and mirrors which Ben thought were fascinating, as well as foam stacking bricks and a climbing frame. And the ever popular mini rollercoaster which both Ben and Max absolutely loved! We spent all afternoon in the activity centre and headed back home with two very tired boys.
That night I think we all needed a quiet one, and we grabbed a fish and chips takeaway from the fish and chip cart, which I highly recommend.
I’d hoped to keep this to one post, but I’ve waffled on so much that I’m going to have to split it into two posts. Join me tomorrow for Part 2, where we finally see some sunshine!
Disclosure: We were invited to stay at Bluestone Wales in exchange for our honest review.