Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Much Needed Family Break >> Bluestone Wales

A beautiful weekend away...

After a busy first half of 2016, we are pretty run down, a little stressed and craving much needed family time. We went away earlier this year but already it seems a lifetime ago and time just never seems to stop for one reason or another and having two extremely energetic children. It's fun, but manic and we don't get a great deal of time to just chill out as a family most weeks.

Unsurprisingly, when holiday park Bluestone Wales came a knocking offering us a long weekend away all together last week, we jumped at the chance and got packing straight away! I'd heard great things about Bluestone, cooed over pictures of the beautiful landscapes and crossed everything that one day we would get to visit, we couldn't wait!

We were given a four day stay and the journey looked like it would take around 5 hours, so we set of as soon as the kids woke up at 6am in order to make the most of our stay. The drive from Lincolnshire is actually really lovely and went pretty quickly. Luckily I'd been super organised and had a good stash of things to keep the kids happy from colouring, song bags, downloaded programmes and sweets! We needed them all. "Are we nearly there yet?", "No", on repeat.

Arriving at Bluestone

We were so excited to see that first welcome to Wales sign, but even more so when we started to see Bluestone on signs knowing that we had nearly made it, the sun was shining bright and the scenery was already stunning.

On arrival we went to the 'drive through' check in and were immediately made to feel welcome by a very friendly and informative receptionist. We decided to reserve a golf buggy and had the layout and facilities explained to us, so far so good!

We were given our welcome pack and card keys for our accommodation and told that we would be able to check in slightly earlier which was great, though we could already see we had a lot of exploring to do and were eager to pick up our golf buggy and take it for a spin. Our golf buggy cost £85 for the four days, but as the site is quite hilly, we have a toddler and my hips are close to hopeless, it seemed like a good investment.

We soon found the guest car park, where our car would live for our stay as there are no vehicles on site unless unpacking or packing the car which I loved. We picked up our golf buggy Enid and got straight to exploring all that the site had to offer. 

Initially the site seemed enormous but we soon found our way round and located our cabin which looked AMAZING! I was really blown away by how quiet it all felt, how relaxing it was straight away and how clean everything was. The staff we encountered straight away were all lovely and helpful whenever we needed anything and I noticed that you can even have a maid to clean your cabin - cool!

On site

There are heaps of things to do at Bluestone for all ages. I loved our golf buggy and we had to take it in turns like soppy kids to have a go, it was so much fun. The kids had beaming smiles the whole time and absolutely adored everything, especially the play areas.

We didn't get to experience everything Bluestone had to offer unfortunately, but on site there are the following;

  • 2 restaurants
  • Pub/restaurant
  • Ice cream parlor/cafe
  • Toy/clothes shop
  • Convenience store
  • Golf buggy hire
  • Spa
  • Swimming pool/flumes
  • Adventure centre - Lego wall, bouncy castle, climbing wall, arcades, play diggers, games, soft play, adventure play area, crazy golf, cafe.
  • Circus zone, perfect for babies upwards.
  • Tennis courts
  • Outside park
  • Chip shop
  • Shows
  • Bike/trailer hire
  • High wire activities
  • Children's activities
  • Probably even more!

I was gutted that we didn't get to try the spa out so that will be top of my list for our next visit. I didn't fancy going on my own, so I just had to dream about the relaxing spa and all it had to offer - I hear good things.

The adventure play for children was awesome, there was so much to do with our favourite being the huge Lego wall, not to mention a crazy amount of fun to be had on the play equipment and soft play. This place is literally kid heaven, I would have loved it as a kid - and still do.

The shops were great, the toy shop was perfect for choosing a going home gift which softened the blow of leaving and there was also a selection of lovely clothing and footwear. The convenience store was pretty well priced and had everything you needed if you arrive without much by the way of food, which was something I had worried about. The cafes and restaurants on site were really nice as well.

One highlight was definitely the giant ice cream from Ty Coffi which had 5 scoops of ice cream, salted caramel, peanut butter and chocolate flavours, heaped with cream, fudge, crunchie pieces and a flake! I was gutted we had to share it three ways but all agreed it was the best ice cream ever, whilst Alf tucked in to a beauty of a mint choc chip cone solo. A visit for ice cream has to be on your list. I was really disappointed to see it closed on our last day, so if you are planning on more than one visit do check the opening times first.

We didn't visit the Oak Tree or Grill restaurants as the kids can be a bit restless at meal times at the moment and they seemed a little less child friendly than the others. We did eat at the WildWood cafe which is located in the Adventure Centre and also the Knights Tavern pub which were both perfect for us, quick tasty easy food with heaps of choices and BIG portions - always good.

My favourite eatery and one of my holiday highlights was the amazing 'Camp Smokey'. This one I would definitely recommend booking a table for as they are pretty limited and oh so worth it. I love the idea of Camp Smokey and wish wish wish we had one of these nearby at home. For starters, it's located deep in the beautiful forest which is lovely to park up the buggy and wander down to with beautiful ferns, foxgloves and super tall trees. 

The best thing though is that all the food is made on a BBQ and better still, there is an open fire (safely protected from kids) for toasting marshmallows and making smores! I would have stayed there all day, the prices were great, the food came with the best potatoes ever and it just had the best atmosphere. The food was lovely and the experience alone was great.

Just outside Smokey in a little stream which the kids loved jumping in and lots of fun forest to explore. Again, this was closed on Monday so our plans of popping there for lunch before heading home were out the window! I wish I had noticed this so we could have gone again over the weekend, but I was pleased we had been at least.

In the village there is an amazing play area with lots of levels. Next to that is a big field packed with the tamest rabbits ever and the beautiful ruins of an old church which was a little eerie but really interesting and pretty.

It rained most of our time there after day one, but it really didn't make any difference, we were still out having fun and adventures - plus rain means puddles!


We were absolutely blown away with our accommodation (Dinas lodge), it was just stunning and instantly felt like home - despite the fact it is far nicer than our actual home!

To enter the lodge you simply show the door your pass and it unlocks (and flashes). On entry we had a huge open plan space with a beautiful kitchen stocked with everything you could possibly need, even a dishwasher and a welcome pack that contained all the essentials, washing up liquid, dishwasher tabs, bin bags, bathroom bin bags and cleaning cloths, this was a really nice touch! Everything provided was of a really high standard, we are talking Brabantia bins, Sabatier knives etc, not your average holiday park in anyway shape or form, THIS is something special and totally luxurious.

We had a huge dining room where we discovered the crockery and glasses in a low cupboard. It took a day or two to teach the kids not to open that which was a little daunting but we were pleased to find everything we may need including a high chair. Ours didn't have a tray but we noticed others did so I presume we just hadn't found it or that you have to get one from reception or something. Our living room came complete with a big TV, three large sofas and two sets of patio doors looking out across beautiful Wales with our own picnic tables - pure heaven.

The lodges were nicely spaced so you didn't have to really see other people too much (yep I'm unsociable) and it was really nice and quiet, apart from our kids of course.

Each room had white fluffy duvets, pillows, lots of spare pillows (YAY!), snuggly blankets and a stack of towels. We had two bathrooms with heated towel rails, one with a shower and one with the deepest loveliest bath ever and hot water instantly, not something we are used to!

We were truly living in luxury and from day one did not want to leave! I'm totally bragging, it totally deserves it.


Needless to say, we loved our stay at Bluestone. We would happily visit for a couple of weeks (months, years...) and explore the surrounding areas as well as the rest of the site.

Whatever age children you have, they are well catered for and will love every second. My absolute highlights of the holiday were;

  • Adventure Centre
  • Camp Smokey
  • Golf buggy
  • Ice cream
  • Blue lagoon pool

The golf buggy without a doubt was the BEST part for us grown ups and the kids loved it too. I think with all the walking the kids would have got a bit grumpy after a while as they were wiped out from all the fun, so it was handy to be able to pop on the buggy and drive around. Adam took it out just for fun when the kids were in bed, it really was brilliant and really made the holiday.

Camp Smokey as I've said was just perfect for a different family meal out, it was laid back, served tasty food and was heaps of fun. This one has to be top of your food to do list at Bluestone. The Adventure Centre is just what every kid dreams of, with something for all ages and the circus area upstairs for a quieter time with babies and toddlers. 

The blue lagoon pool was also a huge highlight for us all. Unfortunately my back went on the last day so we didn't get to go more than once but it was just ace for all of us and having a baby/toddler area that was separate (sectioned off but right next to main pool) was really reassuring and meant we could relax for five minutes before exploring the waves or lazy river. The pool has so many features it's just mind blowing. The wave pool was the best one I have been in and the lazy river that takes you outside which was bliss! I did brave the water slides and squealed like a school girl all the way down - fun fun fun!

Picture from the Bluestone website.

There's very few downsides for me (I always try and think of some for my reviews!). The first was that the lodge had a LOT of low plug sockets, like loads! These were all open and if Sophie had been younger they would have been a bit of a worry so I'd recommend taking plug protectors to keep little fingers at bay. It would have been good to have glasses up out the way too and not in a low cupboard, which again may have been a worry with younger children but caused us no problems.

The children's activities looked great fun but were a little expensive I thought, luckily there is so much included without these that we didn't feel we had missed out and I felt these would be better when the kids were older anyway as they love roaming free in the forest more than anything right now. There are things like messy play for younger kids but we opted for outside mud and puddles instead.

I looked at the website before we went and I was a little worried as I thought we would have to book all our meals etc which isn't ideal with small children as our days rarely go to plan. This was not the case at all and there were no food worries. I think the website could better reflect the awesomeness of Bluestone, though it is packed with information!

I was amazed at how peaceful the site was every day. During our visit the site was fully booked and never at any point did it feel busy or noisy. The lodge was impeccable and the site was spotless every day, with staff doing safety checks in the playgrounds before opening and always there to help or wave hello. Bluestone feels like home, but it is so much better than home in every way!

We felt truly relaxed and loved seeing the kids so happy, we just wish they had slept more as they were far too excited as kids tend to be on holiday. Soph had the most epic nap on the last day! I call this the Bluestone effect. Full of adventure and fun for everyone.

(I make no apologies for the sheer amount of times I have used the words 'amazing' and 'fun' in this review - those words sum Bluestone up perfectly!)

'Bluestone dreams'

I would truly recommend Bluestone for anyone, families, couples, older couples, anyone that likes having an adventure, beautiful views and peace. You can read all about Blusetone on their website. I can't wait to go back!

Disclosure: We were invited to Bluestone in exchange for an honest review. All words and images are my own unless stated. We loved every second!