Tuesday 24 March 2015

Bluestone National Park Resort...The REVIEW!

Over the past couple of weeks you might have read a few posts about our trip to Bluestone and what we got up to on our break. It was a much needed little holiday after a rather stressful beginning to 2015. Now comes the review, what we really thought about our getaway to  Bluestone.

Check In
We arrived late Monday night, after half eleven! I'd had a bit of a panic on route about whether or not we'd actually be able to get in. So the other half called ahead to let them know and we were reassured by a very pleasant member of staff that check in was 24 hour and that there was no need to rush.
When we did rock up there was no need to park up and find reception, someone had the genius idea of a drive through check in which was perfect! I just gave the booking name and was handed a map, booklet and timetable of events for the week. We followed the one way system for cars to our lodge which almost took us back to where we'd started. Cars should be parked in the car park once you've unloaded unless you have permission to park it outside your lodge. There are bikes and buggies available for hire if you don't fancy getting around by foot every day.
The Lodge
Our Gateholm Lodge in Preseli View
We stayed in a Gateholm, a three bed, two bathroom lodge which sleeps six people. Two of our friends were meant to be joining us but unfortunately couldn't  due to sickness. A bit of a bonus as it meant we had the lodge to ourselves.
As soon as we stepped in to our lodge we were highly impressed, it looked immaculately clean and felt very homely. All lodges come with a travel cot and highchair as standard, which I think is great as other holiday parks we've been to or looked in to have charged extra. If there's more than one baby/tot staying in the lodge all you need to do is let them know when booking.
I'd been looking forward to experiencing the 'upside down living' and the open plan kitchen, dining and lounge area did not disappoint!

As you can see it is very spacious with plenty of room to cook, eat, play or relax! I adored the modern purple kitchen which was fully equipped with everything you needed should you wish to make a cuppa or to cook 'proper' meals. There is also a dishwasher so there's no pressure for anyone to be standing at the sink doing the washing up. A nice touch that was awaiting us was a little pack with a mini bottle of washing up liquid, dishwasher tabs, rubbish and recycling bags. Eliot was forever in the drawers and cupboards so safety locks in the kitchens could be something that could be added just to make it that extra bit family friendly.
There was a large dining table with six chairs, which would be great for family or friends to have dinner round. I think if there were six adults sharing it would be a bit snug on the sofas but otherwise fine for relaxing in the evenings. As well as a TV there's also a DVD player if you have time that is!  WiFi is included too, ideal for us bloggers. At first ours wasn't working so I mentioned it to a member of staff who said they'd send someone round to have a look ASAP. In the meantime I discovered a cable was out which  I hadn't noticed when I first looked...oops. Someone came round to fix it when we left the lodge. They left a note to let us know that there weren't any issues.
Downstairs was one double bedroom with an ensuite, two twin rooms and another bathroom. All of the bedrooms came with a wardrobe and chest of drawers, giving ample storage for your belongings.The bathrooms had one toilet roll each and a small soap. They were very good sized bathrooms with plenty of space. My OH is quite particular about showers and the amount of pressure they have, he had no complaints about the one we had in our ensuite!

Eliot enjoying bath time in the ensuite

We all slept very well during our stay, the bed was comfy with plump pillows. Once I fell asleep I was asleep for the night.
We were extremely happy with the Gateholm lodge, the only issue we had was with the safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. The one at the bottom of the stairs was one you pull across and I couldn't work out how to do it. The one at the top had a part on the hinge side which kept coming out  every time we tried to close/open it. It was simple to fix but a pain as it was repetitive. I'm sure if I'd reported it to staff they would've popped over to try and sort it as they did with the internet.
Here's a nose around the lodge if you fancy it...
 Things To Do
There is an abundance of activities available at Bluestone, indoors or outdoors there's plenty to do. As mentioned, in the welcome pack we received a timetable of available activities for the week . Some you  pay for and some you don't. The Blue Lagoon swimming pool and adventure centre are included in your stay. The adventure centre is host to plenty of free activities, mini golf, NRG room, soft play, Lego, the tower and the circus zone. We spent some time in the adventure centre on the Tuesday, Eliot enjoyed jumping on the bouncy castle, playing in the ball pool and soft play. We had lunch in the Wildwood café, you can read more about what we got up to here. 
We only visited the Blue Lagoon once during our stay, mainly due to there being so many options of what to do, not only in the resort but further afield too. Eliot LOVED splashing about in the main pool with its fountains and waves. It's really spurred me on to get Eliot to swimming lessons not only is it fun, it's a life saving skill as well. In this diary post you can read more about what we thought of the Blue Lagoon.
As I mentioned before there were plenty of chargeable activities too. From messy and sensory play for babies and tots, to tree climbing and archery for older children and adults, to the well spa retreat. There was so much to choose from, we felt we didn't have enough time to do everything we would've liked to do.
I think how much you can make the most of your break depends on what time of year you go and the weather conditions. We were blessed with lovely weather, cold but sunny during our stay. I don't think I would've enjoyed the experience as much if it had been pouring with rain the entire week!
Places To Eat
There were several places to eat in Bluestone. The Village was home to the main places, The Farmhouse Grill which also offered a takeaway service, Carreg Las and the Knights Tafarn. It also had a bakery too. We only got round to trying out the Farmhouse Grill, a family restaurant which offers a variety of dishes from the grill and on Sunday's offers a traditional carvery. I wrote about what we thought of the Farmhouse Grill here.
The Knights Tafarn is a traditional style pub offering 'pub grub' and traditional  & ales. Carreg Las is more focussed on adults and there are no children allowed after 7pm which has it's pros and cons for different guests. I would've liked to have dined here if we'd had a babysitter for Eliot!
As well as the main restaurants there is the Fish Shack in the Blue Lagoon, the Wildwood Café in the Adventure Centre and Camp Smokey outdoors in the Steep Ravine. 
I felt there were plenty of dining options to choose from and if you did need to stock up in your lodge, the Newton Village shop gave you that option, even if prices were higher than your usual supermarket.
Overall Thoughts...
Our experience at Bluestone resort overall was fantastic and we wouldn't have second thought about booking a holiday there again. The setting is stunning and there are so many activities to choose from, the only problem is doing everything you'd like to do. My tip would be to plan ahead, check what activities you'd like to do and places you'd like to visit outside of the resort. That will enable you to be more organised and get the most out of your break.
The Great...
  • The scenery is beautiful
  • Relaxing as it is quiet and peaceful
  • Plenty of activities aimed at different age groups
  • Some activities are included
  • WiFi in lodges at no extra cost
  • Gorgeous accommodation (I can only speak for the lodge we stayed in)
  • TV & DVD player in lodge
  • Choice of places to eat out (if you want to)
The Not So Great...
  • Steep walks in different areas of the resort not ideal for older people/people with mobility problems (thinking particularly about my parents) 
  • Cost of buggy hire quite pricey (depends on your holiday budget)
  • I feel the overall experience could be affected by the weather particularly if you plan on doing a few outdoor activities
  • Current building work not the best noise/view for those staying close by (it didn't affect us but thought of those staying very near)
  • Safety gates in our lodge were  not functioning properly
  • On our visit to the Farmhouse Grill some of the food on the children's buffet looked as though it had been lying out for ages
A video of what we got up to
Have you visited Bluestone, what was your favourite part of the holiday?
*Disclaimer: We received a 4 night break at Bluestone Resort Wales in return for an honest review

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