It’s funny but I’ve known about Bluestone Wales for ages but, despite being only 90 miles away in Dinas Powys, had never been. Bluestone is a luxury holiday park situated in over 500 acres of beautiful countryside just 10 miles from Tenby in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.
Last Friday straight after school we all piled into the car for our inaugural trip. Caitlin and Ieuan were beside themselves with excitement because not only were they going to meet Santa in his workshop, we were all off to the Kingdom of The Elves – yes even Mr Grinch himself (the Husband)
Bluestone is very easy to find and is well signposted. We got there in just under two hours and wondered how easy it would be to find our lodge as it was already dark.
Booking & Checking In
We needn’t have worried. Bluestone operates a ‘drive through’ type check in. You drive up to the reception window and tell the staff your booking reference number and they hand you your welcome pack and keys and a map showing the location of your lodge.
The process was smooth and easy – much like the actual booking process. Once you have made your online booking you receive plenty of welcome emails and reminders – particularly to book your additional activities.
This is one point I would mention:- make sure you familiarise yourself with what is included in the cost of your stay and remember to book any extra activities on line as soon as possible because they get booked up very fast.
I was lucky to get the last 2 places for Santa’s Workshop and there was only room for 1 adult.
Anyway, once we had our welcome back we had to find our Gateholm Lodge which was situated in Castle Close. We could have checked in at 3 pm (check in times vary depending on your lodge type) but it being a school day we started our journey to Bluestone around 5 pm.
Bluestone accommodation is based around a collection of lodges built in separately named areas all surrounding a central village. The route around the place is one way only and once you have driven to your lodge to drop off your luggage you have to return your car to the central car park. Bluestone is a car free resort.
The main form of transport is the golf buggy which you can hire (remember to take your driving licence), bicycles (again you can hire these but bring your own cycle helmets) or your feet! Bluestone advise that you book these before arrival due to demand. Buggy hire is £92 for the week.
We found our lodge without too much marital disharmony and, in fact, Caitlin turned out to be a better navigator than the rest of us. Then it was just a case of tapping our key card on the door to get in. Nothing simpler.
All the lodges have an authentic-looking wooden exterior and are on their own pitch with the exception of the Caldey Lodges which are paired. Blissfully, you aren’t overlooked by anyone and there is plenty of space between them. Despite the fact that you are in a village type environment you still have your privacy and because the lodges are surrounded by beautiful countryside you feel wonderfully secluded.
There are also cottages and studio apartments which sleep 2 people and an enormous bunkhouse lodge which sleeps up to 14 so the resort can cater for many different size parties.
Our Gateholm lodge was wonderfully spacious yet homely with everything you could want – fridge, dishwasher, flat screen TV and, of course WiFi. This is free for two devices but you can buy tokens for more at the booking office in the village.
In fact we didn’t have to bring anything with us except for additional towels in case we went swimming. A microwave, kettle, toaster, cutlery, plates etc were all supplied. There was even a little starter pack with 2 dishwasher tablets, bin bags and washing up cloths. There is everything you need to stay in an cook a meal if you don’t want to take advantage of the resort’s food options.
The Gateholm is designed ‘upside down’ with its living space upstairs (a combined kitchen, dining area and lounge area) and three spacious bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs. The living area upstairs has beautiful views over the surrounding park.
The living area is big enough for 4 with 2 two-seater sofas and the TV and DVD player was ideal for Caitlin and Ieuan in the mornings (I’ve given up trying to get them to sleep in) and the big dining table was great for family breakfasts altogether – something that rarely happens at home.
Downstairs all the beds were fully made up and there was also a bath and a hand towel for each guest. There was one double bedded room with an ensuite bathroom with a bath & shower and two twin bedded rooms which shared a separate bathroom with a shower cubicle.
One of the twin bedded rooms
The Master Bedroom Ensuite Bathroom
The separate washroom and toilet
Everything was spotlessly clean – a fact Ieuan remarked upon whilst giving me what I thought was a rather accusing stare. It was pretty clear that the resort’s accommodation is very well maintained.
We all slept really well and it is sooo peaceful without the noise of traffic.
Bluestone offers a wide range of activities and the opportunity to relax in peace – far from the madding crowd. There is something for all ages to enjoy. You receive a timetable on check in which lists all the Bluestone activities on offer during your stay with times, dates and prices. But, again, it’s worth searching for these online before you go.
For our visit, Bluestone had been transformed into Christmas Land and, as we were there to visit Santa and The Kingdom of The Elves, we didn’t visit the resort’s all weather water park – The Blue Lagoon but this and its amazing looking slide is on our list for our next trip.
Children will love the indoor family adventure centre which has a soft play area, mini golf and even a climbing wall. There’s a messy play area, a sensory zone for babies and a circus zone.
For adults, there are activities such as archery and laser clay pigeon shooting in the “Tournament Field” or whizzing down a 60ft high rope zip wire in the “Steep Ravine”. You can even try some indoor rock climbing, kayaking and raft building.
As I mentioned previously you can hire bikes and buggies to get around which you may find useful if your guests are very small or have mobility problems. You do quite a bit of walking and the paths are sometimes a little steep.
If you have the time, there is also the Well Spa which offers treatments such as massages and pedicures – an ideal place to escape whilst the Husband visits the Knight’s Tafarn to watch the rugby. (He didn’t this time round, although Wales were playing New Zealand and the game was available to view in the bar!
In fact the hub of Bluestone is the village where you’ll find a gift shop, a small grocery shop, restaurants, a cafe, the spa and the booking office. The grocery shop has everything you’d need to make a meal if you didn’t want to eat out and there’s a decent wine and spirits selection.
Caitlin and Ieuan loved the outdoor play area with its swings, slides and climbing ropes although it was so cold I bought some lovely new mittens from the village gift shop and Ieuan now has a new beanie which makes him look slightly like a burglar.
There are also plenty of places to eat on site at Bluestone which cater to a broad range of tastes. Again, however, with the exception of Ty Coffi, a lovely coffee shop which serves cakes, sandwiches and ice cream and the Oak Tree you may have to book. There is also the village pub, The Knight’s Tafarn.
We visited Ty Coffi twice where the Husband enjoyed the bacon sarnies, I enjoyed the chocolate fudge cake and the kids enjoyed the ice cream and milkshakes.
We tried to get into The Farmhouse Grill on Saturday night but they were fully booked. We were advised to book earlier in the day either in the restaurant when it opened or in the booking office. We did manage to have a very nice Sunday lunch there though with all the trimmings.
Saturday night was spent in the Oak Tree (no booking required) where we had freshly prepared pizza and dough balls which were lovely. We felt there could have been a little more choice as the menu is quite restricted so it isn’t somewhere you’d probably want to eat at more than once or twice during your stay.
The whole village was lit up with twinkly Christmas lights too which really added to the atmosphere.
As Bluestone Wales is set in a National Park, the countryside around is beautiful and there are some great nature trails for keen walkers. There are various walks which are colour coded according to distance. We took the Red Trail which was just long enough for my two.
The trails are clearly signposted and take you along well maintained forest trails with a few surprises along the way. You’ll see brooks, bridges and possibly Hobbits whilst breathing in clean, fresh Pembrokeshire air.
But the highlight of the weekend for us were our visits to Santa’s Workshop and The Kingdom of the Elves. As I mentioned, Bluestone has turned into Christmasland and everyone is making sure they’ll be on the nice list not the naughty one. Sadly there’s no hope for the Husband.
It’s your chance to enter the magical workshop of father Christmas, get cosy besides the fireplace and experience the heart warming tale of the Christmas Robin. Jingle, one of the elves was there to supervise proceedings and we then took to Santa’s workstations to craft our very own Robin birdfeeders, before getting some quality time and a present from the big man himself.
I won’t go into too many details because it will spoil the surprise but Ieuan is convinced that Santa was the real thing and has solemnly sworn to behave himself to ensure he’s on the nice list. Santa stressed how important it is to be nice to your siblings and that there’s plenty of time to undo any misbehaving if you start now. He then informed Caitlin and Ieuan that I hadn’t always been on the nice list which they found hilarious.
We spent around 40 minutes in Santa’s workshop and it was a magical experience. Far better than the quick 5 minutes you usually get.
Then late on Saturday afternoon we had to report to Bluestone Activity Centre which has been transformed into Elftopia Airport to check in just in time for our visit to The Kingdom of the Elves.
Once again, I’m not going to spoil it but it was 90 minutes of family fun which involved both the adults and children. The flight was a bit bumpy but the in-flight entertainment was highly amusing as we flew a rather circuitous route to the Kingdom. There were jokes, silliness, snowballs, games, glitter, crafting and a meeting with a very special royal personage.
I spent all of Saturday sporting bright red rosy cheeks as you can’t possibly wander round Christmasland looking pale. It’s great fun seeing adults wandering round the resort wearing elf hats and sporting what looks like a blusher explosion in Debenhams.
Even the Husband enjoyed it.
It’s doing things like this as a family that make the festive period memorable and special. Too many Christmases can just pass by in a blur if you don’t do something fun altogether.
We really enjoyed our time at Bluestone Wales and will definitely be going back – particularly since it is so close to home!
There’s something for everyone and the place is so safe and quiet I would be entirely happy coming on my own with the kids while the Husband is away working. It would be equally as easy to bring my elderly parents for a few days relaxation.
You can do as much or as little as you want and, of course, you don’t necessarily need to spend all your time on the resort. Tenby is nearby, as is Oakwood Theme Park which is a stone’s throw away. There are also a couple of castles near to the resort and, a little further back down the A40 Dan yr Ogof Caves and the National Botanical Garden of Wales.
But it was the peace and quiet of Bluestone that impressed us most and it’s great to leave the car behind for a while. The lack of copious artificial light meant you could see the stars.
We found all the staff we met at Bluestone to be friendly and helpful and the only negative I could find was the need to make sure you book activities and some meals in advance. This was entirely our fault for not planning our break better and taking advantage of the Bluestone literature and guides which explain what is going on.
Our Bluestone break cost £899 for a three night break in a Gateholm lodge which has 3 bedrooms. Pretty good value when compared with, for example, standard hotel room rates particularly since you get a whole house rather than one room. Our tickets to The Kingdom of The Elves were included as part of the cost of the break. Santa’s Workshop cost an additional £35 (£15 per child and £5 per adult).
We will definitely be going back in 2018.
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