A few months ago, we were invited to spend a mid-week at Bluestone Resort in Wales, and since we aren’t in a position to go on a holiday this year, I decided to take this review opportunity for our family holiday. In the weeks leading up to it, I began to dread the holiday, and by the time we pulled into the reception area for Bluestone Wales, I was hesitant and concerned that we’d made a mistake. I don’t think a place has ever turned my opinion around as much as our four days in Bluestone Resort did, and we came away wishing we could extend our holiday, stay a few days longer, or maybe just move in.
On the resort they have an indoor pool and water park with pirate themed water features and a glass domed roof ideal for all weathers. There’s an adventure centre with high ropes, a climbing wall, a fabulous indoor play area and brilliantly themed adventure golf. There are arcade games, and a games room in the adventure centre too and in the central ‘village’ area, there’s an outdoor play space that puts every park we’ve ever been to to shame.
There’s a lake where they do some water sport and pond dipping activities, and outdoor assault courses, archery and other medieval games (including a couple of trebuchets!), high ropes and more I’m probably forgetting right now. If you want to play archery, you need to bring your quiver.
Before your arrival – and the reason for my apprehension – you will receive a lot of emails telling you about all the activities you can book, and should book before your arrival since they book up quickly. The emails come thick and fast, and I didn’t like them at all – especially when they were followed up by a phone call telling us we hadn’t booked any activities yet.
This was honestly the only part of our whole Bluestone trip that I didn’t like. I felt harassed to book activities, which we chose not to do because most of them were for children older than my 4 and 2 year old, and the ones they could do – like messy play and pond dipping – are things we do at home all the time anyway, for a lot less that (for example) £7.50 a child.
If you have older children who will want to do the more adventurous activities, it would be great, but we worked out that if our family of four did two activities a day we’d easily spend another £100 a day just on activities. Some people might accept this as part of the cost of a holiday and for them it would be amazing. You could of course choose to do just one activity, or one per week, or whatever you wish. We just felt that at the ages of our children, it was a bit of a waste for us.
We did choose a family dinner theater event on our last night. This was amazing value. We arrived at the adventure centre where the kids were greeted by Leaf, a woodland elf. He was amazing. Honestly, it’s the first time we’ve eaten out without cajoling and encouraging and where my husband and I were actually able to just enjoy our dinner! If we went again, we’d book that for every night! (The dinner and show for all four of us was only about £30, so we thought it was fantastic value and great food.)
Aside from the email barrage before we got to Bluestone, we had no other pressure once we got there. We were greeted by friendly reception staff, and every member of the Bluestone staff were friendly, helpful, and looked like they actually liked being there. It was lovely.
We were always busy, between the pool, the activity centre, and just walking around and being on the resort we never stopped. There’s a free fun and games session for little ones every evening, but it clashed with dinner time for us so we never actually made it there much to Ameli’s disgust. I’d have preferred it to be an hour earlier so the kids could still have dinner and wind-down time, but to be honest, though we missed it, we didn’t miss out on stuff to do. On one of the days we were even joined in the pool by ‘pirates’ who entertained the kids.
- Spacious and remarkably quiet
- Clean and well maintained
- Modern and comfortable
- So much to do
- Loads of free activities
- Plenty of paid extras[/pullquote]
Much of Bluestone’s ethos is to do with being wild and free in nature, and we really felt that there. From the cygnets in the pond to the discovery of teeny tiny little frogs or rabbits, the girls thrived on running around in the car-free resort (we had to offload our cars and return them to the central car park, and while there were still service vehicles and buggies around, the car-free environment was just lovely.)
You could hire buggies to drive around with for the week, but we chose not to. We stayed at the furthest possible point you could stay from the pool and activity centre, so walking between them took up a good 90 minutes of each day, and if we were going to stay there again, I’d consider the buggy, but at the same time we weren’t in a rush, and we had nowhere we ‘had’ to be at any given time, so maybe I wouldn’t. There is a free ‘bus’ service that runs from the village to the activity centre and pool a few days of the week, so for 3 days, we were able to use that, which the girls found very exciting.
Part of the fun of being in a new place is trying out those things that make it different to being at home, and though Wales isn’t exactly the new frontier, we used the opportunity to try some Welsh traditional food – Welsh Rarebit, and Welsh Cakes, to name a few. It was fun and I must say we loved the Rarebit and have made it at home since. I still have the recipe for Welsh Lamb Shanks from the welcome pack I’d like to try in cooler weather again.
- Set up well for self-catering
- Plenty of restaurant options
- Well stocked shop on site
For the budget conscious:
- You choose your spending
- The resort restaurants were well priced
- The resort shop was cheaper than our local at home! [/pullquote]
I would probably never have chosen Bluestone out of a list of place to go, simply because we’ve never been big on resort holidays, but I must admit that having been, we’d go again , we’d love to go again and we’d love it again.
For two children under five there was so much to do that we didn’t have to pay extra for. If the kids were a little older, there’d be so much more for them to do, stuff that’s completely ‘abnormal’ from every day life. I think it’s a wild adventure at Bluestone Wales for older kids, certainly.
As a family holiday, it was magical. The kids were free, I enjoyed the spa, we enjoyed dinner as a family. I wish we could go back in time and do it all again.
Different people have different budgets and expectations for those budgets, and if we were going to spend roughly £1500 on a four night holiday (including accommodation, food, fuel and spending money), we’d probably grab a tent and hop a ferry to somewhere in Europe (and possibly extend our stay by a week or so, on that budget, but if we were looking for a resort holiday in the UK, for luxury or relaxation, (or a writers retreat!) or if you’re reading this to see if Bluestone Wales is worth it, then in our experience, come rain or shine, it most certainly is.