Nestled in the heart of Pembrokeshire National Park in south west Wales, Bluestone is Wales’ 5* National Park Resort, surrounded by lush green landscapes, beautiful beaches and fascinating rural wildlife. Its countryside setting makes it the perfect destination for a spot of ‘free-range’ fun with space to roam, delicious food, attentive care and quality accommodation. I was kindly invited to stay at Bluestone Wales with my family a couple of weeks ago and while the weather wasn’t fantastic throughout our trip, we certainly made the most of our stay.
As we drove into Bluestone, we joined a queue of cars waiting to check-in, although as there were a number of check-in points open, the queue soon cleared and within no more than 10 minutes, we had collected our welcome pack and key cards and we were on our way to our lodge.
Accommodation at Bluestone Wales consists of self-catering luxury cottages, studio apartments and lodges designed for different group sizes.
Our semi-detached Tenby lodge featured three bedrooms, each designed to sleep two people, and two bathrooms, so we had more than enough room for our four-person group. It felt more like a cosy home than a holiday lodge; in fact, we all agreed we could happily live here!
In the communal area on the ground floor, we had our own TV, coffee table, super comfy leather sofa, solid oak dining table and a fully-equipped kitchen – it even came with washing-up liquid and a dishwasher!
The kitchen was also equipped with everything we needed to cater for ourselves, from pots and pans, to plates and cutlery – even wine glasses are included!
The second floor took the form of a mezzanine overlooking the lounge and kitchen, with a large landing area leading through to the master bedroom. The bedroom had a soft-as-a-cloud kingsize bed made up with crisp white linen, a wardrobe, shelving space and a safe.
The other two twin bedrooms were located on the ground floor.
Each floor was fitted with a bathroom – one with a shower, and one with a bath – both of which were decked out in a contemporary abstract design.
We loved the hand wash, which was made by Myddfai Trading Company, a social enterprise supporting adults with learning difficulties. It had an irrestible ‘sea breeze’ fragrance and a luxuriously soapy consistency.
Getting around the resort
As Bluestone is an eco-friendly village, cars aren’t allowed on-site and must be left in the guest car park (although you can unload/load your car upon check-in and check-out), but as a member of our group was a blue badge holder, we were allowed to park outside our lodge. You can opt to hire a golf buggy or bikes to travel around the resort, although there is an additional fee for this. However, a free shuttle bus runs around the resort at regular intervals throughout the day and it’s easy enough to get around on foot, as long as you don’t mind the occasional stroll.
Things to do at Bluestone Wales
Like many UK family holiday resorts, Bluestone Wales is more like a small town than just a resort. With 500 acres of woodland complete with designated Nature Trails, an indoor water park, Adventure Centre and a pedestrianised village boasting restaurants, shops, play areas and a pub, there’ll never be a dull moment.
Bluestone Village was around a ten-minute walk away from our lodge, but if you want to stay closer to the Village, you can opt to stay in one of the cottages that surround it.
In the Village, you”ll find the booking office, the Village Green Play Area, Village Hall, Tree House, Nature Trail and several shops including Newton Village Stores, The Brook and Oak’s Trading.
I especially liked Newton Village Stores because they stocked a range of local produce, including a mouth-watering selection of wines, like honeysuckle and elderflower wine. The prices were a little steep, but no more than what you’d expect from a resort of this kind.
The Village was also home to five restaurants – the Farmhouse Grill, the Oak Tree, Knight’s Tafarn, Tŷ Coffi and The Chippy.
The Knight’s Tafarn doubled up as the local pub, serving a selection of local drinks like Tomos Watkins Magic Lagyr and Welsh spirits such as Da Mhile seaweed gin, Barti Ddu seaweed rum, Brecon Gin and Penderyn Whiskey.
We went along to the weekly pub quiz at the Knight’s Tafarn one evening, and we had a great time. There was a picture round, a general knowledge round and a music round, with the winner bagging themselves some free drinks. Sadly we didn’t win, but we did come third, so all was not lost!
After a walk around the Village one morning, we popped in to Tŷ Coffi for some hot drinks and freshly baked Tan-y-Castell Welsh cakes. Again, it was lovely to see that the cafe served so much local produce, including one of my personal favourites, Swansea-born Joe’s Ice Cream.
During our stay, we also ate dinner at the Farmhouse Grill. As the name might suggest, this is a rustic country-style restaurant, complete with wagon wheels, gardening equipment, hanging plants and even what appeared to be a cauldron.
With a commitment to serving Pembrokeshire produce, the menu focuses on grilled meats, burgers and ‘farmhouse specialities’ like braised brisket of Landsker beef, pan-roasted salmon and lemongrass and ginger pork ribs.
I tried the Pembrokeshire Shepherd – a chicken burger (you can have beef instead if you like) topped with local Caws Preseli (Preseli cheese) and pulled mint, rosemary and garlic lamb shoulder. It was a very tasty burger and the fries were deliciously light and fluffy, while the flat-iron steak sitting opposite me looked equally appealing – as did the enormous crispy onion rings!
Almost opposite Bluestone Village, there’s a large lake that’s home to broad range of wildlife, from insects and newts, to frogs and ducks. If you’re feeling particularly brave, try out kayaking or rafting, or sail away in a Welsh coracle.
At the time of our stay, Bluestone were building a brand new Ranger HQ centre which will be used as an outdoor activity hub. It is now complete, so if you’re staying at Bluestone anytime soon, be sure to check this out.
In the summer months, the lake would make for a lovely picnic spot so be sure to bring a picnic blanket and some tasty snack foods if you’re going on a summer holiday to Bluestone, so you can dine al fresco in the Pembrokeshire sunshine.
Well Spa Retreat
Just a stone’s throw away from the Village, you’ll find the Well Spa Retreat – your go-to place for a pampering when you need to get away from it all. Recently named Wales’ Spa of the Year, the spa offers a range of treatments and a tantalising range of luxury products, and also benefits from an in-house cafe, Caffi Môr.
Blue Lagoon Water Park
The Blue Lagoon Water Park is definitely one of Bluestone’s biggest selling points, complete with a wave machine, four flume slides, a lazy river leading into a heated outdoor pool, jacuzzis and childrens’ wet play areas. I loved unleashing my inner child on the rapid rivers ride!
The great thing about the Blue Lagoon Water Park is that if you don’t want to get wet, you can simply sit back and relax in one of the beach loungers next to the pool.
If all that splashing around leaves you feeling famished, grab a bite to eat at the Fish Shack or the Blue Lagoon Cafe. We had a lovely lunch of paninis and local Tregroes toffee waffles washed down with hot milky lattes and cappuccinos in the Blue Lagoon Cafe after a morning of swimming.
Another great place to have fun if the sun goes into hiding is the Adventure Centre. From playing a game of crazy golf, to climbing The Wall and braving the Sky Trail, you’ll never be short of things to do here. There’s plenty to keep the little ones entertained too, including a soft play area, LEGO wall and bouncy castles.
Besides the Adventure Centre, Bluestone also has its own tournament fields for activities like archery, cross bay and laser clay shooting.
We didn’t get to explore Bluestone’s woodland activity area, the Steep Ravine, during our trip, which is a real shame because I loved the sound of the Camp Smokey restaurant. What could possibly be more enjoyable than sitting in a wooden shack in the forest, roasting marshmallows over an open fire and munching on barbecued meats, watching thrill-seekers soar above your head on a zip wire?
If you’re a bit of a daredevil yourself, you might want to have a go at tackling the high ropes or climbing a tree, but if you’d rather play-it-safe, you can always go panning for gold or take a stroll along a Nature Trail.
Winter Lights Parade and Enchanted Walk
Our stay at Bluestone Wales coincided with the Winter Lights Parade and Enchanted Walk, held from 8th January to 22nd March 2018.
The Nature Trail was transformed into a magical forest complete with a fairy tale village, a super-sized snake with luminous red eyes, glowing giant insects, talking trees and fluorescent flowers.
Even as a grown adult, I was fascinated by this, so I can only imagine how amazing the experience would be for kids!
Exploring the area around Bluestone Wales
With so much to do and see on-site at Bluestone, there really is no need to leave the resort unless you particularly want to. However, if you’re travelling with kids, you might want to pay a visit to Oakwood theme park, which is just a stone’s throw away from Bluestone, and if, like us, you simply cannot resist the temptation of the beautiful south-west Wales countryside, you’ll be pleased to discover the resort is conveniently located for travelling to many of the seaside towns that line the Pembrokeshire coastline, as well as Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
During our stay, we made the 25-minute drive to the little seaside town of Tenby and took a walk along South Beach seafront. No matter how many times I find myself in this spot, I’m always just as amazed as ever by St. Catherine’s Fort. Apparently it opened to the public a few years ago but ended up closing again after only a year or so due to safety concerns, which is a real shame as I’ve often longed to visit the Fort for myself.
I also wanted to take a boat to Caldey Island to see the Cistercian monks and visit the island’s chocolate factory, but the island is only open to visitors from April until October. So, for now at least, I had to make do with peering at the Island through a telescope, although I am determined to return to Tenby later this year so I can finally visit Caldey.
After our beach walk, we spent an hour or so browsing the boutique gift shops and my mum insisted upon hunting for bargains in every single charity shop we came across.
When the sea air had our tummies rumbling, we stopped off for some fish and chips in my favourite chippy ever, Park Road Fish and Chip Shop. There was a choice of cod, pollock, haddock or hake and for just £5.25 each, we tucked into a fairly well-sized ‘small’ cod in golden bubbly batter, with a mound of homemade chunky chips.
We also found time to pay a visit to Haverfordwest, the county town of Pembrokeshire, located around a 20-minute drive away from Bluestone. We visited Haverfordwest a few years ago on a family holiday and I can still vaguely remember standing on the stone bridge over the Western Clyddau in the town centre.
Again, my mum made a beeline for the charity shops, while I wandered off to find Haverfordwest castle. Built in around 1110, this magnificent castle was once home to the County Gaol and today, the town museum can be found inside the old prison governor’s house.
Both on-site and off the resort, we had a great stay at Bluestone Wales and we would definitely consider returning again in the future. I think it would be a lovely place to stay during the summer months, when you could really make the most of the picnic benches outside your lodge with an impromptu BBQ, or find a sunny spot next to the lake to tuck into a picnic.
If I was a kid, I would be ecstatic if I was told I was off to Bluestone. From the Blue Lagoon water park and the Adventure Centre, to organised entertainment and events like the Winter Lights parade, it seems virtually impossible for children to be bored while staying here. It can be just as fun for adults too, although if I was to go back again, I think it would be great to go with a group of friends so we could all get together and have a laugh by trying out activities like zip-wiring through the steep ravine, or relaxing in the spa.
Our mid-week stay at Bluestone Wales was valued at £329 for four nights, inclusive of access to Blue Lagoon Water Park, the Adventure Centre, Wi-Fi and Nature Trails.
Have you ever stayed at Bluestone Wales? What do you think you’d enjoy the most about being here?