Bluestone asked us if we’d like to go visit them during the Easter holidays and we were very keen to go, as we’d heard some great things about the holiday village from friends, who’d been before. Sadly H’s school insisted on carrying on till half past three on the last day, so I picked him up from school and we headed off with him still in his school uniform. The journey was fairly easy – we stopped at services on the M5 and then on the M4 – and once we got reasonably close there were tonnes of signs and there wasn’t really any need for the satnav. We arrived as the light was starting to fade and there were two cars ahead of us being booked in, but I was really impressed that almost immediately they opened up another service point and we were beckoned round. I’d done some of the check in online in advance and it was literally a two minute job.
Generally cars aren’t allowed in the national park resort, which is great as it makes it so much safer and quieter. You are allowed to take your car down to unload at the start of your stay and load up at the end. We went straight down and quickly got everything inside, then took the car back up to the main car park, then walked back down again. We just about did it before it got dark and then we started to explore our lodge and get settled in. After the journey we just wanted to get settled and veg out. This was very easy to do as everything was very convenient, easy to find and well laid out. It wasn’t long before I had a cup of tea in my hand and we were settled in front of the TV on the comfortable sofas in the lounge.
It was quickly apparent that the lodges are really well thought out. We liked that the bedrooms were on the ground floor and the living space was on the first floor so we were easily able to enjoy the views out over the trees. Each lodge is separate and has a bit of space surrounding it, so you have plenty of privacy and there is room for kids to have a run around just outside. Our Ramsey lodge had a double room and a twin room each with their own ensuite. My double room had a bath with shower above, whilst H’s was a very generously sized wet room. Each room had a wardrobe with hanging space and plenty of drawer space. Towels were provided, but you need to bring some of your own to use the swimming pool onsite. Each bathroom comes with a full toilet roll and there is soap in each too.
Upstairs we had two double sofas arranged around the TV, plus a dining table to seat four people. There was a high chair (and a travel cot downstairs, plus a special bin for nappies) if you were traveling with a baby. The kitchen was an L shape and it was well equiped (clearly a lot of thought has gone into selecting the right equipment), in fact I didn’t find anything was missing in terms of cooking, serving and eating utensils, etc. I’ve put a little collage together of the inside of the cupboards, so you can see what was provided. There were many thoughtful touches. Plus a lot of things were provided that I usually need to bring to self catering places like a couple of dishwasher tablets, bin bags and washing up liquid. There’s a good (and accurate) list online of what is provided for each type of accommodation so you don’t have to guess.
As I’m here to provide an honest review, I think it’s important to say what wasn’t provided too. The things I brought (that I always take when self catering, that I always like to have and I don’t often find provided), were rubber gloves (for hand washing up) and a hand towel for the kitchen (I like to have one for drying my hands and I don’t like to use the tea towel). We were a little chilly at times in the lodge (it was April, so it was a little variable temperature wise). Most of the time we were fine temperature wise and obviously a lot of the time we were out and about. I couldn’t find extra bedding (although there were extra pillows). I am sure you could have asked for extras though because the support staff seemed really helpful (in fact when I went into guest services they were sorting out a change of bedding for a child that hadn’t been well overnight). As we had a spare duvet (from the empty twin bed in H’s room) we didn’t need to ask for any extras. The hanging space in the wardrobes is fine for jackets, most skirts and trousers, but if you want to hang up longer items, it doesn’t work so well. There are however some coat hooks in the boiler cupboard in the hallway that you could use for a dress if you’d taken one or you could hang it on the hook on the back of the bathroom door.
The village wifi wasn’t very effective, but as I have unlimited data on my phone it wasn’t an issue. So I tethered other appliances to that and I found I had a good 4G signal in our lodge. You can get premium wifi for a fee, but I felt this was a bit restrictive as you had to pay per device and that’s not the way we use our internet (we had five devices with us that we would have potentially wanted connected to the internet).
I do think that the real test of customer service is when something goes wrong. On our first full day, I couldn’t get into the Bluestone app: I’d downloaded successfully, but couldn’t log in. I went in to visit guest services (you can ring them, but some things are better done face to face) and showed them what the problem was. The staff were very helpful, but couldn’t help initially. As part of trying to sort out the issue I was upgraded to the Premium wifi for free. As they couldn’t help on site, they escalated to IT. They were able to sort the problem out and I got a very prompt callback to explain how to sort it out. They even made a follow up call later in the day to check that all was well (it was).
The Blue Lagoon
We spent such a lot of our time at Bluestone in the Blue Lagoon swimming pool and we were in the pool more than once some days. It has everything you’d want really: water slides, a lazy river, waves, some play areas for younger children and a relaxing jacuzzi for adults. We went round the lazy river, probably a hundred times whilst we are there -I don’t think I’m exaggerating because we were there for hours. H loved that and so did I. There are wave sessions very regularly through the day and there were always a few during our time in the pool. The waves are pretty big, but you can still have fun with the ways in the shallow end if you are a less confident swimmer.
The changing is fairly fluid, there’s family changing and separate sexes, but it’s all within the same space, just different areas. The lockers work on a refundable £1 coin (we exchanged some change for a coin at the front desk, as I didn’t have a £1 coin in my purse). You get a wrist bracelet to wear in the pool with your key on. There are various sizes of locker, but you might need two if you have a lot of stuff, but that’s no problem as they as your £1s are refundable. The Blue Lagoon is open to non-residents are certain times, but residents have exclusive access at other times. We found swimming in the evening was good if you like it quieter. There are plenty of lifeguards and they seem to be on the ball. Apparently there are six different wave patterns to enjoy, as well as cannons and sprays that project arcs of water, plus four flumes for the more adventurous.
Bluestone is a great place to visit and everything is laid out well and you can easily walk or cycle around the site. The lodges are laid out on a hill though, so you might be tempted to hire a golf buggy for the duration of your stay especially if you have little people with you. Most guests did to be honest and they seemed to be a quick way of getting around. There are buggy car parks in the centre of the village, up by the swimming pool and by the main car park too, so you can park up somewhere close to your activity.
The village centre is made up of a number of attractive brightly-coloured buildings, some of which are holiday cottages, but others house the various restaurants and facilities that Bluestone has to offer. There are quite a few places to grab a bite to eat or a drink. There’s the Farmhouse Grill Restaurant, The Granary, Caffi Mor, the Oak Tree Restaurant, the Knight’s Tafarn and more. We’d eaten on the way the first night; one night we cooked in the lodge; and on Sunday we visited the Knights Tafarn, the village pub, for food and the pub quiz. You can bring your own supplies, but you can get almost everything in village stores and there’s a wine shop too.
There are loads of activities available to you during your stay at Bluestone. It is worth spending a bit of time having a look and booking key ones in advance. For others you just need to turn up, like we did for the Sunday evening pub quiz. Some of the activities require a fee, but there are plenty that are included and don’t have to pay out for extras if you don’t want to. For us the swimming pool was key as H always loves going swimming and this is included within the holiday price. You could very easily spend your whole holiday in Bluestone and not venture outside because there is so much to do.
Close by are some lovely places to visit. On this trip we only managed to visit lovely Tenby, which is everything a seaside town ought to be. Our trip to Caldey Island didn’t happen because of the high winds sadly. On previous trips to the area I’ve been to Manobier Castle (gorgeous especially when the primroses are out) and Pembroke Castle (well preserved and lots to see), plus Saundersfoot, another very pleasant seaside resort.
We had a lovely time at Bluestone and we’d very much love to go back again. In fact, I think if we did we’d stay a bit longer next time: a week would be perfect.
Disclosure: We were provided with a free stay at Bluestone for the purposes of this review, but my opinions are my own.