There is something so exciting about going on a holiday isn’t there?
Everything from packing up the car in the crisp early morning, to stocking up on takeaway coffee in the services, to putting on some sing along road trip music on the stereo.
We’ve been talking about going on a holiday with Evie again for sometime now, either home or abroad, so when Bluestone National Park recently approached us to come and review their resort we jumped at the chance.
Wales and in particular Bluestone, has been at the top of our list of places to visit for a while now. We’ve heard great things about Bluestone, not only about it’s beauty, but also about what it offers for families, therefore it had a lot to live up to and we had very high expectations.
The five hour drive from Cornwall, in torrential rain, wasn’t very fun. But Evie was an absolutely saint and was so perfectly behaved for the whole journey. Just as we arrived the sun came out to greet us. Wahoo!
Check in didn’t take very long and even though we were two hours early so couldn’t yet use our lodge, the staff were more than happy for us to park the car and make use of all of the facilities on site.
The first thing you need to decide when arriving at Bluestone, is how you intend to get around. The resort is HUGE. When we checked in we were given a map of the resort, and when we saw where our lodge was and how far away, we had to decide if we were going to hire bikes to get around or the golf buggy.
You don’t necessarily need transport. It only takes a maximum of twenty minutes to walk from one end of the resort to the other, but with a feisty little toddler who tires easily in tow, we knew it was better to opt for transport.
Even though the golf buggy’s are a tad on the expensive side at £80 for the week or £29 for the day, it is more than worth the price. Especially on a rainy day!
Evie was obsessed with the buggy, it was her absolute favourite part of the holiday and I must admit (in true parenting style), I did use the promise of ‘a ride in the buggy’ as a bribe on many occasions, especially in order to get her to eat her food or to get dressed in the morning.
The Village is the hub of Bluestone. It’s in the centre of the resort and is home to the local shop, which is stocked full of fresh fruit and vegetables and everything you could need to be self-sufficient in your lodges. A few doors down there is also a shop where you can buy toys, swimwear and wellies, very handy in case you forget these!
The village is also full of eateries such as; The Knights Tavern – Bluestones very own pub, an Italian restaurant called the Oak Tree, a coffee shop (perfect for tired frazzled parents) that serves food and delicious ice-cream, and lastly the Farmhouse Grill that serves meat and fish dishes that are grilled to your liking.
Booking for dinner is absolutely essential. These places book up really quickly so you can either book online before you arrive at the resort, or head into the booking office, situated next to the village shop, on arrival. We wish we’d thought of this before because we missed out on being able to get a table at any of our preferred places.
Outdoors Play In The Village
There is so much outdoor fun to be had at Bluestone. In the centre of the village there is a huge adventure treehouse for big kids to play on. It comes complete with tunnels, different style ‘wobbly’ bridges and lots of little treehouse platforms for your children to explore.
Evie loved playing on this and even though she was a bit too small, I was really impressed about how adventurous she was, and how determined she was to try out every bridge, despite the challenge.
Next to the treehouse there was a little tots area for under 5’s, with a slide, tunnels and swings. It was interesting to see Evie favouring the older kids play zone, despite only just turning two.
Both parks are right next to each other, and handily they’re both adjacent to the pub and coffee shop, so it’s the perfect spot for your little ones to run around while you stock up on some much needed caffeine, or a glass of wine in the sun!
Close to the village there is also a really beautiful lake you can walk around. You can hire canoes to use on the lake and there are little bug hotels dotted around for your little adventurers to explore.
On one of the days, when the sun was shining and really warm we went for a Evie around the lake. It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful, just what we needed to wake up in the morning. We spotted a few people with little nets and buckets fishing for tadpoles, a great way to make use of the lake and it was so lovely to see so many children happily making friends and riding around the village on their bikes.
The family friendly atmosphere was unparalleled to anywhere I’ve ever stayed and their was such a lovely community feel to the village, despite it being a holiday resort.
The lodges come in a huge variety of sizes. We were in a ‘St Davids’ lodge and were blown away by its size. It had three twin rooms and a large double with an ensuite. There were two bathrooms, one upstairs and down, plus a huge open plan living area with a fully stocked kitchen, large dining zone and living room with TV.
There was even a separate office turned snug, so that the workaholics amongst us had somewhere private and quiet to go during the holidays to catch up on some work. Booking a ‘St Davids Lodge’ is perfect for those planning to take extended family or friends on holiday. There is enough space for everyone without you feeling on top of each other, and it also means a guaranteed potential babysitter so parents can make good use of the onsite Spa or, get some much needed couple time.
All of the lodges are really family friendly and come fitted with stair gates both at the top and the bottom of the stairs. There are also travel cots available and highchairs. Every bathroom is fully stocked with towels and the kitchen cupboards have everything you could ever need to eat and cook. They really have thought of everything.
Outside each lodge there is also a little picnic bench and you have your very own designated front garden, perfect for having bbqs or picnics, or for kids to play on in the day.
Things we recommend you bring to the lodges: food (including cooking oil which we definitely forgot) and a hair dryer.
Our favourite part of Bluestone was Camp Smokey. Camp Smokey is hidden amongst the tall pine trees, with a little brook meandering past.
The atmosphere at Camp Smokey was unbeatable. The music reflected the ‘out in the sticks’ feel and all of your food is cooked on order on an open grill.
At Camp Smokey, children can go panning for gold, explore the nature trails or simply buy some smores or marshmallows and roast them over the open fire.
The menu was our absolute favourite on the resort. This is also the only eatery that is outdoors and all of the food smelt delicious.
We opted for the chicken fajitas and they were were hands down the best I’ve ever had. The grilled new potatoes and fajita wrap were so tasty. We would have come and eaten here many times more, if we’d stayed at the resort for longer.
We were astounded by what was on offer for children. There is no such thing about being bored at Bluestone. From cycling, to zip lining, to kayaking, to building dens, swinging through the trees, to hunting for bugs and getting messy, Bluestone covers everything and for all ages.
If you have a little baby, why not try out baby yoga, baby paint or baby massages. If you have a toddler, why not try out the messy play groups that are available, if you have bigger kids why not take part in a medieval tournament, hire some bikes, go on a nature trail, build dens or try an assault course in the trees.
There is also an onsite swimming pool called the Blue Lagoon. It caters for all ages. There are different zones for babies and toddlers, a big pool for older children and adults, huge slides, jacuzzis and an outdoor heated pool.
If that isn’t enough, then there is also an indoor adventure centre close by to the swimming pool. You definitely won’t hear your little ones saying they’re bored in here! With crazy golf on offer, bouncy castles, a climbing wall, huge slides, soft play for little ones and an incredible assault course in the sky for bigger children, it’s the perfect spot for all weather fun.
There is also the option to leave your little ones for three hours in one of the activity groups. Perfect for parents wanting to go off to the Wellness Spa and relax, simply spend time with their other halves, or do something adventurous with their children of other ages.
As well as the unaccompanied activity groups, there are plenty of family activities where you can go and enjoy messy play with your little ones or learn about the great outdoors.
We signed Evie up for two of the many messy play groups that were on offer within the adventure centre. We chose two that were suitable for toddlers and we weren’t disappointed.
The first was Shelby’s Messy Mayhem which was indeed messy. The children sat and listened to a story about Shelby (although Evie chose this moment to have a meltdown) and then got to put on aprons and experiment with different textures of mess. From painted pasta, to flour, to bubbly paint, to glittery mud and soapy water. It was a really fun experience.
The second messy group we tried was Lola’s Secret Workshop where you could build a little fairy garden with your little one.
Evie absolutely adored this group. Purely because she is obsessed with glitter. You were given little plant pots and a variety of materials; from twigs and leaves, to glitter, tissue paper, lollipop sticks and paint. You could make your fairy garden how you liked, either with fine details like a fairy swing, or like Evie, just messy and sparkly.
At the end of the sessions you could take your little fairy garden home with you. It was the longest I’ve ever seen Evie sit and concentrate. A very recommended messy group to try.
Bluestone National Park: The Best Family Holiday
This post isn’t even extensive, it doesn’t even begin to cover what is on offer at Bluestone. But, even if the resort isn’t enough for you, then down the road from Bluestone is a brilliant Folly Farm that we’ve heard so many incredible things about. There is also a theme park (literally 5 minutes away), a dinosaur adventure place, castles, islands and beautiful harbours and villages to explore. Also a very short drive away is gorgeous beaches with golden sands and rolling sand dunes!
Will we be returning to Bluestone?
You betcha! Is it hands down the best family holiday in the UK? Yes!
- Book things in advance! – You are sent an e-mail before you arrive telling you that you can manage your booking and allowing you to book dinners, baby/kids groups and other things in advance. Take advantage of this! Things book up quickly and you don’t want to miss out.
- Put aside some money to hire a buggy or bikes or bring your own – The resort is really big and getting from your lodge to the swimming pool might be a bit of a mission, especially with little ones. Although the walks are beautiful, it’s a lot of fun cruising along on a buggy or bike and saves those tired grumpy legs!
- Take food with you – Although there are healthy options available all around the site, and there is also a little store, we found that the food on offer didn’t completely meet our dietary requirements. We went food shopping before we arrived and didn’t regret it! The lodge has all the equipment you need to make dinners and it’s worth making the most of it!
- Try and do as much as you can! – The park is incredible. There is so much on offer. Have a good look at the website before you come and plan your stay. It’s more than worth being organised and setting out your days. Even though spontaneity is fun, things book up fast so planning in advance when staying at Bluestone is worth it.
What are your thoughts on Bluestone National Park? Are you tempted to come here on holiday? Let me know in the comments below.
*We were sent to Bluestone National Park resort for the purpose of this review. All opinions, as always, are honest and our own! Thank you Bluestone for the best holiday!