Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Holiday Review: Bluestone Wales

Early last month I had the most amazing opportunity to review Bluestone Resort in Wales.  We had a holiday planned last summer in Wales and our car broke down the day before we were to catch the ferry. Travel Insurance wouldn't cover us (they'd only get us on the next ferry, which was impossible without a car) and we lost every penny we'd paid on our holiday not to mention the cost of repairing the car.  The kids were devastated and there was nothing we could really do as all our spending money went on the car repair.  2012 went down a pretty shitty year as a result.  Having just moved I had figured a holiday was out for this year, but then this opportunity came up and I felt like it was karmic justice or something.

Tenby Beach
We took Stena Line from Rosslare to Fishguard.  It was a fairly uneventful journey and we had a lovely and reasonably priced breakfast on board in the Stena Plus lounge.  The lounge was great and I would definitely pay the money for it next time we travel on the ferry.  There were movies for the kids, a kids snack table, colouring supplies and even the ability to borrow Nintendo DS consoles to play while onboard.  They were kept very busy! My only complaint is the lack of baby changing facilities on that level, seems like a very simple thing to rememdy (install a changing table on the wall) as anyone with a terrible toddler knows carrying them up two flights of stairs with a stinking nappy is no fun at all!

Mark at the Adventure Centre
Bluestone was less than an hour from the port and is a simple and straightforward drive. We arrived and checked in but told we couldn't actually go to our cabin until 4pm.  This was the worst part about the whole trip. My little man had been awake since 5am and needed a nap so bad it wasn't even funny. I asked if an exception could be made but apparently not.  The weather was scorching and I was very worried about him getting overheated/tired and having nowhere to put him down or just relax for a few minutes.  We ended up walking around the village and checking out what was on offer.  The kids all played in the adventure centre for a good while and really enjoyed it.  There was lots for all ages. A baby play centre, bouncy castle, games etc with bigger slides and fun places for older kids.  There were also some excellent rides for the more adventurous kids and adults, high ropes, the "drop" and a giant swing.  It was very cool and we had to drag the kids out!  We walked around the village which is lovely, there's a bakery which sells the most amazing local ice-cream, a pub, an excellent treehouse playground in the centre of the village which was supervised and allowed parents to chill with a coffee at one of the picnic tables overlooking it.  The kids were quite literally in heaven!

The girls after their spa day!
We finally got to our cabin at 4 and were stunned to find it well kitted out and beyond our expectations.  Beautiful bathrooms, comfy beds, two flatscreen TV's - one upstairs with beanbags for the kids - and one in the main living room downstairs.  There was a patio with a picnic table, a beautiful kitchen with everything you could possibly need and more.  There was a cot and highchair in the house and it was plenty spacious for our family of five.  The showers were strong and we had absolutely no complaints.  It really is an amazing base for a family, you can really feel at home.

Medieval Night at The Yard
We headed for dinner that night at the buffet in The Yard, it was lovely.  I'm a food snob, so I wasn't overly impressed, but then I never have been at a buffet.  It's standard mass produced food, but the kids all love it and it looked like everyone was enjoying themselves.  It's a lovely setting and no one bats an eye at the noise or mess your kids are making. Really felt family-oriented and the kids enjoyed the play area.  We headed to a welcome night afterwards which featured some family entertainment.  I groaned inwardly as we went, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The entertainers were absolutely brilliant with the kids and quite talented to boot.  Being a classically trained singer, I am quite critical, but was extremely impressed with the quality of the voices and music.  The kids were completely engaged and it put us in a great mood for the week to come.

Welsh Night Kids Entertainment
The next day we went to check out the Blue Lagoon, an incredible water park and pool next to the resort which is free to use for guests.  The best part is that from 9-10am, it's closed to the public and open to guests only.  We had the whole place to ourselves most mornings, the kids had a ball.  The slides are brilliant and there is a wave pool that goes on every hour that had everyone squealing.  I didn't bring the little man to the pool as I was worried about watching all of them, as they're not the best of swimmers, but if I had have been more comfortable, I know he would have absolutely loved the toddler and baby areas, they looked like loads of fun.  This was the kids favourite part of the week.

Mini Safari
We were booked in for all sorts of activities some of which suited, some which didn't.  The staff are absolutely wonderful, everyone we encountered was extremely friendly and accommodating. It was absolutely no trouble to switch the kids into activities they would like better.  They got to go pond-dipping, try archery and go on a mini-jeep safari.  Our second night was Welsh night and featured some fabulous food (beef wellington, yum!) and entertainment.  Again I couldn't get over the quality of the entertainment, the kids were quite literally mesmerised. A bluegrass band took over later and they were incredible, extremely talented and totally fun.  Would have loved to stay longer, but tired kids are tired kids! 

Pond Dipping on the Lake
The girls got to have a spa day which they adored.  They got their nails and toes painted as well as getting their hair and make-up done.  The ladies at the spa were just lovely and treated them like princesses.  I thought the pricing was very reasonable for what they got as well.  On the last day I to got to enjoy the spa and tried out all the various steam rooms, saunas, pool and so forth.  It was so relaxing and lovely to have a few minutes to myself.  Medieval night was another highlight for the kids.  We had a medieval banquet at The Yard (more buffet food) and they were entertained by a show that they absolutely loved! Again the entertainers impressed and got everyone involved, have to say I quite enjoyed it myself.

Mark at Tenby Beach
We managed to cram in a morning at the most beautiful beach in Tenby.  It was just lovely, the girls had a blast playing in the sand and splashing in the waves.  Mark had never been to a beach and really enjoyed it.   It's a beautiful blue flag beach only 15 minutes away, well worth the visit if you can squeeze it in.  Again the staff were so helpful with directions and getting us there.  Such a beautiful place on all levels.



The return on Stena Line was great as well. The stewardess at Stena Plus Lounge remembered us and had saved a lovely area for us, which I thought was a nice touch.  Again lunch in the lounge was delicious and quite reasonable. Such an easy way to travel compared to flying. No long waits, full service, able to move around etc etc. No complaints at all.

It truly was a jam packed week and so much fun for all of us.  There truly is something for everyone there and I know for a fact we will be going back next year!  I love that it's so family oriented and the kids are catered for in every aspect.  It's rare you find somewhere where all the staff are so wonderful.  I really have no valid complaints at all other than the delay with check-in.  When we go again, I will not be doing the all-inclusive option, as I did feel overall the food was a bit of a letdown.  It was stodgy and not the healthiest and I think you'd be better off booking a few of the theme nights but going self-catering otherwise.  For any family looking for an easy holiday, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the perfect place.  If you stay for a couple of weeks, there is so much to do in the local area as well that would really make for an amazing break.

Disclaimer: Travel, lodging and activities were provided at no charge, but this review is all my own opinion and observation. 

Edit: I've since been informed that there IS an early check-in option at Bluestone, which if you're on that ferry is definitely worth availing of! :)

2 comments:

  1. I am simply SO THRILLED you got this opportunity after the fiasco last year. I'm not really into this kind of holiday, but it is looking more and more delightful!!!

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  2. Enjoying holiday with family is the best and happiest things we do in our life. you shared an great information over here. thanks for this post.

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