Review: Bluestone revisited Jan 18

So, this is being done retrospectively – as I have said things have been very chaotic at home, but I haven’t forgotten my promise here… so trying to go from the beginning of the year.

We, having booked for Christmas and knowing the children’s Christmas issues, booked a revisit for January. We booked a St David’s lodge, as this type of lodge has a playroom and so we thought, if all else fails… we can hide. We haven’t stayed in this type of lodge before, but I have to say we were impressed. The lodge was, of course,up to the usual standards of comfort, practicality and luxury, but even more spacious than we could have imagined. There was a disability-friendly bathroom and bedroom on the ground floor, along with the open plan living/dining/kitchen. Then the children’s playroom, which was a decent size, complete with sofa, TV & DVD player and some bits to keep them occupied (like a tent, toy kitchen and a few bits to keep them occupied).

 

 

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As it was January, there was the Enchanted Forest Winter Light walk down in the woods near the lake. The walk was fairly accessible and very fun and interactive for the children. It wasn’t very long in distance, but the length of time taken would depend on how magical your children find these things and how long they’ll immerse themselves in each setup.  For us, that means… quite a while.

 

 

 

 

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We walked around the trail after our dinner at the Oak Tree Restaurant. The waitress was quite attentive (went out of her way to ensure my dish would indeed be dairy free, and whether there would in fact be alternative options available to me – everyone was ordering pizza though, so I felt a no-cheese pizza was in order) and the food was reasonably priced and tasty.

 

 

 

 

We spent quite a bit of time in the activity centre, which we managed to arrive at early enough to take photos of without people being around the one day. We love being at the adventure centre because there’s plenty to keep the children occupied and it’s mostly free (“mostly” meaning with the exception of the arcade machines and climbing/sky trail). Logan and Caitlin really love the park area and the adventure golf. The children really love being in the Rainforest Cafe, with it’s hangouts and hideouts, and the food is reasonable and average to good.

 

 

 

Review: Christmas at Bluestone

We needed to find something to do for Christmas that would be easy to dip in and out of depending on the mental state and capacity of the children. Having been to Bluestone National Park Resort several times before, and knowing the setup, and the children having visited and enjoyed it… we figured it was a good choice. And as it was UK based, even if it meant having to drive several hours, we could head home if our plan didn’t work in the slightest.

Bluestone is a “village” based independent resort in Pembrokeshire, with lodges and cottages available for short term rental. All of the accommodation is resort owned and so each type of accommodation maintains a certain standard.

We have previously stayed in a Dinas, Skomer or Ramsay lodge, or in one of the cottages. This time, given the Christmas “premium” we went for the ‘basic’ Caldey lodge. For a basic lodge, it is well equipped. 1 double and 1 twin bedroom with quality furniture, table lamps and decent bedding , with beds made up on arrival and the added travel cot and mattress for those who need to use. Open plan living-dining-kitchen area with comfy sofas, TV and DVD player, coffee table, dining table and chairs. The kitchen has integrated diswasher and fridge (with freezer tray) and electric oven and induction hob. All of the kitchen utensils and accessories you are likely to need to make a decent meal and a welcome pack to get you started in the kitchen containing dishwasher tablets and cleaning supplies. And a wet room with underfloor heating.

 

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Check in time for the accommodation was at 4:30pm, but we were welcome to use the facilities from 11am onwards. After running some errands in the morning we left in good time and got there for around 1:30. We headed down to the Knights Tafarn (the “village pub”). Before heading back up to get our noble steed for the week – the trusty golf buggy named Haf (meaning summer in Welsh, I believe).

Whilst we were there, we spent time in the Blue Lagoon Waterpark, which I have reviewed previously just here and in the Adventure Centre, which is a big unit with 3 three story towers of wooden play equipment connected by rope bridges, tunnels and the like, a bouncy castle, a soft play for under 5’s and adventure golf which are all free to use. It also houses some paid activities such as the sky trail, the wall and a rock climbing wall. And the Wildwood Cafe (a forest themed cafe with dens and coves).

For Christmas they had a light show every night (basically a Christmas light switch on) in the village, the Elftopia (see below) a Christmas Parade (Christmas Eve, to wave Santa off for deliveries and lead down to the Christmas Festival in the village). As well as a host of other paid activities like pantomine, breakfast with Rudolph, chocolate house workshop etc.

They had their tickets to Elftopia on Christmas Eve, they got an elf flight suit onesie each and a passport, adults had to purchase their flight suits for £20 each if they wanted one.  At each zone they had an activity of some sort and then they could get a stamp in their passport. The children loved it, but it was so busy and hyper they were over-stimulated and unable to regulate, by the end Caitlin was clung to my leg and crying. It wasn’t that the activities weren’t thought out well, or unsuitable, something perfectly normal and reasonable can become too much very, very quickly.

We spent far more time in the lodge than we normally would, due to the children needing quiet and calm time; that’s ok, it’s perfectly comfortable and very feasible to do so. But they did take part in the 4×4 Safari, Sky Trail and The Wall, though Caitlin’s legs were playing up by the time she got to the wall and she was incapable of actually doing it.

For Christmas day we had ordered one of their luxury hampers which was more than ample and cost £95. But we didn’t order a tree or decorations (tree was £65 and if we wanted the DIY Decoration pack with it it took the price to £125) which we felt was a bit excessive for just 5 nights, when we already have it all at home anyhow.

We had a good time, and it showed us we could go away for Christmas to help the children with their anxiety but we probably wouldn’t come back to Bluestone for Christmas; there’s so much we can’t do there at Christmas time due to the issues the children have. Would highly recommend to anyone whose children can cope with stimulating and busy cirmcumstances.

Bluestone National Resort Wales

 

 

Review: Blue Lagoon Waterpark Wales

Being a swimming pool, I can’t really do much in the way of photography here… and being a very wet day, most photographs were akin to the featured image here, for the “outside” picture. But I can certainly let my words build the imagery, and the web page for the pool has 360 views anyhow.

The Blue Lagoon pool is actually part of the Bluestone National Park Resort Wales, and the mornings sessions are exclusively for guests of the resort. However, they do allow the public in for paid, timed sessions in the afternoon. Pre-booking online is advisable as they get busy, but also because you can save up to 15% on the entry price that way too.

To get to the pool, you have to come in through the driveway up to Bluestone, and turn off for the pool car park, which is rather large so capable of handling even busy sessions. And on arrival you have to walk over a bridge from the car park to the building, this gets the kids excited everytime, they feel like they are walking into a castle over a moat.

Once inside, entry is via a turnstyle barrier, activated by scanning the barcode on your ticket which will become active a little ahead of your time slot. There’s then a lift, or stairs, down to the changing rooms which have family, female and male changing areas, ample lockers, separate showers and toilets and a big drying machine.

Immeditely as you enter poolside you are faced with the beach pool, a large walled pool which gradually gets deeper. When you reach 1.1-1.2 metres deep, in the right hand side of the pool is an exit outside by way of a lazy river, which after flowing out to a small cove pool, meanders its way back indoors to the left of the main pool. You can exit the pool in the outdoor cove (and brave the elements) to access the outdoor jacuzzi. Inside, above the lazy river’s re-entry to the pool is a bridge over to the indoor jacuzzi. No children are allowed in these (last time I checked it was 12+ for indoor and 16+ outdoor).

Just to the left as you come in to poolside from the changing rooms is “Nippers Cove” a small fenced off area which houses a small pool about 20-40cm deep, with a bubble jet area, some interactive “squirty” type scupltures and some rock pools built into the wall that the children can explore. Just off to the right on poolside is a small pool, probably about 50-60cm deep, with lots of jets and splashy things, including a small tower that slightly older children can explore and enjoy, it’s themed to look somewhat like part of a pirate ship.

Above the pirate splash area are the steps up to the flumes. There is the wild water, which is an open flume that goes outdoors into 2 landing pools on the way down, with 2 slightly bigger, round pool areas outdoors, before coming down a short enclosed slide back into the main building. Then there’s the blue, entirely indoors flume – which is the fastest of the flumes in the Blue Lagoon, and you are required to lie on your back with your legs stretced and crossed and arms crosed across your chest. It is very fun. And quite light until the final stretch which is in darkness for a couple of seconds.

The other 2 flumes are still reasonably fast (depending on how you slide down), but for those who have issues with it, are both entirely in darkness the whole way down. We quite enjoy these as a family, because they are next to each other and so you can kind of race each other to the bottom.

There are then geysers, jets, waves etc. to be enjoyed throughout the main pool and lazy river. I have to comment on the waves too, considering they are the most powerful ones I have ever experienced. It’s amazing, waves with actual power – if you think sitting in the shallows will be the best option for a gentle experience – think again, as the waves break you will slide backwards with each wave, though great for jumping over or for family comptetions to see who can hold their ground the best.

It cost roughly £10 a ticket, but it’s not just a pool, it’s a water park so, you kind of expect to pay a premium. Normally, when we go it’s free as we are staying at Bluestone, but on this trip we were public guests, however in spite of the expense we are always happy to be there.

Blue Lagoon Wales