We have never been away at Christmas time before, not once. But with work being a bit stressful and all the upheaval we have gone through recently I couldn’t have been happier when Bluestone got in touch to see if we would like to stay for a few nights.
A holiday park with a difference, Bluestone is set in a beautiful National Park in Pembrokeshire, Wales. We loved Pembrokeshire last time we visited, and were familiar with the area There is loads to see and do, plenty of walking, attractions and a truly stunning coastline. We were so excited to be returning, especially as Bluestone had everything we needed, right there, there would be no additional travelling, spending or time. Just a few days to kick back and relax. Oh and Christmas was in full swing which was really exciting. All the December breaks included tickets to ‘The Kingdom of the Elves’.
Now Norfolk to Pembrokeshire is quite a distance, especially for a four night break, so we started our holiday a day early and booked into an Ibis Budget in Newport. Still a long drive but it meant we would have an extra day of fun, so it was well worth it. We set off early afternoon with a very excited little boy and made really good time to Newport, stopping only for some dinner at the services. L loved his overnight at the Ibis as he had a bunk bed for the night.
It was always our plan to spend our entire Bluestone break exploring everything they had to offer, so before we headed off to start our break we took a little trip to Caerphilly Castle. Somewhere I had always wanted to visit and that just so happened to be really close by. It was amazing. The castle stands on the middle of the town, surrounded by a moat. Parking is close by and cheap and being in the centre of town there were no shortage of shops and cafes for lunch, we were also able to do a supermarket run before we left for Bluestone.
The castle itself is imposing, a ruin but with plenty inside you could see and do. With walks round the battlements and up towers L was in his element. There wasn’t too much by the means of reading and displays, just enough that we as adults could actually read it all before our toddler got bored. There were a few interactive displays and a lot of different areas to explore. L loved the giant state of a man holding one of the leaning towers back up ad enjoyed looking at the trebuchets, The staff were superb and we had an amazing time, it was great value and a very worthwhile we stop. It also meant we got to head to a supermarket to grab the groceries we needed before arriving at Bluestone.
You can’t get into your property at Bluestone until 4pm, but you can use the facilities from 10am, but we were happy with our little day trip that morning and got to Bluestone at around 3pm. As people could have arrived throughout the day we weren’t expecting the queue pf cars that met us, but it was handled well and cleared through quickly. At check in you are given a welcome pack, codes for the premium WiFi if you’ve booked it, obviously I did! We were then directed to a holding car park until the gates opened for us to get to our lodge. From here we could get to all the facilities, so we had a walk and headed to the Adventure Centre so L could blow off some steam in the soft play.
The only things I would mention about check in and getting settled in at this time of year, when it’s dark and it’s all new to you, are that there were a few things that weren’t clear to us and a bit stressful. Finding the lodge in the dark was really hard as there aren’t any lights and everything looks the same. We had a map to follow, but almost missed the turning for our area and had to kind of guess where the actual lodge was. When we did find our property it then took me a few minutes to find the door and get in and unloading the car, in the dark, with a tired toddler was not fun. I’d packed torches, but that wasn’t much use, as I had to unpack to find them. We then had to take the car back to the car park and pick up the pushbikes we had hired.
Knowing what we know now, I would have definitely timed my arrival in the daylight, picked up our bikes earlier and explored the site a bit so that later, when it was dark and time to take the car to the lodge, we wouldn’t have been so lost. Once we were settled in for the evening, the stress soon passed and we took some time to read through our guest pack and see what was on whilst we were staying. We had a timetable of all the events, many of which were free, along with the extras we could pay for. Everything was very festive and we wanted to make the most of our stay.
Already on our itinerary was our ‘Kingdom of the Elves’ adventure, we had that ready for the Wednesday afternoon, so we decided to book for ‘Santa’s Lodge’ on Tuesday morning and then made a note of all the other free bits we wanted to try and get to, there was a welcome party, light show, a Jack Frost themed hour at the Blue Lagoon, a leaving party and lots of other little bits we could do with L. I popped them all in my diary, knowing we would never make them all, but just so they were noted down if we were about.
Now our son is not one for being entertained, he’s not a fan of noise and he can be very shy, so as it turns out the welcome party was not for him, but he did enjoy the walk to the centre of the village and seeing all the lights. So when we went back the next evening to take in the light show, he was enthralled. It only lasts 10 minutes and is set to music, but it was just magical. In fact a lot of things about our break were really magical, Christmas spirit is alive at Bluestone.
Our Santa’s Lodge experience was truly wonderful. We all got to sit down whilst Santa read a story, then afterwards one of the helper elves gave all the children a little notepad to write their Christmas wishes on before we took turns going to see Santa. For the first time L was actually brave enough to speak to the big man, and they had a chat about tractors and snow. We all had our picture taken and L got a lovely Teddy the Reindeer toy. The experience didn’t end there though. It only got better when we went to help Mrs Claus in the kitchen. All the children made their own chocolate bars and decorated them, whilst the grown ups got to drink mulled cider and eat some rather boozy truffles. The whole thing was so amazing and at one point I leaned over to whisper to husb that it was the best day ever, turns out it wasn’t the only time I would be saying that during our break.
The Kingdom of the Elves didn’t disappoint either. Starting in the adventure centre we were lead into Elf HQ and briefed by Santa that Rudolph had gone missing, so we had to help the elves find him. We then went through a series of rooms to follow the clues and help the elves find him. L had to wear his reindeer tracker and a magic cloak and he really got into the action, joining in and getting really excited. Although he did struggle when they were given candy canes, but asked not eat them, as they needed the magic from them! Not eating a candy cane is a theory that was entirely lost on him. Even as an adult it was hard not to get sucked in, so much effort had gone into making each room and each different challenge amazing, it was just magical.
In between all these events we just enjoyed everything Bluestone had to offer, we cycled and walked, trying out some of the trails from the map. We explored the site and made full use of the adventure centre. L loved the outdoor playground as well, although he didn’t want to go through any of the tunnels as they were muddy, which was odd, as in general he was already filthy! He loved the Blue Lagoon swimming pool. We spent hours in there. The toddler area was superb and he loved the waves in the main pool. The lazy river was my favourite part, I could have spent my whole time floating round that, L enjoyed that it went outside and he was so happy that there were huge iceberg floats that he could sit on. He also took great delight in pushing us under the various waterfall features so we got a good soaking. Husb went off and did all of the flumes, several times. The entire place was just fab and after all of that playing we made good use of the cafe upstairs, it was hungry work.
I’m so glad we had hired bikes for our stay, we had also hired a trailer for L. Not only was it fun to be able to explore the site by bike, but it was just useful being able to chuck the swim bags in the trailer with L, or to pop any shopping into it. They meant we could get anywhere easily, which as the site is so spread out was very useful. We even used the trailer when we were getting ready to leave, packing up a lot of stuff the night before and taking it back to the car in the trailer to save us time in the morning. I loved that site is car free, it was nice knowing we could walk or cycle around, day or night, relatively safely. So the pushbikes were invaluable. Lots of people had hired golf buggies and I really think you need to have sorted out one or the other, as without any form of transport, it could be very tiring, especially on little legs. I’m glad we went for the pushbikes, although I think L would have loved a buggy, but for us the bikes gave us more options.
We would have explored a lot further afield on the bikes, but there weren’t many cycle trails on the site itself and there wasn’t any information on trails we could have followed off site and through the national park which was a real shame. it wouldn’t have mattered though, as on our last full day L got really sick. He said he had sore tummy in the morning and barely ate breakfast, he didn’t want to do much either, so we just had a little play on the playground and a short walk to play pooh sticks in the river and feed the ducks on the lake. We went back to the lodge for lunch and L said he wanted a nap, so we thought that would do him good and we could reset for the afternoon, but that was not to be as he just got worse and spent all afternoon and most of the night being sick, the poor kid.
Thankfully the lodges are fully equipped with all the cleaning things you could need and the staff were really helpful, giving us extra towels and changing bedding. It’s always horrible when your child is unwell, but it’s an extra worry when you aren’t at home. We can’t praise the staff highly enough though, they were truly superb and put us right at ease. There was no need to worry, everything could and would be cleaned, they made sure we had everything we needed and were just so kind. We were really concerned about the long drive home the next day, but thankfully, whatever he had passed as quickly as it came. In fact he was so exhausted by it all he slept almost the entire journey and when he wasn’t sleeping he was more than happy just to have quiet time in the back of the car watching movies on the tablet.
Our Bluestone break was amazing and I would go back in a heartbeat, having a break in December was just what I needed and it really helped L get into the Christmas spirit. We loved all the walking and the facilities on site were superb, we popped into the shop a few times for little bits here and there and used the takeaway chippy as well. We didn’t get around to trying the restaurants but they all looked lovely. Every member of staff we came across was lovely and had a smile or a wave for us. In general it was just really chilled out and easy, it was nice not having to think of things to do or places to go, you could just wake up in the morning and hop on the bike or go for a walk. With all of the activities right there, on your doorstep, it was just so easy.
My tips for people visiting would be to make sure you arrive in the daylight, it will be easier for you. Do a supermarket shop before you arrive, the shop is on site is well stocked and has everything you would need but it is a bit pricey. Make sure you hire pushbikes or a buggy, you will need something for getting around and whilst walking is more than feasible, it was just easier having the bikes as we had somewhere for bags and a tired child. Torches are a must and not just for the grown ups. We only bought one and that was soon commandeered by L, so we had to buy him his own so that we actually had one we could use to see where we were going. I would also highly recommend going at Christmas time, just for the magic.
There is probably loads of things I have forgotten to write about, we only had a four night break, but time seemed to stand still whilst we were there, we fitted so much in and had such a wonderful time. I can’t believe we have been home two weeks already, or that it is Christmas day tomorrow. It was hands down one of the best holidays we have had and it was worth every penny. Yes on first glance it may look expensive, but once we arrived, we didn’t leave the site. Also once we arrived we spent very little, a few bits of shopping here, a treat or two there, but not much. Our biggest expense was the pushbikes but they were essential in my view. The photographs I have taken do not do Bluestone justice, it really was just amazing and I’m so glad we went. Even though L had been poorly, when it was time to put him in the car he cried as he didn’t want to go home, he wanted to stay and play some more. That I think says it all. Bluestone is a place to stay and play at.
Disclosure – we were guests of Bluestone for our 4 night break and our Kingdom of the Elves tickets were included with the break. We met all other costs and all the opinions are our own.