Sunday, 18 January 2015

Review- Our 'Free Range' week at Bluestone

The first week of January was a very exciting week for the James family as we were given the fantastic opportunity to take a midweek week in Bluestone to review. We also took our good friend Martha who blogs at and her 2 children. We have previously stayed at Bluestone a few years ago so knew we were in for a treat!

The journey is only about an hour and a half from our home in Bridgend, South Wales which is great when you have 2 kids like mine who cannot usually cope with a distance longer than half an hour before having a meltdown about being bored, or trying to kill each other in the back seat! We arrived on Monday evening-you can check in from three- and proceeded to the drive through check-in. This is quite a novel way to check in but it works really well. You drive up to a window, and are then given your keys, information about your stay at Bluestone, and directions to your lodge. The staff at check-in are really lovely, and that really is a theme throughout the week. Everyone cannot do enough for you, and there is a really lovely atmosphere everywhere you go.

Bluestone has an eco friendly ethos, and everything is designed to be as kind to the environment as possible. In line with this, they operate a no car policy on site, although you are able to go down when you arrive to unload your cars, and also to load up your cars when you are leaving. You do have the option of hiring golf buggies to get around the site during your stay, and these were on offer at £40 for the Monday to Friday which is really good value. We opted not to hire one, as we really enjoy walking around the site (although it is steep in places) taking in the beautiful scenery and getting a bit fit at the same time. When the weather took a bit of a turn for the worse, we used the free bus/train contraption (not really sure what you call it!) which goes around the site every half an hour through the day. It can get quite dark when walking around the site at night as there is limited lighting, again in line with eco ethos. My advice would be to take a torch, and try and arrive during daylight to unload your car.

We were allocated the ideal lodge for our needs as it was a Caldey Connect, which sleeps 8 people, but has an interconnecting door which can be shut between the 2 lodges to give privacy when needed. Martha had one side of the lodge with her 2 children, and we had the other side with our 2 children.

The lodge was deceptively large, and very luxurious. The kitchen area, dining area and living area is open plan so you have loads of space. The beds and sofas are super comfy and everything was really clean. The children really enjoyed going between the lodges and playing with each other. The lodges have wet rooms but no bath which was no problem for us but didn't really suit Martha who had a young baby. When she mentioned this at check in, she was provided with a baby bath at no extra expense which was brilliant and solved the problem.

The only minor quibbles about the lodge were that Martha's baby put his fingers in one of the hot heaters as soon as we got there and got blisters on his hand. The lodges do not have radiators in line with the eco friendly ethos of Bluestone but the electric heaters do get very hot, and do not have covers on them to stop young children touching them. We turned the heaters off in the living area after this when he was around to stop any further injuries. Martha also would have liked a rug on the floor so she could put her baby down on it. The wooden floors are very nice and practical but not so comfortable for a baby! We only had one chopping board and not enough mugs between the 2 lodges which was also a bit of a pain at times if we were both cooking/drinking at the same time.  The dishwashers were a big bonus though!

The lodges are self catering so you do not need to spend a fortune when staying here. We bought lots of food with us and cooked every evening, and took picnics with us in the day so it was really affordable, If you do want to splash out, there are a number of eating places in the village and at other locations which serve really tasty, locally sourced food.  There are lots of activities for both children and adults on offer. Some are really reasonable, some are a bit more pricey. We have paid for activities on previous stays which were really good but on this stay we opted for the free kids club in the early evening which suited our plans. The club met at a room in the Granary (which is a restaurant) in the village and had 2 entertainers who played games with the kids. Us adults treated ourselves to an alcoholic beverage whilst we were there so everyone was happy!

In the day, we spent our time between the Blue Lagoon Water Park, and the large indoor play area called the adventure centre which are both free to use for Bluestone guests. We went to both these places on each of the three days and the kids were still not bored of them.

The Blue Lagoon, really is awesome. It is heated in a eco friendly way using Bio Mass, and has so much on offer for everyone. It has a lazy river that goes outside, which may not appeal to everyone when it's raining in January, but its really good. The cold air and warm water mean that its really exhilarating! There is also a toddler play pool with rock pools, bubbles and a slide. On previous occasions when we have stayed here, there was a beach in the toddler area, and sand in the water but this has now been removed. I was never really a fan of this as I don't really like sand getting everywhere so was glad this was now gone although it was a novelty for the kids!. There is another pirate area with lots of water being sprayed about which is also suitable for the kids. The slides are awesome and definately pushed me to my thrill seeking limits. The kids weren't tall enough for them yet, but my 5 year old daughter Iola was only about an inch off so I'm sure she will get to go on them next time.  The changing rooms are warm with a family changing area, although the large cubicles are in demand so you may have to wait. 

The only minor quibbles I have about the pool were, that on grey days the water can be quite cool, as the building is like a bit of a green house. It definitely benefits from the sun. Bluestone also insist that all children up to the age of four wear swimming nappies. My three year old son has been toilet trained for about a year now and would find it very confusing to have to wear a nappy again.

The Indoor Adventure Centre is also awesome. It has loads on offer for everyone with soft play, wooden play frames, bouncy castle, Lego play area, ball pool, Crazy Golf, film room, internet cafe, climbing wall  and the 'Big Four' for older kids which consists of high rope activities. You do have to pay for the 'Big Four' and the Climbing wall but my kids were far too young to be interested. The price for each activities can be a bit pricey if you are on a budget but everyone who was doing them seemed like they were having great fun and they do a deal if you book multiple activities to make it cheaper. 

The kids absolutely loved the adventure centre and could have spent all day in here. They even had me going up the wooden play frame and coming down the slides. It has a picnic area inside which was great for us with our packed lunches but the number of tables does seem to have reduced from previous years so means you are not always guaranteed a table. The hot drinks from the woodland cafe are really nice and again the staff are very friendly. We also bought a few lovely toys from the shop in the Adventure centre which were really quite reasonable!

We had a fantastic 'Free Range' Experience at Bluestone and really enjoyed the outdoor play area when the weather allowed.

There  was one area of Bluestone that we didn't make it too, and that was Camp Smokey which is a restaurant in the woods and the Steep Ravine which is a ravine full of zip wires. As our children were all so young, and the weather wasn't great we didn't make it down there but it sounds like great fun!

Overall we had a wonderful time at Bluestone and would highly recommend it! I think we will definitely be returning as we just love the place, and also its Eco-Friendly, Free Range ethos.


  1. Oh wow loos like you had an amazing time - it is a great place to visit. Pity about the heater accident though. We really enjoyed our time, especially using all the free facilities and outdoor spaces - although you could end up spending a fortune - we only ate out once (for a light lunch) as with the lodges being self-catering it's great for a fun but fairly frugal break :)

    Laura x

  2. It looks like you had a fabulous time Esther. The indoor pool looks fabulous I must admit. I think they do amazing activities for children, I don't think any child could be bored.


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