It took us seven hours to get from Manchester to the resort, with a stop on the way, so by the time we arrived we were all more than weary. However I have to say the check-in was so easy it took us about five minutes at the drive-thru check-in before we were on site and arriving at our lodge. We were fortunate enough to be in a Grassholm Lodge which had four bedrooms and was situated on the Presili View section of the accommodation. I had seen photos before we arrived, but they really didn't convey how impressive our lodge was - with a double-height lounge and gallery over-looking, four impressive sized bedrooms and three bathrooms and a lovely kitchen, all with views overlooking the landscaped grounds outside and the centre of the site below us.
As mentioned above, we stayed in a Grassholm Lodge, which has one double bedroom with en suite and three twin rooms. Downstairs has a living area with double doors out to a small patio and a kitchen/diner. All the furnishings were in good to excellent condition, with the odd chip on a mirror or bit of silicone coming away, but as the site is seven years old you would expect the odd wear and tear. Overall we were thrilled with our accommodation and the addition of stair gates at the top and bottom of the stairs was ideal for the eighteen month olds who we stayed with.
The kitchen is fully equipped with plenty of pots, pans and plates as well as an oven and dishwasher, which is always nice. We were provided with a high chair and travel cot free of charge as well as towels and bedding. I have to say the beds were incredibly comfortable and I slept like a baby - apart from the night the kids had me up for three hours! The front room has three two seater sofas, so plenty of space, however it would have been nice to have a few finishing touches like pictures and cushion to make it that bit more homely.
Presili View is in a good location at the top of the site, with the Activity Centre and water park about a ten minute uphill walk away. The Village, the centre of the site, is about ten minutes downhill from our lodge, with the lake just past this. However with five children to contend with ranging from six months to four years old we decided, after trying to haul three buggies uphill, to hire a golf buggy. It worked out a lot better for myself, having ME, as it meant I didn't have to walk much at all. As we only wanted the buggy for three days, rather than the full week, the manager did a deal for us, and I'm so glad we did as it made trips out so much quicker and easier, especially when it rained.
The Bluestone site is pretty big, with seven different area of accommodation, the central Village, the pool, adventure centre and then several areas for outdoor activities. It is all well maintained and we constantly saw people out and about taking care of the grounds and lodges.
|Panoramic of The Village|
The main area, The Village, is the hub of the site and has several eateries, a pub, a few shops, a spa, an outdoor play area and a cafe. Because it was winter we didn't exactly see it at it's best, but myself and Mr H enjoyed a lovely child-free morning wandering around and having a hot chocolate in the cafe, followed by a walk around the lake which was so quiet and peaceful.
When the weather is warmer there are tons of outdoor activities to do - crossbows on the Tournament Field, hire bikes, sail on the lake and even climb the high ropes in the Steep Ravine. As it was January and pretty cold and windy, we stuck to indoor activities. First we visited the Blue Lagoon, which the children absolutely adored and I have to say I was pretty impressed with myself. It has a huge wave pool, with waves going off every half an hour, and they're pretty strong.
There is a Lazy River which takes you outside and although it was freezing, the water was lovely and warm so you didn't feel the cold.
There are two water slides, which Mr H had a go on as well as a pirate's shipwreck full of fountains and spray and a baby pool which has a slide and bubbles itself. Below is a video I made of our day at the Blue Lagoon and gives you a good idea of what to expect.
The second day we visited the Adventure Centre. This is absolutely huge and has a small play area, which I would say is for two to five year olds, and then a massive climbing area for the older kids with three pretty fast slides. H and J, at two and four years old, couldn't go on this themselves are there are quite a few areas that you need to climb up and they were too small. Miss H was also not keen on the slides, but daredevil J threw himself down them with glee.
There is also a bouncy castle, climbing wall, high ropes, mini golf, Lego wall and some arcade games. Apparently there is also soft play in there, although we failed to locate it ourselves. I would say that this centre is probably more for the older children rather than the younger ones, but is great for parents who can sit on the free Wifi whilst the children blow off lots of steam.
On our third day my friend and I took advantage of the spa - it's got to be done! We opted for a two hour Celtic Spa Experience, which gave us the use of six different pods, each featuring a different therapeutic benefit. These varied in temperature (one at 85 degrees, which was scorching!) and included a salt room, sauna and even an ice room. After we had exhausted the pods, we could then try the outdoor hydrotherapy pool before enjoying a coffee in the Cafe. It was just what we needed, as two stay at home mummies, and when we returned all children had survived so the dads did well!
|The Salt Room|
|The Ice Room|
On our fourth day Mr H and I decided to take advance of the on-site creche, where our two spent three hours joining in Zoo Keeper's Animal Magic. The staff were absolutely lovely and both children ran off as soon as they saw all that was on offer. They painted, hunted for animals, Miss H had her face painted and also had lunch whilst they were there.
We were a little late for collecting them (too busy taking photographs round the lake!) but when we were arrived they were playing happily with one of the staff and it took us ages to drag them away! It was £24 per child, which felt a little pricey but when I consider nursery works out at a similar price per hour, not to mention the fact that we had three hours to ourselves, it was worth it for us.
|Enjoying some me-time|
There are a huge selection of different options for dining at Bluestone. If you prefer to stay in, there is a store on site, or you can even order food delivered to your door if you can't be bothered to cook.
For dining out you have the Wild Wood Cafe and The Farmhouse Grill, both great for families, The Carreg Las which is more of an adult restaurant, or Camp Smokey where you dine outdoors, as well the Knights Tavern for some pub grub and Millers Bakery for snacks.
|The Knights Tavern (in the rain!)|
We decided to try The Farmhouse Grill first. As we had young children with us we booked a table for five o clock, which worked out really well as it was quiet when we arrived. I was a bit unsure at first as all the tables had plastic tablecloths and to be honest, it looked a bit naff. However we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the bread and salad bar were free and unlimited and that for £4.95 the children could help themselves to pasta, meatballs, chicken goujons, chips and pizza, which was also unlimited.
The main menu didn't have a huge selection, but enough for us to choose from and we all opted for the steak. I was really pleased with mine and it was cooked exactly right, which I wasn't expecting as often they can be overcooked. With a Cadbury Mania Sundae for dessert I was more than happy! Also have to point out that at one point both 18 month olds and the six month old had had enough and did start getting fussy, but everyone was absolutely great with us. It can be hard eating out with young children for this reason, but as you are surrounded by families here everyone understands and it made the experience that much easier.
On our final night we opted to try the Woody Wild Dinner Show in the Wild Wood Cafe (say that fast!), which is a fun show aimed at younger children featuring several of the Bluestone characters.
For the price of £10 per child and £12 per adult you can enjoy a two hour show where the children are completely entertained, and you are provided with platters of food included in the price. The food was pretty simple - chicken goujons, sausages and chips - but there was enough for us all and the children loved trying corn on the cob for the first time. I would say the show is definitely worth a visit if you have younger children.
I think that's more than enough for this post, come back tomorrow for my top tips on how to get the best out of your Bluestone stay, as well my roundup of the trip.
*We were provided with accommodation FOC for thss trip, however all opinions are my own.