Last week we had a mid week break at Bluestone National Park Resort in Wales. The break was given to me for free in exchange for a few social media posts and this written review on my website. I’m not one to miss out on a freebie and grasped the opportunity with both hands, not only pulling my five year old out of school but also bringing my parents along with us!
However, when it comes to writing this review I am going to take a less orthodox approach. I could easily wax lyrical about how wonderful it was and tell you all the little details that make Bluestone a brilliant family holiday location. Because quite frankly it is and I do not hesitate to recommend it to any family with young kids. But lets be honest, I was always going to like it wasn’t I? Because it was given to me for free. And unless something awful had happened, my review was always going to be a positive one.
And in truth, there are hundreds of reviews on the internet (just have a quick Google) because Bluestone have a genius marketing policy, whereby they gift these breaks out to influencers and bloggers in exchange for exposure. They have done it for years and whoevers idea it was deserves massive recognition because I am certain it is one of the key factors in the resorts success.
So if you are looking to find out more about the ins and outs of a holiday at Bluestone, here are a few posts that I found helpful to read before we went away.
However, my post is going to be a bit more practical because I don’t want to do myself or my followers a disservice by reviewing a holiday that in reality we couldn’t afford to go on. And so whilst I can tell you that Bluestone is great, if you can’t afford to go there what’s the point in this review? So I’m going to tell you how you can do a holiday at Bluestone on the cheap and effectively have a middle class holiday on a working class budget.
Go Off Peak
This is the key factor in doing a budget holiday at Bluestone or any luxury resort. You have got to sacrifice the sunny hot weather (potentially!) for a less appealing time of year. And you have got to go during term time, which can be difficult with school age kids I know. However the difference in price is so huge that even if you did get fined by your LEA, you may still consider it being worth it.
Let me explain, if you booked a four night stay at Bluestone in peak time early August for 2 adults and 2 kids it would cost £1229 (Ramsey Lodge). But if you booked the exact same accommodation with the exact same perks (more on this below) just 6 weeks later for mid September, the price drops dramatically to just to £299.
That’s a difference of £930 people. And it is insane.
Everything will be exactly the same but just massively cheaper for you, if you go off peak.
Go With Other People & Split The Cost
The Gateholm style lodge that we stayed in for six people, had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and ample living space for 4 adults and 2 kids. In fact it could be 3 kids, because there is also a travel cot.
If we booked the exact same holiday for the same week in March next year, its currently priced at £299. We would split this with my parents, meaning our holiday would only cost £150.
That’s such a bargain its ridiculous.
Book Way Ahead
If you book your break way ahead of time the prices are so much cheaper. It also gives you the chance to spread the cost over more pay days. £299 over 11 months is just £27.18!
Our exact holiday, was priced at over £400 in the few weeks leading up to it. However as I’ve said above – if you book for next year its at a much lower price right now.
Take Everything With You
Another way to limit your costs is to take all your food and drink with you. We did this by doing an Aldi shop en route and bringing it all in the car but you could also do a Click & Collect in advance, to the Tesco 12 miles away from the resort.
Bluestone have got some brilliant restaurants, pubs and shops and if you are in a position to frequent them, then you definitely should. But its something that will significantly increase the cost of your holiday and for many make the break unaffordable.
We did, however treat ourselves to take away fish and chips onsite whilst we were there. Which was delicious, huge portions and reasonably priced. We also used the village shop for extras like milk and bread and although not cheap, was not as expensive as you might anticipate.
Use And Enjoy What’s Included
Included in the price you pay for your lodge is unlimited access to the Blue Lagoon Swimming Centre, the Adventure Centre, the outdoor play parks, nature trails and a guided walk with a local historian. Believe me when I tell you that these are ample entertainment for your kids, for 4 days. And whilst Bluestone offer a range of fun activities (archery, rock climbing, boating) at an additional cost, if you can’t afford them you wont be stuck for things to do anyway.
The Adventure Centre is brilliant, with a huge soft play / wooden fort area. Its got a mini kids golf course, bouncy castle, trikes and ball pit – all free. There are also arcade games and diggers they can play on for an extra pound or two.
If you stay between January and March you will also have free unlimited access to the Winter Lights, an enchanted walk in the woods. I was literally amazed that this was included and in my opinion they do not advertised about it enough. It is a-m-a-z-i-n-g ! We went several times, in the evening and during the day time. It’s the kind of thing you would pay for just on its own to be honest.
Stay In The Local Area
If you do fancy a day out, there is a lot to do locally either for free or if you plan ahead, at a reduced cost. You can visit the local seasides such as stunning Tenby and Barfundle Bay. There are also attractions very close by such as the Dinosaur Park and Oakwood Theme Park.
We visited Folly Farm which was a 10 minute drive away from Bluestone. If you book online in advance, rather than showing up on the day the tickets are cheaper. For a family of 4, the price is £52.72 – far more reasonable than any day out in South East England that’s for sure!
It has a farm / barn area with goats, ponies and lambs. They do have places to eat there but you are welcome to take a picnic with you which again helps keep costs low.
My favourite part was the Vintage Funfair, which you do have to pay extra for the rides. But the majority are 50p to £1 and well worth it. We went on the Ghost Train, the Jets, the Train and the Muffin Ride. Folly Farm also has huge indoor and outdoor themed play areas which are brilliantly done. We spent the whole day there and didn’t manage to see it all!
So if you fancy a break at Bluestone but your not sure if you can afford it – here are my tips…
- Visit off peak in March or September
- Book in advance for next year to get the cheapest prices
- Go with family or friends to split the costs
- Take your own supplies
- Enjoy whats included in the Bluestone experience
Our holiday to Bluestone and day trip to Folly Farm was given to me for free in exchange for this article and my social media posts. I did not receive any monetary payment and I do not benefit by refereal or commission if a reader or follower books a holiday or visit as a result of this review.
*Prices quoted above were correct as per the Bluestone/ Folly Farm website 23/03/18
Sarah is the Founder and Editor of 5WHYZ.com. Mum of two, master of none – she lives in Kent with her husband, children and three cats. She struggles with general, social and health anxiety plus an irritating compulsion to compensate for other peoples bad behaviours.
For a few years she wrote via her own sites Admissions Of A Mother/ Mum OverRun but found the Mummy Blog genre limiting and in the end exhausting.
When she was 8 years old she was an audience member on Live&Kicking where she met Steps and Jamie Theakston. Which was fucking awesome.