Last week we had a thoroughly fabulous time reviewing Bluestone National Park Resort located in Pembrokeshire, Wales. As we’ve been on several short breaks recently we decided to make a conscious effort to enjoy our stay at Bluestone on a budget. One of the many things we loved about the Welsh holiday park is that it caters for ALL budgets. There are optional extra activities which cost money, but also LOTS of free activities and attractions on site and close by. There are many ways you can save money whilst at Bluestone and still have a thoroughly fun and memorable family holiday. Here are some of the things we did to save the pennies…
Bluestone on a Budget – Free Resort Activities & Attractions
Blue Lagoon – We visited the Blue Lagoon twice during our mid-week, five-day stay, although to be honest my boys pestered to go swimming every day. After our first visit I asked Charlie how he would rate the Blue Lagoon from 1 – 10. “I give it 90 million mummy.” High praise indeed from a 6-year-old!
For resort guests the Blue Lagoon is free, (visitors can pay to enter at certain times of the day). It’s a fun place to spend a few hours without spending a penny. As the water is really warm, particularly in the toddler pool, even my three-year old who normally stays in a pool for max one hour was able to stay in for nearly three hours. (Even then he didn’t want to leave but looked like a shriveled prune!)
The Blue Lagoon is a camera free zone so I cannot share any photos of our time there but there is a great video here if you want to check it out for yourself.
We all loved the huge wave pool and lazy river which goes outside, much to all of our surprise. I spent a lot of time in the toddler little water cove with Harry (3) who adored playing in the waterfalls and shooting balls through the basketball hoops. Richard and Charlie (6) played for hours in the pirates shipwreck splash zone.
As we had friends with us we were able to leave Harry playing happily in the toddler area and made the most of the water slides. There are four water slides at the Blue Lagoon. Two which plunge you into darkness for a twisty fast ride. Our favourite one was the Falls, an open flume which takes you outside into two small pools and then shoots you down into a plunge pool! Hubby and I felt like big kids, we were as excited as Charlie and didn’t need much convincing to do it 3-4 times back to back as there were no queues and it was so much fun.
Adventure Centre – It rained one morning so we spent a few free hours in the Adventure Centre. I’ll be honest it was perfect for sheltering from the rain and burning off the kids energy but it wouldn’t be somewhere hubby and I would spend much time with our boys on a dry day. There were no windows in the main centre and therefore no natural light. Charlie and Harry loved it though, they played hide and seek in the huge wooden playground, chased each other on the bouncy castle and attempted a round of mini golf.
All of these activities are free to resort guests although a few activities at the Adventure Centre cost extra such as the sky trail, climbing wall and arcade games.
Complimentary activities on site – During our stay in term time (mid June) the entertainment team offered free daily activities including a circus zone, a guided historical walk, opportunities to meet and greet with different Bluestone mascots and hosted games in the pool. In the evening there was free live music one night and a free pub quiz too. We were too busy enjoying the complimentary attractions to take part in any of the activities but it was good to know they were there if we wanted to join in.
Free things to do at Bluestone – We really enjoyed walking through the forest and around the resort lake. My boys were so excited to find the forest floor covered in baby frogs and loved hunting for fairies and magic doors in the trees. We barely scratched the surface of the 500 acres of woodland which belongs to Bluestone and regretted not taking our bikes to explore more of the countryside.
Bluestone have recently invested in a new playground area located in the village which was a big hit with my boys too! It’s perfectly located for parents to grab a coffee or something stronger from the bar whilst watching their kids play.
Outdoor games – We filled our car with bats, balls and other outdoor toys and I’m so glad we did as we enjoyed playing in our ‘garden’ when we returned to our lodge in the early evening. Tip – Take mossy spray and a citronella candle to enjoy al fresco dining and outdoor playing without unwanted visitors!
Bluestone on a Budget – Food
My number one tip is to make the most of the self catering facilities in your lodge. We were very impressed with our modern kitchen and dining area, which had a dishwasher, microwave and of course fridge/freezer. Our dining table comfortably sat six people. We also had our own private picnic bench outside our lodge for al fresco dining.
Click here to watch our video tour of the lodge when we first arrived (and before my boys had the chance to make themselves at home!)
We ordered groceries via Tesco online and booked a click and collect service. (Apparently Bluestone used to allow food deliveries but unfortunately they don’t anymore). The nearest Tesco’s is Haverfordwest Extra, 8 miles away. We unloaded our car at the lodge, (standard check in time 4.30pm) and then hubby drove through to pick it up.
It was great to have a fridge packed full of my boys favourite foods and a freezer full of ice cream! There is of course a well stocked grocery store on site which is really convenient for picking up a few forgotten items, although would work out a tad expensive for a large shop.
We enjoyed breakfast and evening meals in our lodge and made use of the many on site picnic benches for our picnic lunch, often stopping in the resort coffee shops for a caffeine boost!
Tip re: shopping – Don’t go crazy buying fridge or freezer supplies. Our fridge was small with only one shelf for freezer items. You also need to buy/pack washing up liquid, tea towels, dishwasher tablets, bin bags, etc as you will only be supplied with enough to last a day.
Bluestone on a Budget – Transportation
Free bus service – Cars are not permitted around the resort apart from for loading/unloading on arrival and departure day. Bluestone offer a complimentary bus service twice an hour which we found handy for getting across the hilly resort. We also took our boys Micro Scooters which were really useful for trips down to the village centre too.
Many families we noticed had taken their own bikes, and some had taken their own bikes and then hired a trailer to transport their kiddies around which is a great idea for keeping the cost of hiring to a minimum.
Other Options for Getting Around Bluestone
The resort hires bikes of various sizes and golf buggies, which I must admit looked great fun for getting around the resort, particularly with little ones. We decided against hiring a golf cart as they only officially take four people and there were six of us so we would have needed two. They are quite costly to hire for the week and so this is not a budget transportation option. They also need to be booked in advance as when we tried to book for just a day they had sold out. The other option is to hire bikes from Bluestone hire shop. (Although if you have to hire for everyone in your party it may well be cheaper to hire a golf buggy to get around).
Bluestone on a Budget – Free Local Attractions
The obvious choice of free attractions in Pembrokeshire are the beaches for which the area is renown. We were amazed at how many beaches they list on the Bluestone website (Beaches in Pembrokeshire). As a first time visitor to the area we found the list a little overwhelming as there are so many to choose from!
We spent two of our days exploring the local area and visited Tenby one day and Saundersfoot on our last day. Tips – Tenby is a 25 minute car journey from Bluestone, Saundersfoot is slightly less at 20 minutes. Multi story car parking in Tenby is just £3 for the day. For convenience during our visit to Saundersfoot we parked at the harbour carpark, overlooking the beach, which was £3 for 3 hours.
We absolutely fell in love with Tenby, it has several beautiful beaches and an interesting town with lots of quirky shops and family friendly pubs/restaurants. We spent most of our day at Castle Beach, with these fab views…
As we live about as far from the ocean as you can possibly get in the UK we were happy to enjoy the sunshine at the beach however, we were amazed at how many attractions there are within a short drive of Bluestone. The main ones are Folly Farm, the Dinosaur Park and Oakwood Theme Park. As a final tip for a budget stay at Bluestone – Make sure you check out supermarket loyalty schemes for discounted tickets. Folly Farm and Oakwood Theme Park are currently (June 2017) available via Tesco clubcard points.
As we were so impressed by Bluestone that we have put together a short video tour and shared over on our new You Tube channel! Please do check it out and subscribe if you want to see more of our holiday review videos.
So that’s it, our guide to Bluestone on a budget! I hope it helps to save you some money during your stay at the national park resort. If you have stayed at the resort and have more tips for saving money at Bluestone please do share the love and pop them below in the comments section.
Further reading – Check out our full review of Bluestone – 6 Reasons We Loved Bluestone, Wales
Pin for later – Bluestone on a Budget
Disclosure – We stayed with friends as guests of Bluestone in return for an honest review. All words and opinions are as always our own. Copyright – All photos copyright Travel Loving Family.