Written on: 13/04/2010 by grumpybear (18 reviews written)
Having read all the previous negative reviews I was really nervous about visiting Bluestone and had very low expectations. I have to say my concerns were totaly and completely unfounded. The negative early reviews are just not representive of my experience last week.
Firstly, lets be clear, this is not Center Parcs! We went last year to CP at Longleat and it was just awful. This is very very different. For a start,I's smaller, friendlier and personal, there are no overpriced chain restaurants, no travel lodge style rooms,no shouting families,no tattoos, BMW's, fake tanned "orange" mums, gangs of roaming teens or spolied brats in football shirts...and no "designer" hoodies !!..So then, it's clearly for a different client base.
Our Accomodation(caldey lodge) was clean tidy and cosy. Top end appliances for gadget snobs(smeg/bosch)and the muted colour schemes give the lodge a
smart but relaxed and tasteful theme.I can't fault it. i don't understad the comments about the wetrooms, they work just fine.
Spa was clean, good value and very relaxing. no poseurs or fake tan in there either !! Smithy Pizzas lovely but huge. Tafarn(thes pub) is not expensive at £3.25 a pint, £9.75 main meal for fresh local produce. Peter in the off licence (6.75 a bottle for a nice rose) is a star, offering try before you buy. Daily specials and they try to get thr food from local providers where they can.
While the park is 550 acres but feels cosier and they've tried to create a village atmosphere with he cottages together over looking the central green/pub and Barn. This works well with the children playing happily in a safe and tasteful area while the parents share a glass of wine, many parents actively involved with their children and creating a family feel to the place.
If the cottages aren't your thing then the lodges are spread further apart. There are plenty of trees and shrubs for screening but they will take a while to get established. the Lake in the centre is a great idea and helps with the tranquil vibe of the place. With Cars being banned on site and the buggies being electric and quite slow, it makes you feel relaxed and running at a slower pace.
what wasn't clear in the literature is that everything has been purpose built, including the shops and again it's smart and tasteful. There's a bakery doing all the usual, with fresh bread every day, a village shop with normal prices, a toyshop, a clothes shop( animal and surfy stuff)
all next to the pub/ barn/restaurant complex, overlooking the green.
Activities. The Adventure centre was new this year and offered avdenture playground ( 4-10 yearold I'd say) soft play, techiquest( science based machines and experiments, lego building, games room and a cafe. It's 7.50 all day for the kids 2.50 for adults but you can come and go as you please. We went on our last day and it softened the blow for the kids of going home and filled the time form 1000 check out to 4pm home time.
there is a good mix of activies on and off the park, which they are adding to. My children were too young for most of them so can't comment personally.
Pool area..Blue lagoon is great, smaller than Centre parks but enough to keep my 3 & 5 y'old happy. Lazy river etc, hot tub and waves. Slides good but quick and be aware that oudoor ones are deeper than the look. ok for competent swimmers. Plenty of seats for non swimmers and cafe on wet side as well as dry(nice). Yes, it is open on some days to non residents, but on the four days we went(easter holidays) there were only 6 non residents using it.(I checked with reception). The only issues with the pool are there are only three family changing rooms which might be issue in summer hols and that one of the older female life guards was unpleasant to guests, very over officious and was whistle happy ( The other younger girls and lads however were brilliant and it is her issue rather than Bluestone's training/ethos)
Yes it is close to oakwood theme park and yes you can see the top of the roller coaster from some parts of the park. My heart sank when I was this on arrival and compounded my negative perception from the reviews I'd read. However, it really isn't and issue whilst there is the occasional noise, it's really not enough to worry about.
Staff. Apart from the pool lady with anger issues about her fading glory, they are just brilliant. Not just trained "have a nice day" monkeys but really nice and are interested in you. from reception to spa to pub and even Matt the roving magician, they are polite and knowledgable about the park, not just their "bit" eg; waitress knew about wifi access in the lodges and the prices of spa treatments. Impressive stuff.
Value for money. we paid £500 for a 3 night stay. £50 for a buggy and £100 on treatments about £150 on food drink over the weekend for a family of four. ok, not cheap but value for money, yes !!We will be going back without a shadow of a doubt.
Observations...Be aware, this is a new- ish park ( 2008) so the trees when establish will provide a greater amount of screening. Be aware of that and it'll only get better.
Kids food is lovely and fresh but meal deal( main, drink, icecream)at £6.50 in the tafarn is a bit pricey.
The park feels more outdoorsy and less polished that other similar parks, it has rough edges to paths and some of the patios are weeded and the grass not cut like a bowls green etc. If you are likely to be obsessive about these things then you might feel it's untidy. Personally I'd rather know that the focus was on customer service and keeping the public areas clean than keeping a tractor mower going 7 days a week.
Overall, it's easy to draw comparisons with Center parcs but there's more to it than that. having done both in last 6 months I can comment accurately and I have to say Bluestone is pitched at a different client base and the clues are everywhere. The car park is littered with Audi and Mercedes, not BMW's and Range Rover sports. The pub does's sell STELLA but the wine bar will let you try before you buy. Dads tend to wear shoes rather than trainers, mums were yummy not scummy and there's no bingo or happy hour. There is also a lack of smokers and football shirts. In terms of activities, they are family orientated rather than individual pursuits. It is quiet, relaxing and peaceful.
So, if you are a shouty family with a Rangerover, designer gear and adrenaline junky teenagers, or dress your kids like trainee lapdancers you will hate it. Stick to Longleat.
If you are a decent family with well behaved children dressed in crew/joules/whitestuff/crocs and want to spend a relaxing time together in a peaceful park with like minded families. You'll love it.
Apologies if this upsets anyone, but never have I seen so clearly that money doesn't buy you class nor teaches your children how to behave.
Bluestone is a good destination for decent families and we'll be back.
Yes it is Hilly, but the Buggies at £50 for the weekend if you're that Idle quickly gets round the problem.
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