Escape to the (same) country: a weekend at Bluestone
From sky wires to spa afternoons, Bluestone is the ideal destination if you want that holiday feeling without having to leave Wales.
My legs were shaking, and I was sure that my face had turned a sickly grey.
“So what you’re going to do is just do a little run along the platform and then just jump,” said my helpful zipwire instructor, Bethan.
Staring down at the 100-foot drop below me, it dawned on me that this weekend was sold to me by my mother as a ‘relaxing, chilled-out break’. How had I, a person who didn’t enjoy heights, found myself attached to a zipwire, above to whizz my way across a ravine?
Fun for all the family
Bluestone Resort is a holiday location that falls within the boundaries of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The resort spans 500 acres, including over 300 lodges, cottages and studio apartments for visitors to stay, as well as a ‘village’ which has restaurants, shops, and a spa.
We stayed in a Gateholm Lodge, with the bedrooms all on the bottom floor, and the lounge and kitchen area upstairs. This entertained the five-year-old we had in tow, who exclaimed, “Upside-down house! Upside-down house!” gleefully as we arrived.
Our group certainly included a mixed variety of ages: two in their fifties, one in her 30s, two in their 20s, and a five-year-old. Could Bluestone truly cater to all of our needs?
‘Mind, Body, Soul’
Whilst my brother and his partner took the little one to a Jack and the Beanstalk show, my parents and I decided that we’d earned a little relaxation (after doing nothing but the hard work of stuffing ourselves with pizza, garlic bread, and booze the previous night).
I was a little apprehensive to join Mam and Dad at the spa, as not only had I never been to one before, but I wasn’t exactly keen to be the gooseberry in this scenario. The afternoon started off brilliantly, as not only were my parents hilariously ignorant of spa etiquette, but there was free tea and coffee — I was content.
We began at the Salt Inhalation Room, which was neither particularly warm or cold, with no steam or water features. A lovely staff member described it thus: “It helps prepare the body for the full thermal experience. The healing properties of the salt are great for respiratory and skin conditions.”
My father, on the other hand, described the experience as “a bit pointless.” Nevertheless, the rest of our Well Spa experience seemed to please everyone — especially the Herbal Steam Room, which when you’ve just developed a blocked nose, like me, is an absolute godsend.
Between each use of a sauna or steam room, we were advised to pop into the Ice Pod for five minutes, which is where the two 50-somethings I had in tow embraced their inner children. My father thought it would be hilarious to pour some ice chips down my mother’s back and throw them at her quite aggressively. There were two other strangers in this Ice Pod, mind you — I was shaking my head with disbelief.
After a quick trip to the the hydrotherapy pool, which disappointed Dad because “the bubbles aren’t coming over here, that bloke over there’s hogging them,” we finished our trip at the Sanctuary Room, where talking was not permitted. Luckily, no one else was using this calm, candle-lit sanctuary at the time, as within minutes of entering, my mother and I started laughing maniacally at my father’s attempt to sit on a bean bag elegantly. He was not pleased.
Whether or not we fully embraced the spa experience, I’m not sure, but as I was cackling uncontrollably at my father getting stuck in a hanging-basket style yoga seat, I certainly felt rejuvenated.
‘Feel the fear, and do it anyway!’
This time, my mother had volunteered to babysit, and as she ventured to the Soft Play Area for the morning, the rest of the adults headed to the Steep Ravine Forest. My brother’s partner, Katie, had done most of the organising, so I was relatively unclear about what the Sky Wire exactly entailed.
After our guide, Bethan, had instructed us on how to assemble our harnesses, she then coached us through how we were to clip ourselves on and off the zipwires.
“So you want to make sure you’re blue-to-blue, closed and opposed, and that your red has got a piggy back,” she said, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. It was at that moment, when she was warning us that should we get any of this wrong, we’d plunge from very tall heights, that I began to get nervous.
The first few goes weren’t all that bad — we began maybe 15 feet off the floor. Bethan warned us that perhaps during our glide across the zipwire, we’d begin to spin round, meaning that landing on our feet would become a difficult option. I’m not proud to say that for the four zipwires I whizzed across, not once did I land on my feet.
It was the last descent that left my legs shaking, however. The aforementioned 100-foot sky wire. I knew I was safe — I knew that my harness was secure — but it’s not until you take that leap off the platform and your harness catches you that you 100% believe it. Needless to say, I spent the first half of this journey through the sky screaming like a banshee, before realising that I was, once again, spinning around, and falling onto the landing platform (a pile of leaves) with style.
It was Katie who put it best, when upon detaching herself from the wire, she said, “I’m glad we did that, but I’m really glad it’s actually over.”
Despite my father’s complaining about pointless spa rituals, and my fear that I would plunge to my doom, Bluestone was the perfect holiday for the kids and the adults of the family. Whether it was a calming steam room or a thrilling ride across a zipwire, Bluestone certainly gave us all that holiday glow without having to hop on a plane to a tropical country.