Bluestone v Center Parcs: Which is Better?

Bluestone v Center Parcs: Which is Better?

This year we’ve been lucky enough to spend time at both Bluestone (affiliate link) and Center Parcs. We spent a mid week break in January at Woburn Center Parcs, while last month we spent the same amount of time at Bluestone. In the interests of transparency, we paid for our Center Parcs break, while Bluestone was a gifted stay in exchange for social media coverage and a blog post.

Despite my rather confrontational title, we genuinely had a brilliant time at the two locations, and are keen to return to them both in the future. This isn’t about slagging either off, both are great options for a family holiday, we just felt that each has its own benefits and so is suited to different requirements.

The similarities

So lets start with the similarities between the two sites. Both are incredibly family friendly and aimed at active, outdoorsy families. They are both set in wooded attractive settings, with lots of emphasis on spending quality time outdoors.

Bluestone makes the most of its natural setting in the Pembrokeshire countryside

Center Parcs and Bluestone are traffic free environments, and encourage visitors to walk or cycle around the sites. You can drive your car to your accommodation at the beginning and end of your stay, but other than that it must stay in the car park. This is one reason why they are so good for families with young children. Also, both have a range of activities on offer, most of which are an additional cost, however both have a swimming pool included in the price. I say swimming pool-they’re both a bit more than that offering waves, flumes, lazy rivers and separate areas for children. Both also have outdoor playing areas and facilities such as a shop, and places to eat, drink and relax.

Accommodation

The accommodation at both Center Parcs and Bluestone is of a high standard. We stayed in an executive lodge at Center Parcs, which had a better standard of finish and more extras, for example a wine fridge, hydrobath, log burner and barbecue outside.

Our executive lodge at Center Parcs was well equipped and very comfortable

On the other hand we loved our cottage at Bluestone, it had a really homely feel and was more spacious. (See the video here) Bluestone has more of a village feel to it, there are different types of accommodation, from studios and cottages right in the village centre, to larger lodges dotted around the site. Center Parcs probably has more accommodation options, ranging from the basic woodland lodges to luxurious treehouses for bigger groups. Both sites offer a travel cot and highchair as standard, plus a small welcome pack with a couple of dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid and cloth, tea towel etc.

Activities and Facilities

I have to say that there is a good choice of activities for all ages at both locations. Center Parcs probably edges it in terms of quantity, offering a dazzlingly array of additional options and so is a good choice for older and more active families. The only activities we did there were bowling and mini golf as we spent a lot of time in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise. The pool at Center Parcs was better with more things to do and it was bigger. I also liked the fact that they had buoyancy aids available free of charge for young children to use.

The Subtropical Swimming Paradise is included in the price and is the focal point of every Center Parcs

I felt that Finn didn’t have as much to do in the pool at Bluestone, he wasn’t old (or brave) enough for the flumes and the children’s area was aimed at toddlers, he didn’t mind though and loved the waves and lazy river. Where Bluestone does come out on top, is their Adventure Centre. Entrance was free and included a large indoor play area with arcade games, a bouncy castle and mini golf. The only reason we didn’t spend more time here was because the weather was so good we preferred to be outdoors.

The Adventure Centre was a big hit with Finn

I liked the fact that Bluestone had nature trails to explore and really made the most of its beautiful setting. Unlike Center Parcs where you stay on site, at Bluestone you are encouraged to get out and explore the region. We enjoyed visiting Tenby and Manorbier (blog posts to come) and loved spending some time at the beach. We were fortunate to be at Bluestone during their ‘Myths and Legends’ festival so there were lots of activities going on. On a couple of occasions Finn joined in with the children’s activities that were going on in the village, and we also joined in with the parade and jousting tournament on our final night.

The knights before battle commenced

Price

So the million dollar question, what is the price difference? In fact, prices start out largely similar, for example a mid week stay in August this year starts at around £1300 at Bluestone and £1150 at Center Parcs. The main difference is that I felt that we spent a lot more money at Center Parcs on extras like food and drink at the branded outlets and activities. There is certainly more variety of things to do at Bluestone without having to pay a lot if anything.

Center Parcs is for you if:

  • You like top spec accommodation
  • You like the convenience of everything in one place
  • You like having your holiday planned out for you
  • You like having the choice of lots of activities
  • Have young children, babies or older children/teenagers
  • Enjoy flumes and rides at the pool

Bluestone is for you if:

  • You like a more intimate setting with a relaxed/homely feel
  • You like to make your own fun
  • You like exploring new places
  • You don’t want to spend too much while on holiday if possible
  • You have younger children (not that it isn’t suitable for older children, I just think CP is better for teens and tweens)

In Conclusion

Both Center Parcs and Bluestone offer brilliant family breaks. They really have thought of everything to make a stay with children as easy and as fun as possible. There’s also plenty for the parents, with both offering spa services, good dining out options and a wide variety of activities.

Have you ever stayed at either Center Parcs or Bluestone? Which is your favourite?

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Comments

  • I must check out Bluestones – heard so many great things about it and this post shows it really is a fabulous family spot.

    Reply
  • Lauren Lauren July 16, at 09:42

    This is a really helpful post

    The Bluestones Adventure centre looks amazing. And the jousting tournament must have topped things off nicely for you.

    #AdventureCalling

    Reply

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