Once you leave you car in the car park you enter your own Centre Parcs paradise for 3 days 5 days or a week. The sub-tropical swimming paradise has so much too offer from flumes to rapids. Baby splash pools to wave machines. Being able to cycle freely with no cars in sight is so nice and the children have such freedom. The different options and places to eat are fantastic, the little supermarket has everything you need if when you do want to eat in the villa. Even the basic villas are well kitted out. There is so much to offer activity and sport wise you will find it hard to fit it all in. There is something for everyone, including time for mum to sneak off to the spa for a few hours. I have five children and none of them have tired of centre parks are they grown older. My university going twins still want to join us on our centre parks breaks.
I have been to Sherwood forest twice, once in January midweek and once in July at the weekend. We stayed in the modern executive lodge on both occasions with 3 bedrooms. This lodge is top quality and I have no complaints about it at all. The bedrooms were clean and the linen was warm and comfortable. The bathroom was really modern with quality tiling and top fixtures and fittings. The kitchen lounge and dining room was very well planned and laid out so everything flowed from one area to the next.
We spent most of the time at the pool. You don't have to pay extra for this. It has a dingy slide, toddler pirate area, outdoor heated area and adult slide and a wave pool. We had the most fun on the yellow dinghy slide. You have to walk up 5 flights of stairs and wait in a queue while the dinghy is lifted to the top on a conveyer belt. In the summer this queue was quite long about a 20 minute wait but in the winter there was only a 5 minute wait and we went on it several times. You climb into the dingy and the staff pushes you off. There was often a problem pushing me off as I got stuck and I had to wiggle my way off. there must be a design fault here anyway you slide down at a good speed and also swing from side to side. At the bottom it is really trick to get out of the dinghy.
I visited whinfell forest with a group of friends for 2 nights .... it is a lovely relaxing place with plenty to do and great places to eat. The cabins are really modern , spacious , clean and well equipped. The supermarket on site has everything you need all though a bit mor expensive than you would pay at home but that is to be expected, When we arrived on the friday night check in was fast and informative and we soon got to our cabin . We hat decided just to have a night in with a few drinks and ordered a takeaway ( which was well worth the money and delivered promptly ) We had booked to go bowling on the saturday which we all enjoyed and then a nice relaxing afternoon spent in the pool, which is a lovely area and gorgeous pool and is a must for all visitors , We had booked in the american restaurant for a evening meal which was absolutely gorgeous and not too expensive, the service aes also very quick so no waiting about. Too finish our weekend we had booked to watch the show in the green room . It was music from the movies and was really enjoyable.. The entertainment staff must work really hard practicing the routine and the hard work showed as it was really good... All in all this was a fantastic weekend and the perfect way to spend time with friends.. will definitely be booking to go with my family
I have visited Center Parcs a number of times now – more recently Sherwood near Nottingham, and also Longleat. I have always stayed in a Woodland Lodge which is a three bedroom lodge sleeping up to 6 (a double room and two twins) and I think this is a mid-range accommodation with good facilities such as bedlinen, towels, cutlery, crockery, pans and utensils. The beds are comfy and although bedrooms are small the communal space is good. The lodges are self-catering so you have a barbecue, oven, dishwasher, toaster etc. There was one bathroom and one separate toilet. I would have preferred two bathrooms as it was quite tricky to get five adults in an out the shower in the mornings – a bit of flexibility was needed.
You can stay mid-week (Monday Night to Friday morning) or at weekends (Friday night to Monday morning). You can hire bikes or go around on foot. Free activities include the indoor pool area which is well equipped with rapids, flumes, hot tubs and other activities. Or else you can just sit in the warmth in a deckchair. There is a small beach and playground area too. Most other activities you have to pay for and they are not always cheap. We always try and have a game of crazy golf (£7 adults – 18 holes) and it is a very well thought out course. We also did Laser Combat (£28 for just over an hour) which was heaps of fun. You can also do Ten Pin Bowling or hire a segway, and there are plenty of kids activities. It can all mount up though.
Each 'village; has a Village Square with a few shops and eateries. There is a supermarket for the things you forgot (not the cheapest shop), a place that does take-aways, a sports bar with food for all the family and a couple of restaurants and gift shops. It does vary between villages, but we traditionally visit the Pancake House for breakfast on the last morning.
I've always enjoyed my weekends here but prices vary with the seasons (school holidays also) and type of lodge you stay in, and how many in your party. I recommend checking out their website to see if it is within your budget, but it is lots of fun for all ages.
I was very sceptical about holiday parks before trying Center Parcs. I have now been twice - once to Nottingham and once to Elveden Forest in Suffolk. I really can't recommend it enough if you have small children. While it is an expensive holiday, it is difficult to find a cheaper alternative that provides the size of accommodation and the facilities/activities available at Center Parcs. We have stayed in both the basic and high end accommodation, both of which were good for the prices paid. Activities are available for 6 month olds up to adults although they are better for the children. Highlights for us were the pony rides and the farm visit which my children loved. The only warning is that it is sometimes difficult to get spaces at peak times in the restaurants. Those in the know, book ahead. This is also the case for some of the activities such as pony rides. In terms of comparing the 2 venues we visited, Nottingham site lagged behind in certain areas including the eating options. Most of the information on these holidays can be found on their webistes but a useful additional tip is to arrive early as queues for entry can be horrendous.
We recently had a holiday to Center Parcs in Nottinghamshire. We had heard about Center Parcs several years ago but it didn't sound like the sort of place for me. Lots of my friends and family visited and they would always come back with exciting tales and telling me how wonderful it was but I always assumed it was for the more sport-loving person so never looked into it myself. However, my daughter arranged for us all to go to celebrate her birthday this year so I couldn't say no and I am so glad that we went as we had a wonderful time and have already booked to go back again next year! If you have always thought it's not for you like I did then maybe you need to be like me and think again as it's not what I expected at all, you really can make it as sport-packed or as relaxing as you wish which was a huge surprise for me!!
My daughter booked for us but I was with her when she did. She told me she wanted us to all be together for her birthday and wanted to do something where there would be entertainment for her children and so I agreed to Center Parcs. She had been several times and told me that I would enjoy it despite my reservations as it always seems to be advertised as being an action-packed holiday and I am not one for hiking and tennis but more for a lounge beside a pool with a nice gin! The booking process was straight forward- it was all done online. She put in the dates we were thinking of but ticked that we were flexible with the weekend. She also put in our party number and the village we wanted- there are other Center Parcs' around the UK I think there are about 4 or 5 in total. We chose Sherwood as it is only a 2 hour drive from where we live and it is where she has been before and enjoyed. When the search takes place it shows you your results in a table so you can easily compare the type of accommodation on offer and also the dates available. This showed a variety of accommodation- basic, woodland lodges, tree top villas and so forth and the weekends on either side of the date we requested as well as the weekend we requested. This was so useful as we could see instantly which was the cheaper weekend and how much the accommodation went up in price. We chose a 'new style woodland lodge'. This was the second option up price-wise. It was £595 for the weekend (friday-monday). I thought it seemed like such a lot of money for just three nights and all that is included in that is your villa and free swimming. It doesn't even include any food or half price offers anywhere- it also doesn't even include any washing up liquid for your villa! Everything was paid for online using a debit card and we got the chance to choose our own villa. This cost extra but it meant we could choose the area in which we wanted it. Some villas were showing up as being a 20 minute walk from the centre which isn't long but wouldn't be very nice in the rain with young children. To pick your own villa it was £9 if it was an outer one you chose and £17 if it was nearer the centre. We decided to choose our own and paid the extra and I am glad we did as it was in a lovely location and very close to the village.
About a month before we were due to go we received information through the post including what was available during the weekend we were there and other bits of information which helped us to become quite excited about it! We found it quite difficult to find, I think we had assumed that because it is such a huge complex that it would be easy to spot and be well sign-posted but it's not and actually that's quite nice because it means it doesn't impact upon the landscape around it. You would never, ever guess when driving near by that there is a huge holiday village with thousands of people holidaying there just near by at all! We got lost in a village called Ollerton and asked for directions and it turned out we were only about a mile away. When we got closer (so under a mile) we did see a sign but that was the only one so like I say a surprise! When you turn into Center Parcs there is quite a long drive through the forest to get to where you check in. This was quite exciting as it felt like we were driving somewhere really different and off the beaten track. There was quite a steady stream of cars, you can check into the village at any time after 10am but you can't get into your villa until after 3. To check in you pull up at a log cabin and the people in the kiosk take a few details and give you a sticker to put in your car window, the lady who served us was really friendly and it only took a minute or two then we were able to park in the car park. the car park is huge but luckily there are letters marking each section of the car park so you can find your car afterwards- so do take note as it is so easy to wander around for ages trying to locate your car- can you tell that we did this! Because we arrived early we stayed in the village for lunch before we were able to go through to the villa.
The barriers are lifted at 3pm for people to make their way to their villas. This was a little frustrating as so many people were doing the same thing so it took a while to get out of the carpark. Finding our accommodation was easy to do, it is divided into sections named after trees such as Maple, Birch, Oak and so forth. There was plenty of signs so it was really easy to find our villa. It was tucked away down a little track. You park your car temporarily in little lay bys whilst you unpack before returning it to the car park- you are only allowed to leave your car by your villa if you have a permit to do so so if you are disabled this is not a problem. Our villa was in a row of four but they are positioned so they are stepped back which means you can't see the other villas whilst you are in your own. The villa is concerete so doesn't look that attractive but inside it is really surprising as it was lovely. It was a 'new style' which I think meant it had recently been refurbished. When we first walked in there was a porch-type area in which was a room leading to a toilet and then a cupboard with cleaning things in. We then walked into the main villa which had a big seating area on one side opposite some big patio doors. This comprised of a corner sofa and an arm chair, a big coffee table, a television and fire. The patio doors over looked the forest and there were squirrels and ducks on the patio area which was so lovely to see! It is all open plan so the kitchen and dining area is next to this which is spacious enough, the table had 6 chairs around it and the kitchen area was fairly basic but had a dish washer but only enough tablets for the 3 nights we were staying (3 tablets only, you would think for the price they would give you an extra!) There was crockery for 6 but no extras and no fairy liquid or anything. There were three bedrooms- one was off the seating area which was a twin with big wardrobes. The others were off the dining area. This included a twin room and a double which had a flat screen television in it and also a bit of a dressing area which was perfect for the travel cot to go in. The bathroom was inbetween the two bedrooms and was quite small but had what you would need. There were plenty of radiators around the place so perfect for drying all those wet swimming clothes! It was all pretty clean, I wouldn't say spotless but it was nice enough. This is not a luxury accommodation although for the price you may expect it, if you want luxury you're looking at another £200+ for the weekend. I wasn't disappointed by it, I just thought it could have had a few more little touches for the price that you pay.
++Things to do++
Well... this could be a long list! Before going to Center Parcs I thought that the things to do were all sport-related but I was very wrong! There is so much to do here it is hard to even explain! There is an activity guide which breaks down the activities for you but these are not always available and you may have to book a time slot. You can even book your activities before you have arrived.
Now one of the main ways people get around the village is by hiring bikes. I have never seen so many people cycling away! We hired bikes and this was around £25 per bike so can be pricey but it was so lovely to bike around places. There are various booking points around the village too to book activities you can try your luck by turning up and hoping there is space. Activities are varied from the sporty types like squash, badminton and the gym to more relaxed things such as the spa. What was nice was that some of the sporting events were in groups so you could compete. My son-in-law enjoyed taking part in a tournament. So if you're sporty there is lots for you to do. There were dance classes too, my daughter and I took a line dancing class one evening for some fun and it was very enjoyable! There are more relaxing things to do like things that take place in the spa, I had a massage and enjoyed booking a session in the sauna which was like a whole village in itself with various steam rooms and cold plunges, it was just wonderful! As well as this there are creative activities like cake decorating, music making and pot painting. There were also nature trails and special early morning walks. For the children there was plenty! My little granddaughter took part in a fairy academy where she went for three hours on her own but there were other activities she could do with adults there too like cake pop making and play dough fun. I like the idea that children can have some time on their own away from their parents.
I have to put swimming in a category of it's own because it's so amazing. Swimming takes place in the sub tropical swimming paradise and it really is a paradise! This is a huge dome-shamed building where you could spend all day. It is free too so make the most of it! The changing areas get very busy, you may be waiting around for a changing cubicle but then you go through to the pool and it's huge! There are lots of seats around so you can sit and watch and read your book, it's very warm, you do feel like you're abroad and because there are lots of plans around and the glass roof it does feel like you're outside! There is a bar area too which serves food and drink. The main pool is very big and has waves and shooting water. There is also an outside pool which is fun to go in when it's raining as that is a strange experience! There are rapids which the younger ones seem to love! There are several small pools for little ones which have slides and little bubbles blowing up and things. All around are chairs and loungers so you should be able to find somewhere to pop your towels or have a rest. There is a donut ride too which my daughter enjoyed. We easily spent an entire morning here. I can't remember the time it opens but I think it's about 10am as they have lessons and activities earlier and I did think it was a little late especially since we were up very early with the children! You can easily spend all day here though!
There are several choices for food. There is a sport's bar which is based in the 'jardin des sports' but I found the food here to be overpriced and nothing special at all just pub grub which was very obviously just frozen and heated up but the atmosphere was quite good with the big screen showing a rugby match. There are several restaurants in the main village square including a Cafe Rouge, a Chinese, an Indian and an American Diner. There are a couple of other little places to eat too like Starbucks and there is also an Inn near the country club which is about a 15 minute walk from the centre. So you do have a lot of choice. You can ring a take away too and mix and match so you don't all have to have Chinese you can opt for Indian and Chinese and pizza... whatever you wish! We ordered a take away and they had left out our poppadoms, when we rang up to inform them they sent someone round within minutes to replace them and they also gave us a 'sorry' parcel which contained a big portion of chocolate brownies! We were very impressed! I think if you stayed here for a week you would grow bored of the restaurants so would want to use the on site supermarket to buy goods to make your own food. The prices in the supermarket were not very expensive really, quite reasonable so we did buy a few things like our bread and milk from here, it is well stocked so you can't really go wrong if you are going to cook.
There are various things that are around for free such as the walks, you can make use of all the woodland paths and spend time enjoying the quietness and exploring nature. There are also parks to play in for children and teenagers- it was nice to see a park suitable for older children, you don't often see this. There is a small man-made beach which is not very big at all so on a hot day it is probably very busy but we enjoyed having a little dig in it with the children! It is also so very clean, some villas allow dogs in and there are special dog walking areas where they can be allowed off their leads and to do their business but I never, ever saw any dog mess anywhere or any litter, the staff here really are on the ball and keep on top of keeping this place perfectly clean and tidy it is very impressive!
We had a wonderful time here! I wasn't sure if this was a place for me because I thought it would be too action-packed and the thought of being in a village surrounded by thousands of people didn't appeal but it wasn't like that at all. You don't hear a thing, this is not a place to go for a wild holiday- the places seem to close very early, so you don't get a drinking culture which is good as it is a family place. There was no noise in the evenings and even when in the day it was busy you don't hear lots, the trees seem to soak up the noise and you hear birds singing instead! It can be action-packed if you wish but we had a relaxed time here. I had a massage, the granddaughter had a fairy afternoon, the children played tennis and we all met afterwards for a lovely meal followed by a stroll through the forest. I found that I slept really well whilst here as though all of the fresh air and the calming atmosphere was helping me feel restful. It really was a calming experience and you wouldn't think that when you think it's shown as an action-packed holiday. I really did feel very relaxed. We had no problems with booking on activities and although the village was fully booked we didn't feel like it was crowded, there were plenty of places and things for people to be doing so it's not as though you're all stuck in one area. We enjoyed making use of the soft play area which was free and also the playgrounds and the man made beach which was all free so even though it is expensive to book you don't have to spend too much whilst there, just make use of what is available without an extra cost and budget wisely! The food in the restaurants is not cheap!
Would I go again?
Of course! We have booked to go again already for next year as I want to experience it again and to have a look at what else there is on offer. It really was a lovely experience which did surprise me. Even if you went on a really rainy weekend it would still be enjoyable as there are plenty of things to do which are indoors, I would say that 70% of it is indoors. Price-wise it is a lot of money but it's worth it for the experience. You an book it for weekends, mid week breaks and weeks so that change over days are on Fridays and Mondays this stops cars being on site. I would definitely go again and I would definitely recommend it too! it was just wonderful!
My family and I have visited centre parcs for many years now, we first started going when I was a teenager, and I now take my own children there.
I have visited both the Sherwood forest site and also the Winfell Forest. Personally we prefer the Sherwood site but this is just due to its overall feel, nothing particular, both are really good.
I love Centre parcs so much we even went there on our honeymoon with the whole family, crazy I know but it seemed strange not to take the kids with us and I had had such an enjoyable time there on previous visits and have such fantastic memories that we wanted to add to these!
We have stayed in a lot of the villas ranging from the basic one (comfort villa) right through to the 4 bedroom exclusive lodge with its own sauna!.
The villa we stayed in most recently was the exclusive lodge and it was gorgeous!!
The villas range from 1 bedroom to 4 bedroom and they are rated according to how luxurious they are. The villas are located all over the forest and you can select the exact one you want for an extra fee. Some are located really near the village centre and others are deeper in the forest, it's just down to personal choice which will suit your family best.
The executive villa had a nice garden area with a seating section and its own gas barbeque, inside it is very luxurious it has 4 good size bedrooms 3 of them were en-suite so we almost had enough for a bathroom each! It has other nice things like a wine chiller (always useful). It has in the dining area a big blackboard so we kept writing funny messages on it to each other every day. The bedrooms all have their own TVs; there are cd players and dvd players too. The villas come with a dishwasher so you don't have to spend your holiday washing up; also a maid comes every day instead of once a week in the comfort villas.
We found the best part of the exclusive villa was the steam room, we loved it and spent lots of time in there it was great. The thing the kids loved best about the exclusive villa was the games room it had a playstation and loads of other games which they loved, it even had a pool table so that kept them out of mischief although we find that you don't spend that much time in the villa anyway because there is so much to do outside.
The exclusive villas are on two floors whereas the comfort ones are all on one floor. The main living area in all the villas are open plan so it means everyone is all together no matter what you are doing. The person making tea or doing anything in the kitchen can still be involved with whatever is going on with the rest of the family which we found good.
All of the villas have big patio doors opening onto the outside area, Every time we have been there we have seen loads of wildlife swans, squirrels have all been seen and fed on our patio, the kids love this.
The villas do differ greatly in price, we have found it is much more economical if a couple of families go together and share one villa that way the price is split in two although I know this isn't always possible it can save you a lot of money. The extra you will pay for the exclusive villa is worth it as they are much nicer but the comfort villas would have everything you need so it's not always necessary. We have paid anything from around £300 per weekend for a 4 bedroom comfort villa up to £1000 so the prices really vary depending on when you want to go they are usually more expensive in summer and at Christmas and at new year and obviously in the school holidays. If you are not tied to going in the school holidays you will get some really good bargains if you look on the website at late availability.
Best time to visit
Again the best time to visit is really down to personal preference. We have visited centre parcs in the summer, at Christmas time, and just after New Year I think my favorite was the Christmas time one because everything was trimmed up and we went on a horse drawn carriage ride to visit santa which was really memorable for us and the kids. However we have always had a brilliant time so it just depends on what you like.
The great thing about centre parcs is all the outside space and the outdoor activities. You are not allowed your car in the site except at certain times of the week when people come in to load/unload their villas (changeover days). This is brilliant because it means that if you are on bikes with the kids or out walking you know there will be no traffic so doesn't have to worry about them getting knocked over etc.
A lot of the wildlife is tame and the kids will love feeding the ducks, swans and squirrels which will no doubt visit your villa. We have fed them from the patio doors and nearly had the wildlife in the villa on a couple of occasions they really aren't scared of people.
Centre parcs has loads of activities from cycling right up to quad biking and everything in-between. When we went last time myself my sister and my mum did the tree walk which is a series of ropes and climbing obstacles which are up in the trees my sister loved it but me and my mum nearly died we were so scared only do this if you are brave ha!
In the evenings you can go bowling, go for a meal at the numerous restaurants, go for walks, go to the many bars, there is no shortage of activities you definitely wont be bored, my advice would be to book all your activities before you go though as they do get booked up quite quickly and then you will have your time planned out so will be sure to get the most of your time there.
The best thing of course is the amazing swimming pool, it is gorgeous, and the swimming area is kept really warm so you can just wear your swimming stuff the whole time you are in there. You can spend hours in there if you like swimming we have spent whole days in the pool area. There are many slides and the best one is the rapids. There are places for you to get snacks and drinks within the pool complex so there really is no need to leave. If you have young children they have high chairs and play pens situated around the pool so if they have had enough of swimming they can have a rest or something to eat without everyone having to come out and leave.
If you go in the winter/autumn months you can go night swimming in the pool and it has an outside section where you can swim under the stars, part of the rapids is also outside so this is great fun although I wouldn't recommend it for weak swimmers as the current is quite strong.
If not everyone is up for the night swim there is a bar area that overlooks the pool so they could always have a few sneaky drinks while the others swim. The main pool also has a wave pool which goes off every 30mins so that's a bit of extra excitement for the kids. For smaller kids there is a little pool and little slide which is set out as a ship my little boy loved it in there when he was small.
There are many restaurants there that cater for all tastes we have tried the pancake house, the Italian restaurant that overlooks the pool and also the Indian all were fantastic food and lovely atmospheres at reasonable prices, again I would recommend that you book as they do get quite busy.
Depending on how little or how much money you want to spend will probably influence the activities that you and your family participate in and also ages of the family etc. We have done some of the family activities such as bowling, badminton, hired a pedalo and hired a canoe; we did the tree climbing activity which is basically an assault course in the tree tops which ends with a slide down a zip wire.
We have gone on all the swimming slides which are excellent, we have hired bikes and have also done the crazy golf and gone on all the parks. All the activities were very enjoyable and good value for money, my family like the swimming pool best which is all totally free and you can spend many hours in there. You can bring your own bikes if you prefer which will save you some money as you won't have to hire them. Also if you don't want to eat out you could easily cater for yourselves in the accommodation the kitchen has everything you could need so you can just prepare your own meal which would save money too.
I would definitely recommend centre parcs for both couples and families it really will create fantastic memories for you and you will have an amazing time - beware though it is addictive!
Summary: Excellent family fun
We as a family have been holidaying in centre parts for the past 20 years. The main place we go to is the Sherwood Forest park. We still go now although our boys are now 22 and 20 they bring friends along.
Before you arrive at centre parcs its best to book activities/bike hire before hand to avoid disappointment. This is done very easy as you will be provided with a log in and password when you registry online.
When you arrive there please take note no cars are allowed other thank on arrival and departure days . Once you have unpacked the car you will need to take the car back to the car park.
these range from spa days to have a nice relaxing swim and massage to paint balling. We always find so much to do and so little time.
We always have swimming things in the car so as soon as we arrive we can have a quick dip if we arrive before 3pm. Which is the time you can enter the villas.
Always have a torch handy as well it gets very dark in the woods sometimes so a lot easier if you carry one and fun for the kids.
Plenty of shops we have taken food with us before now and shopped in the Parcmarket which maybe a little more expensive than supermarkets, but they have everything you will need.
Food is always nice in Huckleberrys an American themed restaurant, while you are eating there is also a play area for the children.
Accommodation ranges from the luxury tree house lodges, which start from £2000 for the weekend, to the lodges which start from £200. I would love to go to the tree houses maybe for 50th.
We go usually just before Christmas and earlier in the year. School holidays can be very expensive and very noisy. Now we are all adults the only problem is booking time off work.
If you ever get the chance do go, these holidays have given us some fantastic family memories and hopefully more to come.
The best way to describe Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest is a sweet little town in the middle of a forest. The cabins are embedded in the woods and has a really relaxed feel to it. Walking around is very peaceful and you can hear all the birds and other animals. There is quite alot of walking to do to get around but they do hire bikes which are 25 pounds each for your whole stay.
Centre Parcs Sherwood Forest has a supermarket and a few shops to shop in. Take in mind its not cheap gear they sell its real shopping with labels such as Super Dry, Adidas, Calvin Klein,Tmberland etc. There is very limited to by but what is there is some nice quality stuff. The supermarket has all your day to day groceries and even hot saussge and bacon naps for breakfast. I had a lovely weekend there from Friday to Monday and would definetly go again.
My weekend started on Friday and the Forest is located about 45mins outside of Nottingham town centre. My first activity was Pottery Painting which I really enjoyed. Me and my family decided to come a little early so we could do an activity before check in at 3pm. In the pottery painting we paid £1 deposit online to book the studio and when we got the we had to pick a piece of pottery and pay for it then start to paint. The pieces cost between 5-60 pounds and there is quite a large variety to choose from. You are instructed what to do then you start which I thought was good because I had never done it before. All the pains are numbered and each numbe has a finished product on the wall so you know exactly what the paints look like when their finished so it's easier for you to pick the right colours you want. Once I finished painting my pottery piece which was a burger bank I had to leave it there to be glazed and come back on the Sunday (2days later) to pick it up. They give you about 30 different paints and about 10 different sized bruahes per table which is just enough to get the job done.
For the whole weekend I booked and payed for all my activities and food online before we got there. This was convenient because we didn't need to bring much money but I wouldn't really recommend doing it. When we got there some of the activities we didn't want to do anymore so we needed up having to move the money to a different activity that we felt like doing instead. One activity which was belly dancing got cancelled because not enough people where doing it so we had to move that money onto a different activity aswell. For me it worked out not worth booking and paying before hand. On the other hand I would suggest pre booking popular activities such as the spa because it was booked up everyday on almost every treatment. The website for Centre Parcs is very easy to navigate through to see all the activities available. I went in May but it was quite cold and no one really did much of the outdoor activities so they where pretty much empty. When I went canoeing I was pretty much the only one on the water. Prices vary from 5 to 40 pound for the activities.
The cabin I stayed in was a 3 bedroom and it was located in Maple which is a code area to hep you find where you are. My cabin was quite comfy and it has two bedrooms with a double bed and one with two singles. There was a jacuzzi bath in one of the bedrooms and a sauna and outdoor shower if you really live a full on nature life. There are 3 bathrooms inside one in each bedroom which was very good for us because there was 5 of us.The Kitchen in the cabin has everything a Cooker,Microwave Dishwasher and all the other things you need. Unfortunately I didn't have any plates,glasses and cutlery but all that was available to buy in the supermarket or there are just to many restaurants to even want to eat in the cabin. My cabin was £569 but cabin prices vary from 199 to over £1000 for a weekend so it can get expensive. They have 1,2,3 and 4 bedrooms and they have tree houses that have games rooms they are the most expensive cabins.
There are a variety of restaurants from grab and gos to sit and done restaurants. They have a variety of culture food like Strada which is Italian and the food tastes very nice and is well presented. Foresters Inn which sells pub food wasn't really that nice and the a few of the female staff where very unorganized and forgetful. There is the Sports Bar, Cafe Rouge, Starbucks, Made, Huck's which is American food and an Indian restaurant. There are takeaway food like Chinese but I have no idea where they come from you just order them with room service phone and the workers bring it. I didn't use this because there's plenty to eat.
The Spa was a great experience I had a 3hr session in the World Of Spa section of Aqua Sana Spa. In this session I took advantage of all the steam, meditation and relaxation rooms they had which was in total of about 15. I also went swimming and spent abit of time in the jacuzzi they have. This 3hr session cost £60 per couple and it can be any couple.
Centre Parcs has a swimming pool that looks like a pool in the middle of a safari jungle. although when your in there is seems like you outside there is actually a dome covering the pool. The best thing about the pool is that it's free and fun. The pool has 3 different water slides 2 of which you can use when and how you want to. The 3rd pool you have to wait in line and it's actually the worst slide of the 3. The pool goes from 0.3 to 1.8m deep but is quite cold when you get in it. There is a small part of the pool which is outside and is heated which is nice.
Overall I think Centre Parcs is a very great experience and I would recommend it because it is very family friendly.
We visited Longleat center parcs for the first time. We have enjoyed holiday camps in France in previous years but this was far better. The water park was excellent, with over 4 hours every day spent there. The activities we booked were great, not the cheapest but we thoroughly enjoyed them, the kids rated the aerial adventure as 'awesome'. Salsa and zumba were highlights and the morning spent at Aqua Sana was a real treat. Looking forward to the next visit in 12 months time. The site was quite hilly and spread out but the less mobile members of the party were well catered for by the reliable road train. Finally the level of customer service was excellent, every query was dealt with immediately and with absolute care and consideration. We couldn't find a single fault, thanks center parcs for a brilliant week and we cannot wait to return in 2012.
Center Parcs is one of my favourite UK holiday destinations. My in-laws treated us to a holiday in the Whinfell Forest parc in Cumbria in 2006 when I was heavily pregnant with my son, and since then we have returned many times, experiencing the parcs at Sherwood Forest in Nottingham, and Elveden Forest in Suffolk over the past 5 years.
Last weekend we went to Sherwood Forest which was our 3rd visit to that particular parc, and I am already getting twitchy fingers wanting to book in the next visit, with the only thing putting me off is the fact that we now have to go in school holidays and the price is suddenly more prohibitive to us nipping off for a short break.
===Booking the holiday===
Because I have booked a holiday before with the company, I get a brochure through the post and emails regularly tempting me to book a holiday at Centre parcs. Earlier this year, I made the snap decision to book a weekend break which co-incided with my husbands birthday.
Booking is incredibly easy. You go to the website (www.centerparcs.co.uk) which is well set out and incredibly easy to use. You can request a brochure, or play around inputting details and seeing if a weekend break (Friday to Monday) or a midweek break (Monday to Friday) is available when you want.
There is a quicklink box on the home page which allows you to input data really easily to check accomodation availability.
First, select what sort of break you would like, and then which village you would like to go to. (We have found that all the villages are fairly similar in terms of accomodation and facilities available on site, so we now tend to pick Sherwood as it is closest to us and also has an excellent nature reserve on site.)
You are then prompted to enter details about your party. The number of adults. The number of infants 0-2. The number of preschool children aged 2-5, and the number of children aged 6-16. This will then tell you what size villa you require (eg. for my family, 2 adults and 2 pre-school children we needed a 2 bedroom villa, but when we went with the in-laws when we had the baby, we had a cot provided for him and he slept in our bedroom.)
This then takes you to a screen where you can see details about the type of accomodation available to you on the date you have chosen, and how much this will cost you. I find this particular screen very helpful as you can look at layouts and photos of the style of villa you have chosen, and see details of what is included for the price you want to pay.
This last visit we went on a cheapie holiday and opted for a bog standard comfort villa. This cost us £380 for a weekend. For this price we had a 2 bedroom villa (one double, one twin), with cooking facilities. We had a bathroom containing a shower and bath, and a seperate toilet. We also had our own semi-private patio area with table and chairs, overlooking a pond on the site.
For a bit more money we could have added some mod cons like a DVD player, or a dishwasher. Then, by further increasing the budget you can get facilities such as towels provided for you, maid service every day to tidy up after you, en suite bathrooms, jacuzzi baths, steam rooms, and the top of the range option, the new executive treehouses, come with pool tables, and play station 3s, and your own parking space, though this comes in at almost 10x the price we paid, believe it or not.
When you make your decision on accomodation type, it will then give you a list of that type of villa by number, which you then compare to the map of the site before you make your final choice about which you want to choose.
Then it is a simple matter of filling in some details about the members of your party, because at least one person has to be over 21, and leaving a deposit (which was about 1/3 of the total cost).
===Building up to your stay===
Once the booking is made, you can then log on at any point to pre-register your party to make your arrival and booking in to the site a quicker and smoother process. Center parcs also then 'helpfully' bombard you with emails about activities you might like to do during your break which you can pre-book to avoid the queues, and also remind you to book in and pay off the balance a couple of months before you are due to arrive.
You can also book bikes for hire so you can pick them up from the cycle shop conveniently right next to the car park, and arrange for a selection of groceries to be delivered to your villa for when you arrive.
===Packing to go===
We always make sure that we take some supplies with us before we go, and this helps us not go to mad with the spending. The Parc Market will dazzle you with the array of goods you can buy, but it is at a premium cost. You will save yourself a fortune if you take basics such as washing up liquid, ketchup if you want to have a barbeque, loo rolls, and other such things that you might want.
Although the villa will be equipped for cooking, the items provided are for basic cooking, so if you want nice things like a dish to make a lasagna or cottage pie, take it. We also usually take a sharp knife for preparing food, as the ones in the villa are more like butter knifes as they are so blunt.
I also make sure we take waterproof coats, wellies for the kids, lots of clothes for when you get hot and sweaty doing all the exercise, and some nicer clothes for eating out if we want to.
===Arriving on site===
I honestly start to feel the magic as soon as we pull the car into the long drive up to the Arrivals lodge. We get in the appropriate queue for our villa depending on the number, and then approach the arrivals lodge. We always pre-register all the details such as names of the party, car registration details, and bike details online before we go, so all I have to do is tell the person checking me in my booking number and name, and then I am handed keys, a booklet telling me what is on, a safety guide, and a map of the village.
The gates to the village don't open until 3. We usually arrive just after lunch, so we park up in the car park, then walk into the village with our swimming kit so we can get a session in the pool before most people arrive and it gets busy.
Once 3 arrives, the parc seems to go a bit mental, with lots of people driving round the site and trying to find their accomodation. Once you have unloaded, you are expected to take your car back to the car park again. The gate gets locked again until Monday morning when it is time to leave.
Arriving at the Villa, we have always found our accomodation to be clean and welcoming. This time was no exception. There was a small selection of coffee, tea and UHT milk pots so we could make a cuppa, and a tea towel, cloth, sponge and washing up liquid in a sachet to start us off.
The villas are always in rows of 4, so you do feel like you get some privacy, even though you sometimes see your neighbours.
It was easy to unpack and get our belongings away as there are big wardrobes in the 2 bedrooms, and lots of cupboard space in the bathroom.
After eating and tidying up, we were happy to go off and explore.
===Facilities on site===
All of the sites have a sub-tropical swimming paradise, a supermarket, other shops selling items such as sportswear, toys and sweets, and a spa. There is also a selection of restaurants throughout the site, and open water and spots to watch the wildlife local to the area. At Cumbria it was lovely as it was the Red squirrels.
The use of the pool is free, but then there are charges for joining in with specific activities, such as hire of tennis courts, ten pin bowling, childrens activity clubs, high wire climbing, crazy golf and even swimming lessons and scuba diving.
Normally, we go with the intention of seeing what we fancy when we get there, and this works well for us, though you might like the peace of mind of knowing that you are booked in. Personally, I didn't fancy the kids clubs as we go away to spend quality time with the kids, and my kids are a bit young to do the climbing, horse riding and archery. The costs of the activities do seem very reasonable compared to doing them at home, but costs can rack up quickly when you are there a few days with kids wanting to do everything.
The pool is somewhere we use every day. At Sherwood the pool has a main section which has a wave machine in operation about every 20 minutes or so. There are then smaller jacuzzis, childrens pools and slides in the different areas of the pool. There is an outdoor section of the pool which features a cold plunge pool, and the entrance to the rapids, a fast moving section of water with currents that drag you along. There are then 2 slides you can go on with children sat on your lap, a childrens slide which is designed for those who like thrills and can swim, and the Grande Cascade ride exclusive to Sherwood. Here you sit in a giant rubber raft and go down the shoot, before twisting and turning round the outside of the building. Very thrilling and popular, so I advise trying to use it on Monday or Friday at changeover time to get best use of it.
But our favourite bit is the secluded childrens pool, shaped like a boat in dock, with 2 tame slides both our boys could use independently, we are free to sit back and relax, while they play safely in the warm water.
There are also lots of indoor and outdoor childrens play areas. These are located near the lake, and are quite good as there are lots of items to climb on, swing on, and even a sandy area with an Archimedes screw for water play. The kids loved these and would go every day, and it was challenging enough for kids up to about 12 I would say.
The indoor areas are located at Huck's restaurant and bar, and at the Foresters bar, so ideal for going for a bite to eat or just stopping in for a drink to kill some time through the day. The adults can then relax for a while, or even enjoy the free WiFi for a little while.
Somewhere else also good to kill some time is the nature reserve. At sherwood there is a whole visitor centre with seasonal activities for the kids, and a lake to walk around before going in the bird hide to watch the birds feeding at the feeders. There are handy pictures all around so it is simple for all to work out what they can see.
===What I love about Center Parcs===
You really can switch off here. Because there are very few cars on the site during your stay, it is safe for even the youngest cyclers to get confident cycling around the complex.
Although it is expensive, it is so relaxing to be able to switch off and be at one with nature. Looking out of the patio door, you can see squirrels and birds only yards away. At the Elveden forest, we even had little deer at the other side of the glass looking in. Put out some bread crumbs, and it is like being in a Disney film when they all come up. Our first stay at Sherwood, we had baby ducklings virtually eating out of our hand. It is the closest I have ever felt to nature.
We have been in the Winter, and in the heavy rain/floods of the summer of 2007, and we have always been able to just get on with the holiday by sticking on appropriate clothing and walking to the facilities. Once inside the swimming pool if you can ignore the persistent elephant trumpteting that signals the start of the waves, then you can pretend you are somewhere tropical with all the palm trees and exotic plants that thrive at those temperatures.
We come home so exhausted from all the swimming, cycling and walking, but it is the best kind of tired because we have enjoyed several days of quality time as a family, and that to me is worth the expense.
Thanks for reading, sorry its long, but there is a lot to do there.
I love the idea of a fairytale romance, my boyfriend never stops heaving about this and decided to book a cosy romantic weekend away from the drama of life. When he told me we were going to Centre Parcs I was quite shocked as I didn't expect him to come up with it, he normally suggests Alton Towers!
We stayed in Oasis Whinfell Forest which is just off the m6 and it is fairly easy to find. I liked how helpful the staff were at the entrance and the fact you drive through to check in so no need to hop out of the car to run into reception. As we had pre-registered online, we managed to get in quite quickly, when we approached the little desk we were given a map to find our accommodation, key and a pass to stay in the car park. It was quite basic but the map was incredibly helpful as my boyfriend and I are not the best at directions! We arrived at the Parcs around 4pm due to the drive to get there and a stop for food, if you arrive early you will have to wait till 3.30pm to get into your lodge for the first time which I think is a bit extreme as most want to get in as soon as possible to relax. If you pay more you are able to enter from 1pm though. Lucky we managed to get straight in for a nap on the sofa.
Our lodge cost £309 for the two of us for 3 nights (Friday-Tuesday) and this gave us our romantic lodge. We stayed in what they call a 'Original Style Executive 1 Bed Penthouse' and when I looked on the website it appeared to be the 4th up the ladder in comfort. The price does vary depending on the dates you stay and the type of accomodation you choose. I can't remember the exact location but I do remember it was beautiful and close to everything we needed, but far enough away to feel like we were alone. As we went during the snow period at the start of the year, it was very beautiful to look at the lodge and it looked like a little ski chalet. Inside we had a little toilet room and a cupboard with all our essentials such as an iron, ironing board, hoover, etc. We didn't actually need to use any of this but its nice to know that its there incase we did. Moving in a little further there is a big room which is a kitchen/dining/living room, but its big enough for you not to worry that it is all three in one. There is a 6 seater table which I don't honestly see why we needed when the lodge slept two people. There is also a corner sofa which is quite comfortable but reminded me of something you get in a mobile home and there is a television. We also had the luxury of a log fire which we both couldn't wait to turn on and snuggle up in front of. We did have some logs already outside our cabin so used these but we were charged £8 approximately for them, although they lasted us all weekend so I'm not too bothered. The kitchen was a part of the room and had all the essentials such as an oven, microwave, frying pan, pots, glasses, cutlery, plates, bowls etc. We also had a kettle so lots of cups of tea and hot chocolate!
Our master bedroom was quite nice. We had a nice sized bed which made my boyfriend extremely happy as I seem to sleep diagonal and take up all of the room. We had a bedside cabinet either side of the bed and a wardrobe in the corner. It did fit all of our weekend clothes in but staying any longer and it might of struggled. The main bathroom was more on an ensuite and had a shower cubicle which was cornered so it was quite a squeeze for 6ft4 Joshua but I was fine, and obviously a sink and toilet. I loved that we had a heated towel rail so you had a lovely warm fluffy towel when you emerged from the shower rather than a cold one.
I was a bit disappointed to find there were no basics such as washing up liquid, tea towels and others so we headed to the most local supermarket we could find to buy them and some food. I do think for such a price they should of included at least Tesco Value priced products for ease of guests. At least I know for my return though.
When we stayed, due to the weather some of the activities were not running and lots were oriented to families anyway so we didn't bother with them. We booked to use the tennis court but got given a voucher to use something else instead as it was too icy to play tennis outside. Instead, we opted to go indoors and join in with a basketball game (men vs women, women won). Other activities in the sports centre include badminton, rollerblading, mini golf and many more but they come at a cost. You can book these at the reception downstairs and you can also purchase or rent equipment from the shop to use. The sports centre does have a cafe but we didn't go up there as we brought food and drinks with us so we didn't spend more than needed. Outdoors you could do activities such as walk climbing, tennis and many others which were shut due to the weather on our visit - silly snow!
During our stay we were offered lots of spa treatments which are strictly for over 18s, we opted for a couple as they were quite expensive. Prices range from £35 upwards for treatments. The spa is open from 9-9 and you need to book in to ensure you get a treatment and don't have to wait around. We went on the Monday which was our final day and we were told it was discounted to £22 for their sauna, salt room, spa pools and reflexology foot baths. I enjoyed the hydrotherapy pools as it felt like a massage which helped Josh's muscles a lot as he does football 5 times a week. We did get a Multi Steam Balinese Bath which was gorgeous and really relaxing with all of the scents filling the room, this was by far my favourite treatment. I am sure there was a few more but I can't remember them.
We did release our inner children in 'Waterworld' which is an indoor swimming pool and has a number of slides and rapids for children to enjoy. The rapids do go outside which can be quite chilly but it gives you a gorgeous view of the lake, they do go quite quickly but if you can touch the bottom or grab onto the side then you won't be dragged away with the water - I managed to go round a few times due to being in fits of laughter and unable to swim fast enough to get out. Waves do come on every now and then but they aren't very big or high so they simply make you bob about a little bit more. I did love that the pool was heated as it made you warm up a lot compared to the cold outside.
The slides in waterworld are quite good but I have to admit they are a lot more suited to children and I preferred just floating around the pool and enjoying spending time with my boyfriend. You can buy a locker at the pool for £1 but we just left our towels and hoodies/tracksuit bottoms on the side of the pool for walking back and everything else at the lodge.
Spa pools and saunas were around the swimming pool and for over 18s only so its relaxing and isn't full of screaming kids. These were free but I am not sure whether Josh pre-paid to use them or not. The sauna was quite a reasonable size and it was very good compared to some that you get, the jacuzzi pools were also really relaxing but could of been warmer as I was quite cold.
Next to Waterworld was Leisure Bowl which we visited twice as my boyfriend loves bowling. A game lasts as long as you make it last and it costs £14.95 a game which includes your bowling shoes. I think its expensive compared to prices such as Hollywood Bowl but I suppose they can make it pricey due to where it is. I wouldn't say it is the nicest bowling alley, but it gives a good game and is enjoyable all the same.
As we were there from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon, we did take two of these days to explore the sights and go for a wonder to spend quality time together. There is usually lots of wildlife but most were in hybernation so we didn't really get to enjoy them and only saw a few squirrels and Josh claims to of seen a deer - but I don't know how true that is!
I have to admit, we didn't eat out much because of the price of the food and the fact the lodge had already cost us so much. The restaurants ranged from £4-£12 per meal and there was: Lucianos Italian, Yangs Chinese, Chez Pierre, Radina Pradesh Indian and surprisingly no carvery! All of the restaurants were spread out around the estate and seemed to be walking distance. I love that there is so much range so it caters for everyone but they could of done with a traditional English restaurant for a roast dinner!
I would definitely recommend staying here as it is very clean and beautiful accomodation in a stunning surrounding. There are many activities to be done but avoid going in the winter period like we did if you would like a fun filled weekend. We didn't mind so much as we got to relax and just spend time together which was the point of the weekend. One thing I didn't like was my lack of phone signal but at the end of the day - you're there to relax! I will definitely be going back and advise you to check it out also.
Center Parcs is part of the Bourne leisure company who own Haven too. Center Parcs holiday villages are wonderfully situated in 4 different forests around the UK. They also have branches in other European countries.
The setting of the villages is great, you drive up the road and can't see anything through the trees until you enter and then you find the wonders that Center Parcs can bring. You can stay in the Lakeview hotel or experience the real Center Parcs experience and stay in one of their excellently equipped villas that are dotted around the village in between the trees.
You can arrive on site from 10am and then check into your accommodation from 3pm. You then have to check out of your accommodation by 10am on the day of departure but are allowed to stay on site and enjoy the facilities up until midnight.
When you are on site, you can walk through the forests, cycle (with your own bikes or hired bikes) around the place or go into the subtropical swimming paradise. There is something for everyone at Center Parcs. You can take part in everything or nothing, it is totally up to you.
There are children's clubs, exercise classes, arts classes, craft classes, water sports, other sports and everything in between. There is also a spa that is suitable for anyone who is over the age of 16. There are deals that are available foe parents to put their child in a 'time out' club and then you can enjoy 2 hours in the spa before you return to pick up your child.
There are so many thing to do at center Parcs you will always wish you had more time than you do. You will want to return after your first break.
I have been to Center Parcs in Longleat forest 2 twice, Winfell forest once, Sherwood forest once and Elveden forest more times than I can count. I am currently packing to return to Elveden next Friday for the bank holiday weekend.
You can have a break of 3 nights over the weekend, 5 nights during the week or 7 nights for the whole week. The prices vary depending on the length and time of the break.
My husband and I have just got back from a Monday - Friday break at Center Parcs (Sherwood Forest) We opted for the comfort lodge accommodation, however was pleasantly surprised to have some "extras" that we were not expecting including hairdryer / iron / ironing board etc...
The over all cleanliness of the accommodation was good, however we did have a couple of maintainance issues as the toilet was leaking, a couple of bulbs inside the lodge blew and also the lamp outside our accomodation didn't work - however non of these things stopped us from having a great time.
We especially enjoyed the sub tropical pool which is free, especially using the outside pool and water rapids in the evening once it was dark.
We ate at Cafe Rouge, Strada and Hucks and found all three restuarants to be good value for money and thoroughly enjoyed all our meals.
I also took advantage of the Aqua Sana Spa where I had a mother to be massage, this was truly relaxing and the lady was lovely although if I am honest a little chatty, especially towards the end of the massage as she began to reel off what products she had used and how much I could purchase these for etc... I felt this could have probably waited till after the massage had finished.
We have booked to return in December with friends by which time we will also have had our first baby, one thing I did notice when walking round was that some lodges are set back and you have to walk up quite a few steps to access them, therefore I will be contacting the headoffice to ensure we don't have steps as it could make getting the pushchair in and out quite difficult.
All in all a great mini break to pick us up after Christmas!
were very regular customers, we maybe go once evry 3months we sometimes get free aqua sana passes or and upgrade on our villa. me and my family love going swimming and chillin in the villa playing family games watching a film or just being a family. theres me Tay,34 husband Jerry,36 daughter Hannah,12 another daughter isobel,10 daughter jasmine,8 and my twin sons Liam and leo , 5 we like too stay in the woodland loges but often get upgraded to a new style executive lodge or were up for trying a new tree-house. weve been to all 4 sites and will be visiting the woburn one! the best site is defo whinfill! bigger and better! better poopl better lodges well really i'm a softy for all! are last visit was christmas winter woderland at elveden and next trip will be in march time with friends and there kids. and already got another booked for june for the twins b.day and thinking of booking for september for hannah's 13th birthday she's spent her life here since she was in my tummy!!!! we stay for a week which i very cheap considering what you get! ive already benn offered a FREE week in the half term in a tree-house and Free meal pass for my next visit and are also considering a FREE basket full of sweets for the kids to take home for friends. we love center parcs a good place to eat drink and spend quality time with family and friends share your biggest fears or remember those amazing memories of your kids. my daughter learnd to walk talk and swim. But we all know the worst is when you have to come home back to reality no daily routine no swimming .shopping.eating out!
wake up have breafast in bed or dining room
go for and early swimm
get a snack from made
chill out in villa or activity
get some lunch
chill and have a nature walk or bike ride somthing to do with the family
its now about 5ish so go get an early tea at hucks or somewhere nice
settle and relax at aqua sana while kids bowling or doing something with daddy
go for a late night swim
get something from parc market
head back too villa
have a peaceful night
thanks for ready did you find this helpful?
can't wait for our next visit and hopefully yours too!!
"Forest resorts in France, Holland, Belgium, Germany and in England with villages in the Sherwood forest, Elveden forest and Longleat forest. Tel: (UK) +44 (0)8705 200 300; Netherlands +31 (0)800 0300; Belgium +32 (0)11 61 61 61; Germany +49 (0)221 97 30 3"