The jury’s out on Center Parcs

This is not a review of Center Parcs. This is not a guest post, or a sponsored post. I am not one of the chosen few bloggers who get offered free trips there. I am no ambassador. We simply fancied a cheap, out-of-school-holidays break and thought we’d give the famed holiday village a whirl, so we headed up the M6 in the snow for a mid-week stay at Whinfell last week.

I’m on the fence about whether I’m a CP convert. On the plus side the quality of accommodation was absolute amazing for the price we paid, any problems were rectified extremely quickly by the CP staff (our heating controller being up the spout for example!) and the swimming pool was adored by the twins (a bit chilly for my liking – “sub-tropical swimming paradise” I beg to differ), but I’m not sure how much I like being contained in one place, or the fact that you constantly feel you’re on the receiving end of a marketing and sales pitch. Having said that, I think we’d go again, albeit with our expectations slightly altered.

 I feel I earned myself a few awards over the four nights we spent at Whinfell village:

The Mummy Who Smelt Most Of Chlorine Award
We enjoyed the free swimming everyday and I swam outside in sub-zero temperatures, went on every slide available, got whisked round in the rapids and pummelled by waves. I did most of these thing to keep warm as the sub-tropical paradise lacked a water or air temperature that came even slightly close enough to tropical for me (and on this point, my hardy northern inlaws who were with us on our holiday did also agree, so it must be true).

The Mummy Who Took The Longest To Spell Center Parcs Correctly
Centre, center? Parks, parcs? One word or two? For some reason (probably the fact that it’s actually not spelt right at all) my brain does not compute.

The Most Persistent Wifi Hunter
Only sat on our snow-sprinkled balcony did you get even the faintest whiff of the wifi I’d read would be available in the cabins. Of course, reading the small print it said there would be wifi *where available*. In this case, available being the sports bar with the loudest sports commentary known to man, and the place that should win the Least Conducive To Trying To Actually Do Some Work award.

The Least Satisfying Bath Ever
In order to ensure that no children are scalded in their baths, Center Parcs set a temperature limit on bath water (because apparently I am not trusted to either check the temperature of my children’s bath myself, as I do every day at home, or watch them while they’re in the bath to check they don’t turn a hot tap on, which I also manage every day at home). Once the sort-of hot water hits the freezing cold bath itself, more heat is lost, thus ensuring a luke warm temperature only suitable for tiny babies (which is, after all, what CP intended). It’s not ideal when it’s snowing outside and all you want is a steaming hot bath. And it made me grumpy.

If we do go back to Centreparks Centerparcs Center Parcs I’d like to link up with friends so that the kids could all play out on their bikes together. I’d come better prepared with our own activities for the kids so we don’t have to pay for the organised activities on offer, and I’d consider at least one trip off site to stave away that “help, I’m trapped!” feeling. The site was beautiful, and the accommodation gets a big thumbs up, so I think our experience just needs a bit of tweaking for it to feel like a better fit for our family.

11 comments to The jury’s out on Center Parcs

  • I’ve read really mixed reviews of Center Parcs. I have a friend who stayed in a big villa with two other families when their babies were small – and loved it. And then I know others who’ve gone and been disappointed with the experience for the price they paid. I would love to go with friends – but then, with the right people, I think I’d have a good time almost anywhere!

    • Heather

      Ha, I’m the same! We weren’t on our own and it was fantastic to have my parents-in-law and BIL with us, but I think it would have been good to have other kids around that the twins could have played with. The villa was on a cul-de-sac that was perfect for cycling – it would have been great for a gang of children out there.

  • The bath thinking alone would put me off for life. No relaxing break is complete without a bath hot enough to leave a red line across your body!

    I have often priced it up but found it very expensive so we have never been.

    • Heather

      I’m the same – got to have that red line! Definitely expensive in school holidays – we were lucky we could go out of peak time. The peak prices make my eyes water!

  • hrynne

    Oh this is interesting. We have been umming and aahhing about booking longeat cp for a while as it’s just down the road. But again the price always puts us off always amazed to see the treehouses sold out! Also we can always get a week somewhere for the same price as there.

    • Heather

      I’m not sure I’d pay the price when they’re hiked up for school holidays. The price we paid for four nights was extremely reasonable, so it was good value accommodation. A friend told me that Center Parcs also operate in Holland (and maybe Sweden?), but in those countries they don’t change the prices for school holidays so it can actually be cheaper to go there instead. I quite like the idea of that!

  • Is it really two words? Who knew? I certainly didn’t, and I’ve been reading all their literature for months. Because, oh, yes, we’re off there, the whole clan, for my parents’ 40th anniversary in May.

    What you’ve said, anyway, seems to echo others’ advice – don’t be surprised at having to pay for EVERYTHING, and don’t expect too much. I’m hoping with my expectations duly lowered I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • Most of my friends seem to love Center Parcs so this is a refreshing read. Personally I’m not a fan. I think it’s very pricey for what it is and not only do activities cost extra you have to be super organised and book them before you go otherwise there’s only abseiling left. And I don’t like being told where to leave my car and I can only move it on a Friday or Monday or whatever. Eating out isn’t great at the Longleat one. The environment is a bit too ‘controlled’ for me. But there’s lots to do for families I guess.

  • [...] Parcs: what do we think? Heather at Young & Younger has been to stay there with her family but hasn’t made her mind up. She loved the accommodation but [...]

  • Ohh interested, we ave not been ourselves, your lodge looks lovely. Mich x

  • your awards made me laugh — I was definitely the fattest mum when I went :) x

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