A family friendly holiday
- Credit: Archant
Charlotte Richardson finds out why thousands of children, parents and grandparents return to Center Parcs every year.
Family – that is the one word that sticks in my mind when I think back to my break at Center Parcs at Longleat.
If you are looking for the kind of break that your children, mother and grandmother can all enjoy, this is it.
Whatever time of year you go to Center Parcs you will find happy children spilling out of every corner.
If a quiet romantic break is what you are looking for – think again.
The type of holiday you can expect is one that will leave you with happy memories of generations of families spending quality time together.
We stayed in a three bedroom new- style woodland lodge with four adults and a teenager.
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It was immaculately clean and up together and the beds were the most comfortable I have ever experienced whilst away from home.
There was one bathroom and a separate toilet in the accommodation – just right for our party size – but it is worth an upgrade for the extra en-suites in the executive lodge if there are more of you.
A grocery pack was waiting for us when we arrived with a fabulous mixture of essentials (and some luxuries) neatly packed away into the fridge and cupboards - well worth the money to pre-order one of these.
Whilst at Center Parcs we ate at the Grand Café, The Pancake House and Indian Rajinda Pradesh and had a couple of barbecues.
This is the other excellent thing about Center Parcs – you can spend as much or as little as you like on food and drink whilst there.
Yes the restaurants aren’t cheap – but they aren’t above average in price and in my experience were above average in quality.
The self-catering facilities in the lodge were first class with all the essentials if you are on a tighter food and drink budget, plus thoughtful extras like a dishwasher and even a wine cooler for us to use.
And for once whilst self-catering somewhere there were enough glasses and bowls!
My advice would be to absolutely, definitely, make sure you do not miss out on The Pancake House – two trips just wasn’t enough.
The pancakes were so good and a new menu was launched in June, which offers sweet and savoury delights even more mouth-watering than before.
The Grand Café’s food was also excellent quality – the steaks literally melted in the mouth and were among the best I have ever tasted. They came on sizzling stones so you can cook them as much or as little as you like.
The shared platter was also very impressive and extremely tasty.
There is a great buzz at Center Parcs among the staff in the cafés, restaurants, shops and the pool area, as well as the cleaners, train drivers and – well just everyone who worked there.
They genuinely seemed happy to be working there and we never heard any staff member complain once – they couldn’t do enough to help us and are a real credit to Center Parcs. They made the difference between a really good holiday and a great holiday.
My highlight was most definitely the visit to the first class Aqua Sana spa, a relaxing environment, with top class facilities and well worth a visit for any couple or group of girls wanting to get away from the children or the outside world for a while.
My partner and I had one of the dual treatments, where you lie side by side and have a massage and facial. I have to admit I wasn’t too sure about this at first – but I came out feeling fabulous.
All in all we had a fabulous week at Center Parcs – there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
My mother and step-father enjoyed some of the lower intensity exercise, the bowling, the restaurants and the general relaxation there.
My partner enjoyed having a very sporty week with his teenager, as well as some relaxing ‘time out’ in the spa.
The segway experience was a memorable treat for the more active members of the party - not at all scary as I imagined and something well worth the money as it is something you may not otherwise try your hand at.
There were many many things the five of us could enjoy together and we came back feeling energised, but relaxed and very happy we had chosen the perfect family holiday.
Center Parcs has four sites across England, with a fifth, Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire, due to open in Spring 2014.