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Shabby, but still a good week away.
Center Parcs (England)
Member Name: murphymurphymoo
Center Parcs (England)
Advantages: Swimming, animals and relaxation in the villa.
Disadvantages: Starting to look pretty tired. Activites very expensive.
I have recently returned from a mid-week break with my two brothers (21 and 17) and my boyfriend. We stayed at Sherwood Forest as we always have done, its close to home and we've never had any problems.
The past couple of years I've booked the Center Parcs break and I've opted to pay a little bit more and have an 'executive' villa. I feel that it is well worth the extra money (this time about £20 extra per person). Our villa included ensuite bathrooms, not really too much of an issue this time as we were all family but previously I've been with friends and its great to have your own privacy. We had tvs in the bedrooms, not a big plus but good to have. A cd and dvd player, cd player very useful as I love music in a morning, dvd player was used on our night in. We had a bubbly bath in the master bathroom (it was called something fancier, but essentially it was a jacuzzi bath). A daily maid service, this was fantastic, I wanted to relax while on holiday and with three men it would have been me doing the washing up otherwise (the dishwasher also helped with this). Best of all we had a steam room in the villa, absolutely amazing. I had 20 mins in the steam room everyday and loved it. Even my younger brother who normally avoids the heat at all costs quite enjoyed it.
The only problem is, our villa was a little shabby. They are offering 'new style' executive villas now. These are in bright colours with modern furniture. But they do not have the steam room so I didn't want to go for one of those. But this means that the older style executive villas are getting tatty. For example the shower in the master ensuite did not have a shower curtain/screen, so there was no option but to get water all over the bathroom floor. The door in the master bedroom was damaged at the bottom and looked like it had been kicked. Only small things, but still noticable.
The setting of Center Parcs is what really makes it. It feels a bit strange at first but after a couple of hours its wonderful to have no cars around. Particularly ideal for youngsters learning to ride bikes. Its great to see squirrels, rabbits and lots of types of birds. I could sit in the living room n the morning and watch them for hours. I'm not brave enough to open the glass and feed them but have been in parties before that have done and they're very very tame!
Initially the trip had been booked for my boyfriend and I and my brother, his partner and his little boy who is nearly two. However, this didn't happen. Past experience has taught me that you don't get everything out of Center Parcs unless you have a small child with you. Little ones are happy to watch and sometimes chase the wildlife all day, which provides entertainment for the adults. There is also lots of cheapish activities for them to do with their parents/adults.
For a group of young people activities seem expensive. In the end we did the cheaper ones, crazy golf, badminton ten pin bowling and of course lots of swimming as that is free. The crazy golf course is definitely looking worse for wear so many leaves on the course that it is difficult to play and the felt stuff (sorry not sure of the technical term!) is ripped. But it only cost £4 to do nine holes and if you don't do the ninth one you can sneak around and do the other nine (obviously I'm not speaking from experience here!). Badminton was good, it cost £8ish for two of us to play including raquet hire and as we were the first pair on court for the day we were allowed to play early for no extra cost. Bowling was fine, although the balls got stuck at the bottom a couple of times and the bar staff weren't exactly rushing to sort it out which is a bit of a problem when you pay for 45 or 55mins and not per game.
Swimming was good as usual. The whole swimming area is kept at a lovely warm temperature. There is a baby pool, a pool for toddlers with a pirate theme, the main pool that the waves are in (pretty rough only for very good swimmers) and the outdoor pool that leads to the rapids. The rapids are always fun, again pretty rough, I had a nasty bruise on my hip come Friday! They are not good for kids as the last drop particularly can hold you under the water, unless you are prepared for this it can be pretty scary. I've done this for years and can remember my dad being ready to fish me out at the bottom, so not too much of a problem. There is also a cold plunge pool between 16 and 19 degrees which doesn't sound so bad but is a shock to the system, always fun to watch the faces of people when they jump in.
We ate out a few times at the Pancake House, Cafe Rouge and Hucks. Food was good at all three and the service was excellent. We also had numerous burgers and icecream by the pool, the food was fine but the service pretty slow, no worse than what you'd get from a fast food chain though.
All in all Center Parcs is starting to look a little worn and needs a refurb. Splash out for an exec villa. Take a small child and plenty of money!
Summary: Better with small children, splash out for an executive villa, well worth it.
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