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Center Parcs (England)
Member Name: sarahrichmond5
Center Parcs (England)
Advantages: The free swimming
Disadvantages: some of the activities are quite expensive
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
Summary: good family fun
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