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Can't even throw in a few toilet rolls!
Center Parcs Whinfell Forest (Cumbria)
Member Name: scooch12
Center Parcs Whinfell Forest (Cumbria)
Date: 16/03/13, updated on 16/03/13 (203 review reads)
Advantages: Lots of Activities on offer, relaxing
Disadvantages: Very expensive, too many activities are reliant on good weather
I was pregnant when we visited, with working and getting ready for the new arrival too, we fancied a relaxing trip away. This is what I got - but it came with a big price tag.
We visited out of school holidays and rented a 1 bedroom apartment. It was big enough for two of us and was the cheapest option available. It cost £199 for 4 nights Monday to Friday, although I know it costs a lot more sometimes dependant on accommodation and time of year. It was our first visit and we weren't sure what to expect. Everyone we knew who'd been loved it.
We're people that like eating out on trips away. I do enough cooking at home and don't fancy doing the same thing on my hols. So, that was probably why we found it quite expensive. I get the impression the majority of people do a mixture, do a shop at the supermarket there, make their own meals sometimes and eat out sometimes. It's not the sort of place you visit and go out and about - once you're there, that's it for the trip (I don't think it's entirely impossible to leave for a day but I wouldn't have tried it) so we only had the choice of the on site facilities.
When we arrived, we were told to drive into this room and checked in at the desk in there while still sat in the car, that was a new experience. Cars are only allowed onto the main site at certain times on changeover days only (Monday and Friday). We parked up, walked around and then at 3.30pm they allowed everyone to reach their accommodation with vehicles to unpack. All hell broke loose, cars everywhere, big queues. We unpacked as quickly as possible so we could park the car back up. Once the car's parked up again, you don't see it until the day you leave. Unfortunately I forgot something from it, my poor husband had to walk for over half an hour round trip to go and bring it back in the pouring rain! That said, it's a nice idea that no cars are allowed on site, it makes it very pleasant. You often however see Ranger cars driving around.
There is a huge lake in the centre. Around this are the pub, the resort centre and the swimming pool. The sports hall and spa are up near to the pub and accommodation radiates out from the centre - some are very close to the centre and some are a good distance away.
Our apartment was clean but basic, the bathroom could have done with being replaced but it was usable and there was a kitchen, living area and bedroom all open plan. The number one annoyance was one 'starter' toilet roll and that was it! The room doesn't get visited by a cleaner, our apartment had bedding but I think there are other accommodation where you have to take your own so it's worth checking.
We visited the supermarket on our first day to get some supplies that we'd not taken with us although I did fill the car up with a few snacks and this tends to be the norm, as long as you have space in the car. The supermarket is ok - has most things but not a massive selection. There's also a counter that sells fresh cakes that always looked tempting. There are some other little shops dotted around the main centre, a couple of clothes shops (not big brand shops but sell a very limited amount of branded stuff) and a couple of souvenir type shops too.
Food and Drink
At the time we visited, there was a Bella Italia, Café Rouge, a steakhouse, a sports café and a burger place that shut the day after we arrived. There was also a pancake café, two Starbucks, a pizza takeaway and an indian takeaway. I think now they've opened a couple of other restaurants too. There's a café at the spa (but we never went in there) and there's also a pub that serves nice food until 9pm. There's a bar area near the bowling alley for hot and cold drinks but this always seemed empty, there is a play area near there too. We ate at Bella Italia twice, it was lovely, similar priced to a normal Bella Italia at about £25 for two meals, a starter between us and drinks. We also ate at Café Rouge twice, same menu as other café rouge restaurants and it cost around £30 for two meals, a starter between us and drinks. The steak house was overpriced - it cost £40 for a burger, a steak, a couple of drinks and a starter between us so we only visited once. To be fair though, we enjoyed the food a lot in there. We used Starbucks a few times, it rained most of the week (I think it's an exception when the sun shines!) and it was one of the cheapest places apart from the room to sit and have a drink! One overlooks the big lake and the other is located in the sports hall.
Things to Do
Being pregnant, I was limited for things to do. It's a place where most people take part in sports activities, water activities and spa treatments throughout the day. My husband is sporty so took part in a few things - football, tennis, badminton - these are all timetabled and a place can be pre-booked on the sessions over the internet, at the main desk or at one of the self service points in the main centre. They can be booked in advance of visiting. The problem is that some of the activities, eg football and tennis rely on the weather - my husband's tennis was cancelled for this reason and they do warn you that a lot of activities are 'weather permitting'. Very little is included in the price that you pay for your stay. Almost everything has a fee during the day and it adds up. I took part in the adventure golf (a bit daft because it was on a hill - the ball just rolled wherever it felt like!) and that was £4 per person and was pre-booked, the swimming pool had a wave pool and big slide and was nice to go in although it wasn't a pool that you could have a relaxing swim in. It was so busy - I don't remember being charged for that facility though so maybe that was why! In the bowling I used the children's ramp, it was also good fun and cost around £18 for a lane for 60 minutes (it is exactly 60 minutes - if you are in the middle of a game it's tough luck, it disappears from the screen and the lane closes!). It was £6 for a badminton tournament, £6 for the football. We hired a pedalo around the lake for half an hour for £10. I'm not sure on prices for other things as these were the only ones we did. There are other activities for children but again I don't know their costs and what there was on offer. We spaced out the activities so we had something booked for the morning and then in the afternoon each day and in-between just walked about and drank tea and coffee!
With no cars allowed, the main way seems to be hiring bikes, again this isn't something we did but I suppose in the rainy weather it must have been quicker to get from A to B. I didn't feel we missed out as our apartment was central to everything. It would be a good way to see the park. They also offer horse and cart rides, these were only on offer at certain times across the week.
There is a spa where you can have various treatments and massages but as we didn't visit this part of the park I can't give any comments about it.
There seems to be a culture of early to bed and early to rise, we visited the pub most nights, where sometimes a quiz was on which we enjoyed but when the pub shut, everywhere seemed quiet. There were a lot of families with small children there and I think people tend to stay in for the evening sometimes instead of venturing out, especially when staying in bigger lodges.
When leaving, a similar thing as when arriving happens -You have to walk back to your car and drive it back onto the site when the park gates open, fill your car up with belongings and then you're homeward bound. We tried to leave about 10ish in the morning and we didn't have to queue too much to leave the park.
We had a lovely time, very relaxing but spent far too much money than necessary for four days away. I'd recommend it for families and would visit again but only with making our own food sometimes too.
Summary: Would go again but not often