Taking a family holiday couldn’t be easier if you pick Centre Parcs as your destination, as Caroline Stock found out.
She travelled with her three young children to Centre Parcs at Longleat, the nearest of these fabulous resorts to South Wales.
Once onsite, everything is there for you from comfortable places to stay to all sorts of activities to fill each day of your holiday.
Caroline’s family stayed in a three-bedroom Woodland Lodge which was warm, clean and comfortable. Family holidays with young children can be stressful times, so it’s a relief to discover the kitchen is fully equipped with everything from a dishwasher to a toaster in a bid to make holiday mealtimes stressfree!
The lodge had one bathroom and an additional toilet.
The lounge, diner and kitchen are open plan with a large table and chairs and a corner sofa ensemble around the DVD/TV. With two twin rooms and a double (bedding included), the place was very spacious and there was sufficient storage for all the family’s belongings.
Patio furniture and a barbecue are also provided.
Prices vary throughout the year and start at £269 for a three-bedroom Woodland Lodge midweek in January.
So, what can you do when you’re not enjoying the fun of staying in a Woodland Lodge?
Well. bike hire is a popular option (around £18) and there are designated areas for bike parking. Cars must be left in the car park once unloaded after arrival and are not permitted on site during your stay. There are trailers and bikes with stabilisers available - something to suit everyone. There are covers on the trailers, so as long as you are wrapped up suitably for the weather, hiring bikes is a good way to get around quickly.
A land train runs daily every 20 minutes (Monday and Friday from 6pm).
Caroline’s lodge was a good ten minute walk from the nearest stop, so they found it wasn’t an option. Some paths are poorly lit away from the main areas, so it’s a good idea to take a torch. Also, it is wise to get your bearings in daylight in order to avoid getting lost in the dark.
Caroline said: “We opted to walk as paths are all clear and well lit in the main entertainments areas which are close to each other – about a ten minute walk from The Plaza to the Jardin des Sports.”
The Subtropical Swimming Paradise (included in the price of your stay) is always an excellent way to entertain the kids for a couple of hours with slides, plunge pools and the rapids which take you outside. It’s quite odd to be outdoors, immersed in lovely warm water while the temperature is close to freezing above your head! Swimming lessons, snorkelling and mini jet skis are just a few of the pool activities available or for a little luxury, you can hire a cabana for up to eight people with a TV, towels and soft drinks provided.
Indoor and Outdoor activities are many and varied throughout the year.
Take on an Action Challenge including aerial tree trekking and the high ropes. If you’re brave, it looks like great fun as does climbing and abseiling.
Or have a go at archery, golf, laser clay shooting or tennis.
You can try segway, quad bikes, laser combat and paintballing too.
The Jardin des Sports offers fitness classes, pottery painting, badminton, table tennis, ten pin bowling, a climbing wall and roller skating.
At the boathouse, you can try your hand at windsurfing or sailing and there are canoes and kayaks available. There are also treasure trails, wildlife walks, rambling and the falconry to discover.
There are three kids clubs - under three’s offers Teddy Bear’s Picnic, messy play with entertainers, sing-alongs and games; under seven’s can have a go at fencing, cupcake fun, soccer school and pot painting while the eight to 14 year olds can try canoeing, roller skating, quad bikes and aerial tree trekking.
Seasonal events such as Halloween, Fireworks Night and Christmas offer alternative entertainment (shows, panto) and activities which it is wise to book well in advance to secure places.
The tranquillity of the spa is a welcome interruption in the hustle and bustle outside and offers several options including the Twilight Spa available between 4pm and 9pm from £65 for two midweek (a little more at weekends). You will receive a glass of bubbly and the comfort of a fluffy robe. You can choose from a variety of treatments including facials, massages, pedicures as well as treatments for men. I recommend the Tranquility Scalp Massage at £38 for 25 minutes (age 18+).
There are several restaurants and cafes dotted about.
Huck’s American Bar & Grill is a great choice. The menu offers just about everything and the atmosphere is always upbeat.
The Pancake House is a must, offering sweet and savoury options, there’s something for everyone. You can order food for delivery too – Indian, Chinese and pizza. Bella Italia, Strada, The Grand Cafe and Sports Cafe are all worth a visit.
If shopping is your thing, The Store Room and Just Kids are sure to have you emptying your wallet! There are some great novelty items available as well as the latest toys. Treats offers a wide variety of sweets and chocolates – some great gifts ideas and some old-fashioned favourites can be found! The Parc Market is handy for stocking up on the essentials and Sportique and Aquatique are lifesavers if you forget to pack your swimming costume or take inappropriate footwear!