We recently went on a family holiday to Centre Parcs. It was my first ever experience of Centre Parcs. Everyone I spoke to said that I would love it and they weren’t wrong! So based on our recent experience of visiting Centre Parcs at Longleat, I give you my Centre Parcs Survival Guide!
First of all let me tell you that the place is HUGE! I heard someone say it’s 4 times the size of other Centre Parcs. One big disadvantage is that you can’t park your car outside your lodge (unless you’re in one of the premium apartments or adapted lodges). On arrival/departure days you are allowed to take the car to the lodge to unload/pack up. However in between the car has to stay in the car park. Oh and there was a charging point for an electric car – and there was a gorgeous Tesla permanently parked there.
The good news is that there is a land train that circles the park every 15 to 20 minutes. It takes 40 minutes to do the whole circle though so be prepared for that!
If you’re a cyclist then I believe you can take bikes with you to the park. If not then you can hire them on site – hire includes locks. I think you can also hire the helmets but we had brought ours with us.
One tip, unless you really intend on using the bikes, don’t hire them in advance. We had booked ours in advance but hadn’t realised how big the place was so travelled around on the land train instead. Also the park was very hilly and it had killer hills to cycle around! In one of the other parks, it might have been better as they are flatter I think.
There is a shop on site but I found it to be expensive. So we brought some groceries in with us – but again, be prepared to carry them back to the lodge as you won’t be able to drive up to drop things off. Don’t do what we did, bought lots on Day 2 of the holidays and realised we had to take them back to the lodge….. hubby ended up walking the pram and goodies back whilst I took kiddiwinks on the land train. It was stressful!
Another thing, don’t buy too many groceries! Dependant on how you want to do the holiday – if you want to go self catering then yes that’s possible as the lodge had a fully equipped kitchen (and BBQ). Or if alternatively you can eat out at one of the may restaurants on site. Or better yet, you can get food delivered to your door from one of the on site takeaway services – pier, oriental or Indian. Choice is yours!
One thing we noted with the takeaway – portion sizes are decent so you may not need to order much. For example, we went for a Chinese banquet of beef in black bean sauce, sweet and sour chicken, vegetable chow mien and rice for two persons – fed three adults for one evening and leftovers for one for the second evening. So really, 2 person banquet fed 4 people!
The swimming pool is a MUST plus it’s FREE! It’s an amazing place! Getting into it is a bit of a puzzle though as the changing area is a bloody maze! Once you’re poolside then there’s plenty to do. The pool open 30 minutes earlier for the little ones but I wouldn’t bother with it unless you’re little ones have never been to a pool before. We went the first morning and all you could do was go to the mini pool area. You weren’t even allowed into the toddler play area. I suppose the main advantage of it is that you could get yourself changed and into the pool before main opening times.
Don’t overbook your activities in advance! You’ll get overwhelmed with the range of activities as you can pretty much do ANYTHING there! We booked ourselves in for a Teddy Bear’s Picnic, 10 Pin Bowling and a balance bike session for the eldest (3.5years old at the time). We managed all expect the balance bike oh and littlest fell asleep for the Teddy Bears Picnic so that was a bit bust. Note to self…. pool fun means knackered baby!
If I had more time (or if I didn’t have the kiddies) I think I’d have booked in for the geocaching sessions and the tree top adventure activity. Hubby would’ve loved to try the quad biking and the badminton court.
I hope you enjoyed my Centre Parcs Survival Guide! Do you have anything you would add?
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