As a family one of our favourite short breaks is Center Parcs. We first visited 14 years ago when Teenager was a little lively toddler ( to which Baby R is now his mirror image in looks and activity levels) and were taken with the family friendly approach that made holidaying with a child a fabulous and stress free experience. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve returned time and time again and over the years has fast become our favourite British get away.
We find that with 3 boys of very different ages, there’s something for all of us and as much as I long for a relaxing week by the pool, after a disastrous package holiday many moons ago, we prefer to spend our precious family time in a place we can guarantee quality and good customer service, both of which we find at Center Parcs.
For this year’s visit, we chose to upgrade our usual Woodland Lodge to an executive being the hubster’s 40th and the maid service, free wifi and en suits meant we all had something to keep us happy. Longleat has undergone a much needed refurbishment programme and we wanted to make this break a little more special. Having stayed in a lower end villa a few years back, it was quite shocking to see how tatty the older villas had become, I should point out that guest services were very quick to make sure everything was sorted though when I pointed it out, but that was then and this is now.
We were situated in the Pine area, perfect for quick Plaza dashes but quiet enough for a good nights sleep. Cleanliness was faultless and apart from the villa needing the odd paint touch ups round the window cills (I had to find something!) in villa number 315.
We make full use of the sub tropical swimming pool when we’re there. The older boys love the Rapids and it was amazing to watch them buddying up together. The age difference means they don’t have a great deal in common at times, as much as Tween looks up to his big brother, it’s obvious Teenager just finds him annoying most of the time, so to see them laughing and joking together is magic.
Of course with all this activity it’s inevitable that there are quiet moments and as much as I wanted us all screen free, I appreciate they needed down time and that’s where the free wifi, unbelievably comfortable sofa and bedroom Tvs came in use. Tween was rather taken with the jacuzzi bath too and spent most evenings having long bubble baths, emerging refreshed and exclaiming that we had to get one at home each time!
The coffee machine and walk in showers were enough to keep me happy, although the beds should get a special mention. My next mattress is so going to be the same brand they use. Even Baby R slept longer.
We booked restaurants that had the small play areas as I’m well aware how boring eating out is for a one year old, it still involved a degree of tag parenting but takes the edge off dining with toddlers. We really noticed our food bill go up this visit with Teenager now on adult meals, but that’s only to be expected and complimentary baby food in a few of the restaurants really helped.
After my Noom app trial kick started a new healthy living lifestyle, I found I’ve had so much more energy lately. We had lots of long walks and my FitBit registered well over my 10,000 steps target each day and that’s without an hour in the pool. Even though it’s waterproof, I took it off as I wasn’t sure how it would fare up to several trips down the Rapids.
I had plenty of healthy options to choose from in the restaurants we dined in, my favourite being the prawn skewer salad. Although I did look longingly at Daz’s burger in Hucks, it was the first time since giving up red meat that I’ve missed it.
Baby R was amazing the whole weekend, despite decorating the floor of every restaurant we ate in, the staff were fantastic at making us feel welcome and not batting an eye lid at our little whirlwind. He entertained most people he met, greeting admirers with big cheesy grins, the stress free and happy family ethos clearly rubbed off on him. We took our Phil & Teds Verve pushchair as it lies completely flat and he napped like a baby!
As always, it was a fabulous family trip but over all too quickly. With the car loaded up for our return journey we travelled home in silence, there’s always a tinge of sadness in the air when we leave, like saying goodbye to a relative, the combination of fresh air, good food and lots of exercise leaving us wrapped in our own little worlds.
Were already planning our next trip for next year, promising teenager he can bring a friend. We’ll wait to see ho my new business plans take off before we decide when, how long and in what. It won’t be in one of the treehouses, despite the boys pleas, but the extra comforts of the executive accommodation was a welcome surprise for this year’s visit. Especially if we’ve got 3 teenagers to tidy up after!