How to do Center Parcs on a budget

How to do Center Parcs on a budget

We’ve been visiting the family friendly holiday hot spot, Center Parcs, for many years now that its become a real ‘we’re home’ feeling as we first spot the familiar landing bay in the reception, yet I’m always amazed at the “ooo, it’s expensive there” response we tend to get when sharing our holiday plans. Yes, you can stay in a state of the art treehouse, complete with all mod cons (I’m talking games room, saunas, hot tubs, you get the gist)  but there are also more wallet friendly villas you can stay in and there is a way to enjoy a break at Center Parcs on a budget

There have been many occasions when our stay has been our only break of the year, but as the boys love it so much, and we can pretty much guarantee a fantastic time, we’ve compromised and budgeted in many areas without breaking the bank.

 

Book early

Out of season is always going to be cheaper. January seems to be the cheapest time of the year to go. Don’t be put off though by the thought of going in Winter, there’s still so much to do. If you’re not tied to school holidays you can get a midweek break for a really good price. As my kids are school age, I get the county school term dates online for the coming years and check for any weeks which are different from the majority of the country or where teacher trainer days have been tagged onto the beginning or end of a school holiday.

We managed a midweek break in the first week of September last year for an amazing price as most schools had gone back and so the prices were considerably less than the previous week. (we also bumped into lots of familiar Devon families that week who had spotted the price difference too!)

Book early after your visit

When you return from a break you’ll get a ‘come back soon’ offer where if you book within 28 days you’ll get free insurance, best price guarantee and £25 in restaurant vouchers. It’s so worth doing the above and booking your next break straight away, giving you plenty of time to save for your next break.

Prebook activities

You can prebook any activities, where it’s also good to check out any special offers section. We’ve managed to get bowling considerably cheaper as well as a few other activities. It is worth pre booking activities as during busy times they get snapped up pretty quickly. It helps also so you plan an itinerary around them. There have been occasions where restaurants have early dining offers too with quite good savings just for eating slightly earlier.

Center Parcs can be done on a budget. here's how we enjoy a break there without breaking the bank

 

Dine in

The restaurants there are very good and the customer service is excellent, but if you are really trying to keep costs down then eat in. We do a supermarket shop en route and top up in the onsite Parc Market which also have good offers. The kitchens in the villas are well equipped so you can easily dine in and make your own packed lunches too. There are plenty of picnic spots around, as well as the beach and a glorious green to sit and watch the world go by.

During the colder months, there are places to sit and eat packed lunches in the plaza. You’ll never be frowned upon and I’ve even borrowed cutlery from one of the restaurants, seriously, they have nailed customer service there and nothing is ever too much trouble.

we've been visiting Center Parcs for many years now, so I've put together some tips on how you can plan a break on a budget

Take your own bikes

We’ve always taken our own to cut down on hire charges. You don’t NEED a bike though, it’s just the Center Parcs thing to have one. There are no cars so you can ride around safely, the company vans you see driving around will always give priority to pedestrians and cyclists, so even if you haven’t ridden a bike for years, you’ll feel safe getting back on the saddle. That said, there are land trains to get you from A-B when you’ve overdone it in the Rapids or are laden down with swimming gear and your packed lunch.

If you don’t own a bike and your brazen enough, ask to borrow one from a friend or neighbour, it’s only a few days and if you get a puncture or run into any difficulties the cycle centre staff are super friendly and have been really helpful when ever we’ve needed any type of cycle maintenance. Just remember to bring a lock though. Center Parcs do sell some for a couple of £’s so if you’re borrowing a bike you could give it to the owner as a thank you!

Swim, bike walk

There is so much to do at Centre Parcs, we often joke that you need a holiday to recover, but you’ll never feel pressurised into partaking in any of the activities and we’ve never experienced any hard sell. You can easily fill your days in the swimming pool, on bike rides or long walks. There’s a  Rangers Lodges for the kids and some fantastic play areas for all ages as well as indoor soft play.

The villas are all very comfortable so you’ll be only too happy to return and relax after the above, many have DVD players included so a relaxing night in watching a film with a Chinese meal kit for 2 is always an option.being in the forest brings the advantage of lots of wildlife. We spend most of our time looking out through the patio doors at the animals and birds which come right up looking for food.

On our last break we were lucky to have a stag sit approximately 25 ft away and watched deer wander slowly past every day as well as a family of ducks watching us through the glass and woodpeckers flying in and out the trees. Honestly, Micheala Stachan has nothing on me when I’m there, I turn into a real nature geek!

we've been visiting Center Parcs for many years now, so I've put together some tips on how you can plan a break on a budget

 

Free baby food!

I know that feeding your baby is not going to break the bank, but many restaurants and cafe’s offer complimentary baby food. They also offer good value kids menus with meal, drink and desert offers, this is where the savings add up.

Share accommodation

It works out cheaper if you can share accommodation with another family, they have villas with up to 4 bedrooms. I’m still trying to convince my sister that we can afford to share a tree house  just so I can experience how the other half live for a weekend but she’s not quite got the Center Parcs bug enough to warrant parting with her hard-earned cash!

 

And that ‘s about it. You really can do Centre Parcs on a budget.

we've been visiting Center Parcs for many years now, so I've put together some tips on how you can plan a break on a budget

 

This is in no way connected with Centre Parcs, all opinions and photographs are entirely my own. 

How to do Center Parcs on a budget,

Follow:

32 Comments

  1. 26th June 2015 / 10:28 am

    I’ve been desperate to take my boys to Center Parcs, it looks so beautiful, sadly he’s starting school in September but hoping one day we’ll be able to do a weekend there! 🙂
    Great tips!
    X

    • 26th June 2015 / 10:29 am

      Thanks Imogen it’s worth checking to see when you’re teaching training days are to get a cheapy

  2. Mummy Monkey
    26th June 2015 / 10:48 am

    Brilliant post! thanks for all the info. just out of curiosity which CP was it that you went to? thanks again

  3. Jenna Michelle Pink
    26th June 2015 / 1:52 pm

    Oh thanks for this., We just booked a centre parks holiday for the first week of december last week.

    I am very excited. I havn’t been before . My dad always refused to take the family we were children because he said it was too expensive…but weve booked out of season and its only cost us about £280 for a 4 person, 2 children accomodation for 5 days and 4 nights. I didn’t think that was too bad.

    I have been looking at the activities and I think we could get buy without paying for too much, perhaps a few toddler activities, and a sneaky spa afternoon for me 😉

    i am really looking forward to it 🙂 #pocolo

    • 26th June 2015 / 2:09 pm

      That’s a fantastic price & you’ll get the winter wonderland then too which is amazing, the Santas grotto was a real memory maker when we went. Have a fantastic time. I wonder if you’ll get the big like we did?

  4. 26th June 2015 / 4:18 pm

    What great tips! I’ve never been and to be honest cost has put me off a little. It looks like if you plan, you can save quite a bit of cash

    • 26th June 2015 / 9:52 pm

      Yes, there is a way to go and not spend a fortune. Even eating in is still a break as the villas are so comfy.

  5. 26th June 2015 / 4:37 pm

    We never had a holiday like this since our family became a family ehehe.

    Lovely tips. We dont have any plans this summer holiday as we dont have budget. But maybe if we are going to look at things this early we can finally have our first holiday next year!

    #pocolo

    • 26th June 2015 / 9:52 pm

      Oh I hope it helps, we’ve never had a huge holiday budget, we put a little away each week and that gets us a few short breaks. The great thing about Center Parcs is you can go any time of the year.

  6. 26th June 2015 / 8:23 pm

    I have never been to CP. I really would love to go, but overtime i look at prices they are so exp! 🙁 Looks like you had a wonderful time though x #binkylinky

    • 2nd July 2015 / 2:13 pm

      We always do, I keep thinking we should go somewhere new but we always end up going back.

  7. 26th June 2015 / 8:56 pm

    I have never been to center parcs, but it is something I have always wanted to do with my boys I think they would love it, but I have always thought it was too expensive I am going to try some of your tips though see if I can get the price down and go on budget! great post #BinkyLinky

    • 26th June 2015 / 9:40 pm

      Hope it helps, we don’t always have huge holiday funds so have worked out the best way to afford a break there after many years visiting.

  8. 27th June 2015 / 11:33 am

    We LOVE Center Parcs. However we have never been in warm weather! We often go the first week the children go back to school after Christmas. We have had a lot of fun and it saves a lot of money going ‘offpeak’

    • 27th June 2015 / 1:31 pm

      We’ve been a few times in the Winter and enjoyed it just as much, we’ve also been in the summer & had a few rainy days at least it’s an all weather place!

  9. 28th June 2015 / 9:18 am

    Ive never actually been to Center Parks. I always take my boys to places like Butlins as I always think there’ll be more for them to do. I may have to look into it! It does look lovely there!
    #SundayStars

    • 28th June 2015 / 9:37 am

      It depends on what you like. We just like having time together swimming & bike riding. There are arcades for older kids too.

  10. @SarahAnneDG
    29th June 2015 / 1:55 pm

    I’ll be honest, I’d written off Centre Parcs because of the cost. They’re exactly our sort of holidays, but we go for cheaper, more locally operated lodge holiday parks because our budget doesn’t stretch. Maybe it would be worthwhile to see how far in advance we can book, and take advantage of the fact that our holidays in Scotland are usually different to the English ones…that might be a way around the price hike of school holidays.

    #pocolo

    • 29th June 2015 / 7:24 pm

      I’d say it would definitely give you the advantage on finding a midweek break. Funnily enough they haven’t responded at all to this post, not even on Twitter so I guess they don’t approve of it being a budget break!

  11. 30th June 2015 / 8:52 am

    We have often looked at a short break at Centre Parcs but it is so expensive for all of us, lovely to read your tips on making it cheaper. #TastyTuesday

    • 2nd July 2015 / 2:10 pm

      I just wanted to try and show people it can be done with some clever planning

  12. 30th June 2015 / 2:50 pm

    I’m so jealous! This looks just lovely. Much as I love living in the US, I do wish we had more holidays. We get 16 hours of leave a month, but that quickly gets used up between doctor appointments, illness, and school events. And I’m lucky to even have paid leave! Thanks for linking with #TwinklyTuesday.

    • 30th June 2015 / 9:28 pm

      Wow, that’s not great is it? I thought the long summer breaks were great but I guess it makes childcare difficult then with so little paid time off.

      • SB
        30th April 2017 / 10:02 am

        Useful tips, thank you. Unfortunately as a family with 2 teachers and 2 school age children we are limited to either staying 2 out of the 3 nights or paying extortionate prices for the holiday periods.

  13. Louise @ Birds and Lilies
    1st July 2015 / 9:20 pm

    These are really great tips for saving money. I’ve always thought of it as expensive too – I wonder if it’s because you used to be able to get a week abroad for a few hundred pounds so it seemed expensive comparatively. People I know who go always do seem to go back so it must be good! xx

    • 2nd July 2015 / 1:07 pm

      It can appear to be that way but the great thing is the pool is free and you can just spend your time bike riding and walking if thats your thing so once you’re there you can really cut costs.

  14. 4th July 2015 / 8:41 pm

    I’ve never been to Center Parcs, but it looks lovely. Sorry the comment for last weeks #BinkyLinky is late. We were on holiday and got back late last night.

  15. 7th July 2015 / 11:29 pm

    I would love to take my kids to center parks but always thought it was way to expensive. I shall have to check it out. Thanks for linking uo with #sundaystars

I'd love to know what you think?