Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Diary of Five Go To Center Parcs

When a blogger of Actually Mummys status invites you to go with them to review a Center Parcs break at Elveden Forest, it would be rude not to. BIG TIME thank you x

Day 1

Did you know you can get into your accommodation from about 3pm but if you can get there early you can make full use of all the facilities from any time on the day of arrival? Next time we are setting off at 6am.
Did you know you can pre-register online before your arrival so there's no form filling when you get there? Just hand over your booking reference and the keys are yours (plus Haribos for children. If I was being picky I would suggest Haribos for adults too).
Did you know there is a supermarket on site, you can order a family grocery pack and they can deliver takeaways? Or you can bring something to have for a meal on your first night so you don't have to order a bike with a trailer just to carry your wine back to your villa *points at Actually Mummy*

Our home from home

We stayed in a Woodland Lodge which had three bedrooms, an open plan kitchen dining sitting room, a family bathroom and a separate toilet. The patio looked out over the forest and we had regular visitors in the form of squirrels rabbits and deer. The squirrels were very brave and tried to come into the villa which was a bit over familiar I thought given we hadn't even been introduced. We had a similar problem with our neighbours! *points at Actually Mummy*

The Wildlife

The kitchen is more than adequate with a microwave, dishwasher and full oven and with the fridge pre-stocked with bacon sausages milk eggs and fruit juice, the cupboards loaded with cereal, tea, coffee, sugar, fruit, biscuits, jam, marmalade, crisps, ketchup, HP, olive oil, Pepsi, squash and water, we were only short of a chef to cook it for us.

Pick a bike. Any bike.

Did you know you can hire bikes for the weekend for all ages and abilities? Adult bikes, kids bikes of various sizes, trailers, child seats, tagalongs, tandems and adult trikes are all available. Book before you go to be sure to get the right option for you or better yet, bring your own. It's not cheap to hire. Our combination of bikes would have cost £95. They also provide locks for the bikes but look after your key! *cough - thanks Tony from the maintenance team for saving the day with your bolt cutters - cough*

Did you know that the beds in the lodges are the most comfortable I have slept in for a long while and meant that the Wee One actually slept in his own bed all night every night. It may have helped that he stayed up late every night and was wrecked by the time he got to bed.

Day 2

Did you know that the Tropical Cyclone at Elveden Forest is new this year and reaches speeds of 30 miles per hour and achieves zero gravity? I didn't either and nor will I ever be able to testify to these facts first hand. I am as far removed from a thrill seeker as it is possible to be. Scared. That is all. There are some amazing water slides, none of which are suitable for anyone with a nervous disposition which put me, the Princess and the Wee One seeking out the toddler splash area. Shame it wasn't open :-( We pootled around in the shallow area and in the lagoon which was just a bit too deep for the week one while The Big One and the Mr shrieked and whooped around the slides.
Did you know that you don't need to take bouyancy aids for toddlers? They have mini life jackets which were perfect for the young ones so the arm bands I spent 2 hours hunting down at home weren't necessary.
Did you know I didn't see a cleaner at the swimming pool once but those changing rooms were immaculate. Not a used plaster in sight.

You can't keep a blogger away from wifi for long

Did you know that there is a Spa at Center Parcs? Aqua Sana Spa - Oooooh yes. Thank you very much. I palmed the kids off on to the Mr to go ten pin bowling while I made good use of those steam rooms. Yes steam rooms plural. If you like it steamy or dry, warm or scorchio there was one for you. The heady aromas, sent my senses into overdrive and the tropical rain showers were special in their own right. I could quite happily of spent the day there, not least because it had wifi (more on that later), and a lovely peaceful cafe with not a child in sight. After my lunch I would have happily dozed on a water bed (had there been one free - Wake up bed hogs!) and then meditated/tweeted in the Jasmine garden. And *whispers* you know when you are in a sauna and your thighs get all wet and make a farting noise when you sit down on a smooth seat? Well they had little tiles on the seats at center Parcs so no embarrassing thigh farts.

Did you know that Hucks restaurant has kid sized steaks on the menu, serves starters on surfboards and pretty awesome ribs with alcohol laced ice cream sundaes for dessert? And should your darling kids actually manage to eat their way around the whole junior buffet *points at the Big One* then they can amuse themselves on the i-macs or in the play area. A useful distraction to allow parents to chat and enjoy their meal without cries of I'm bored, I found.

Day 3

Did you know that technology and a good walk can be enjoyed simultaneously? They can if you go geocaching. Imagine a geek fueled treasure hunt and you will know what I mean. Really good fun except...

Things I wish I'd known first #1- you will walk about 5k which was too far for our younger team members.
Things I wish I'd known first #2 - the order you find the clues is important or you will end up walking 10k.
Things I wish I'd known first #3 - the GPS technology can have a bad day and send you 100m the wrong way.

The Big One takes the lead

The Mr feeding his inner geek

We didn't finish as it was just too far for the Wee One, much to the Mr's disappointment but for Actually Mummy and her team who came in second it was an chance to bask in glory! 

Did you know you can do nothing at Center Parcs and still have a brilliant time? You could fill your days to overflowing with a multitude of activities that drag you across the lake with planks of wood tied to your feet (water skiing), swinging from trees, shooting arrows, or you could build your own arrow in the forest by your back door and play. 

Or play and blog *points at Actually Mummy*

To blog or not to blog?

Day 4

Did you know that you may have to check out at 10ish in the morning but you can carry on and use the facilities right up till midnight? And I would take full advantage of the 'ish' to avoid traffic jams at the exit gate and parking.

Did you know that you can't get wifi or a mobile reception in the parc unless you are at the central Village, Sports Plaza or Spa? I didn't either and missed posting IG photos and missed tweets from our friends saying where they were. On the plus side, we chatted and laughed our way through several bottles of wine rather than tweeting each other. On the down side, if there was an emergency you would have to run to find a telephone box in the parc to get help or head for the dry sauna to update your followers *points at Actually Mummy*. Not always convenient and something that I would say needs to be addressed.

Overall we had a truly lovely time and struck the balance of activities versus relaxing time well. It isn't a cheap break compared to booking your own holiday cottage but there is genuinely something for everyone to do on site, whether you are an adrenalin junky or like a more relaxed pace.

I'll leave it to the Actually Mummy and Five Go Blogging children to give you their thoughts on the weekend.

Disclosure: We were invited by Actually Mummy to go with them to review a Center Parcs break free of charge. All opinions are our own.


  1. Awwwwww those kids are cute aren't they? ;)
    Super review, and lots of things I missed - I will pop a link in my review to this one to make the whole picture. And thanks again for being our plus one's - couldn't have had better company!

  2. Fantastic review! Love Center Parcs, the English ones are particularly good... :)

  3. Brilliant review with all the info that a visitor needs to know - I want to go NOW! And thank you for the thigh farts comment *cleans up coffee that snorted out of nose* xx

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