I am so excited to tell you all about our family holiday to Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest. We went Monday to Friday staying in an executive lodge accomodation (3 bedrooms) during school term time during the second week of May.
Center Parcs is just about 45 minutes away from our home and how lovely not to endure a long stressful trip with the kids in the car. We got there quickly and feeling relaxed. There is a lot to be said for holidaying in the UK and near home!
Just on arrival though you felt instantly in a different world. In the forest you could hear the birds and were surrounded by the glorious greens of the trees.
Once parked and unpacked there was hardly a car to be seen all week and we felt ‘de-stressed’ just being there.
Our accomodation was very central and absolutely perfect for our needs. Enough room to play, cook, read and relax, there was a fully kitted kitchen and a lovely living area. Best of all we had our own little garden with a table and chairs where we could eat out and get visits from the squirrels, rabbits and ducks. Fabulous for our city living kids to experience animals so closely, living freely.
We hired bikes which was tons of fun; a little one with stabilisers for my son and a trailer for my daughter and we walked a lot too. Lot and lots of fresh unpolluted air has done wonders for all of us and our sense of well being.
On the first day we swam in the utterly amazing pool. It was warm, huge, clean and had loads of fabulous features. It had a wave machine, exciting spinklers, an outdoor pool and various mad looking slides which my son thouht were great! You could have coffee or snacks on the side and take a break. There were areas for tiny tots and loads of lifeguards, amazing trees and a wondeful holiday atmosphere. Brilliant. Except for wrinkly toes we could have probably stayed in the pool all day.
We had pretty good weather on our trip though and there was so much to do. The lovely beach was near our villa and a big hit with my daughter. Annalise loves sand and kept asking me to take her back to the ‘seaside.’ How cool to have a tropical pardise, a forest and a seaside all on one holiday oh yes and a lake too, a bustling village square, a leisure centre, nature centre and spa! There was really something for everyone.
The parks were fabulous and I counted at least 5 of them, all very natural, all exciting and suited to the different ages of children visiting. Our children played for hours and we so enjoyed sitting peaceably and watching them. Special days.
The activities we pre-booked were pony riding, teddy bear making and rambling with the ranger. I have to say there would have been loads to do if we had not booked these but they were all pretty special. The pony riding consisted of a 15 minute walk through the forest. Bonnie and Thomas were the most healthy looking ponies I have ever laid eyes on – obviusly extremely well cared for, sweet as sugar and absolutely perfect for little kids. The ride was a delight and the handlers were so friendly. It was lovely experience for the kids, riding through the forst. They were beaming.
Next Frankie (aged 6) and daddy went on a ramble with the ranger. Unfortunately Frankie who loves nature found this all a but too’grown up’ and was a bit bored. Although it says 5+ my hubby said it really did seem to be for adults. next time we will more clearly stick with kids activities. They did see some amazing wildlife though and loved the nature cente where the ramble began.
The teddy bear making was a big hit however and Annalise declared Princess Teddy the best thing about gooing to the forest. Okay its not really ‘foresty’ but if it make my princess happy …..it was very cute. Again the member of staff assisting her could not have been nicer.
We ate out one night whilst we were at Center Parcs at Strada, a lovely Italian restaurant. The food was suberb. We are all vegetarian and we had lots of choice from their fabulous menu. The butternut squash risotto was so wonderful I had to squeeze in my chocolate pudding but oh it was alll worth it. My husband had the garlic mushrooms, avocado salad and goats cheese pizza. All divine: so well cooked and presented. The kids had a typical kids meal of juice, pizza or pasta and icecream but they were very happy and made the most of the colouring on offer.
We also had breakfast at Cafe Rouge one morning in the deightful Village Square which housed the shops and restraunts. We had really nice service, tolerance of our fussy kids and there was a relaxed, happy atmosphere (we think they shoudl have at least a veggie sausage in their veggie breakfast though!)
Each evening their was a free kids disco with free balloons. Tons of fun and a great way to end the evening. We only made it once though the kids were so wiped out by the fresh air and exercise!
Overall I have to say Cener Parcs was just a BRILLIANT holiday destination for us. In no way were we ready to come home. I could easily spend the kids 6 week holiday there. There was still lots to do and we were finding it all very easy, relaxing and fun.
My biggest praise goes to the staff who absolutely without exception, from the long suffering bike hat fitting fella to the lifeguard who helped with a missing key, were kind, friendly, child centred, patient and pleasant. That’s pretty unusual but it truly makes all the difference to a family on holiday. Thank you Center Pacrs. We will be back.
Here’s my video from the night before we left…clearly having had the best time:
P.S I will tell you in another post about our Aqua Sana Spa trip and my top tips how to have a budget holiday at Center Parcs do take a look at the Grandparents viwq of Center Parcs too.
*This was a press trip to Center Parcs. The thoughts and observations we share about this trip are entirely are own.