Last week we went for a mid week break to Center Parcs at Longleat. We’ve been to Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest and Longleat five times previously, making this our sixth visit. We find it an easy, relaxed, break in beautiful surroundings which was exactly what we all needed this Easter. We had a lovely time, but there were a few niggles which left us feeling that standards have dropped since our last visit. Center Parcs is not a cheap option, particularly not in the school holidays so this was surprising and annoying.
1. The swimming pool. The pool is amazing. There are lots of slides for all ages, a nice warm outdoor pool, several jacuzzis, rapids, and a wave machine. We spent several hours there every day.
2. The children’s play areas. There are play areas in three different locations (that I counted), and they’re great with plenty to keep all my children (three, six and eight), and a grown up with a fondness for zip wires, happy.
3. The location. The setting is idyllic, woodland fresh. Ducks tap on our french windows asking to be fed and squirrels and rabbits frolic around our lodge. It’s a great location to relax, whilst also feeling extremely wholesome.
1. Traffic. On previous visits one of the plus points of a visit to Center Parcs was the no car policy. You drop your stuff off at your lodge, park your car in the car park and leave it there until you depart. No cars on site the rest of the week. Meaning no worrying constantly about your children getting run over, no fumes, and a greater sense of true detachment from the hectic, modern, world. However this time things had changed. As well as the expected green maintenance vans there were lots of other vehicles. At one point we waited for the land train for five minutes and in that time eight cars drove past us. Every time we walked from anywhere from our lodge we were very aware that there was a reasonable amount of traffic and we had to be extra vigilant.
2. The restaurants. I like to eat out on holiday, so we ate out about five times. Each time I had issues with my order. Undercooked beans at the Grand Cafe, missing salsa from my toasted sandwich, and ,the worst case for a vegetarian, finding meat in my vegetarian salad in the Sports Cafe. To be fair the Sports Cafe made it up to me but they were the only restaurant that seemed to care.
3. The accommodation. Our lodge was damp, which meant that my son, who suffers from asthma, had problems whenever we were at the lodge. We also noticed there was a nasty sewer smell throughout, not pleasant. At nearly a grand for four nights I’d expected better.
Regardless we had a good time. We painted pottery, which was satisfying fun. Wonder Girl took part in a ballet class for little ones, which she loved and I loved watching her do. There was the obligatory game of mini golf, where I was thrashed by my eight year old, and, as aforementioned, plenty of swimming. The children love Center Parcs, so their enjoyment overruled everything, but it would be nice to have left feeling as satisfied myself. I’ll leave you with some pictures from our stay.
*edited to add:
After some email exchanges with Center Parcs they have explored the issues I encountered, and offered me a good will gesture to try and restore my relationship with them.