Planning next year’s holiday or a Christmas getaway? Laura Mason shares her views on taking a family break to the beautifully situated Center Parcs Longleat Forest.
It is hard knowing exactly where to start when it comes to this review! Let’s rewind – on an autumnal Monday morning we headed off on the long journey to Center Parcs in Longleat, a leafy part of the Wiltshire countryside famed for the house and zoo nearby.
Center Parcs is undoubtedly a familiar brand to the majority of the UK, from the captivating TV adverts to word of mouth recommendations, it displays a plethora of family happiness and having previously visited other Center Parcs locations, we eagerly booked a Monday to Friday midweek break for the four of us in hope of a repeat performance.
The wonders of pre-booking
The nice thing about Center Parcs is the beforehand prep for the break – you can prebook your activities, restaurants, food purchases, add ons and even check in online before you arrive, meaning you can relax in the knowledge knowing your week is tailored exactly to your requirements before you even arrive.
Likening it to a theme park, the cheery welcome is a wonderful starter to your break and sets the scene for your stay. Cars are forbidden on property except during select arrival and departure times so it’s a case of dump your stuff and ditch the car.
The lodges really range is size – from a Studio apartment to four bed/eight sleeper treehouse. While the standards vary slightly, they’re all very modern, clean and feature mod cons and everything you need throughout your stay. There’s even wifi if you choose not to switch off completely from the outside world….which is easy to do!
Fun and activities
Activities are the name of the game at Center Parcs. The swimming atrium is the heart of the resort, free of charge, the tropical paradise is filled with slides, rapids, plunge pools, wave machines, Jacuzzis and much more for toddlers upwards. My kids spent literally hours sliding down the two toddler chutes that delighted them no end. The facilities to accompany the pool are very clean, with plenty of family changing rooms and options to make the often tricky set up of swimming with children as easy as possible.
Aside from our daily pool visits, the activities on offer really are endless. There are a number of indoor, outdoor sports, games and leisure activities. My children adored the Woodland Adventurer afternoon and crèche while Colin and I managed to sneak in a couple of hours at the blissful Aqua Sana spa and indulge in a luxury body massage.
Other activity highlights for us were the segway journey across the vast grounds, family bowling (of course!) a ballet class for little missy and the Pottery Barn painting for the whole family.
Dining with kids
When it comes to dining at Center Parcs it’s really flexible. Each of the lodges are self catering with all your basic amenities so we stocked up on food and did a lot of cooking ourselves. However there are also a number of restaurants on site. You’ll find familiar brands such as Café Rouge and Starbucks outlets but I’d strongly recommend exploring some of their own food restaurants – Rajinder Pradesh churns out some delicious Indian food, and the best thing is that being an extremely friendly resort, there’s plenty of children’s menus, facilities to accommodate children and no one cares if your child is having a melt down because there’s bound to be another one taking place shortly after!
By the Friday I must admit I was exhausted and the requirements for a break from our break were calling, however I’m the first to admit it was all my own doing. Taking full advantage of all that’s on offer, and shamefully without even leaving the remits of Center Parcs (sorry Longleat Zoo we really did have the best intentions to visit!) we had a fantastic jam-packed week that the children haven’t stopped talking about since!
Booking a Center Parcs Longleat holiday
The starting price for a mid-week break in a 2 bedroom Woodland Lodge at Longleat Forest is £379. This price is accurate at time of provision and is subject to change. Please check www.centerparcs.co.uk for prices.