Monday 26 May 2003

Center Parcs Holiday

Just got back from a short holiday at the Center Parc Resort at Longleat Forest. We had a nice enough time but overall we're not impressed with the resort. We had a two bedroom villa in the forest. Villa is pushing it since it's really just a box attached to two other neighbouring boxes. Towels and soap are all extra as is pretty much everything else on the site. You pay for everthing.

I think the concept of "forest" is quite novel for British folks since Britain doesn't have much left. Coming from British Columbia, a valley of trees just doesn't impress much. There were lots of song birds, squirrels and even tame rabbits. There was also big warnings about nits which takes a bit of the fun out of it.

The idea is that you abandon your car and use bikes to get to all the facilities. It's oriented around all kinds of sport/spa/water activities but we didn't find an easy way take advantage of them with the children in tow. Maybe Center Parcs is a lot better for those people with older children or those willing to dump the kids at the local daycare or pay for onsite babysitting. We spent most of our time at the "subtropical jungle swimming pool" which was quite good. R* loved it and is quite confident with her swimming. She loved the big water slides and I was impressed that she went down the Wild River Rapids. K* prefers a playground to a pool and there were some nice playgrounds for him to putter around.

For the first time ever, Jenny went down a waterslide. I've never realised she hadn't done that before. She says she's just never had the opportunity. We celebrated afterwards with a drink.

One night, we heard a bike wheel past the villa door. Jenny suggested I check our bikes and I looked out the windows and yelled "It's gone!" (refering to our rented bike and trailer). Panic. Jenny ran out first and shouted in the most amazingly deep voice I've ever heard her use! She says it's her teachers' voice of authority. Very funny. It worked and the culprit ran off while I fetched the bike and chained it to the bike stand. Bike theft is common.

On the way home today, we went through the Longleat Safari Park owned by Lord Bath. It's a nice park but overpriced. Of course you just sigh and hand over your money rather than disappoint the kids. We had been there before and let the monkeys run over the company car but this time I avoided it as we had bikes on the roof. The kids were thrilled with a deer that stuck its head in the car to be fed. By the time we got to lions and wolves, they were bored.

It's good to be home. Don't think we'll go back to Center Parcs very quickly.


  1. Yep,we just got back from Elveden and bike theft is a problem.Locks cost £1.50 and EVERYTHING is charged including me and the kids playing crazy golf for just under £10.00!,20 minutes we were all done.

    Drying machine for swimwear was free last year,it's now 20p which really is taking the piss.

    Archery off site is really good and is run by a retired chap who is very pleasant.

    All in all CenterParcs would be very unwise to increase charges next year and there were many unoccupied villas this time,could have something to do with very high charges during school term time eh?..

  2. We have just come back from Longleat, Center Parcs. I agree with both of the comments above about the high prices for everything and unless you are physically fit without small children then you really will find it difficult getting around the park. We had one of the boxes come villa at the far end of the park, the scenery was nice and we felt as though we were right out in the middle of a forest.

    On the second day we went swimming for a few hours and when we got back we found that our villa had been broken into. The a bedroom window had been forced open and our laptop, video camera, digital camera, money and a 35ml camera had all gone. I called security who were in their defence were very quick to respond they had a guy with a very menacing dog plus about five other guys searching the surrounding area. I asked if burglary was a common problem but they wouldn’t answer the question only to say they have had it happen before so when the police arrived I asked the same question to be told that yes it is a common problem at the Longleat site. We were moved to a villa at the centre of the park which was nice of them :-)

    So my recommendation is if you really do think this sort of holiday is for you and you fancy Longleat the take out insurance because there is a good chance you will need it. Center Parcs for their credit will respond quickly to this sort of event but they will not cover any loss you incur.