Center Parcs - Sherwood Forest - a short-break destination which has something for all the family
The new lodges are fabulous! The only thing my daughter Libby and her friend Ellen could find fault with was that there wasn't a clock in the main living area but seeing as they always had their mobiles to hand, I couldn't see why they needed one! The accommodation is very comfortable and well-designed and the kitchen extremely well-equipped. One of the best things is the sense of privacy you have - our patio was not overlooked - even though there are there are other lodges in the area.
For anyone who hasn't visited Center Parcs one of the joys is being able to ride bikes around without fear of traffic. The major destination is the Subtropical Swimming Paradise which caters for just about everyone - hot tubs and whirlpools, flumes, pools for swimming and activities like snorkelling (book and an extra charge), a toddler pirate ship in a warm pool, a children's adventure pool and wild water rapids. Families of whatever aged children can spend hours here without getting bored and there is a very reasonably priced Lagoon Bar for snacks and light meals.
There's so much to do at Center Parcs that is really does pay to plan your break with care making sure you book any activities you particularly want to take part in. When we were in the Leisure Bowl on Tuesday evening a man trying to book a lane was incredulous when the next free one was on Friday at 9.00am!
A real treat for us was a three hour session in the Aqua Sana Spa - pure bliss and if you are a parent of small children you can link a session in the Time Out Club with a two-hour spa session at a reduced price. There's also a range of therapeutic and beauty treatments on offer.
We ate in two of the restaurants Luciano's (catering also for families with younger children) and La Sapinière (providing a more sophisticated ambiance with a pianist at a grand piano) and had delicious meals and excellent service in both. We had wanted to try Rajinda Pradesh but that one was fully booked!
Contrary to what I had expected the supermarket prices were very competitive and there was a good range of locally-sourced produce and fair trade items. There is also a free delivery service when you spend over £40.
A holiday at Center Parcs is very much what you want it to be - action-packed or a relaxing place to have some quiet quality time en famille. We had a great time and a plus factor is that it caters for every age-group and people with special needs. So if your family includes moody teens as well as junior members there will be something for everyone - guaranteed!
UK Center Parks
Elveden Forest, Suffolk Longleat Forest, Wiltshire Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
Whinfell Forest, Cumbria
Center Parcs booking line: 08705 200 300; brochure line 08708 400 220
Accommodation in a two bedroom villa starts from:
Friday to Monday £355
Monday to Friday £269
All activities except the Subtropical Swimming Paradise carry an extra charge.