Foreign holidays are great, you get to experience different cultures, see beautiful places and soak up the sun. But we could all do without the early morning car journeys, hanging around in airports for hours and trying to get the luggage within the weight allowance. Center Parcs might be great for young families, but it is also a perfect getaway for grown-ups that want a relaxing short break without the hassle of airport travel.
There is something about the quiet of a forest that I have always loved. Its the sound of birds chirping, squirrels scampering up trees and the general lack of hustle and bustle of a city. I have been feeling a little out of sorts (read why here), run down and tired, so when my Mum suggested we stay for a midweek break to celebrate my birthday, it sounded perfectly heavenly. We went to the newest village Woburn, just an hour from London, and a 2 hours drive from my home in Nottingham. This is one of the reasons I love Center Parcs villages; they feel like a world away from the traffic and noise of urban life, yet there is one within a few hours drive of most of the UK. But people often seem surprised that I go, thinking its just for families with young kids, or saying that its expensive and why would I not go abroad for better weather?
We arrived later on in the afternoon, drove straight up to the arrivals lodge, spent 5 minutes checking in, then took the car to our lodge to unload. Our 2 bedroom Woodland lodge was lovely; beautifully decorated, quite spacious, with a real fire, private patio with BBQ and free wi-fi. There is a full kitchen and we actually only ate out a couple of times, cooking for ourselves in the lodge the rest of the time.
There are no street names, only zones of Maple, Birch, Oak and Pine for the accommodation. Cars are only allowed during arrival and departure times, so people walk and cycle from A to B. This slower pace is so calming if like me, you live in a city. We wandered around the village, which is set across the square, plaza and lakeside, so nothing feels to big or busy. There are restaurants, shops and various activities, but nothing feels rushed or forced. People come here to relax and spend time with friends and family. There is no rowdy bars or nightclubs, it has a continental feel, with people just enjoying a bottle of wine with a meal rather than going out to get drunk.
You might not have the warmer weather of a foreign holiday outside, but inside there is plenty of opportunity for lying on a sun lounger. The Subtropical Swimming Paradise is not like your local pool. Heated to 29.5ºC, palm trees and lush foliage line the meandering paths and there are plenty of chairs, and yes, even sun loungers (although more of these rather than the standard chair would be lovely). Aside from a main indoor pool, there is a lazy river you float around on a ring, the outside rapids that make you feel as if you are on a river through the forest, as well as flume rides. But you don’t even have to get wet if you don’t want to. Just sit and read a book in the warm. There are two choices for food and drinks- for your caffeine needs the is the ubiquitous Starbucks and the Canopy Bar does everything from burgers and wraps to cocktails. You could just spend everyday of your break chilling out by the pool. And the best bit, you don’t pay to get in, its included as part of the holiday! Win.
If you do feel like getting active there are loads of options, you can play sports, go ten pin bowling and even have a go at falconry, and yes you do pay extra for these, but it is up to you how much or little you do.You are not paying for stuff that you actually don’t want to do. My Dad went on the Segway experience, which he thoroughly enjoyed! As it was my birthday my Mum treated me to a visit in the Aqua Sana spa. If you have never been to one of the Aqua Sana Spas, then I would highly recommend a visit, whether you stay in Center Parcs or not. They are amazing; steam rooms with different scents and minerals, saunas of every variety, an infinity pool as well as water beds with cosy blankets. Ah. I’m relaxed just thinking about it.
Yes, Center Parcs, is brilliant for kids. Every restaurant has baby facilities, play areas and kids menus. The activities for children are extensive and there is plenty of room for them so safely run about thanks to the no car policy on the village. But it is also the perfect holiday without kids. You get to lay on a sun lounger, swim in a heated pool, wander about a beautiful forest in a relaxed atmosphere all within an hour of London? So yeah, you can enjoy a Center Parcs holiday without kids. And you pay for a whole lodge what you would pay per person for many all inclusive holidays abroad.
I would love to know if you have been a Center Parcs, (with or without kids!); did you enjoy the lack of airport-admin and stress from not travelling abroad? Feel free to comment below or message me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. And if you don’t want to miss out on any future posts, I’d love for you to sign up to my monthly email!