Me and my boyfriend often joke that he had a deprived childhood because he never went to a CenterParcs, whereas – according to my mum, I went there even before I was born, as part of my parent’s last break before my arrival.
Skip forward 20 years, and I’d pretty much wiped CentreParks from my memory. I knew we’d been a few times when I was very small, and I remembered trees, bike rides with my dad and a pretty decent kids pool…but most of it was hazy.
It wasn’t until I revisited the place last weekend for my future sister in law’s Hen do, that it all came flooding back to me, and I enjoyed it WAY more than I anticipated I would as an adult.
We pulled in just as it was getting dark, and one of the first things to flood back to me was the sight of the glowing lanterns which lit up the foot paths through the woods in the dark, like little fairy walkways. It made my arms go all tingly, and like a little kid, I was excited to be back.
My excitement was then partially dampened by having to queue a further 30 mins into the park, as various families jostled to get to their accommodation for the weekend. For a second I did wonder if I’d be spending the whole weekend surrounded by screaming infants and snotty parents.
We reached our twin chalets on the far side of the park, and I was seriously impressed with the accommodation. All the facilities were modern, new and not scuffed or trampled at the edges at all. Open plan kitchen areas led to cosy living rooms with fireplaces and widescreen TVs – I could have easily spent most of the weekend with my feet up just watching the red wood trees sway outside the window.
I was also impressed with the sheer volume of activities at Longleat, and the variety offered for all ages. From wet weather activities like rock climbing, bowling, gym classes and badminton, to outside fun like cycling, paddling on the lake, tree top adventures and quad biking – it might cost you an arm and a leg to do it ALL, but nevertheless the choice is there.
As a hen party of about fifteen, we chose to spend Friday night playing games at the chalet and cooking a meal for ourselves, then on Saturday we had a go at the tree top adventure, enjoyed an afternoon tea back at the chalet, a visit to the pool, and a dinner out at the central Plaza.
Watching my mum (along with the bride’s mum and everyone else) hurtle around the rapids at the pool was probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time. The only thing I felt the pool was missing was an actual pool – in the sense of a larger stretch of water that adults could actually do some lengths in. It was all quiet kiddie focused, and most of the adults not with children, were taking refuge in the outdoor hot tub area – which wasn’t really sufficiently sized to suit the demand.
Dinner at the Plaza was also a pleasant surprise, situated in a big central dome alongside the pool, several main restaurants were grouped together amongst babbling ponds filled with fish, fairy lights and large tropical plants. We were booked into the American Diner ‘Hucks’, which always makes me nervous – because often American diner food can go one of two ways – very good or very bad. Thankfully the food was actually pretty good, and the waitress was also very friendly and accommodating of such a large group.
Afterwards we stumbled into the on site disco..which did feel very much like we were gate crashing someone’s wedding, and at the very early stages when clearly it was just us on the dance floor with one or two toddlers. Still, in our Harry Potter themed finery we made the best of it and stayed for a few songs, dancing about with our wands and making sure the hen was having a good time…which seemed to be the case.
On our final day at the park, we took ourselves off to the Aqua Sana Spa on site – which had loads of interesting little steam rooms and relaxation areas of different styles and layouts. I personally loved the meditation rooms and the Greek styled steam room which took me back to distant holidays in my favourite place. Again, no decent pool here, but lots of little areas to explore and keep you interested for the day, as well as treatments you can pay for.
Before heading home we set off for the Pancake House to get our fill or sickly desserts before heading home, and then it was time to say cheerio and head off for home.
Having revisited CenterParcs as an adult I would definitely recommend it, and am already considering a couples break or some kind of smaller group visit with friends in the future.
Yet another successful, relaxing and enjoyable staycation! And NOT totally surrounded by kids…except at the central pool, which you’d kind of expect seeming at 90% of it is slides, wave pools and rapids…but it gives you a chance to let our the inner kid, which isn’t’ a bad thing.