There is nothing better than holidaying in the great outdoors, particularly if the weather is nice. Fortunately the sun shone all weekend when Suzanne and Lewis Cohen took their kids to Center Parcs.
With fond memories of past visits to Center Parcs, the kids were just as excited as we were at the prospect of another trip to the Elveden Forest. Although there are other destinations, we chose this one because of its easy 40-minute journey from our North London home.
What’s more, it is not too hilly which made it easier for our four and five year old boys to ride their bicycles without too much of a struggle.
Although there is plenty of other UK breaks available, we chose Center Parcs because we fancied an action-packed break rather than one spent lazying around a swimming pool.
The good thing about Center Parcs is that it has resorts based throughout England (and abroad), so you don’t have to travel too far to get to one.
Our short journey was easy but if you don’t have a car it is possible to reach all the holiday villages by rail. (Thetford station is the closest to Elveden Forest).
On arrival at Center Parcs you are allowed to drive straight up to your villa to unload your belongings which gives you a great view of the surrounding forest area. Driving from the motorway into the sudden peacefulness of the countryside instantly made us feel calmer.
Being a car-free zone you leave your vehicle in the parking lot before collecting your bicycles which the majority of guests use to get around the village. As well as our four bikes we opted for a trailer attached to my husband’s bike to pull along my youngest at night. As for the village itself, it is huge but once you have found your bearings with the map it is easy to get around.
The central point is the enormous swimming pool area where the shopping mall and restaurants can be found. Close by is the sports area where all the bookings for the activities take place. Although the village does have a hotel most people opt to stay in a villa which are dotted all over the village.
Ours, which had two bedrooms and a kitchen and lounge area, was very comfortable.
Children’s facilities and entertainment
On booking your stay you receive a booklet full of all the activities on offer at Center Parcs which you can pre-book before arrival. There is a lot for children to do so we planned our days carefully, ensuring the boys had enough time to use the covered swimming pool and its amazing collection of water slides.
The kids took part in an art and music workshop and also had a go at mini-archery, whilst my husband enjoyed a watercolour lesson which he loved. We all enjoyed playing crazy golf and going for aboat ride on the huge lake.
My husband and I played tennis and badminton whilst our kids were in the Time Out Club, which takes children from three months up to 14 years old. Making the most of the three-hour session we had booked them in for, we even had some time to relax in the stunning spa.
This is the only downside to the village and having visited before, I thought it would be a safer bet to self-cater this time. There are several restaurants but I found most of them to be more on the fast-food side of things.
Fortunately when we visited it was hot so we bought a BBQ from the shopping village and cooked most of the food oursleves. For basics, the on-site supermarket is very well stocked.
Center Parcs has shed its ‘naff’ image and is certainly worth a visit if you want an activity-based break. With the rooms currently being upgraded there is even more reason to visit.
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