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"The best family break we had all year…"
It's been a while since we'd been to Center Parcs (Elveden - about six years ago), so it's fair to say expectations were pretty high about a trip to their brand-new village at Woburn in Bedfordshire.
Things went well from the start. Leaving London by car on a Friday night is always a bad start to any break, so we took advantage of their train package to get there by rail which was really easy (and we saved 10% on the fare). We only had to wait for 10 minutes at Flitwick station before a courtesy bus arrived to take us to the village which was about a 5 minute ride away. There are more key benefits to arriving by train - not only do you get to bypass the queue of cars to enter the village, but you also get VIP check in at the hotel, so the transfer takes no time at all.
We had booked a three bedroom Woodland Lodge which was up towards the end of the Pines section. It does mean a slightly longer bike ride to the restaurants and shops, but we preferred being slightly further out of things. The lodge was immaculately clean. There was an open plan kitchen/lounge area with a wood burning stove, large dining table and seating area by the TV and fire. Everything you could need appliance-wise was in the kitchen and we'd ordered a grocery pack which meant that the basics were all in the lodge (saving us having to carry lots of food with us on the train).
Our lodge was arranged with one double room (with ensuite) and two singles. There was a decent-sized family bathroom and a nice seating area outside with table, chairs and BBQ.
One thing we all really appreciated was the use of electronic bracelets to ease your way through the weekend. Issued to the adults in our party, they could be used to open the door to our lodge, lock the locker at the swimming pool and you could even load it up with money so that you could buy drinks or snacks in the swimming pool area without having to carry any on you.
And that swimming pool area was frankly amazing, really clean and well kept and had loads of fun activities from the lazy river to the larger flumes and the Canyon Ride which carries you outside. We loved the water slides - especially the Tropical Cyclone. If we had any reservations it was that there wasn't anywhere (except for the pool in the spa) where you could swim proper lengths.
We booked in for a variety of activities - the kids (10 and 12) enjoyed the indoor climbing adventure, but their highest praise was for the treetop trekking and geocaching. Luckily, for an early December weekend, the weather was excellent which meant we spent nearly all weekend outdoors, making this a real tonic from city life. In the run up to Christmas, the whole village was decked out beautifully and one of our favourite indoor activities was in the Activity Den's willow workshop where we made Christmas wreaths.
Happily, we also had the opportunity to take in the spa here at Woburn which is huge! It takes over two floors and includes an indoor/outdoor pool with water beds which was particularly good fun in the cold weather. We also had a massage so good that if it had gone on any longer would have left us fast asleep.
Food-wise we were really impressed both by the quality of the takeaway delivery service (book early - as this gets busy at peak meal times) and our dinner in the Shearing House was very good indeed, with a great selection of gastropub-style dishes. If were disappointed at all by anything it was the choice of food and drink at the on-site stores which felt a bit downmarket and certainly wasn't aimed at the customers they had. Maybe a mini-Waitrose would be better!
All in all, we loved our stay. Everyone was sad to leave and a lot of that was down to the unreservedly friendly welcome we had from every member of staff at Woburn. They're a total credit to Center Parcs and certainly go out of their way to help you have a good time. We came home wanting to rebook immediately!Read moreLess
2 people found this review helpful.
Whilst I have been to other Center Parc sites and really rate them, the Woburn was a great disappointment. It is relatively small and feels like a chunk of the big city (complete with all its inhabitants) has been picked up and dropped in the middle of a ckear forest. Service everywhere (pool, restaurants, cafes, guest services) is slow and desinterested, often bording on rude. But by far the biggest shocker took place inside the toddler pool, when I took my daughter to the top of the slide I spitted a child standing at the top of the slide by himself wearing a nappy that was leaking poo into the pool. I alerted the lifeguard, who did precisely...nothing. Picked up my daughter and left the poo-ridden water pronto. I was shocked and disgusted. That pool was full of kiddies and babies!!!!!Read moreLess
3 people found this review helpful.
Guest Services in this Property is basically a joke. I’ve been in the hospitality industry for 15 years with masters in hospitality management from Cornell, so trust me when I say that this is a clear example of a property running on its past reputation with complete disregard to its costumer care. I arrived to find the room’s two bathroom tub’s and shower floor dirty with hair remains and other stains all around them, which clearly meant house keeping did not even touch them, let alone clean it. I called guest services to let them know that I need them clean, because I’ll use them to shower my kids, and until today (the next day of talking to guest services) nothing happened, and of course the kids did not shower in the disgusting tub. We asked for baby crib, which we received without linen, we were told we had to head to the guest services office to pick up a baby kit, which includes the linen needed for the crib. When we arrived there the Guest Services manager was standing there as another guest services employee told us that we have to purchase the kit (to get linen for the crib!!!!!), and apologized that he can not provide us with linen or the kit, even though they have them, because the system is now off, so they cannot run a transaction!!!! They are willing to let an infant sleep in unsecured bed even-though they have the linen, they will charge us for it, and they will not give it us, because the office is now closed, and and the manager was overseeing this conversation in the guest services office!!!!! After searching some reviews, I realized that many have been disappointed by doing my same mistake of booking based on past reputation without checking current customer feedback reviews, please do!
For further investigation I am in Center Parcs Woburn Forest Oak 405 July 21st-25thDirty TubRead moreLess
5 people found this review helpful.
"Really great short break for all the family…"
Mumsnet was invited to review Center Parcs Woburn Forest...
As a parent, surely the ultimate test of a holiday venue is the answer you get when you ask the children "Would you like to come back one day?". With a resounding 'YES!' from all three of mine, a long weekend in Center Parcs had clearly made a lasting impression.
Just 40 minutes after boarding the train at St Pancras, we arrived at Flitwick station, and waiting there for us was Brian – the very friendly, chatty driver of the Center Parcs courtesy shuttle. I may have forgotten some of the (many) stories he relayed in the ten minutes it took for us to reach the park, but I do remember sensing that he took a lot of pride in working there – something which would go on to apply to nearly all the staff we got chatting to during our stay. Always a good sign.
On arrival, we were all given rubber wristbands; to my untrained eye, these were purely functional – a modern key. But, to my kids, they each contained a "magic chip" – the wonder of unlocking the lodge door with just a swipe of their wrists kept them entertained for a full 30 minutes. Then came the shrieks of delight at discovering each bedroom had it's own en-suite and TV; that there was spa bath; a hidden dishwasher and touch controls for the hob; and, of course, the private sauna in the back garden!
We first ventured out to the swimming area, known as the sub-tropical paradise, and, admittedly, even I was impressed that our wristbands now had the 'magic' to open and close our lockers. We took to the slides, which were pure, shameless fun. The Tornado was our personal favourite – expect to have a few goes before you can keep your eyes open through the screaming!
When it was time to re-fuel, we found there were plenty of places to eat. The ones we tried were all good and, although a bit on the pricey side, service and friendliness was always top notch. The only instance where we had to wait long enough for our fingers and toes to start tapping in impatience was the Pancake House by the lake, but it was quite busy so hopefully they will improve that for another time.
The rest of the weekend saw us in and out of the pool, up and down slides, cycling, walking, boating on the lake; enjoying the forest, spa sessions, eating yummy food and not having to cook. It was a really fun, yet relaxing, long weekend – definitely one of the best short breaks we've had in a while – and there are tons of other activities available that we're going to have to try out on subsequent visits.
We'll definitely be going back if my kids have anything to do with it – they're already suggesting, "How about next weekend?"
So I'll end with this, from my daughter, as she insisted she be quoted! "I had so much fun at Center Parcs with my dad. The house we stayed in was really nice and the food we had was delicious. We all had a great time swimming and I can't wait to go again."Read moreLess