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Centre Parcs experience?

(31 Posts)
IlanaK Tue 26-Apr-05 10:28:15

Has anyone been to any of the Centre PArcs in the UK? We are thinking of a midweek holiday in early June and want to spend under £500. I noticed on their site that trhey do special %15 discount if you are taking under 5's. So it would make it affordable. But I am wondering if they are any good? And how much do you end up spending while you are there? Can you self cater? Or do you end up eating out each meal? And is every activity extra? Which is the closest to London to drive? And is there stuff to do around them?

Any tips welcome. We just can't decide what to do as even a late availability holiday abroad seems too expensive.

handlemecarefully Tue 26-Apr-05 10:32:09

Longleat centre parks is very pleasant - lovely environment with beautiful redwood trees.

It's perfectly possible to self cater throughout (on site supermarket), but equally there is a wide range of restaurants / cafes

The swimming pool area (that's an understatement - the pool area is themed and interesting with 'rapids', waterslides etc) is free of charge. Crazy golf and pedaloes on the lake are a nominal charge. Cycling around the area can be done very cheaply (hire of bikes), and other activities have to be paid for but are inexpensive.

RTKangaMummy Tue 26-Apr-05 10:32:18

Which part of london?

self cater

swimming free all day and night

on home page of mumsnet there may be money off too

If you love swimming then deffo go for them

Elvendon is our fav

very flat if you stay on car park side

handlemecarefully Tue 26-Apr-05 14:18:29

Bumping got IlanaK

handlemecarefully Tue 26-Apr-05 14:18:46

that should be bumping 'for' IlanaK!!!!

alison222 Tue 26-Apr-05 14:29:09

We had a great time at X-mas at Longleat. We took our groceries with us and eat out v little, partly cost partly DS allergies.
WE spent a little on activities , but by far and away the most time we spent was in the pool compex - fab!
There are loads of other centerparcs threads - I don't know how to do links or I'd search for you

IlanaK Tue 26-Apr-05 14:47:56

Thanks everyone. It really does sound good, but I am just a bit worried about all the extras. The kids activities and creches sound great - and we would only want to use them once or twice to give us a break, but there is no indication of cost. We would probably take most of our own food and cook and eat out only a little. But my almost 4 year old will want to do all the activities he sees and I am worried about the cost. I think Longleat would be our closest, so that is probably the one we would go to. Any more tips??

foxinsocks Tue 26-Apr-05 14:51:18

not 100% sure but I think last time we went, the kid's clubs (the one for over 3s) were £8 for a 2 hour session or £12 for a 3 hour one. I can't quite remember because I paid for both my kids and I remember paying £48 which I think was for 2 sessions (3 hour ones) for both of them together.

sweetheart Tue 26-Apr-05 15:07:06

We've been to Longleat and Elveden and enjoyed them both - we are regular center parcs goers!!!

Longleat is quite spread out and quite hilly so can be hard if you have to cycle with little ones. Elveden is more compact and level which can make things easier.

You can self caer no problems and they usually provide each appartment with a BBQ - lovely in the summer.

The swimming pool's are fab - brilliant for kids and adults.

Some activities (like the adventure stuff) can be a little expensive but things like short tennis - the cinema capsule thing, bowling etc etc are all fairly priced.

We are going back in Feb - it will be our 7th visit I think

bundle Tue 26-Apr-05 15:12:04

been once, won't be going again. all the "extras" do put the cost up, you have to be incredibly organised, taking all your own food (not a brilliant selection in their own supermarket, at longleat), bikes were good in fact probably the best part of it. the actual fabric of the place felt a bit like some kind of motorway service station (without the m-way) in a communist country. and the pool temperature was way too low for small children, under-1's were definitely shivering. god, i sound such a misery, but i just think these kind of places are not for people who don't like that sort of "manufactured" feel iykwim. many other people swear by the place

handlemecarefully Tue 26-Apr-05 15:17:59

lol Bundle at your description. I do think you are being a bit unfair though! - I think Longleat at least has a bit more charm than that.

bundle Tue 26-Apr-05 15:20:48

i know hmc, i do sound a bit grumpy about it. the spa was nice, spent a morning in there by myself while dh looked after the girls. but most of it i found grubby and v disappointing for the price. i think a nice self-catering cottage, near to a swimming pool/activity centre would be better vfm.

also some of the people - ahem - a family with a small boy never even noticed when he fell into one of the ornamental ponds and when someone pointed it out to them they all laughed. he was only about 5 or 6 and crying hysterically.

bundle Tue 26-Apr-05 15:21:38

don't get me wrong, i loved the quiet and the landscaping is quite sympathetic. we also used a babysitter who was terrific.

Tiggiwinkle Tue 26-Apr-05 15:21:59

I think Elvedon is closest to London. We live there and have been to Elvedon twice.
You can spend as little or as much as you like really. The activities (apart from the swimming pool)are all extra and can add quite a bit to the cost.
On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to occupy yourself without spending anything, with the cycling and the pool. (We took our own bikes, so that was free for us too).
The surroundings are lovely and although there are a lot of people there, the villas are set out so you feel as if you are on your own. The kids love the visiting wildlife too-ducks, swans, squirrels will all visit your villa ! We even had a heron calling one day!

FLUM Tue 26-Apr-05 15:23:00

bit of a 'fake rural experience' all in all. especially the logs that burn for EXACTLY 2.5 hours.

but the super special water fragelistic thinga-me-bobby kingdome pretty good,

shops a rip off
got to book spa the moment you arrive

bundle Tue 26-Apr-05 15:24:23

tiggiwinkle, we have an occasional visit from a heron at home (n.london)

grumpyfrumpy Tue 26-Apr-05 15:25:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

crunchie Tue 26-Apr-05 15:41:11

Elevdon is great IMHO. It is flat - a bonus with younger kids. We usually get bikes there (although I would take kids bikes) And take most of our own food. Activities can be v expensive but babysitters are great value - £5 an hour, so you need to book these the minute you get there. The spa is fantastic £25 for 3 hrs (but you can stay longer if you have childcare). The kids clubs v expensive for 2 kids - £15 for 3 hrs each, so for us the baby sitter worked better. They will also do daytime sits. Ours did 4pm - 8pm and gave the girls supper and watched a video (we took a TV video!!) They will take the kids to teh playground or for a walk, but not swimming.

We had fun in teh pool, for us that is the main draw, and it is free. We also tended to eat there at lunch time or take a sandwich in (not a problem) family of 4 ate for about £15 in the pool area. We would go about 10 - 11 am and stay until 3 or 4. There is a great kids play bit with sandpits and fountains as well as the main water slides thing. We also spent hours at teh good playgrounds and going on bike rides. I never pay for any activities except the cinema, as I think a lot are a total rip-off

A nice cottage with pool could be fun (we have done a farm holiday like this) but you still end up spending loads of money going to places, so it is much of a muchness

alison222 Tue 26-Apr-05 15:55:12

My children were 2 & 4 when we went. Some of the best fun they had was in the FREE playgrounds - ie the sports cafe soft play area while we had a coffee. The playgrounds are dotted around near all the cafes and restaurants so they can play. The pancake house had lego tables in it.
Yes it is all a bit commercialised but you don't have to spent loads extra - especially at age 4. (oh and we found in Dec the warmest pool was the outdoor one, and even the 2 year old loved the jaccussi (probably shoudn't have been in there I know!)

bosscat Tue 26-Apr-05 16:20:17

went to sherwood forest at easter. stayed in the cheapest accomodation they had as it was all that was available and it was horrible. didn't look like anything in the brochure, wasn't a log cabin but rather a concrete block which resembled an outdoor loo you see on the motorway. the inside decor was like a 1950's old people's home. also over run with ants. truly horrible. but we did see the executive villas when we cycled and they looked much much nicer so I guess you get what you pay for. the supermarket was well stocked, the shops looked nice and the restaurants had good choice and all very child friendly. I didn't make it to the swimming complex as we had to leave suddenly but dh did and said it was "nothing special". bit of a mixed review, would probably go back but only in more expensive villa and wouldn't be rushing to go back in general.

FLIER Tue 26-Apr-05 18:26:32

Just thought I'd mention - 15% discount for pre schoolers is only for certain dates.

crunchie Tue 26-Apr-05 19:10:20

I was looking at a cottage where we stayed previously (brillaint on a farm) and it is booked solid They are completely booked in school holidays for 2006 as well !!!

sis Tue 26-Apr-05 19:11:07

WE go almost everyyear in June and have really enjoyed it although I do agree that the accomodation is a bit basic and my first impression was also one of disappointment. If you can cope with the basic accommodation, then I think it is great as you can decide how much or how little you want to spend - although the restaurant food tens to be so awful that most people prefer to do self catering (the pizza place is okay and they let kids make their own pizza on some of the days). If you want to use the spa, they do a special deal where you get three hour session in the kids club and a session in the spa for a lot less than if you book them both separately.

The fact that they have a huge area for toddlers and babies in the swimming pool is something that may be useful for you to know about IlanaK.

The centre parcs site has some special offers on at the moment too so I think it is worth checking out.

If you go, I hope you have a great time.

bakedpotato Tue 26-Apr-05 19:35:32

Another vote for 'never again'.
Went to the one in Suffolk -- Elvedon? -- last summer. Stayed in 'executive villa', which was hideous, though it did have a dishwasher, c-beebies and a movie channel, just as well really as weather stank (admittedly can't blame CenterParcs for that).
Pool and poolside showers cold on first day (we were only there for 3). Changing rooms dirty.
All 'eatery' food yellow.
Was too late to book into the spa .
Good things: playgrounds, bikes, erm, that's it.
We all cheered as we left.
(If you're thinking of doing a bit of localsightseeing, btw, It's a right old palavar to leave. It takes ages to retrieve your car, and Elvedon has security barriers to deter you further, very checkpoint charlie. I guess all this encourages you to stay and blow all your cash on site, You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave, etc.)

mancmum Tue 26-Apr-05 19:38:48

hated every last minute of my time there -- like being in prison but paying for privilige!

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