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Arrival at Centerparcs(26 Posts)
We have our first Centerparcs (Whinfell) stay coming up soon and I'm making a plan for arrival day (a Friday). We expect to arrive in Penrith about 1pm but will need to do a supermarket shop that day too. Can any veterans advise how to do it?
Should we have lunch in Penrith and then I do the supermarket shop while DH entertains DC? Or should we check in to Centerparcs and then
I leave again to do the shopping? Or should I postpone the shopping till Saturday morning? (We have a long journey so can't bring food with us and DC are very small so we plan on eating/drinking in lodge quite a bit.)
I would do a click and collect order that you can just pick up en route. No trailing around the supermarket. Have lunch, pick up the groceries and make your way over.
Thanks for your reply @Itscurtainsforyou; the reason I wasn't going to do that was that there is a Booths in Penrith; I've never shopped in a Booths before and was looking forward to trying it for some naice holiday food . But I could just do a click and collect from Sainsburys and then drop into Booths another day.
I'd drop husband and kids off for a swim then take yourself off for a leisurely luxury food shop and back in time to check in.
I would recommend getting to CP and checked in as early as possible, then ditching the car. We queued for over 2 hours just to check in in November, then another hour to get from the mobbed car park to our lodge. it was horrendous! I ended up ditching husband and car and walking with the kids. This was Whinfell too.
We went again in May (it is fantastic btw) and checked in at 12, drove right up to the arrivals lodge, straight through to the car park. We ditched the car and went for a swim, then to the lodge at 3.30, then sent DP for the car at 5ish when the queues had died, much much better! We had a cool box for our food with ice packs, kept it all lovely and cold.
Enjoy your trip, we absolutely loved it!
I'd totally agree with getting a click and collect order so you don't waste any time!
Oh and Booths is brilliant!
My experiences of CP (Woburn) is that once you have unpacked and returned your car to the car park, you then cannot take the car back to the lodge until the day you are going home. I don't know if this is standard CP practice or just at Woburn but I wouldn't want to carry bags of shopping from the car park to my lodge.
There is a large Morrison's across the road from Booths in Penrith so if you are doing two separate shops that would be the easier option rather than Sainsbury's, although the Sainsbury's is the quieter supermarket of the two.
It's worth looking out for Cranston's Food Hall too if you are wanting local meat etc. They have a really nice cafe/restaurant upstairs too.
Also, you could try Reghed which is owned by the same people as the infamous Tebay/Gloucester Services. There is a small soft play there and quite a bit of shopping and places to sit and eat. Be warned though it is a popular pre-Whinfel 'waiting to check in' hotspot so on a Friday it does get quite busy.
How far have you got to travel? We tend to get a supermarket shop delivered to home first thing (in bags) chuck it all straight in the car and the fresh stuff into a cool box.
Oh and the Penrith Booths is one of the smaller ones so don't be surprised if it doesn't quite live up to the MN hype .
If you are heading into the Lakes at all both the Windermere and Keswick ones are a bit more impressive and the Windermere one is also right next to the flagship Lakeland shop/HQ.
Thanks for all the responses!
Sounds like our best plan would be to arrive as early as possible, picking up a click and collect order in Sainsburys in Penrith; I can pop into Booths/elsewhere for a browse another day and just buy enough to comfortably fit in the bottom of the buggy for the trip back from the car park.
@TheCumbrian That is very useful information, thank you. Definitely planning a trip to Windermere and it would be very convenient to accidentally stumble across Lakeland while popping into Booths.
I've been to center parcs a lot and never had to queue for hours
We do a full click and collect orfer that we pick up en route and then take to the lodge. There is only one opportunity to take tge car there on the first day.
If you do want to go to Booths (and I dont find it any more exciting than a good waitrose - live near both) then I would go en route. If you have to walk back to the car, drive to Booths, shop, drive back and walk back to the lodge, that will take at least half a day which is a bit of a waste kf time (in my view). It's worth noting that the CP has upped its game a fair bit in the last few years snd now sells cook food snd has a fairly decent bakery
Like canihaveacoffee, we have stayed in CP 3 times (twice Sherwood, and once Longleat) and after the first (long-ish queue) arrival, we have arrived as early as possible (ferry involved so early lunchtimes), parked in car park, got out swimming gear bags and had a swim, with DH or I walking back to the main lodge to get our keys after 3 and then walking to the lodge. That is something that can easily be a family activity.
Once you have the keys, you can take the DCs and swimming bags to your own lodge, and then 1 parent can keep them corralled there (exploring, choosing beds, watching tv etc) while the other goes for the car.
One of us walked back for the car the last time, well after 4pm, and we did the big unpack then. Queues had eased considerably at the gate by then.
The previous time, we got really lucky and the lodge was right near the car park, and we got a space very very near the lodge itself, so we just walked everything in from the car park. And left a few bits to collect the following day, as it was so easily accessible.
The only warning I have is that on all 3 occasions, we had plans to leave the site and enjoy other things in the vicinity - and on all 3 occasions, the first time we turned on the engine of the car after unpacking was to repack the car going home at the end of the stay.
That said, we haven't been to Whinfell, and I suspect we'd be more likely to try and get out there. But we just find it so utterly relaxed and its such a rare chance for us to slow down that we genuinely just seem to find the world has stopped for a week.
We do a big shop once we are well en route - I know it was Morrisons for Longleat, and Sainsburys for Sherwood. I bring a few things already packed (my self catering/camping box has things like 5 dishwasher tablets, a 100ml refill bottle of washing up liquid, 250ml bottle olive oil, salt and pepper, a few seasonings we use very frequently, small roll tin foil, box of sandwich bags (for marinating things or saving leftovers as well as sambos), box of ice cube making bags, matches, couple of nightlight candles - as well as key kitchen implements as I always find some missing - corkscrew, 2 small sharp knives, wooden spoon, plastic tongs, measuring spoons, small metal cafetiere, 2 tea towels and a hand towel, 2 j cloths, washup brush, pair of silicon oven mitts etc). And possibly a couple of family favourites that we wouldn't necessarily get in the UK.
But then I stock up en route with tasty treats and easy catering options (at least 2-3 dinners, maybe an easy pasta dinner, an easy rice dinner, and meat for 1 BBQ - or whatever suits your family), at least a box of wine and bottle of gin, plenty of tonic etc. And a disposable BBQ/2 if the weather forecast is any way decent.
And resign myself to spending some money in the Park Market - it is more expensive, but not terribly so. So we usually end up getting croissants most mornings (it's where DD started to head to the shops on her own, doing the morning breakfast shopping in CP!), bread and lunch bits mid-week, some meat and veg later in the week, and if we run out of wine/crisps etc. Or we have found something we think is worth trying that we haven't seen before!
Our general aim is to self cater most meals in the lodge, but we generally expect to eat out for 1 meal per day on average - maybe 1 breakfast in the pancake house, a couple of days lunch and a few days dinners, and a few coffee/cake, icecream or beer/soft drink stops along the way too.
Pick up your food at supermarket before you go into CP. if you arrive early enough you won't queue but if you leave to park to go shopping after checking in you'll defo queue trying to get back in again. Also the shop on site is very very expensive so avoid if poss....
Have a great time, we love it there
We got to whinfell at 2pm on a Monday two weeks ago. Got bikes sorted and cycled them to accommodation then went swimming. Then drove car to lodge and unloaded then DH popped off to Sainsbury's at about 4pm and he drove shopping up to lodge then returned car to car park. They do allow cars back in but not after a certain time so we were fine.
The onsite supermarket is expensive but no too bad. Nice cakes and fresh bread.
Whinfell was great. Shame we can never afford to go back one DD starts school.
the reason I wasn't going to do that was that there is a Booths in Penrith; I've never shopped in a Booths before
I totally read this as 'Boots' and was like, wowzers, you have led a sheltered life! 😂
Forgot to say parking can be tight. we were lucky but lots of cars parked not in spaces indicated to us there was not enough parking. Also lots of bad parking over lines by other drivers limiting spaces.
Also do the spa. On your own. Fab!
We got there the first time just before 2, and the queue was all the way back to the security lodge.
ours were nearly one and nearly 3 at the time, it was really hard work! We ended up getting them out of the car seats and having them on my lap (passenger) as we never went faster than 5mph (and that is generous!), they were screaming so much.
It was a really bad first impression to be honest, but all the staff were amazing and so apologetic, and as soon as we got in it was all so great we forgave them!
The second time, they gave us wristbands for the lodge as soon as we checked in at 12, they just wouldn't work for the lodge until 3.30 apparently, but did work for lockers in the pool which was handy! Would definitely recommend doing this and we would do it any time we go in the future. We came from Fife in Scotland so an early start that day but loaded the car the day before, and it was really worth it
We went out into the Lake District a couple of days during the week and the entrance/exit was so so simple and quick, so maybe plan a trip to booths around that?
Thanks everyone, very useful information.
Thanks @BiddyPop for such a wealth of advice. I already had Miwadi on my packing list, might add some more things to the list now ￼
@Moonkissedlegs That would indeed be a sheltered existence! But I am a slightly sad woman who loves food and new supermarkets and we are hoping to spend a day or two out and about in the Lake District so I'll hopefully have a chance to check out Booths and maybe the other places
If you can’t get into your lodge until a few hours after you arrive, how are you going to keep chilled food cold-- and your chocolate from melting--.
Definitely do your shop before you arrive, arrival and departure days at Center Parcs are something else!
Good point @PandaPieForTea; I'll have to pack a cooler bag and maybe just buy the ice creams onsite.
My box is organized on the basis of things I'd really hate to not have available in terms of tools.
And for foodstuffs and other things that get used up - I reckon there is no point in planning to do loads of washing up on holidays, but also no point in buying a whole bottle of washup liquid to leave behind, when I can just fill a small bottle and bring a handful of dishwasher tablets both from under my sink at home.
The same with oil, salt and pepper, a few herbs/seasonings etc.
If you have a coolbag and some iceblocks, could you freeze the iceblocks in advance and have those in the cooler in the car, ready for the cold things in the shopping? Or else, just have the coolbag and buy a bag of ice with the food shopping? Might not work for icecream (although it might for a couple of hours if it's not a scorching hot day), but should keep milk, meat and other fridge things at least cool enough from a food shop en route until you can get into the lodge by car.
Yes, that's exactly what I'll do @BiddyPop ; I'll be able to freeze the cooler packs the previous night so that will keep things chilled at least.