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Just booked Centre Parcs - any advise and hints?

(61 Posts)
Hulababy Sun 24-Aug-08 12:15:51

We have booked to go for a week, week beginning Friday 15th December.

Have never stayed before, but have been in the Sherwood Forest one with a day pass earlier this year.

We have booked a new style Woodland Lodge at the Cumbria parc, and we are going with us, DD (age 6) and PILs.

Haven't prebooked anything else yet. DH ad DD will probably take their own bikes with them, but I will need to hire - how much does this cost on top?

Towels and linen are included, but what else will we need to tske?

And what other activities are worth doing, and how much are they?

Anything else we should know?

twinklytoes Sun 24-Aug-08 14:33:52

we've always planned on one paid activity per day and rest of day on the pool.

if eating in restaurants - you need to pre-book as they get busy. take meal for first night rather than trying to find somewhere to eat.

been a while since we've been so can't comment on prices.

take a sharp knife for kitchen and proper mugs if you like your tea/coffee.

Hulababy Sun 24-Aug-08 18:58:18

Are the kitchens not well equipped then? Even in the new style ones? Was under impression we wouldn't need anything like that.

We will eat ut a bit, but I love cooking, so I am likely to potter about and cook a few times too.

Anyone know how much activities are likely to be?

PootyApplewater Sun 24-Aug-08 19:16:20

We went in April - same style accommodation at same park.

We thought the accommodation was much better than the equivalent at Sherwood.

The kitchen was fine - plenty of cooking utensils.

I think a week's bike hire was about £30.

If you want to use the open fire, it is worth buying crackle logs before you go, as CP charge a lot for them.

Activities are expensive, imo.

Some of the things based from the Warden's Lodge were good though - treasure hunt and squirrel trail suited my 5 yo niece very well.

We used to turn up to the Sports Plaza, and see what was on offer.

DSes enjoyed roller skating and some skateboardy type thingy (technical name grin).

Also table tennis was great for the children - I sat in Starbucks and watched them.

They also enjoyed the urban funk dance class, but I'm not sure what the minimum age range was for that.

Have fun. smile

PootyApplewater Sun 24-Aug-08 19:19:17

They also have children's clubs of course, but we didn't use them this time.
Think it's about £12 - £15 for a morning session.

DSs did some of the early morning swim things before the pool was open to everyone else - they played water polo etc.

They had fun, but I think it was about £15 each for an hour! shock

Again, I can't remember what age that was for though, sorry.

MrsJoshLyman Sun 24-Aug-08 19:20:26

Take your own food! Honestly, the eating out options are pretty terrible as well as expensive for what you get. We had a great time at Elveden forest a couple of years ago and I'd definitely go again but next time I'd take some home made lasagnes etc.

AbbeyA Sun 24-Aug-08 19:22:34

The Cumbria one is lovely and there are lots of red squirrels. I loved a TV channel that was a webcam on the woods with lots of wild life at night.
Unfortunately it was 4 yrs ago and I can't remember prices, I know that it adds up. I did sailing and had to capsize on my own-I managed it! I don't know the age of your DD but my DSs tried Scuba Diving and it was the highlight of their holiday. I seem to remember they were quite well equipped and also had BBQ. We didn't eat out much. Queueing up for bikes on the first day was a pain, but I have a feeling that someone on here said that the system had improved.

MorocconOil Sun 24-Aug-08 19:24:54

Yes definitely take your own food. The restaurants were not good, and the shop was terrible.

We went three years ago so can't really remember how much the activities were.

morningpaper Sun 24-Aug-08 19:25:13

I always take a sharp knife and a decent non-stick pan

Take your own food - CP food is UBER-CRAP (except for the pancake place)

PootyApplewater Sun 24-Aug-08 19:27:29

I think the system for bikes must have improved, AbbeyA, as we didn't have to queue very long at all.

Just remembered that we had to queue in the car for ages when we first got there though - probably about an hour.

The children were very thrilled by the drive-through check-in points though.

I'd recommend turning up in the morning if you can, and going swimming or something. You won't be able to get into your lodge until later in the day, but you'll avoid the big queues to get into the park.

morningpaper Sun 24-Aug-08 19:29:12

Take your own rubber rings/arm bands if you need them - otherwise your DD will become fascinated by the ones in the shop...

Take a couple of spare swimming costumes - the swimming area is great and FREE so you will spend a lot of time there

PootyApplewater Sun 24-Aug-08 19:29:20

No pancake place at Whinfell.
Unless we missed it, and I don't think we did, as DS1 loves the pancake house at SF, and scoured the map. grin

morningpaper Sun 24-Aug-08 19:30:18

oh bad luck, I have made a bee-line for the pancake places before

one of them is re-furbing the pancake place at the mo so is closed, but I can't remember which one

liath Sun 24-Aug-08 19:34:45

We were at Whinfell in the same kind of lodge earlier this year. The kitchen was well equiped but no dishwasher. Definitely take your own food (although in fact we found the restaurents better than we expected). The supermarket is well stocked though it's all a bit pricey. Stuff I find useful to remember is washing up liquid, kitchen roll, cling film, spare tea towels, towels for swimming. In December it's worth taking some logs to burn if you have space - they sell dura-logs at an extortionate price and it's nice to have a real fire going.

I love Whinfell smile. Can't advise much on actiities as we've only done messy play stuff but the pool complex is fantastic. You just have to shake off the feeling that you're an extra in The Trueman Show......

AvenaLife Sun 24-Aug-08 19:40:19

my frend went to the same one lasr year and wasn't a happy bunny when she came home (early). They all had their bikes stolen, sha said the cabin was dirty and everything was expensive.

rookiemater Mon 25-Aug-08 19:57:30

If you have any Tesco vouchers swap them for Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia, means that your meals at Centre Parcs will cost 1/4 of what they should.

Go early for lunch, despite the size of the place the restaurants are completely unable to cope with the number of people coming to eat.

Bring your own disposable bbq, much cheaper than the ones there.

If you spend over £40.00 at the shop they will deliver to your lodge for free, worth considering as a lot of the lodges are quite a walk from the centre.

Consider going at odd times to the pool. It is generally very busy in the mornings and mid afternoon, but if you go at lunch time or around 5, then it will be a lot quieter.

Enjoy.

Hulababy Tue 26-Aug-08 19:46:58

Thanks all.

PootyApplewater - will look out for the crackle logs, we may need them in December! The dance class sounds good. Won't be using the noral kid's clubs either.

MrsJoshLyman/mimizan/MorningPaper - may well go shopping beforehand then and take what I need with us. I hope to do some cooking as I will have more time to enjoy it whilst away PILs are already planning to bring a case of wine with them anyway, so at least that side of things will be sorted grin

AbbeyA - DD is 6yo. Dh and DD taking own bikes. I might pick mine up day after if likely to be busy that day. Like the idea of the webcam channel

MP - DD doesn't need floats so hopefully okay there. Went swimming at the Sherwood Forest one on a day pass and DD loved it. God pint re spare costumes.

liath - shame about no dishwasher; oh well, if I cook that can be DH and FIL's jobs instead grin

AvenaLife - really? That is bad. Hopefully just a one off as so far everything I have heard as been really positive about the site. Fingers crossed. I am assuming most things are same price (food, cafes, shopping) is same amongst all the CP sites? We found the Sherwood Forest one on our day pass ok. Again, fingers crossed.

rookiemater - good point re swimming. Some days may go out into Cumbria itself, so good idea about using pool on return, around dinner time.

Re. hour to check in - can we do this on foot quicker? nd do we all need to be present? or could just me and DH do it and leave DD with inlaws?

rookiemater Wed 27-Aug-08 08:38:25

Hi Hula. It has never taken me an hour to book into center parcs, usually about 20 mins tops. If possible arrive early in the afternoon as although you can't get into your lodge you can still use the swimming pool and other facilities to avoid the rush.

I found the restaurants to be fine, if very very slow. The Indian is actually very good provided you don't order the pre made banquet and go for some of the specialities instead.The food prices in the shop are similar to say M&S or Waitrose, but the quality of the produce is pretty good too so it didn't bother me.

One of the downsides of Center Parcs is once you are in, you are in. It takes a good 15 minutes to walk to the car park and get out of the village. Think they design it that way to keep you inside grin. I wouldn't plan on going out for more than a couple of days, otherwise you would be better renting a lovely cottage in the middle of the Lake District for half the price. This is just my opinion, you can of course do what you want.

Hulababy Wed 27-Aug-08 21:12:08

Thanks. We won't be out and about outside CP that much, but PIls may do more.

Yes, we used shop at Sherwood Forest and didn't find it too bad either. Maybe too used to Waitrose grin

Hoping to get there nice and early on the Friday to start using the failities.

Fizzylemonade Wed 27-Aug-08 21:40:05

Crackle logs for your fire are available in normal supermarkets, I get pack of 3 from sainsburys!

Woodland lodges are lovely, newly refurbished with top quality kitchen and bathroom stuff and Whinfell has much better accommodation than the other "original" CPs (Center Parcs) because Whinfell was originally Rank owned so they don't blend their accom into the woodland they do "oooh look at our swiss style lodges"

The bedrooms are bigger as is the downstairs because it is Whinfell, you get dishwasher, towels and DVD player.

I love CP. We go twice a year have been to Whinfell, Sherwood and Elevden.

I have a price booklet from Whinfell, it is from last year I think (we go so often I get confused about where I went and when!)

bike - £30 for adult mountain bike for a week.

Your DD could do...

pony trek £16 for 30 mins

Teddy bear making £18 15 mins but she would get the bear!

Mammal magic £5 (£6 adult) hands on experience for animal lovers, meet Tiggiwinkle the hedgehog and other rare, cute and unusual mammals, you get to handle and stroke them

Hairbraiding £5 short hair £6 long hair

Magical makeovers £13 20 mins but they get to dress up in fancy dress have clever makeup done and have their photo taken against a backdrop. You get the photo.

This is hard for me as I have 2 boys!!! There are lots of indoor activities but the weather has never put us off doing things including when it snowed!!!!!

We have never found the restaurants or the supermarket to be expensive or boring.

The whole place feels safe to walk or cycle at night. Take a torch because the lighting is kept to a minimum for minimum impact on the wildlife and of course from a conservation point of view.

I can't wait to go back, our boys love exploring the woods, and just running around without traffic. It will be lovely in December as the Christmas lights will be up.

Any questions just post away!

Hulababy Wed 27-Aug-08 21:44:08

That is fab; thanks. Will have a look though activities with DD.

I will def get bike for me; DH and DD taking their own.

As it so close to Christmas apparently there is Father Christmas there.

Really looking forward to it.

sunshineonarainyday Wed 27-Aug-08 21:53:21

We went with DD (4) and DS (2) for a week at the beginning of November last year. Stayed in a 3 bedroom new style woodland lodge and it was fab! Lovely decor, great kitchen (with dishwasher), bathroom and separate shower room.

We arrived at 10am, checked in, parked the car and then hired bikes etc. Couldn't get into the villa until 3pm though.

The DC loved the massive blackboard with chalks in the dining area of the lodge and also channel 9(?) on the tv which was badger cam!

When we were there the whole 'Lapland' experience was on so we had a horse and carriage ride and met Father Christmas which was lovely. We went just as it was getting dark and the forest looks magical with all the christmas lights etc.

Ooh, I wish we were going again this year. You will have a fab time. Any more questions just ask!

katz Wed 27-Aug-08 22:29:21

hula - if you have space to take it, i have a bike in the garage, if its functioning your more than welcome to borrow it.

Hulababy Mon 01-Sep-08 09:31:00

The lapland bit sounds excellent, as does rest of your experience.

Thanks Katz; not sure how many bies the rack lets us take - will have a check when it comes.

nailpolish Mon 01-Sep-08 09:40:18

hula we are going to the cumbria one in december too - but the week after you, ie over christmas

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