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Center Parcs - any advice?

(26 Posts)
aristocat Fri 04-Sep-09 20:20:54

Have never heard a bad review about them. Are they really that good?

cluckyagain Fri 04-Sep-09 20:23:05

Depends what you want out of a holiday - if you want very well thought out self catering with a big pool and lots to do (if you can afford it!!!!) they're fab. If you would rather have some time away from people with the family, or a holiday on the cheap, CP ain't for you!

cluckyagain Fri 04-Sep-09 20:23:59

...unless you go out of holiday time - v good deals then but you still have to pay for every activity apart from the pool.

GoldenSnitch Fri 04-Sep-09 20:43:19

We went for the first time with our (then 23 month old) DS in February this year - we loved it so much we're going again in November

We booked it before we knew I would be 8 months pregnant when we go!! hmm

It was great. Loads to do to keep all ages busy, everything from swimming to messy play to crazy golf to badmington, resteraunts or delivered take away for if we didn't fancy self catering, comfortable accomodation with plenty of room.

We rented bikes and a trailer for DS (which he loved) and got ourselves and our stuff around easily.

Our repeat trip is costing us £215 for a Mon-Fri stay. Even with activities and food added on, that's not bad for a week away.

nappyzoneisback Sun 13-Sep-09 18:03:21

its fab we love it - we just come back from a haven weekend on a cheap deal and it was the worse holiday weekend experience ever - it has to be cp every time from now on!

aristocat Sun 13-Sep-09 23:48:36

my friend just been to the sherwood one and said it was excellent.

website looks good too - hoping to book for next year smile

thanks for your replies !!!

Treeesa Mon 14-Sep-09 00:22:23

They're great - especially when the weather turns cold and you can still enjoy the warmth of the indoor swimming centre.

We have been to them all excepot for the Lake District one that was taken over.. Our favourite is Longleat as it is set in very beautiful countryside.. A bit hilly and quite a walk/cycle between the swimming dome and the health/spa place.

The one in Norfok (Thetfors) is very flat and great for cycling but after we were there it burnt down (no we didn't start it).. but I heard that the dome in the middle may be more open plan now..

Sherwood Forest was ok but our least favourite of the three we went to..

Food can add up if you do eat out in the restaurants.. The small supermarket is quite pricey too as you are a captive audience..

If you are content with swimming and water activities and take your own bikes then it is very good value.. Start adding activities for you and the kids every day and it starts to add up..

Fizzylemonade Sun 11-Oct-09 09:40:15

Our favourite is Elveden, ie the one that burnt down! They took into account everyone's opinions when they rebuilt the centre so we think it is fantastic.

The sports centre is really open plan with loads of places to sit and chill and watch other sportier people get sweaty grin plus lots of the centre is undercover so if it rains you have somewhere to shelter.

That being said we have been when it snowed, magical, and it didn't stop anyone getting out on their bikes, and swimming in the outdoor pool bit (you go through a screen of plastic stuff from the indoor pool no getting out and going outside) whilst being snowed on. Truly amazing.

We have been to all of them except Longleat as it is very far from where we are.

I agree with the others, it is expensive but you can keep a lid on the spending.

We tend to eat out only once a day, we swim, cycle, explore and we only do a couple of activities so my son does horse riding which is £11.

We like it for our young boys running around with very little traffic, the beautiful surroundings and the fact that you can do very little.

aristoBLACKcat Sun 11-Oct-09 17:47:47

am liking what i hear about them, will definitely book soon.

another friend goes in early january and she reckons if it snows its even better too smile

MrsJiggle86 Sun 11-Oct-09 17:59:11

You will need to take alot of money, we went to the sherwood forest parc which was fun, the pool is terrific but we went with a lack of funds and could only really go for a walk and go swimming, saying that i would love to go back just for the heated floors in the villa grin

nannynick Sun 11-Oct-09 18:20:43

You can do Center Parcs on a budget. I'd actually suggest that however much money you decide you want to spend, you stick to a budget as you can easily start spending more than you intend.
Some activities are better value than others (on a cost per hour basis). For example Action Challenge lasted 2 hours, where as Tree Treking lasted about 30 minutes... yet they were similar price.
Children like doing things which are free... such as making dams in the streams (at Longleat in Pine Area there are ponds connected by streams, which are often dammed by sticks and stones). Pretend fishing is another popular activity - pack some string, then you can make pretend fishing rods from sticks with string tied on. Take cheap supermarket bread with you to use as fish bate. Fish in the pond near the villa, not the big lake (that's for real fishing).
There is a Treasure trail at Longleat (not sure about other sites, expect they have something similar). Don't pay to do the activity... instead get a few treats for the children (as the treasure) and then do trail as a family. At Longleat clue 1 is on a map/notice board near the Bike Park for Aqua Sauna (near the lake).
Swimming is free... avoid buying food at the pool. Eat at the villa - lunch could be cold snacks, salads, ham, egg etc.

coolma Thu 15-Oct-09 21:22:20

so how much would people say it costs realistically for a four day break, me dh and two little ones (9 and 3)? Discounting the accomodation and saying we did one or two activities per child per day? And can you take your own food? Ta. Oh and do the kids do the activities without us? Sorry if too many questions!

nannynick Fri 16-Oct-09 20:39:23

I think it will be hard to give an accurate idea of costs... as it depends so much on what you do, when you get up, when you go to bed etc.

Yes you can take your own food - in fact I suggest you do take you own store cupboard essentials, cereals, anything in fact which isn't frozen or refrigerated. The buy fresh produce on site - such as bread, milk. You can also buy food either on site, or you can get in your car and drive to the nearest supermarket (if at Longleat, there is a Morrisons about 3 miles away).

Your children will need to be accompanied on almost all activities and parents often have to pay... so pick activities that you/dh and your little ones want to do.

Vast majority of your time will probably be spent in the pool - that's free (pound coin for locker, which is returned).

Prices taken from 07.09.2009 Longleat Village Guide. Prices subject to change and may vary from village to village.

There are activities which I feel are best done as Mum/child Dad/child pairs, or as a family. For example... Adventure Golf (9 holes - adult £4.50, child £3.50)

Pedalos - £9 for 30 minutes. Can seat up to 4.

Badminton Court - £8 for 45 minutes. You will need to buy a shuttle cock and hire rackets (don't know costs for those) unless you bring your own.

For your 9 year old and most active out of you/DH - Low Ropes Challenge £15 each. Lasts 2 hours... team building exercise.

Rollerskating Adult: £4.50 Child: £3.50 (size 10+) Adults don't have to pay if not skating.

Bowling £20 for 45 minutes (4 players).
Note: There are sometimes offers on bowling at off-peak (early morning typically) times. If offers are available at the time of your stay, they are usually on a flyer in your villa welcome pack on arrival.

For adults only: Aqua Sana Twilight Spa Session - £26 each, 6pm-9pm.

What sort of activities were you thinking you would be doing?

I would suggest only doing one paid activity per day and you probably wouldn't do one on the Monday or Friday as those are travel days.

If you were to budget for £100 per full day for activities... so £300... I think you could do things within that budget.

coolma Fri 16-Oct-09 21:56:42

Wow, thanks so much for that! we've been talking to people who've been, and whilst they all agree it's fantastic, they also say a) don;t eat out!! And b) it will cost a fair bit! To be honest, we may go abroad for a week instead1 Thanks so much though.

nannynick Fri 16-Oct-09 22:17:02

Don't forget to factor in the time it takes to get somewhere... it takes me around 2 hours to get to Center Parcs.

It does cost quite a bit to go to Center Parcs but they are not targeting the mass market holiday maker. I feel they are targeting people who can afford their prices... who will dine out at least once during their stay, if not more than once. Who will spend £20+ per person per day on activities.

coolma Fri 16-Oct-09 22:26:11

can't believe the half term price hike shock

CristinaTheAstonishing Fri 16-Oct-09 22:26:16

Nannynick - they ARE targetting the mass amrket holiday maker. What do you mean? The prices are stupidly high. Perhaps that's who they really market?

nannynick Fri 16-Oct-09 22:57:33

I don't agree. I don't feel they are targeting people who say fly to Spain and lay on the beach, or by the pool most of the time. It's that kind of holiday I see as being the mass market holiday package... maybe that isn't the same as what you mean by mass market holiday Christina.

Center Parcs are targeting parents with young children - under 5's. Most of those children would not be attending school, so could go on holiday at any time of the year. Sure they may have older siblings... but the press realise I have just read on the Center Parcs website is not aiming at families with older children... it's aiming at families with babies and toddlers.

From the press realise on 29-Sept-09
"Across the villages, parents will find a range of features specifically for families with newborn babies to ensure a stress-free, enjoyable holiday. Families will find children’s menus and free baby food in selected restaurants, and bottle warmers and nappy changing facilities throughout the restaurants and public areas. In the popular Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise, there are buoyancy aids, baby only pools and outdoor play areas on offer."

From reading that, it looks to me as though they are targeting parents with Babies and Toddlers. Are there enough parents of babies who would pay the higher price for a Center Parcs holiday, rather than spend time in airports with their baby? I feel there are parents who would pay the premium... do you agree?

If Center Parcs wants to price themselves out of certain markets... that is surely up to them. They will have their business reasons for doing that... they won't disclose those reasons, which is quite reasonable as they don't want other companies knowing how they make business decisions. They are not a PLC any more (have not been since 2006) and are to my knowledge still owned by the Blackstone Group - an American private equity firm. So I feel they are hardly going to start telling Watchdog or anyone else why they do things the way they do them. Dynamic pricing of holidays (or any other service to my knowledge) has not been made illegal by our current or past Governments. So whilst it remains legal, then if Center Parcs feels that using the Dynamic Pricing model works for them... then why not keep using it.

Sure I would love the cost of holidays at Center Parcs to come down in price. In fact last year I was getting better prices than I am this year. But that's the way things are... prices change and if they go up too much, then I'll reconsider if I'm prepared to pay the price.

nannynick Fri 16-Oct-09 22:59:35

Can I blame spell check for "press realise"? Of course that was supposed to be press release.

CristinaTheAstonishing Fri 16-Oct-09 23:01:44

Nannynick - I thought "people who can afford to pay their prices" isn't enough of a descriptor. There must be plenty more such people but with more discerning taste as to where they spend their money.

PeachesMcLean Fri 16-Oct-09 23:03:08

Good lord at those activity prices shock

bruffin Fri 16-Oct-09 23:25:03

shock at the prices as well. We went to a Dutch Center Parcs in August and the equivelent to Low Ropes is only 8 euros for a session and a VIP cottage for a family of 4 at the end of August was 2/3rds of the price of a standard cottage here.

We hadn't been for a few years and noticed how much the prices had gone up, but a lot of it was the low pound against the euro.

snala Fri 16-Oct-09 23:40:13

They were on watchdog this week because of the price hikes during holidays.shock

coolma Sat 17-Oct-09 09:28:29

Ridiculous - from £300 odd to £1,700 for a week! How is that justifiable????

giantwickerstacks Sun 18-Oct-09 20:07:09

We are going to elvedon tomorrow (we get a 2 week half term so next week obviously cheaper) and we very rarely go on our own but take inlaws of some description - then it works out (for a posh 3 bed 3 bath villa) at 180 each bedroom iyswim - so the inlaws pay 200 and I pay 200 and my exdp pays 200 as well and its good value I think.

When I priced up a proper family holiday in the Canaries it was 500 each for a basic 3 star hotel (for the toddler and junior age ds as well).

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