Mark's sister had booked a stay at Centre Parcs to celebrate my niece's 18th and it was also the week before my 30th too. We were stopping at Sherwood Forest, Nottingham. We had a 4 bedroom executive lodge booked but when we turned up there had been a problem and we were being upgraded to a Treehouse, I didn't realise quite how amazing this was having never been to Centre Parcs before.
The entrance to Centre Parcs was miles away from the accommodation and with most accommodation you can drop your luggage off by your villa and then move the car back to the car park which is a bit of a hassle however it does keep the site pretty safe without having to worry about traffic. However with the treehouses you have proper allocated parking by them so that's easier.
I was pretty amazed at how big the area was, it really is like a small village or even a large village.
Okay so I looked up how much it would cost mid week for the same mid week next year and it is £2,499. To be honest as lovely as it is I could never warrant that money, I would rather have a week in the Caribbean!
So the treehouse itself was all underfloor heating, finished to a really high standard. It sat back from the roadside and you walked up a long ramp to get to it as it sat on stilts in the forest. Outside there was a decked patio area where there was a hot tub, access to an outdoor toilet and Physiotherm Infrared room. Along a walkway was the games den which housed the pool table, mini bar, fridge and Nintendo Wii - although there weren't really any good family games which was a shame. The kitchen was fully stocked with all the appliances you may need. There was one bedroom upstairs which was accessed by a spiral staircase and this had it's own huge balcony. The other three bedrooms were downstairs all with ensuites that varied with some having baths, some showers etc.
I can't really fault it, it was finished to a really high standard, everyone who hears you are in a treehouse wants to know all about it as they are really looked up to. The only complaint I would have is the soundproofing, the three bedrooms are all off the main living area and the walls are paper thin, you can hear everything said in the next room. So personally I would prefer if the bedrooms were all upstairs.
All the activities at Centre Parcs are extra apart from the swimming pool, we didn't end up booking anything as by the time we had decided we wanted to try the Segways they were fully booked - so do this before or at the beginning of your break. There wasn't a lot we could do with Macy being only being 17 months, most activities for the children start age 3. However there is a nursery on site if you wanted to go and do something on your own, We got there the Tuesday night so didn't think a week's bike hire was worth it, it was only when it was too late we discovered we could have hired one for the day!
Our first day we spent in the pool, I was concerened as a lot of reviews said it was cold but it wasn't too bad really. We managed to get some sunbeds by the pool, the changing rooms were great as they were all cubicles for families so Mark and I could both get her ready and back dressed again rather than having to do it all on our own. There are big lockers to put all your belongings in. I was a bit miffed though that you had to take your towels from the villa with you and it was quite a long walk to have to lug them all over there. You can pay for some there but that seemed a waste.
There was plenty to do, several slides for various different ages, wave machine, smaller pools for the toddlers, rapids, a cold plunge pool, an outdoor pool. One slide was a rubber ring which we all sat in, that was fun. The children loved it, most of the slides were probably aimed more at children, older children or families. There weren't any adult only slides which is a shame - that would have been good for the daredevils amongst us! The rapids was probably the only thing that was older teenagers/adults only.
There was also a cafe by the pool so you could stop for a snack and a drink without having to get dried off, that way you could spend the day in there. outside all of the facilities they have little shelters where you can leave your pushchair, you just need to take a bicycle lock with you to lock it up with.
There are also lots of indoor soft plays in the bars and restaurants etc which is great for when the weather is typically British! Our favourite was the one in the Sports Bar which had quite a large area for the under 3s
As it was November, Centre Parcs had their winter wonderland on so we had to take the children to see santa. They were given lots of chocolate coins and a good length of time to walk round the grotto before going in to see the main man! Included in the cost was a photo which was not easy with a 1 yr old, 2 yr old and 3 yr old! The younger two were a bit frightened so Mark sat with them hiding behind a tree! They all had good presents which were cuddly toys, really nice good quality.
They do make everywhere look really Christmassy with snow everywhere on the way to see Santa.
Older children can take a pony ride to see Santa and you can also ride in a Horse and Carriage.
There are plenty of outdoor play areas scattered about, including a beach, where twice a week they have a firework display.
There is quite a variety of food establishments, somewhere for everyone. With Starbucks and Cafe Rouge, some well know chains. However unless you like paying through the nose for bog standard food, you probably won't eat out that often. The prices are rediculous, they have a captive audience. We ordered an indian take away and paid £40 for two main course, two sides and two naans! I don't mind paying for food but it was no better than any other Indian where we would have paid £20!
Okay you are on holiday but I can't help but sit there and think I could have a lovely, well cooked meal at our local high rated restaurant for that money rather than a curry!!
The Pancake House was lovely, however I had a Chocoholics pancake and was a bit disappointed as there wasn't a lot of chocolate on it. The next day I had a savoury pancake and it was lovely so they were definitely the best!
So all in all, personally I don't think it's somewhere I would go again. If I go on holiday on this country I would rather it be somewhere a) by the sea, b) cheaper (then when it rains you don't feel like you have wasted that much money when all you do is stop in!). I like my nice holidays abroad and would rather just put the money towards that rather than do a Centre Parcs again. But a lot of people must really enjoy it as they seem to run at about 97% occupancy all year round.
Sometimes I think we are a bit spoilt as we live in the countryside, we walk through a small forest weekly so it didn't seem like anything special to me? If you lived in the town and wanted a nice break in the country I can see the appeal but for me, it just doesn't appeal, I like to be beside the sea rather than in a forest. I could see for children aged 5-10 they would have a great time but you would have to budget for the activities as they would mount up, perhaps you could then go off and enjoy the Spa!!
A bit of fun - I took the Go Pro down a water slide!!
A bit of fun - I took the Go Pro down a water slide!!