Just got back from a weekend break in Center Parcs, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria. As there was just my daughter and I we opted for one of the Lakeside Apartments which are located centrally between the village/sub tropical paradise and the sports centre.
We arrived quite late so missed the rush of others checking in and therefore just sailed through our check-in process and straight round to the apartments without any delay. Plenty of parking so quick to unload, car back in the car park and bikes picked up all very seamlessly and efficiently.
The apartments themselves are very clean and modern, and super cosy. We had opted for a grocery pack and breakfast passes and both were waiting for us in the kitchen. The grocery pack included a lot of essentials so that we didn’t need to do too much food shopping before we arrived, making it a much easier start to the weekend and much quicker to unload everything from our car.
Our breakfast passes gave us the option of dining at either the Sports Café or Café Rouge and selecting something from the breakfast menu. This was either a full English breakfast, or alternatives such as pancakes with tea, coffee or juice. We ate at both locations and both served delicious food as well as friendly and efficient service.
I think the trick with Center Parcs is to not book too many activities, otherwise you find yourself riding around like a crazy person between locations and rushing around. It’s supposed to be a holiday and we have found this out to our cost ourselves. So now we book one activity each day, allowing plenty of time to visit the sub tropical paradise and also just to enjoy being outdoors, on the bikes, or even back at the apartment or lodge to hang out together and relax. Also, a lot of activities means a lot of money to pay, and if you have to go in school holidays then you will find it is expensive enough.
We opted for a game of tennis on the Saturday and line dancing on the Sunday. Not quite sure why we booked onto the line dancing, especially when the dance teacher brought out cowboy hats for us all to wear!! But honestly, it was the highlight of the entire weekend, it was so funny and I can’t recommend attending this activity enough. The dance teacher was brilliant and very, very good at interacting with us all. We’ve previously tried the climbing, high ropes, kayaks, aqua jetting and when my daughter was younger we also tried some of the craft activities, but found this time that we really enjoyed cycling around the park and ‘being at one with nature’. 🙂
No visit would be complete though without a visit to the sub tropical paradise that is the swimming area. Good fun in the pools, with and without waves, great slides, fun rapids and all set at a lovely temperature. We try to have at least one of our sessions in there after dark as the slides and outdoor pool are so much more exciting at that time of day.
The onsite Parc Market can be expensive so I would recommend to take a lot of your can’t do without items with you and use the market just for a top up over the holiday. Their bakery is scrumptious though.
There is also a Starbucks on site (isn’t there always!) plus restaurants and the Lakeside Inn and Pancake House. We ate at Bella Italia on the Saturday night. We booked a table before we arrived for a £5 deposit per person, which was deducted from the final bill. Lovely food and really nice staff. Couldn’t fault it and was a real treat to not cook after an exhausting day of having fun!
With a few shops thrown in and an one site spa for those lucky enough to get away to experience it, it’s a brilliant short break. Expensive in school holidays, so if you are tied to going at these times of year, try to choose weeks that have an inset day so that you can actually book within term time but pay a cheaper price than school holidays. Alternatively book early or late in the holidays as not all schools break up and return at the same time. You might just get lucky.
The apartments also have wifi which I thought would be a must for my nearly teenage daughter but she surprised me by wanting to be out on the bike all the time. You really can do as much or as little as you please, packing in lots of activities or choosing to cook some lovely home made grub back at the lodge hanging out with the family and sharing a glass of wine and some laughs with those closest to you. For us, we try and get somewhere in the middle. Center Parcs is a great break away for the whole family, can be pricey and there are ways to save, but the memories themselves are priceless.
All the photos i took in Centre Parcs are using my new-ish Canon G7X camera. I deliberated long and hard about which camera to buy, so I’ve done a review for it and the reasons behind my choice of snapper. Check it out on my main page.