So, as some of you may have read from recent Twitter posts over this weekend, the first half being……
‘Woohoo – we’re off to Centerparcs’
‘Having a great time at Centerparcs’
And the second half of the weekend being,……
‘Having to leave early after family emergency’
It was most definitely a holiday weekend of two halves.
And I must admit I do keep joking that I think I’ve only experienced the ‘Park’ section and am yet to experience the ‘Center’!!
But, what’s done is done, it was a shame but all I can do is focus and write about the wonderful time we had at Center Parcs before we had to go home early on the Sunday morning.
We’d planned this little trip a while ago, and it was going to be a girlie weekend getaway for a group of six of us who were all very well overdue a relaxing, kid free, un-stressy time away.
So, this isn’t a report I can write where I can say how well the place caters for children, although it was most obvious that this was truly the case just from glancing around, but more so for any mummies or daddies who need a little R&R time to themselves!
After some discussion as to what options were available to us as a group of girls, we decided upon Center Parks Longleat as we knew it would be able to cater for all our needs in one place, would be comfortable for us all to stay in quite happily for a long weekend and would be easy to get to.
Booking couldn’t have been easier – I love internet shopping!!
The website was easy to navigate and had clear and concise information for everything you need to know before you arrive.
We only decided to pre book a couple of things as were conscious that this was to be a relaxing affair with lots of lie-ins, which for us, would be as good as a holiday in themselves!!
As we only booked a few months ago – the majority of accommodation had already been booked up, but we were lucky enough to find a lodge with three en-suite bathrooms. We didn’t really fancy sharing one between the 6 of us!!
We only live about 1 ½ hrs away from Centerparcs Longleat so this helped to make up our minds as to which park to choose, as we knew it would be easy to get there. The only real hiccup along the way was the traffic on the A303 as you pass Stone Henge, but this is always the case and was pretty much what we’ve come to expect along this road. At least we got a quick photo!
The way there was hilarious and was pretty much just one big giggle between myself and my sister and the two other cars who were convoying behind us.
We listened and sang along to music, most of the time it being the Pitch Perfect soundtrack (if you haven’t seen the film – watch it – it’s brilliant!), Let It Go from Frozen (for those two of you out there who didn’t know already) or (as it turned out) Nirvana of all things!!!! Oh and of course we had one rendition of ‘Donkey Riding’ from H’s Kids Music Box CD!!! That was a real winner!!!
Rather random – but heh!
We were in total ‘girlie road trip’ mode and were generally just being silly out of sheer excitement about going away!
Had to be done really!!!
As soon as we’d passed Stone Henge, the sky became greyer and it began to rain. Not really the weather we were hoping for.
But onwards we went and very soon arrived at the entrance gates and filed along behind the other cars as we all took our turn to gain entry to the main car park.
We excitedly collected the key to our villa and parked up.
Once all the girls had arrived (we had to wait for the last car as they stopped to make sure their bikes were still strapped to the back of the car), we all made our way to the bike center to rent our bikes.
This was easy too. All the girls collected their silver coloured medium adult bikes, whilst I collected my small red one! Their legs are lots longer than mine!! But at least they didn’t have to cart me along behind them in one of those kiddy pull along buggies!!
We then cycled to the main plaza where we stopped for a quick bite to eat and a cocktail to freshen ourselves up (the non-drivers!) before we headed back to get the cars once the gates had been opened.
As you drive through the park it just hits you as to how you really are just in a big forest!!
It was totally amazing.
And some of the trees were amazing too!! I’m not sure if they really were, but they said they were giant redwoods! Absolutely gigantic! And so majestic (if that’s even possible with trees!!)
The ones below are firs – was meaning to get some pics of the others on the Sunday, but oh well – there’s always next time!
As we drove along we passed by the treehouses, and some other two story cabins before we came to the rear of the park which had row upon row of little shed looking huts. I must admit – I did look at these quite suspiciously wondering exactly how we’d fit six grown women into one of these as it really didn’t look big enough, but when we’d actually found number 732, and opened up the front door we were happily surprised.
It was kitted out in a comfortable modern décor, and looked perfect for our base for the next few nights.
Once we’d unloaded all the bags (we’re girls – so we’d packed as if we were staying for a fortnight – although I think the majority of the bags were taken up with Prosecco and Pimms and other alcoholic beverages!!) we drove back to the car park to abandon (park) our cars up for the weekend and to collect our bikes again which we’d left locked in the bike park.
Then we cycled to the Subtropical Swimming Paradise!!!
A quick change later and we were in the water!
What an amazing pool!!
It literally was tropical too as the main pool was heated to a wonderful 29.5°c complete with a wave machine which activated every 30 minutes!
I kept thinking how wonderful this would be to bring the girls to one day. There was just so much to keep us entertained.
In addition to the pool there was an indoor and an outdoor whirlpool, flumes and slides aplenty catering for all ages, a fast flow indoor river and our personal favourite, the wild Water Rapids which were just hilarious (my advice would be a swimsuit rather than a bikini as our group did have a couple of little mishaps)
We’d gone a bit out of season, and not throughout the busier times of the day either, so it was really quite quiet and easy to get a go at everything – I must admit – I can’t imagine what it would be like at peak time in high season!!
The word carnage springs to mind!!
That evening we’d decided to stay in and cook – so, after Thai Green Curry, we all settled down in our little villa with Prosecco and Pimms (and squash for the two who are pregnant!), music, nibbles, much chatting, reminiscing, cringing(!) and laughter.
Plus a couple of us were in our element as we fed the wildlife out on the back patio!!! We both felt like Snow White!
After a pretty fabulous night’s sleep, with no…
‘mummy, I’m thirsty’
‘mummy, I want to come in your bed’,
….. and having no early morning wakeup call from a hungry 1 year old, I managed a lie in until practically 8am!!
We then all leisurely got up and had breakfast and showers, before heading off for a cycle ride to see what Centerparcs Longleat had in store for us.
There were activities as far as the eye could see – and again I wished the girls could be with me to experience this for themselves! Oh, and Mr B!! He would love it here too!! Oops!!
We decided to head back to the villa for an early lunch as we had all booked in for the three hour spa session from 1pm until 4pm that afternoon.
Now, with this I really didn’t know what to expect! For some reason I thought it included a treatment of some description in the entry price, but on finding out it didn’t I was a little disappointed and really thought we’d all be sat around some rectangular pool on sun loungers having to make small talk and read gossip magazines for three hours with the odd session in a sauna, a steam room and a Jacuzzi at one end perhaps!
How wrong was I!
After changing, we walked through the big doors into a restaurant area, full of people (mainly women I must say) all robed in white spa dressing gowns, sipping pink champagne and eating lunch!
On the left was where the ‘treatment’ rooms were located, and on the right was the main spa area. We walked through to be faced with almost a ‘cave like’ rabbit warren of little rooms all circling around a main pool in the middle! Each room had a different therapy e.g. a Balinese Steam room, a Turkish Hammam, a Greek sage infused steam room, Experience Showers, foot spa etc. etc.
There were relaxation rooms and meditation rooms in all directions and loungers, day beds, circular rattan sofas and even water beds scattered everywhere to relax upon (which we never got to go on as I think those who already occupied them were literally out for the count!!!)
I was the only one of the group who then paid a little extra on top for a treatment. I chose the scalp massage – one – because it was the cheapest and two – because it was all that was left as I asked at such late notice!! It was lovely and just what I needed to soak away any tension I had!
After the spa, we went up to The Grand Café for a drink and more chatting – seriously – girls can chat!!
Whilst there we decided to can the idea of a BBQ that evening as it was just starting to drizzle, and instead booked at table at the same restaurant for later that evening.
The staff in the restaurant were ever so friendly and welcoming, and the food was lovely. It was also quite nice to dress up (just a bit – I still had flats on!) as the rest of the time is so casual, it made a nice change.
And again with girls – we never need too much persuading to put our glad rags on!!
When we got back to the villa – again we cranked up the tunes and drank a few more glasses of Prosecco before everything went a bit wrong really.
I can’t go into any details, but can just say that after a long and very fraught night, we decided to up and leave as early as we could the very next day.
And unfortunately only half way into our little mini break away!
It wasn’t ideal, or how we’d imagined our weekend to turn out, but it was the only thing we could do in the circumstances.
So with heavy hearts, we left the park and drove back home.
The only thing I will say about having to leave in an emergency was that we really did have a difficult time of getting hold of Guest Services or Security etc. If you are there and you really do have an emergency – I would definitely dial 999 first before you then try to tell the park staff as to what’s going on!!
Overall though, for the time we were there, it was amazing! It was relaxing, it was quiet, it was stress free.
But, being my first experience of Centerparcs, it has only opened my eyes to what a great family holiday opportunity it really is, so we are currently looking at booking up again for very soon to go back and experience the whole thing over again, but this time with our families and the kids – so it will probably be just a tiny bit more stressy than this time around!!
But fabulous in a whole other way!!
Although we can only go if another couple are able to come too – as for a second holiday this year (we’re off to Greece in September) – it is too pricy for us to book on our own.
And I think we would try a different park this time too – although Longleat was beautiful, we may just find it too hilly with small children and their bikes!!
So fingers crossed for a few weeks’ time!!!
PS: sorry for the lack of photos – only half a weekends worth!