I was very lucky to have been chosen as one of Center Parcs’ Family Bloggers for 2014 and we have recently returned from our short family break at Center Parcs Longleat.
We opted for a Monday-Friday four night stay which was within one of their three bedroom Woodland Lodges. A fabulous time was had by all and below you will see how we got on along with some of our top tips to make the most of your stay.
- Check in online prior to arrival. This made our arrival very straightforward as, on arriving at the check-in lodge, we could simply hand over our booking reference and were given the keys to our lodge straight away thus maximising holiday time. We got there around 1pm as we had been advised that queues to check in can get quite lengthy. Although you cannot gain access to the accommodation until 3pm it is just a short walk from the car-park to the Plaza where there are multiple cafes, shops and restaurants and even a small supermarket if you need to stock up on supplies for the week. They even have awesome child-sized trollies which, quite frankly, I wish every supermarket would stock.
- If you are worried about lugging lots of shopping about, don’t. Spend more than £40 and your groceries will be delivered to your lodge for free, and perishables placed in the fridge leaving you free to go out and enjoy yourselves.
- Invest in a Family Grocery Pack. Again, this can be done online prior to arrival at a cost of about £50 and will be waiting in your lodge on arrival. We were lucky enough to have one of these included in our package and it really saved on packing containing many of the essentials for the week such as tea, coffee, milk, sugar, eggs, sausages, bacon, washing up liquid, jams, cereals, bread, biscuits, squash and much more. I would highly recommend it.
- Swim early on Tuesdays with under-fives. We had actually booked swimming lessons for both The Boy and Little Miss which were both early on Tuesday meaning we were at the Tropical Swimming Paradise first thing. The lessons were brilliant with lots of splashing, singing and a really encouraging instructor who put the children at ease and made for a great introduction to the main swimming pool. Once all the lessons had concluded all adults with children under five, even those whose children had not had lessons, were allowed into the main pool at 9:30am. This allowed the smaller children half an hour to familiarise themselves with the pool and perhaps gain a little confidence in the water before the rest of the public entered at 10am and things got much busier. We were also thrilled when offered use of a car-seat poolside to place Little Miss in while we grabbed a coffee up at the Canopy Cafe poolside. Such a simple but brilliant idea that really made life easier. These can be requested from staff poolside and are free of charge.
- Book activities prior to arrival. We were delighted that we had a ten-pin bowling session booked as, sadly, the weather took a turn for the worse and this suddenly became very popular. This was such a fun activity with the boy. He was so delighted when handed his own little bowling shoes and there are amazing ramps available for kids to roll their bowling-balls down which glow in the dark, along with buffers to make sure at least some pins fell down. Here is how we got on:
- Get out and about. As well as the Tropical swimming paradise there are also plenty of things for kids to do around the village without having to pay for any activities. Of course there are numerous cycle tracks but there are also multiple playgrounds and parks and even a small beach by the lake.
Granny and The Boy had tonnes of fun and Daddy liked the beach.
- In fact one of the boy’s favourite activities was navigating his way through a small outdoor maze in search of ‘The Little Green Man’ in the middle. He wanted to do it over and over again. Here he is in action.
- Remember to relax. With so much fun to be had outdoors it can be easy to forget to take time to relax. The lodges are really comfortable and spacious and perhaps my only regret is that we did not spend a little more time there just relaxing. There is a floor-to ceiling chalkboard which is great for little ones, or a bit of late-night hang-man post dinner! There is also a TV and DVD player in the lounge if you do wish to snuggle up and catch a movie. We brought our first meal with us and simply reheated in the microwave so there was no need to search out a restaurant on the first night, or wait in for takeaway which is also available. If we were to visit again, which I really hope to do, I would definitely consider extending our stay to a week to allow for just a little more down-time.
As a family break I really cannot recommend Center Parcs Longleat highly enough. It has been incredibly well thought out, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy and the accommodation is extremely comfortable.