Center Parcs Woburn review

I’ve said it before – Center Parcs is a Parents Paradise.  Everything is set up with little ones in mind. I mean, everything.

I ain’t going to lie though – it’s expensive.  One week at Center Parcs easily equals a week’s holiday in the sun somewhere abroad.  Coming to, and in some degree, staying at Center Parcs is expensive.

But I guess this is where you’ll have to ponder the pros and cons and decide what’s important for you.

We stayed for a week during the Easter Holidays.  We had to queue to check in this time but it was generally smooth and straightforward.  It was tricky to find a parking space as it was absolutely rammed but we got there in the end.

The park itself is lovely and the perfect size. Big enough to not feel on top of other people, but you can easily get everywhere on foot.

We stayed in an Executive Dog friendly lodge in the Oak area, close to the Aqua Sana.

The Accommodation

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Our digs.

We loved our lodge. It was clean and fresh and it had all the amenities you could think of. Bring extra washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets though! They don’t give you enough initially. Also, if you’re staying a week, and is a coffee lover like us, then I suggest you bring some spare coffee pods for the Nespresso machine.

Our lodge was adapted for dogs but you’d never really know – it was really super clean and didn’t smell of dog at all.

We had a two bed lodge this time and it felt very spacious. Each room had an ensuite; one with a shower and one with a jacuzzi bath. The two older kids shared a room and loved it!

There’s an outside area with table and chairs and a BBQ.

The kitchen area was great. Really clean and it had pretty much everything you need for cooking for the family. There is a wine cooler which is a bonus.  The freezer is TINY, like a freezer compartment – keep that in mind if you’re bringing food from home.

Not that you need to bring lots of food. I would say bring food for the first night (unless you’re planning to eat out every night) and then top up from the local Parc Market if necessary.  It’s a great little shop and has a great variety of products.

What To Do

Honestly, Centre Parcs Woburn has so much to offer. There are loads of outside activities. Boating on the lake, riding your bike everywhere (though it’s quite hilly!), feeding the ducks in the lake, crazy golf, go for a play in the numerous play areas or just go for a walk – you are spoilt for choice!

We brought our bikes and it really worked well for us. Yes, it’s hilly, but our older kids really enjoyed the experience. We learned our lesson from last year and had bought a bike trailer for Maggie and Alife to chill in.  (You can find some really nice second hand ones on eBay)

You can pay to do activities too. Jackson, Kiri and Brooks headed to the Falconry Centre for an hour with the big birds. It was an amazing experience; the bird handler really took the time to explain and show how to handle the birds.

Maggie and Oscar the Owl

We did Aqua jetting again as well as Archery, Climbing, Pottery, Ballet Class, Teddy Bear Making, Maggie and I met the gorgeous Owls.

Swimming

But the main focus was the Subtropical Swimming Paradise. The kids, and grown-ups loved it here.

There are different zones or splash areas depending on your age and something to suit everyone. The big boys loved the Rapids in particular and the wave pool.

Maggie and Alfie loved the smaller splash area and grew more and more confident in the water each day.

I’ve said it before – there isn’t an actual pool for swimming which is a real shame.

We learned our lesson from last year and so we hired a Cabana to stay in.  It’s pricey, but definitely worth it for a welcomed break in the day – particularly if you have a baby or toddler. (Or just need a nap in the middle of the day!)  There’s a fan, cold drinks (you get a mini fridge), comfy chairs and a TV.  It’s like your very own little beach hut.

In terms of food and drink there’s a Starbucks and Monty’s serving pizza, hot dogs and burger. Not gourmet food but absolutely fine and kids were very happy.

Food

Sarah and LEON, sittin’ in a tree…

We (okay me and my friend Sarah) fell in love with Leon’s and we had a take away pretty much every day.  Loved everything about it. The food is right up our street. We didn’t dine out this stay because, you know, three kids.  We used the Parc Market more and cooked at home every night.

Aqua Sana

The Star performer overall again was Aqua Sana Spa. WORTH. EVERY. DAMN. PENNY. You leave the place feeling really refreshed and rejuvenated. Bliss.

There are these comfy sofas on the sunlit roof terrace overlooking Center Parcs and initially we thought “maybe a bit boring” but no. We snuggled in lapping up the rays and woke up 40 minutes later.  I had a lovely manicure too – what a treat!

Wonderful staff, wonderful Spa area – just perfect.

General

I felt so relaxed.  Like I’ve not felt that relaxed in a long time – so happy and content. Of course there were some hiccups, but in general it was all pretty awesome.

We’ll be back.

Pro’s:

  • For us, not having to take the kids anywhere abroad on an airplane was a big bonus.
  • It’s only a 40 minute drive from our house. Anything that saves travel time is a blessing in this house
  • We could bring Buddy the dog
  • There are LOADS of child and toddler activities. All three of our kids would be catered for.
  • It’s safe and fairly contained. We could let the kids out and play and they were free (within reason obvs) to run around on their own.
  • We travelled with friends who stayed in the lodge opposite us. This made such a difference as kids and adults alike always had mates to hang out with and we could all split up at times to do different activities.
  • The Tropical Swimming was a HUGE hit with our kids. We went here every day.  It’s also free. (Yay)
  • No cars are allowed in the village so the kids got to practice their bike riding skills in a safe environment. Having our bikes also meant we all got some exercise every day riding up those steep hills!
  • The lodges were immaculately cleaned every day.
  • Staff are generally incredibly lovely and accommodating.
  • The Aqua Sana Spa is outstanding. You’ll leave floating on clouds.
  • There are loads of restaurants and take away places to choose from – or make food at home!
  • The Supermarket onsite is great and has pretty much everything you need. You can also leave the site and head to Tesco’s down the road.
  • The wine cooler.

Con’s:

  • It IS expensive. And everything on site is expensive. Captive market and all that.  It’s just what it is.
  • Staff are very young. I felt like the place was run by teenagers.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, just a bit odd.  Some lacked experiences generally.
  • It’s very steep and hilly – not ideal for little ones on bikes
  • They really need to invest in a proper pool area for swimming
  • The freezer and fridge are tiny, especially if you’re a large family of five.  Bring a lot of cupboard ingredients and top up during the week
  • They were really slow at service – prepare to wait in queue for your food.
Squad. 

 

 

 

Travelling with kids – Center Parcs Woburn Review

Center Parcs was recently voted the best UK Family friendly place and it doesn’t surprise me one bit. Everything is set up with little ones in mind. I mean, everything. It’s a Parents Paradise.

We traveled midweek Monday – Friday. We arrived at about 6pm on the Monday due to work commitments and traffic. As we arrived a bit later there was no queue so it was a breeze. We drove up and check in was done in less than five. So easy and efficient.

I like to get places “on time”. As our family have grown, and inevitably there are more people to pack for, organise and look after, I’ve had to adapt and try to be more relaxed about it all. And never leave anything to the last minute – carful planning always from here on.

The park itself is lovely and the perfect size. Big enough to not feel on top of other people, but you can easily get everywhere on foot.

We stayed in an Executive Dog friendly lodge in the Oak area, close to the Aqua Sana.

We absolutely loved our lodge. The kids came through the door and went crazy for a few seconds:

⁃ Mum, there is it a black board!

⁃ Mum, I’ve got my own shower!

⁃ The bed is so comfy!

⁃ We have a DVD player!

⁃ The WiFi is really good in here!

Sign of the times.

The lodge was clean and fresh and it had all the amenities you could think of. Bring extra washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets though! They don’t give you enough initially. Also, if you’re staying a week, and is a coffee lover like us, then I suggest you bring some spare coffee pods for the Nespresso machine.

Our lodge was adapted for dogs but you’d never really know – it was really super clean and didn’t smell of dog at all. If you are a dog owner then you know what I mean.

The only concern here is that the lodge garden isn’t secure. We didn’t realise this and so once we got to the lodge and let Buddy out he ran round the house to make some new friends!! Luckily, the others staying in the area had dogs too so they didn’t seem to mind. Nevertheless, it’d be a good idea to bring a long lead to use in the garden next time.

We had a three bed lodge and it felt very spacious. Each room had an ensuite, two with showers and one with a bath. The two older kids had a room each and they loved it!

There’s an outside area with table and chairs and a BBQ as well as an outside shower and your very own sauna! I felt right at home!

The kitchen area was great too. Really clean and everything you need for cooking for the family.

The freezer is just a freezer compartment though – keep that in mind if you’re bringing food from home.

Not that you need to bring lots of food. I would say bring food for the first night (unless you’re planning to eat out every night) and then top up from the local Parc Market if necessary. It’s a great little shop and has a great variety of products.

Back to what I was saying about careful planning. I’d made a lasagne for us all to eat on the first night. To our absolute horror we realised that we’d left the lasagne out on the workbench in the kitchen rather in the cool bag!!

Honestly, Centre Parcs Woburn has so much to offer. There are loads of outside activities. Boating on the lake, riding your bike everywhere (Though bear in mind it’s quite hilly!), feed the ducks in the lake, crazy golf, go for a play in the numerous play areas or just go for a walk – you are spoilt for choice!!

We brought our bikes and it really worked well for us. Yes, it’s hilly, but our older kids really enjoyed the experience. For little tired feet at the end of the day a bike carriage could be a good idea for you. We had one for Alfie and Maggie to sit in and I’ll say it was a life saver at times.

You can pay to do activities too. Jackson and Brooks headed to the Falconry Centre for an hour with the big birds. It was an amazing experience; the bird handler was really knowledgable and took the time to explain and show how to handle the birds.

We also did Archery (awesome), Maggie tried Pony riding (she loved it) and a new favourite Aqua Jetting!! The kids also did Pottery (we all loved this one!) and the Teddy Bear making workshop.

But the main focus was the Subtropical Swimming Paradise. The kids, including Alfie, and grown ups loved it here.

There are different zones or splash areas depending on your age and something to suit everyone. Jackson loved the Rapids in particular and the wave pool.

Maggie loved the smaller splash area and grew more and more confident in the water each day. By the end she was swooshing down the water rides!

We hired a Cabana one of the days and it’s definitely worth it for a welcomed break in the day – particularly if you have a baby! There’s a fan, cold drinks (in your own fridge), comfy chairs and a TV. It’s like your very own little beach hut. A bit weird but still SUPER nice. We’ll be investing in a Cabana for our next stay again.

In terms of food and drink there’s a Starbucks inside. We did use it a few times to get coffees and snacks but the wristband system kept breaking down which was veeeeeery frustrating! The whole point with the wristbands is that you don’t have to bring the money with you inside the pool area!! It looked like they were building some kind of snack bar so that’ll be interesting to see next year!

Our only other critique is that the “main” pool is way too small for the footfall. At times it felt too crowded, and for that reason, a bit unsafe. I can’t even imagine what it will be like in peak time!

You also have nowhere to actually swim which is a shame really.

Nevertheless, we loved it and enjoyed our visits here.

We dined out a few times and were mostly happy with it all.

We had a MASSIVE issue with Cafe Rouge though. Basically they mucked up TWO birthday bookings in a row, a breakfast and dinner and the service was APPALLING. The worst bit was that he (the manager) did not care. It was the worst service we’ve ever encountered and we won’t be back anytime soon. I can’t even bear to think about it, it was that upsetting. Hucks saved that evening by making a great fuss and being super friendly and everything but the damage was done….

We complained straight away obviously and the ladies on reception were super helpful and arranged the other booking, thank goodness, and saved the day.

Aaaaaanyway….

Part from that palaver – we visited Strada, Hucks, Sports Cafe, Starbucks and they were all amazing and reasonably prized. Fantastic staff! So friendly, attentive and kind to our kids. Yes, perhaps a bit over high street prices, but it’s to be expected I think. Captive audience and all that…

The Star performer overall was Aqua Sana Spa. Brooks and I said it was easily the most relaxing three hours of our lives. WORTH. EVERY. DAMN. PENNY.

All those different rooms with different showers and scents and perfumes (when do you ever take that many showers in one go?!!). You leave the place feeling really refreshed and rejuvenated. Bliss.

All in all we had such a blast. Staff are fantastic, it’s all clean and shiny, and we felt really looked after. For us with a big family it really is a break away that suits everyone.

It’s all a bit magical, like you’re in a little bubble of Center Parc loveliness!

We’ve already booked to come back for our Easter holiday next year!