Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Three

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Three

After starting off the day on Tuesday with a run, I wanted to have a chill morning since I was on holiday. Whenever I reach that midway point of a holiday, I always want to make the most of my time because time flies when you are having fun. The Center Parcs lodges are the perfect way to enjoy a cosy break away from the bustle of activities. As always, the beautiful sunshine meant I spent a bit of time enjoying the outdoor area of our lodge – listening to the birds and peaceful breeze through the trees.

Wednesday = Falconry, Mini-Golf & Bella Italia Dinner

Falconry

I was so excited to have this booked. It’s been on the bucket list and I was a little concerned that COVID was going to ruin my original plan. Thankfully, with the new COVID measures in place, they were able to continue the Falconry. Before the session started, you had to sanitize your hands and there was a total of 7 people in our group. It was the perfect size as we were all able to be included in the experience without feeling concerned about social distancing.

The session lasts for 1 hour and includes a brief introduction to Falconry followed by at least 45 minutes holding a variety of birds. I couldn’t wait as I’ve always been fascinated by birds, especially birds of prey and owls. We were all given an official Falconry glove to wear and had the opportunity to take photos – be mindful that some of the birds do fidget a lot and burst mode can be your best friend!

As a group, we held a Kestrel, a hawk and Laughing Kookaburra. There was also the opportunity to see a Vulture up close too but learning about their personalities, this guy in particular was named Scratch and enjoyed nipping people’s ankles when standing up, so we were asked by the instructor to sit down.

Honestly, the activity is pretty pricey (£45 per person) depending on what your budget is however, I think it’s worth it. It was truly fascinating and something unique to add to your Center Parcs break.

Mini-Golf

After Falconry we decided to head on over to the Sports Cafe in the Sports Plaza for some lunch – well, I already had a spot of lunch at the lodge but that didn’t stop me from consuming an ice-cream sundae and cheeky cocktail. As with most restaurants around the village, you will need to book a slot for a table – make sure to keep your email confirmation if booking on the same day! Once seated at a table, you can scan a QR code and order your food & drinks via your phone. Not gonna lie, I really hope this becomes the norm once COVID settles down.

After filling our faces, we headed over to our next activity for the day, Adventure Mini-Golf. Mini-golf is the perfect pastime for families, couples and friends. The mini-golf at Center Parcs is a good way to spend some time outside that isn’t too strenuous, especially when the weather is nice. Located right near the lake, you have a really nice view. The course is split into two 9 hole courses and we decided to pay for 18 holes so you have the chance to play both courses. There are 2 themes based around fantasy which is great for the kids to get involved – they even have small golf clubs for them which was so sweet.

Bella Italia

Last time I was at Center Parcs Longleat, the main Italian restaurant was Strada. It seems like the contracts have changed over to Bella Italia since my last visit. I wasn’t complaining since I do enjoy a good Pizza. In the similar way to Huck’s, you will be shown to your table once your time slot has passed. You will need to keep a mask on as you walk through the restaurant, which can then be taken off once seated. One thing I did notice was how the staff asked if we preferred our waitress to wear a mask or not. In our case we said the waitress didn’t need to wear a mask but it was nice of the team to ask.

My standard order at any Bella Italia is pretty plain and simple. One Margherita pizza followed by Tiramisu for dessert. Honestly, it was the perfect meal and we didn’t feel rushed at all. The food was cooked to perfection and came in good time, probably waited around 20 minutes if that after placing our order. There was a little issue with the card machines – who else remembers back in the 90s having to impress a debit/credit card onto a cheque like system and fill in your details/sign the paper so that a card payment can be made. It was surreal but the waitress was very apologetic, fantastic customer service from the whole team!

With Bella Italia being near the main pathway out of the Plaza, we enjoyed a slow stroll back to our lodge. With the warm weather, this meant the evenings were clear and you could see the stars in the sky. And it’s not every day you can wander through the forest, staring at the stars above you. A truly magical moment that you can’t find anywhere else.

Is anyone planning a trip to Center Parcs in the next few months?

Are staycations the way forward for the time being?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Two

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Two

There’s nothing quite like waking up in the forest. The one thing that I can never get over when having a stay at a Center Parcs village is opening the curtains and staring into the quiet bliss of the forest around you. With the weather being glorious, I couldn’t help but open the patio door and embrace the cool September breeze – yes, it may have reached 26 degrees during the day, it was still cold in the mornings. I do miss that feeling each day but hey ho, I’ll be back real soon!

Tuesday = Running, Badminton & Waterpark

Morning run

2020 has pretty much changed the way I view health and fitness. I started off the year regretting all my food and fitness decisions from 2019 and I wanted to change. Lockdown happened which exposed me to finding more motivation to exercise including starting to run. Honestly, I didn’t think I would ever be interested in running as a hobby but never say never.

I knew before this staycation that I wanted to get at least 2 runs in. You may be thinking, ‘you’re on holiday? What the hell?’ Center Parcs is your own holiday. You can make your break as chilled or as exciting as you want it to be. I enjoy exercising and sometimes I feel a little sad when I don’t get my exercise fix in each day. Since I normally do strength/resistance workouts at home, I wasn’t going to continue this on my holiday. This is where running comes in.

The sunny weather was the best excuse to get out of the lodge first thing in the morning. Now I’m in no way saying I ran a 5k – that is a far off goal that I may not ever achieve. I did manage to reach near 4k but I was focused on doing run/walk intervals. Longleat Forest is very hilly in places so at times, I had to walk a bit longer up the hills. This didn’t stop me from running to the Sports Plaza area which includes a massive lake. The views around the forest and is one way to really see the whole village.

Badminton

After my morning run and spending a fair bit of time chilling out in the lodge, it was time to start off our staycation with a bit of Badminton. For me, it wouldn’t be a Center Parcs holiday without a Badminton session. With the current COVID situation, you had to wear a mask as you walked into the Sports Plaza. All equipment is loaned out to you for your session, located in a quiet corner where you won’t cross paths of other guests. You didn’t need to wear a mask as part of your session.

As I am writing this post now, you will be required to wear a mask during your activity – so please do read up on the rules before your session!

Badminton sessions are booked for 1 hour however 45 mins of play and then 15 mins required for essential cleaning. I did notice some other guests continued their activity past the 45 mins which was a bit disappointing to see. Badminton may not be everyone’s cup of tea however this does take me back to my PE lessons at secondary school. I’ve always been fairly good at playing at Badminton even if sometimes my coordination is out of place.

Subtropical Swimming Paradise

With the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, you will be required to book your 2-hour slots. I stayed for the midweek break (Monday to Friday) therefore I was able to book 2x 2-hour slots. I opted for the later sessions in the evening as I hoped it would be quieter and more opportunity to enjoy the night in the outdoor area. Nighttime does seem to transform the waterpark into a new experience. The darkness adds to the atmosphere and transform the slides/flumes into a thrilling experience.

The outdoor rapids as part of the waterpark are a highlight. I remember the ones at Longleat Forest being particularly fun and exhilarating. Again, another change that was implemented as part of COVID is the lifeguard will be in control of separating groups at the start of the rapids. Generally, you would be able to go in regardless of how many people are about in the area. Whilst I do miss seeing other people’s reactions and experience in the rapids, it was nice to have the Rapids to yourself as you could pretty much take over the whole space without worrying about bashing into someone.

A new experience for me was experience the 2 new slides, Typhoon (double raft slide) and Tropical Cyclone (the family raft slide). I thoroughly enjoy both, especially when you are able to pick your theme for the slide. The lighting package is fun but maybe I was expecting a bit more – guess looking at pro-slide POVs are spoiling me. They are both incredibly fun and certainly give you plenty of opportunities for water to rush into your face – still wonder how my contact lenses stayed in place! Overall, it was a really good first session and couldn’t wait to go again on the Thursday evening.

What is your favourite activity at Center Parcs?

Chilled out break or high impact break?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part One

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part One

It’s been long awaited but I finally went to Center Parcs in Longleat Forest. Originally I was meant to go in May 2020 but COVID-19 had other ideas so I was gutted. Especially when the weather decided to be heatwave weather back then. I didn’t have any issue this time round as the weather gods answered my prayers and gave me lovely weather for my staycation break.

Center Parcs has a lot of sentimental value to me as it was always a big holiday for my family when I was growing up. And Longleat Forest is only around an hour and a half away from my house so it’s my local Center Parcs. I couldn’t wait to get back and explore the village, see how it’s grown and expanded since my last visit in 2012 for my 21st birthday.

Monday = Check-in Day

Like a big kid, I was very excited to get on the road and head on over to Longleat Forest. Check-in time was 2pm which was painless for us however I do miss having the opportunity to arrive at Center Parcs early and explore the village on the first day of your stay. Understandable given they need to monitor numbers of people within the village.

Quick and easy, you’ll drive towards the Arrivals Lodge and meet your first friendly member of staff. Simply tell them your booking number and they hand you over your wristbands for your stay and a Village map. Then it’s the drive to the car park to park up and depending on what time you arrive, wait until the barriers are open for you to drive up to your lodge or park up and walk into the village to have an explore.

Check-in time for the lodge was 4pm. As expected with pretty much every Center Parcs stay I have had, there’s always a busy queue to get into the village. We may have waited 10 minutes but security were very efficient in getting us through the barrier to drive to our lodge. As we were located right near the Plaza area in Longleat, this was a quick 2 min drive therefore we were all unpacked quickly.

Once unpacked, we did pop into the ParcMarket in the Plaza to get some more food bits, mainly frozen and chilled food. We went to Morrisons in Warminster prior to arriving at Center Parcs for the bulk of our shopping. Lodges are self-catering so it’s a great way to save some money if you don’t want to eat out all the time at Center Parcs.

1 Bedroom Executive Lodge Tour

So, originally our booking was to stay in the Redwood Apartments. However with COVID closing Center Parcs, we had to move our booking to a later date and they gave us an extra £100 towards our booking. This extra money meant we were able to upgrade our stay to a 1 bedroom lodge. And boy was it the best decision we made.

For a couple, this lodge was the perfect size for us. From the pictures below, you can see that we had plenty of space in the kitchen and lounge, a nice outdoor seating area and the bedroom was very sizeable! It really felt like having a little house in the forest. Perfect.

Amenities we had:

  • Basic kitchen appliances (microwave, cooker, kettle, coffee machine, dishwasher)
  • TV with Blu-ray player
  • Wine/Bottle Cooler
  • Basic washing equipment (dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid, tea towel, oven gloves, kitchen cloth)
  • Hydrobath
  • Separate walk-in shower

Evening entertainment

We’re not real party animals but we did book to eat dinner at Huck’s, located in the lower section of the Plaza. Serving all kinds of American food like burgers, ribs and chicken. There’s something for any fast food fanatic. As with most restaurants in the current COVID situation, the menu was limited but for what they had on offer, it was perfect for everybody.

Staff were very friendly and accommodating. You do have to book your restaurant reservations so there are no walk-ins. One thing we did find is that they were strict with their timings so if you arrive early for your booking, you will have to loiter around the Plaza area until your time slot is available. This may be an annoyance to some people but it was understandable given the current situation.

Another thing to remember is that within any indoor areas, you are required to wear a face mask (unless exempt or under the age of 11 I believe this was at the time we went). Plus there are one way systems in place both outdoors and indoors, depending on how wide the pathways are. From what we found, most people were compliant without any issues which was great to see.

After stuffing our faces in Huck’s, we decided to take a slow stroll back to our lodge and checked out the Rapids in the waterpark. Longleat has a walkway out of the Plaza which runs alongside the Rapids – the recognisable sound of the water flowing through really bought back a lot of memories for me. I was very happy to be back!

Has anyone been to Center Parcs before?

Which village is your favourite to visit?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Center Parcs Woburn Forest | A weekend in the forest

Center Parcs Woburn Forest | A weekend in the forest

CenterParcsTitleIt has become a tradition with my family to make a regular holiday to Center Parcs. I have grown up with the place, remembering one of my first visits to Longleat Forest when I was a youngster – I’m pretty sure I’ve been to Elveden Forest when I was a baby, but I can hardly remember that! It is one of my favourite places to visit and honestly, I will be taking this tradition with me (yes, I have converted my boyfriend into enjoying Center Parcs too!)

In 2014, Center Parcs expanded their ‘portfolio’ of holiday villages by building a new one in the heart of Bedfordshire, now known as Woburn Forest. I was lucky enough to visit in it’s opening year (twice, I might add!) and to see how well it has expanded and grown is amazing. Despite the expensive nature of Center Parcs, you can’t deny that you get quality.

I was incredibly excited when my parents told me we were going for a weekend break for my brother’s 30th. I can only hope my 30th ends up being just as awesome! I get those excitement butterflies in the stomach once I see the signs for Center Parcs, like with any holiday destination I travel to.

I chose the location of our lodge – yep, I’m the girl that plans where we stay – and it was absolutely ideal! It was the perfect distance from The Plaza and Village Square. Plus having a lodge on the edge of a row was also ideal as you have the privacy away from having neighbours either side of you. Perfect for my family! We stayed in a three bedroom Executive lodge. There is a range of lodges to choose from including Woodland Lodges to Exclusive Lodges. You can enter your lodge at any time from 3pm, and you do have the option to enter your lodge early by adding it to your booking.

Honestly, the best thing about Center Parcs is the freedom you have to do what you want, when you want. You can choose the activities you want to do, there is no time limit on when you need to book (ideally, book as early as you can as many activities get booked up quickly!) We ended up playing Table Tennis & Bowling on the Saturday and Badminton on the Sunday.

The weather was a real mixture, WE HAD SNOW! Seriously, me and my family have always wanted to visit Center Parcs when it snows, and the weather didn’t disappoint. Of course, with it being January, rain was also on the cards too – which meant every Indoor activity including the Subtropical Swimming Paradise was very busy! Sadly, we did not get a chance to explore the swimming and the Rapids but I have done them before. Besides, I was happy to have one hell of a chilled weekend away from the stresses of real life.

When it comes to food, again it is up to you. You can eat out at the range of restaurants own resort, bring in your own food or buy from the ParcMarket which is Center Parcs’ supermarket! Be warned, it is VERY pricey compared to your average supermarket. TOP TIP: There is a Tesco in Flitwick which is approx. 5 min drive from Woburn Forest so you can always stock up before you arrive.

There is also the choice of getting a takeaway from the Center Parcs Dining In service. You will be spoilt for choice as there is so much to choose from, Chinese, Indian, Pizzas, Fajitas and more! In the end, me and my family ate out at the restaurants for two nights (Strada – Friday night and Huck’s – Saturday night) My parents went to Las Iguanas on the Friday night which is a new restaurant for Woburn. On the Sunday night, since the weather was VERY cold from the snow and rain, we decided to have a night in and ordered ourselves a Dining In Takeaway. I had the Fajitas and they were delicious!

Some people will say that Center Parcs is so expensive, and yes, it can be pricey but it is SO worth it in my honest opinion. You make the holiday as active or as relaxing as you want. There is plenty to do and you won’t be short for choice on where to eat. If you are in need of a staycation then Center Parcs fits the bill perfectly. I had such a fab time and can’t wait to make a return visit soon – hopefully won’t leave it for 2 years but we’ll see!

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS