Sunday, 9 October 2011

Center Parcs, Longleat

With the very up and down British weather this summer we were struggling to think of where to go on holiday, the option we came up with was Center Parcs as no matter what the weather there is always something to do.
We aren't new to Center Parcs, having been to Sherwood Forest a few years ago and Evelden Forest before that. Sherwood we didn't enjoy so much, it looked tired and was so busy all the time, Evelden we loved but its a long way to travel. Having not been to Longleat since we were young we opted for there.
Top tip of the first day was going to the swimming pool at about 2pm, you will almost have the pool to yourself for a few hours whilst everyone else is unpacking their car. Charlotte was throwing herself down the slides and flumes, and the kiddie flume was excellent. We had huge tantrums when it came to getting out of the pool, it was always 10 more goes.
We went for a comfort plus lodge, and it was comfortable enough for our 4 night stay. The few problems we did have were resolved very quickly by housekeeping (previous occupants had taken all the remote batteries, few dead light bulbs).
We weren't sure how Charlotte would take to being put into the kids club, so never used that but we did quite a few activities. Forest Rangers walk was excellent and she came back so excited to tell me she had touched beetle poo and armed with some bird seed went and fed the birds on our little patio. Tatty Bumpkin Yoga was a huge hit she got so carried away being a frog she did a back flip much to her surprise. We hired a pedalo and went round the lake. We did glow in the dark bowling (amazingly Charlotte won, are we to blame a possibly wonky bowling alley, dodgy balls or her amazing beginners luck). Crazy golf on the last day was fun as it was really quiet. Teddy Bears picnic will be in Charlotte's memory for quite a while, meeting Rupert the Bear was the best thing and she got so many cuddles she wouldn't let go (she was also the only child who didn't cry at seeing a life size Rupert appear).
The play parks were excellent, so much to keep them entertained.
The only downfall to Longleat is the hill, and its a big one. We hired bikes and often had to push them back up the hill but its a quicker way to get round than walking. There are lovely boardwalks and steps to get up and down the hill but its still a tough job. We did do a large circular ride one afternoon and it is a huge site, this is where we preferred Evelden as the scale was smaller.
We only ate out one night and the food was excellent. There are a few chain restaurants that you would recognise but we opted for something you wouldn't usually find on your local high street, Ortega Tapas. It was excellent, really enjoyed it and wanted more.
We all loved our few days and were sad to be leaving, every day Charlotte said we aren't going to our real home today are we, I love my pretend home.
Most people moan about the cost of things at center parcs, and you don't know how much activities and bike hire will be until you have booked your holiday. We thought it reasonable priced for most things, we did take all our own food for the week so only needed the ParcMarc for milk. Staff were all so friendly and chatty, very good customer service.
We did spend our week comparing it to Evelden and at the end of the week neither came out as the strong winner both were good for different reasons and I would return to both.
Note: we did go out of season, so those going during school holidays may have different views.

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