A lack of hedonism but a new-found appreciation for nature
While the majority of my work colleagues were exclaiming their excitement over going on holidays to get drunk in Vegas, to surf in Spain, to generally be hedonistic somewhere hot, I was slightly embarrassed to reveal that I was going to Center Parcs. The embarrassment didn’t stem from Center Parcs itself, more the fact that, unlike my workmates, I was married with children and felt that I could not join in with their hopes of getting drunk, all night beach festivals, or relaxing in the sun.
However, I was lucky enough for my parents to treat us all to a holiday at the Woburn site, so I really had nothing to complain about, and had to quickly get over my yearning for the freedom of my past and general fear of parenting.
My mum had booked us a three-bedroom lodge, with one of the rooms being used for my 1 and 3-year-old to share. Of course, this only lasted a night, as my youngest decided to start awakening through the night again, leaving us feeling it only fair to have her in with us and to let our eldest sleep. However, the lodge itself was well-equipped for families, with highchair and cot with mattress provided.
Despite having to request three times an iron and a hoover that actually never came, the rest of our customer experience was fantastic. Maybe it’s countryside living that makes people so happy? I definitely felt more relaxed (less anxious) being surrounded by lakes, deer and trees. And the car-free site made the place even more tranquil.
On our arrival, we were directed to our lodge in which we unloaded our things. Be aware that there is little point in arriving before your check-in time as the lodge doors are unlocked for your arrival electronically and automatically. My parents arrived early, even before our pre-booked early check-in, but were told that they were unable to use the lodge. After unloading the car, we drove back to the car park and hired some bikes and a Burley trailer to pull the kids around. I found the bike it incredibly hard to steer with the children attached but I think that this was more down to the bikes we were loaned. Still, a great and fun way to get around.
My parents booked us onto Aerial Tree Trekking, an activity a bit like Go Ape. My goodness, I was scared. I confidently climbed up the stairs onto our first tree then remembered just how terrified of heights I am. I was close to going back down but carried on seeing as there was a 10-year old in front of me literally breezing through.We used the spa for a treatment each whilst my parents looked after the children. The spa was incredibly relaxing, although equally expensive.
Generally, other activities were also pricey, with a 30-minute boat ride on the lake setting us back £22. On reflection though, I feel that the money was certainly worth it for the views of the beach from the edge of the lake.
I would recommend anyone with children to go to Center Parcs. Whilst I cannot comment on their other site, Woburn Park was well organised with incredibly friendly staff. It also got me over my fear of heights, and fear of actually being a responsible parent.