Center Parcs, Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire
The newest addition to the popular Center Parcs family, the 365-acre Woburn Forest offering is just an hour from London but feels a world away, boasting the group’s most modern accommodation yet to the largest sub-tropical swimming paradise. We gathered together three generations containing six adults, two children and a baby for a week-long escape.
Private hot tub, sauna and steam room in stunning woodland setting – check.
Games room with pool table for big and little kids alike – done.
Spacious rooms kept clean with everything handy for self-catering – yup. The Exclusive Lodge we stayed in received a big thumbs-up from every family member and was the perfect base for a week of riding bikes, aerial tree trekking and falconry.
With this being the first trip away since Theo’s birth, an hour or two of mama-pampering between feeds was high on the (ok, on my) agenda and the spa provided a haven of calm for a pedicure, facial and massage with friendly staff and lovely facilities that provided the ultimate in R’n’R.
Our visit was smack-bang in the middle of the summer’s hottest week. The mercury was hitting over 30c and nights were sticky leaving both kids and grown-ups feeling the heat. Unfortunately, the park wasn’t really kitted out for the heatwave and could offer only one fan per lodge (the accommodation has no air con) leaving us pulling straws for who would benefit from a little breeze each night. Granted this isn’t a problem you’ll often encounter during a UK break but just having a few more fans to hand would make a huge difference, especially to families travelling with young children at risk of overheating.
An Exclusive Lodge (sleeping 6 adults and 3 children) for 7nights during May costs around £3,598. This is definitely one of the pricier accommodation offerings but if you want your own space with an extra special touch of private hot tub, sauna and steam room, dedicated parking, daily maid service, and games room plus four comfortable bedrooms all with ensuite facilities, it’s well worth seeing if the budget will stretch a little further.
As with any place with a captive audience, the on-site supermarkets and restaurants are a little higher priced than normal. Keep grocery costs down, and avoid everyone cramming bags of food into luggage-filled cars by arranging for an online Sainsburys delivery. We had all our food (and, more importantly, booze) delivered on the afternoon of our arrival. Note that the deliveries can’t come up to the lodges but drivers let you know when they arrive so you can drive down and meet them at the entrance for a handover. Job done!
THE VERDICT: 9/10
For a first holiday away with a three-month-old (plus two very active cousins aged 2 and 3) Center Parcs is a failsafe choice. Everything is set up with families in mind, from soft play areas in every restaurant to dedicated breastfeeding rooms should you want a little more privacy, pretty much every box is ticked for a stress-free, family vacay.
For more information, and to book a stay – visit the Center Parcs website here