Family fun at Center Parcs

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I don’t know about you, but with two little boys, (Oscar- 3 years and Alfie- 18 months) and currently 7 months pregnant, the prospect of a long car journey or having to get on a plane, to go on holiday may have sent me over the edge. We had had three choices this year. We either braved the holiday abroad, stayed home and didn’t go away at all (but with a baby on the way, this could be the last holiday we would be having for a little while) OR we booked to go to Center Parcs in Woburn Forest. We chose the latter for obvious reasons. Plus, I was lucky enough to win our break as a prize for being voted Best New Blog at The MAD Blog Awards last year so we were excited about what Center Parcs had to offer. Our car journey only took 1 hour 10 minutes, door to door, which was brilliant. The kids slept pretty much the whole way there (winner) and thankfully Chris and I didn’t have a chance to argue – our most favoured place to have our little disputes, is in the car… the disputes are never of any importance… usually about my navigating (or lack of) or his appalling driving skills!
All calm and collected... for now!

All calm and collected… for now!

Arriving at Center Parcs was smooth sailing – aside from a bit of a queue to get in, mainly due to us arriving bang on check in time, which was an error on my part. I had paid an extra supplement so that we could be closer to the centre and not have too far to walk (Yuuuup, I’m THAT lazy at the moment) and I don’t think I could have been happier with the positioning of our lodge. We were literally opposite to the main square, swimming baths and shops. It was perfect.

 

A hop, skip and a jump away

A hop, skip and a jump away

I had chosen to stay in the Executive Games Lodge. The reason I’d chosen it was because we had invited my mum and dad with us, along with my sister and her two children so we wanted to make sure we had enough space for all of us. Five days with 5 adults and 4 children, all 4 years and under, could have been carnage but refreshingly, it was actually rather fun.

Oscar with his cousin Bella

Oscar with his cousin Bella

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I cannot talk highly enough of the lodge itself. Woburn Forest has been open for a year and the quality of the lodge and the grounds (nearly 400 acres!) was second to none. They have thought of everything. From wine chillers (notice this being top of my list, too bad I can’t indulge at the moment), to TV’s in every room, a DVD player, a pool table, a BBQ outside, a flashy button on the bath that when you pressed it you had your very own jacuzzi (much to the delight of my boys)… it even had a sauna, for goodness sake, which Chris just thought was amazing. Because we were in the lodge we were entitled to a maid service, which meant a team of cleaners came in and changed sheets and towels, emptying rubbish etc. A real added luxury.

Bubbles and fun!

Bubbles and fun!

Our Lodge

Our Lodge

The biggest draw for us though, were the swimming pools. We knew that Center Parcs was famed for its fantastic pools and Woburn Forest didn’t let us down. The boys sported their brand new life vests and were ready to go. They absolutely loved the pirate ship, with the slides and the water shooting up from the floor. The toddler pool was a fab place for them to have a paddle and play on some of the water fixtures available. They weren’t the biggest fans of the wave pool but perhaps that’s because they’re just a little bit too young at the moment. Chris assured me that the rapids were great, along with some of the slides which unfortunately I wasn’t able to partake in due to pregnancy. No wine OR rapids/slides… this pregnancy lark is a bit rubbish really;0)

Oscar

Oscar

Alfie

Alfie

I did, however, get to spend some much needed time in the Aqua Sana Spa, thanks to my lovely husband Chris, who had booked me a treatment as a surprise. He booked it for 6pm which meant I missed the boys’ teatime and bath time which, at the risk of sounding mean, was a treat in itself. Almost an hour of leg massage, bump wrap and facial, all specifically designed for pregnancy, 55 minutes to myself but mainly 55 whole minutes of peace and quiet. The spa itself was beautiful, the treatment divine and I loved that although friendly, the staff weren’t in your face trying to do the big up-sell on products. Even if she did mention that I had “hormonal congestion” in certain areas of my face (to you and me, she meant spots!). After my treatment, I could chill out in one of their relaxation rooms, where I may or may not have stayed a little longer than I should have, just to enjoy some extra peace and tranquility. Perfect.

Aqua Sana - Bliss

Aqua Sana – Bliss

The other big pull for us with somewhere like Center Parcs is the selection of playgrounds for children. When you have kids the age ours are, other than swimming, it’s quite a hard age to entertain them with activities. I mean it’s not as if they’re going to be able to make full use of the tennis courts or sports bars, is it? But what I was pleased to see, was that they not only had two playgrounds for the children, they also had soft play areas in a lot of the bars and restaurants.

Soft Play fun with Grumps

Soft Play fun with Grumps

How amazing that when you sit and have a meal in Strada, when the kids get a bit ratty because it’s a little past their bedtime, you can put them in soft play and really tire them out before you put them down for the night. Good thinking Center Parcs.

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Oscar and Bella enjoying the playground

Oscar and Bella enjoying the playground

I had booked the boys and my niece, Bella, on the activity “Mucky Pups”. Advertised as messy play, I was pretty sure it was going to be a hit. Sand, Painting, Glitter, Gluing, Playdough and Drawing. What more does a little person need? The lady who ran the session was engaging and friendly, making a huge effort to learn every child’s name. I would highly recommend enrolling your child/children in an activity like this one as our children thoroughly enjoyed it and it was something different to do to break up the day

Mucky Pups

Mucky Pups

Mucky Pups

Mucky Pups

You might notice that Alfie, my youngest, isn’t in any of the messy play pics… and you’d be right. That’s because he was in A&E in Bedford, 20 miles down the road. That morning he had been sat in one of the armchairs in the lodge and fell backwards cutting his head open on the corner of the coffee table. We had taken him to the medical centre on site, and the staff were extremely helpful and knowledgeable but because it was classed as a head injury, he had to go to A&E. Alfie and Chris spent the best part of the morning there (while Oscar and I enjoyed Mucky Pups) but thankfully after a clean up and a bit of glue to seal it back together, he was on fighting form again. Unfortunately, it meant that he missed out on the last couple of days of swimming, which was disappointing, but it meant that Alfie and I could have a bit of a rest and enjoy the delights of Starbucks together, while everyone else in the family went swimming. Did I mention they have two branches of Starbucks on site? You can imagine my excitement!

Bedford A&E

Bedford A&E

The site itself was easy to get around and the fact that there were no cars to worry about was brilliant. The only thing you had to be mindful of when walking around was people on bikes. We had taken Oscar’s Rollers Trike, which I was lucky enough to have also won for receiving the MAD Blog Award. He has only really just started getting the hang of using his feet to push himself along so Center Parcs was a great place to practice but I’m sure it won’t be long until he’s got his confidence and is whizzing around on his trike!

Oscar and his Rollers Trike

Oscar and his Rollers Trike

Probably the main highlight for me, as cheesy as this may sound, was taking the kiddies to the disco. Neither of mine had ever been to a disco before so one night after dinner, we walked over to the sports bar and let them loose on the dance floor. Seeing them have so much fun was priceless. They loved the disco lights, the music and watching them all dance was what a family holiday is all about for me.
As the holiday drew to a close, we decided that as the weather was gorgeous, we’d have a BBQ. We couldn’t have picked a better evening for it. It truly was a perfect end to a perfect holiday.
Family BBQ

Family BBQ

I cannot thank Mary Lewis @micommsPR who works for Rollers World who sponsored my category at the awards. Rollers World not only gave us Oscar’s Rollers Trike, they so very generously also gave us the vouchers for Center Parcs. So grateful . Also, thank you to Lizzie Jackson, who is PR for Center Parcs Head Office who went above and beyond in ensuring our stay was the best it could be. And of course to my family – my mum, dad, sister Clare, nieces Bella and Evie, my husband Chris as well as little Alfie. Thank you all for coming and making my time there extra special.
My little family

My little family

Finally, to Oscar, my eldest son, the reason I started writing the blog in the first place and the reason we were lucky enough to go to Center Parcs. Without you, none of this would have been possible, so Thank YOU. We love you, little man.

To find out more about Rollers World, Click on the link below

http://www.rollersworld.co.uk

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1 comment

  1. Lilian OBrien   •  

    Lovely account of your trip Sarah. Especially nice for me to see all the family bar Mum I am not sure if she was in any of the photos.

    So glad you had such a wonderful time. Obviously your keeping well and just hope one day I get to meet your gorgeous family. xxxxxxx

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