‘Center Parcs Sherwood Forest is such a fantastic place’ This was one of my kids comments after this years holiday!
We have never been to Center Parcs before, we have also never been on a holiday as this type with the children either so we were just a tiny bit excited!!
There isn’t any point on skirting around the subject, Center Parcs is expensive! We went along with hubby’s Mum and ate at home most days to save costs.
I will add now, this is not a sponsored post, we choose to go there and paid for everything ourselves, I just wanted to show people what we got up to and my thoughts on Center Parcs.
Why did we chose Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest
We booked about 1 year in advance and after lots of researching into which village to go to we choose to go to Center Parcs Sherwood Forest.
Center Parcs Sherwood Forest is about 3.5hrs drive away from us, which felt like we were going on holiday but not too much driving. It looked well established with nature and trees and good reviews from other visitors.
Longleat was another contender but it is very close to where hubby and his Mum use to live so they didn’t fancy going on holiday near home! However after our 6 hr drive to get to Sherwood Forest I do wish we went closer to home. It really doesn’t matter once you get to Center Parcs, as we parked our car in the car park on Friday night and never touched it until a week later on leaving day! Once you enter Center Parcs you don’t have to leave the park unless you want to visit the surrounding area.
Whilst I am mentioning car parking, I love that the cars are not allowed in the village on normal days. You are allowed to bring it into the village on Mondays and Fridays so you can unload and load up but apart from that it must be left in the car park near the entrance. This leaves the roads around the villas completely free of public cars, you do get quite a few Center Parcs vehicles but they were mostly very good at going slowly around the roads and keeping an eye out for people.
We stayed in a 3 bed new style executive villa, number 741.
We choose this one as it was at the end of a row of villas, was near a path to get to the main village easily and had the lake behind us. This meant the animals were more likely to come and visit the villa.
We were right on that one! The children loved having the ducks, swans, squirrels and birds right up close to us. We took our own animal food that we purchased from the pet shop, this was cheaper way of doing it and have a great mixture of food.
Can you spot the swan?!
The villa was beautifully laid out, well designed and gave you a little bit of luxury. However was super practical, with coffee maker, dishwasher, microwave and oven in the kitchen.
En-suites to each room with waterfall showers, the twins room even had a Hydrobath which they couldn’t wait to use and switch on the bubbles!!
Hairdryers, bedside lamps, lots of practical lighting, mirrors, bedspreads and big thick duvets. We could have done with some fans though as it was very hot at night and made sleeping quite hard.
We were really pleased with the accommodation, with 3 adults and 3 kids staying we filled it up but it didn’t feel cramped at all. The kids could chill in their bedroom if they wanted as each room had a TV in. Center Parcs is very tiring and sometimes everyone just needed some down time!
As were in an executive villa we had daily maid service included in the price, it was very strange coming back from our morning out to a clean tidied villa, beds made, dishwasher on, sides cleaned down and bathroom cleaned.
We even had a lovely cleaner who delivered elephant towels to the twins bedroom!
There are so many activities to do at Center Parcs, but they are an extra cost so do bare this in mind. There is a large range of activities that vary in prices, age groups and types of activities.
You can book them from 6 months ahead of your holiday by logging into your own booking area online. They store all your activities and keep an itinerary which you can print off before you leave. We gradually booked our activities to spread out the cost, we did book one closer to the time and I noticed how booked up the activities were. So if there is something you really want to do book it as soon as you can.
The activities we chose were,
Then me and hubby did Segway but never got a picture of us doing, I captured it on video…..captured the moment hubby fell off!!!
We did eat back at the villa on most nights to save money but there are some lovely places to eat at Center Parcs.
We visited the Magical Carvery in the Pancake House on the Sunday night. The Magical Carvery was so yummy, all the staff were friendly and welcoming. As you are sitting at your table you are greeted by a magician doing table magic, up close to you! We left it as a surprise for the kids and Nana that anyone was coming around and doing magic, so when this man in a shiny suit came up and starting talking to us they all didn’t know what to make of it! Until he performed his first magic trick for them! This was pre-bookable online.
Kids cocktail (chocolate milk!)
On our leaving day we went to the Pancake House again but this time we went for proper pancakes! Again it was really tasty food and you do see correct, I do have the largest pile of pancakes! However I did end up giving hubby half of them! I was beaten!!
For our dinners at the villa we took with us all the dried food and meal planned for the week. Center Parcs have a good sized supermarket, so we were able to buy all the meat, dairy and fresh food that we needed for our meals on a daily basis. The prices were higher as expected but the food was of good quality.
Free things to do at Center Parcs
There are lots of free things to do at Center Parcs, so you don’t have to pay for the extras. We took 3 bikes as that was what we could fit on the car which saved money. So you have lots of cycling routes to take, take your bike around the park to explore the different areas.
Cycling at Center Parcs
The roads are fantastic for the children to cycle on, smooth and wide, this gave my twins a perfect place to learn to ride properly. It didn’t take them long to get their confidence and they were speeding around on their little bikes.
We hired their little bikes from Center Parcs cycle center, we could pre book them before we arrived and as we got their late on our arrival day we choose to pick them up the day after. It was lovely and quiet and quickly picked them up with no problems. We paid £40 a week per adults bike hire and £30 a week per child bike hire.
They offer a large range of bikes to choose from, mountain bikes, traditional bikes, trikes, trailers and helmets to hire. Each bike came with a bike lock so you can lock it up easily at any of the numerous bikes racks around the village. Also outside each villa is a set of bike racks to lock your bikes up.
Visit the nature center to learn all about the wildlife in the park and get up close to the bugs around us. This was a lovely section of Center Parcs where the children could ask the nature experts about the wildlife they have been seeing whilst on holiday.
I did expect there to be a few more parks to play in dotted around the park, but at Sherwood Forest they had two large parks in the center. However these parks were great parks, unusual wooden play equipment that my kids had never been on before. So they had a great time playing on them!
Swings in different shapes and sizes!
Swimming – sub tropical paradise
Now the best thing about Center Parcs is the sub tropical swimming paradise, this is free to use as often and as long as you want to. I am going to do a separate post on the swimming pool to go into more detail but we all loved it. Flumes, rapids, wave machines, whirlpool tubs and slides. The changing rooms were always kept clean and we visited in the evening which was lovely and well worth a visit. They light up the swimming pool with lights under water and in the palm trees. Very lovely!
My twins even learned how to swim there!
We loved Center Parcs and would happily go back again. It is expensive and it is a shame that you have to pay quite a bit more for the activities on top. However for an experience for kids and family time it is amazing, it is proper family fun time. You do so much together that you all will be so tired and need another holiday once you get back home!!
Full Length Vlog showing everything we go up to and me chatting along the way.
Here is a shorter version of my video, this is just some little snippets of our time at Center Parcs. My longer video is a vlog which by nature includes a lot more detail as you are following our week with us and includes more information on what Center Parcs has to offer.