I always knew that when I had a child of my own, I would take them to Center Parcs. As a child, I went there every year with my family, albeit in January when it was freezing to get the best deal! But for me, it was amazing and I still remember it now.
To say thank you I decided to book a week at Whinfell Forest for my family including my mum and dad aka Grandad and Nanny Bee.
Looking on their website Center Parcs is about “bringing families together and back to nature”. Based on my memories as a child I was very excited to be taking my own family there. Their website and social media paints a picture of bliss, fun, laughter and memory making – this was exactly why I wanted to go back.
From the moment I booked I felt reassured I was in good hands. They had an online portal with everything you needed to know – from booking activities to registering your car to make for a smooth arrival.
In addition, you were given a RFID wrist band – what a nifty idea! No need for keys or carrying cash about – we loaded it up with money and we were ready to go!
I had never been so happy to see accommodation where everything had been thought about for young children. No sharp corners in sight. There were stair gates, latches on windows and the cot was ready. These little things just made me feel relaxed enough to be able to let my toddler run free without worrying.
Whilst my little one was too young for most of the activities this really didn’t have an impact. The sub-tropical pool was the highlight for everyone, there was a specifically designed area for small children which my young lad loved! Plus the added bonus again that everything was safe and secure.
For Mummy the spa was lush and on par if not better than some of the luxury spas I have been to in the Lakes before. It had recently been refurbished and the breadth of offering was incredible. Nothing was too much trouble and I felt like I was pampered like a Princess.
In complete contrast to the rest of the Center Parcs experience the spa was all about adults – a complete escapism from the day to day Mum life. The language used by the staff and the signage all signalled this was a kid free zone and gave you permission to relax.
Food and Drink
This was slightly disappointing. While they had some well-known names such as, Starbucks, Bella Italia and Café Rouge, the Center Parcs own brand restaurants seem overpriced for the food you got. I heard a couple of people say ‘is that it?’ Due to this we didn’t eat in one of their restaurants.
Overall the brand has lived up to my childhood memories, but through the eyes of a Mum it is even better. They have thought of everything when it comes to making it easy and really getting the brand basics right. Because of this we could spend more time together as a family so they really delivered on their promise. I wasn’t worrying about the usual things like who has the key? Is he going to bump his head? Will it be suitable for him and the other millions of questions that go through your head as a Mum.
The only improvement for me is the food and beverage offering. Center Parcs prides itself of being high quality and I just felt it was missing the mark a bit. There is a fantastic opportunity for Center Parcs to review its F&B experience and come up with something pretty special. Their Pancake house is legendary albeit a bit dated now. The Center Parcs brand is all about get ‘back to nature’ and they could create a unique F&B experience aligned to their promise. Taking inspiration from places such as Altrincham Markets, they could inspire people to try new and exciting local hearty foods as a family in a market style environment.
Thank you, Center Parcs, for a fab week and I have already booked for next year! Why not when they offer you free cancellation and £25 off your booking – bloody genius!
Customer Experience Review