aka the holiday of dreams!
I’ll be the first person to admit that I never imagined the idea of a Center Parcs break being for us. When it comes to holidays, we are definitely more the sort who favour ‘off the beaten track’ type breaks. We’re your classic holiday snobs – all culture and hidden gems, and handcrafted gelato on an artfully rustic street corner. (I mean, I jest, but only a little. You can’t beat a flaky shutter, on that I think we’re all agreed! 😉 )
When Center Parcs asked us to come and experience one of their forest getaways, ahead of the brand new site opening in Longford, Ireland next year, we jumped at the chance to try it out, having heard how much friends had enjoyed it in the past. In the back of my mind I pictured a classic 1960s holiday camp – all Hi-de-Hi red coats, morning aqua aerobics classes and cheesy evening entertainment. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This guys, is the future of family holidays.
From the instant we arrived everything was taken care of. The check-in procedure was completed in minutes, and our taxi deposited us straight to our executive lodge on site. A whole lot less 60’s tin box and a lot more millennial luxury. With four ensuite bedrooms, open plan kitchen/living, a games room and even a sauna, our digs were even more fancy than we had expected, and so much more spacious than we are accustomed to when we travel elsewhere.
After unpacking a little the kids were keen to explore the tropical swimming paradise, and so we did just that. And with one swift move we lost them to the notion of any other holiday option in the future, ha!
You can’t fail to be impressed by the sheer scale, layout and design of the Center Parcs swimming domes. Full of pools, slides and watery fun for all ages, they are definitely one of the principle attractions of a Center Parcs break. It was certainly for our three, and we carved out a portion of each day to enjoy it. By the end, our usually cautious kiddos were racing down slides and tackling the white water rapids uninhibited, all under the watchful eye of trained lifeguards and pool staff.
The fun definitely doesn’t stop there though, and from bicycles to boats, playgrounds to pottery making, archery to aerial adventures, there are so many other activities that you can choose to opt into throughout your stay. Andrew, Eva and Noah had a go on the high ropes course (Eva loved it, Noah wasn’t so keen!) while Annie and I had a much more sedate coffee before making a unicorn toy, feet firmly on the ground. The beauty of this type of break is that you can be as active (or inactive!) as you like, and really tailor your holiday to the types of activities you enjoy. It’s all there if you want it, but there is no pressure to partake if total relaxation is more your cup of tea.
There are several options for dining onsite, with a number of different restaurants to choose from, an excellent ‘dine in’ menu, with a delivery option (we used this a couple of nights during our stay and it was really amazing to have restaurant quality food delivered to our door. A brilliant option when everyone is a bit tired after a really active day!) and a fully stocked supermarket as well. Each lodge is equipped with a full kitchen and a barbecue area too, so there is always the opportunity to cook in if that suits your needs better.
And I think that’s the main ethos of Center Parcs really. It is about offering everything that will make your stay with them wonderful, but stepping back to let you enjoy it at your own pace. It definitely wasn’t the rushed, busy campsite feel that I had first envisioned, and much more of a relaxing, peaceful escape to the woods. Don’t get me wrong, our children had us on the go from early morning until late at night (‘just a wee quick bike ride before bed?’ was Annie’s most used phrase of the week! 😉 ) and we definitely came home exhausted, but it was the kind of tired that comes from contentment too.
If they are happy, we are happy.
And I think when it comes to that approach, Center Parcs ticks every single box.
**Thanks so much to Center Parcs Ireland for sending us on this trip ahead of their new site opening in 2019. We are complete converts and so excited to try Longford Forest out too! As always, all words, images, opinions and love of forest getaways are entirely our own.**