It is for families, of course, but not exclusively.
Having visited Center Parcs a few times in my childhood, with family in recent years, and most recently with gal pals to celebrate my birthday, I have experienced differing ends of the conventional scale. And the one thing that strikes me most when you tell people you’re off to Center Parcs is the assumption that you’re going with (and for) families.
My recent trip couldn’t have been further from that, when six twenty-somethings checked in for a long woodland weekend. Here’s my thoughts on why Center Parcs makes a great adults-only break:
1. The spa
The Aqua Sana spa is one of Center Parcs’ best kept secrets. Of course visitors know about it, but time and time again I find myself telling people that it really is only £35 for the twilight session and you really do get access to the 10+ rooms/saunas, jacuzzi and pool for 3 hours (6-9pm). It’s so much better than the dull hotel ‘spas’ that spa breaks these days so often take place at (you know the ones with a pool and steam room), and it’s really well priced. I can’t remember ever going to the Parc and not starting my long weekend with a Friday evening spa session. Annddddd relax.
2. Nobody’s a host
Dogs, boyfriends, children, lack of room, non-stop offerings of tea… just a few of the things that can provide cute distractions or simply be a pain when you’re hosting friends. There’s none of that at Center Parcs, which is akin to renting an Airbnb in the forest but with predictability – you know what you’re going to get like when you book a hotel but you get the space of a 3+ bedroom lodge with living and dining area. Nobody has to host, so you can take it in turn to cook without ruining anyone’s frying pan or awakening anyone’s tidy kitchen OCD. And even better, you can bring as much wine as you want and host a dinner party with a reasonably well equipped kitchen, light the BBQ on the off chance it’s not raining or cold, make use of the takeaway delivery service, or venture out to one of the many restaurants on site. We even did a murder mystery dinner on my recent trip, which was great fun.
3. The convenience
I’ve alluded to the ease of Center Parcs, but it’s not to be downplayed. Not only is everything within walking (and certainly cycling) distance of the lodges, but the nature of the Parc means you can create an itinerary before you go (from tennis to badminton, kayaking to high ropes) and not need to think about what’s next when you’re there.
There’s a mini supermarket should you forget something, but it is pretty pricey so I recommend planning meals in advance and doing a big supermarket shop just before you go.
4. The chance to be a big kid for a weekend
The real reason I still go to Center Parcs are for the river rapids and slides! Jokes aside, they are great fun and the newest slide addition sits 4 in a giant rubber ring and is definitely belly-drop rollercoaster worthy.
There’s also some fun fitness classes on which are great for an hour of child-like fun. We did Bollywood dancing and it was the most fun I’ve had whilst exercising for a long time.
So yes, Center Parcs is for kids, but it’s also for adults too. There’s five to choose from (Longleat being my usual) and while it’s not cheap in school holidays, it’s quite affordable if you’re all paying. And it’s a great way to do an active / activity break without overthinking it.