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Our family holiday to Center Parcs Elveden Forest


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Center Parcs in Elveden Forest

Center Parcs in Elveden Forest was our latest family holiday. We've been meaning to come to Center Parcs for some time, as we've continually heard good things about Elveden Forest, so decided to treat the children to the swimming paradise which is Center Parcs.

The lake at Center Parcs Elveden Forest The main lake at Center Parcs Elveden Forest

What are Center Parcs?

If you've never heard of Center Parcs - or, you might have heard about Center Parcs, but may not be familiar with this type of holiday, let me explain what a Center Parcs holiday is all about. There are five different Center Parcs around the UK: Whinfell Forest, Sherwood Forest, Woburn Forest, Longleat Forest, and our choice of Center Parcs, Elveden Forest. Each site operates to the same winning formula - lodges placed within a forest setting, with a central village offering shops, restaurant and sports hall - with that all-important pool complex.

The pool complex is free to use during your holiday, with a multitude of other activities available at an additional cost.

 
 

Our family holiday to Center Parcs at Elveden Forest

We took our Center Parcs holiday over the course of a weekend during the school summer holidays. Your lodge is available from 3pm at the start of your holiday - with checkout time being 10am at the end of your holiday. It's important to note, however, that you can use the parc's facilities all day on your day of arrival; and all day on your day of departure. This means that a 3 night break can be a 4 day holiday. We chose to arrive at 10am, and make the most of the pools.

One of the main things you need to sort out at Center Parcs is a bike. Cars are only allowed near the lodges for unloading at the beginning of your holiday - and for loading again at the end of your stay; at all other times the cars are safely stored away in the car park. Which means you need a cycle to get around. Bring your own, or hire at Center Parcs. We chose to put a couple of bikes on the car, and hire a couple of cycles on holiday. Cycles can be hired from 11am on your arrival day - and must be returned by 10am on your departure day.

After our first swim of the day, it was decided to get the two hire bikes - just in case that ran out. Have a look at the photo below; I don't think running out of bikes would be an issue!

Bikes available to hire at Center Parcs Elveden Forest Pick a bike, any bike, at Elveden Forest

Our lodge at Center Parcs Elveden Forest

At 3pm the gate opens, allowing cars onto the site, and the luggage & food supplies to be dropped off. Our lodge was a "Woodland", sleeping 4 people in two bedrooms - one double bedroom and one twin bedroom. The accommodation was very pleasant indeed - it has to be said that the lodges don't have too much kerb appeal, but inside they are lovely. All lodges are accessed by a small path leading from the main road linking the site together; with patio doors leading onto a patio area with a table & chairs. The position of the lodges means you can sit outside without being overlooked by your neighbours! To give you an idea of the layout of the Center Parcs lodges, have a look at the video below, taken on one of the roads. The lodges are all hidden away in the trees - notice the lack of cars too, it is really nice to be able to cycle around without cars thundering past you!

 
 
And here's the view from your patio - makes a nice place to enjoy a cup of tea.

view from your lodge at Elveden Forest Sit outside your lodge and enjoy a cup of tea

The pools at Center Parcs

The pools at Center Parcs are one of the main attractions, and, it has to be said, one of the few activities which won't cost you more money! We visited the subtropical swimming paradise three times a day during our break - once at 10am when the pool opened (and before it got too busy); once for a mid-afternoon session; and again at 7pm, which is when the pool quietens down again. The "subtropical swimming paradise", as the pool area is known, has plenty going on.

The main pool isn't huge. But there is enough room to get some swimming in should you want 5 minutes away from the family! Swimming lengths isn't really the aim of the game at Center Parcs. It's more about aqua based fun. A quick run-through of the aqua based activities may well be in order at this point: Let's start with the main pool. As I mentioned, you can get in some swimming, the deepest part (1.70m) doesn't get too busy. Apart from when the wave machine kicks in - the pool is then quite popular. Off to left side is the lazy river and a couple of water slides. The "venture cove" splash zone is brilliant for younger children - our two loved it, although they didn't want to admit (far too old). Off to the right are a couple of flumes, and the popular rapids. The rapids are accessed by swimming through some flaps from the subtropical paradise into the outside world. An outdoor pool is the starting point for the rapids, and if you're feeling especially brave, you can dip into the plunge pool to get your system going. At 16°, the plunge pool is enough to wake you up for the day. Enter the rapids from a sitting position or by going headfirst to get up a good speed, then career down to the bottom. Should you be too close to someone when you start your descent, you may well be interlocked by the time you've been dumped in the landing pool at the bottom.

The one other ride to try is the "Tropical Cyclone". Holy mackerel, this is a scary piece of kit! 2, 3 or 4 people sit on a big inflatable which is then launched into a large tube. The ride gets really scary when you go down, what is known in our family as "the plug hole" - because it is exactly what it is like, going full pelt down a massive plug hole. Rather embarrassingly I have to admit that strong language came involuntarily from my lips, much to the amusement of the children. But it has to be tried - if only once.

Other activities - Segway and Aerial Adventure

You have plenty of activities to indulge in at Center Parcs Elveden Forest. There are tennis courts, badminton courts, archery, laser combat to name just a few. All activities come at an extra cost, but it's certainly worth trying one or two different things. Our children went on the "Aerial Adventure", which involves climbing across various rope ladders and bridges, all high up in the trees - don't worry though, everybody has a safety harness attached to them! The photo below shows some of the Aerial Adventure course.

Try some Aerial Adventure at Center Parcs Elveden Forest Try the Aerial Adventure at Elveden Forest

At the end of the Aerial Adventure, you get down by a large zip wire -taking you across the lake. The video below shows the descend from the Aerial Adventure via the zip wire.

 
 
For those out there without a head for heights, something more ground level could be called for - one of the other activities we tried was the "Segway Adventure". This proved to be a great way of spending some time with my son!

The Segways at Center Parcs The Segways at Center Parcs are great for all the family

Center Parcs Elveden Forest - should you go?

We had a fantastic few days at Center Parcs Elveden Forest - it was nice to lever our son off his X-Box, and spend some time as a family. The forest setting of the lodges proved to be a relaxing place to retreat to; with the subtropical pool complex a fantastic way to have a laugh together.

Center Parcs isn't the cheapest way to spend a few days - but, in our view, well worth the price. We'll certainly be going again.

You can find more about Center Parcs in Elveden Forest.



tags: center parcs | elveden forest | family holiday

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