We've had some fantastic holidays at Center Parcs since Harry was born. We find that it suits us really well, with nice accommodation and enough to keep us busy for a few days. We've always visited Elveden Forest before, which for some reason is always cheaper. However this time the price at Longleat was comparable, and as this is likely to be our last visit we decided it was time for a change. Why our last visit? Well, Harry starts school in September, and whilst a mid-week break in January doesn't break the bank for us, the amount that prices rise during the school holidays is truly shocking.
The biggest difference I noticed between Elveden and Longleat is that Elveden is completely flat whereas Longleat is very hilly. We also managed to end up in the only villa that I saw with steps down to the front door. I feel that I've had a good workout this week marching up and down a huge hill several times a day!
On this visit we also broke our rule of not paying for any activities (which are also shockingly priced). On the recommendation of a friend we did the Mini Bowling (half price before 10am) which Harry really enjoyed, and even Mia played along for a bit before wandering off.
For the first time we were able to visit the swimming pool (aka the Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise) without having to worry too much about timing it carefully between snacks, naps and attention spans. We visited every day and spent almost two hours there, with everyone having a great time. Despite never having had a swimming lesson, Harry is becoming really confident in the water and can paddle about easily with arm bands. Mia has hardly ever even been swimming, but she was happily going down the slides.
We did struggle slightly with bedtime. For the first time, Harry and Mia were sharing a room with twin beds. As I blogged recently, Mia has just gone into a proper bed, and so it's all still a bit of a novelty. The first hour after 'bedtime' every night was spent returning her to bed after she had climbed out to play with the Groclock, play with the baby monitor, tickle Harry, try to climb into bed with Harry, run and hide in the corner of the room or open the bedroom door and run out. Fortunately after the first night Harry was so exhausted from the swimming and scooter-ing up hills that he fell asleep almost immediately, despite the havoc that was being created around him.
We had a lovely break. It certainly felt a lot more relaxing than some holidays that we have been on with the little ones, and that is definitely down to the fact that it is becoming easier as the children get older. I even had several long stretches to sit down quietly and do a bit of my cross stitch!
I've written about Center Parcs a few times before - here you can find my review of a stay at Elveden and here are some things that you can do for free at Center Parcs Elveden Forest.
I would also love to hear any tips that you might have for holiday destinations that don't increase prices to stupid levels come school holiday time!