Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest

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A bedroom in the new Executive Lodge
A bedroom in the new Executive Lodge
Center Parcs - an oasis of calm and tranquillity in an otherwise hectic world.

Well that's how I was going to start my description of CenterParcs in Sherwood Forest before I thought to myself that I sounded a little pretentious. So I thought again and decided to start with ....... Our weekend break in CenterParcs in Sherwood Forest was a perfect break in every respect. But no that seemed a little bland and didn't really do our fab weekend justice either.

The thing is, we really did have a wonderfully relaxing break and it genuinely was one of the best family weekends away we'd ever had.

Last year we went to CenterParcs in Longleat - our first ever venture to what I had imagined beforehand to be an over-hyped and over-priced holiday experience. And guess what? We all loved it, in fact everything about it and so it was difficult to imagine before we arrived in Sherwood Forest that any weekend away could ever top last year's break. I was wrong though.

From the minute you arrive in CenterParcs you're in a different world. A world without cars where people walk or go by bike. A world full of trees and all things natural. A world where children of all ages play outside safely and where mums and dads don't worry!

We were staying in one of their new Executive Lodges and I've got to say that it really was fantastic. Sparklingly clean, fresh-smelling and not a thing out of place. From the crisp white cotton on the new beds, through the ultra-modern bathroom for every bedroom, to the flat-screen TV, to the well thought-out and well-equipped kitchen - everything was just perfect. The 'piece de resistance' though for the teenagers in the group was The Sauna. And we're not talking about the saunas in the Spa but our very own sauna which was part and parcel of the Lodge we were in. There was even an outside shower to cool off after a session in the sauna. Maddie, who loves heat and loves saunas, was in her absolute element.

Talking of spas though, our afternoon visit to the Aqua Sana was a treat and a half. In the brochure it says "surrender yourself to our
The Water Beds Room
pampering and we'll exhilarate you, refresh you, invigorate you, soothe you and most of all relax you." And every word is true. The Indian Blossom Steam Room and the Japanese Salt Rooms were favourites for all our party and we all, without exception, nearly dropped-off on the water beds. A couple of hours in the Aqua Sana left me feeling squeaky clean and thoroughly 'chilled' but we weren't finished yet.....

Us girls left the 'boys' in the Spa Pool and went off for 'treatments'. That word makes it all sound a bit medical and believe me it was far from that. Maddie was treated to an Elemis Skin Specific Facial and Megan and I had an 'Elemis Mother and Daughter Treatment' which along with the obvious cleansing and moisturising included a beautifully scented and deliciously relaxing back, neck and face massage. The subsequent trip to the skin counter was a bit of a shock to the purse to say the least in these credit crunch times. It was probably the only time all weekend I felt mildly stressed.

The 'boys' weren't left out by the way, as Sunday saw them disappearing down the road on their bikes to go quad-biking for a couple of hours. Judging by the state of them on their return, it would be fair to say that they encountered a lot of mud on their travels. Both Tom and Nigel were on a real high when they got back and it's safe to assume that they'll be going quad-biking again sometime.

One of the things people worry about when they're self-catering is the 'What food should we take with us...?' dilemma. Generally we pile the car with everything but the kitchen sink but remembering that the ParcMarket in Longleat Centerparcs had been particularly good, I took the risk and took virtually nothing with us to Sherwood Forest. As expected the ParcMarket there was superbly stocked and to be honest it was competitively priced too. Perhaps not as cheap as Tesco but certainly not all that dear and they'll deliver to your lodge too for free if you spend £40 or more. If you want you can arrange for a Grocery Pack to be delivered to your lodge ready for your arrival - a great plus if time is of the essence.

Our Saturday night meal was spent in The Foresters' Inn , a lovely, contemporary gastro-pub a mere 5 minute bike ride from our convenient and centrally-located lodge. The journey back was slightly more precarious after we'd consumed a lovely bottle of Chilean Chardonnay but the well-lit paths and clear signage made it easy enough for us. The menu prices were actually lower than we'd expected which was a pleasant surprise. Everybody cleared their plates too which is testimony in itself to the quality of the food!

The Grand Cascade in the Sub-Tropical Swimming Paradise
On Sunday, we left the kids in the 'Sub-Tropical swimming Paradise' (or the Dome as they called it) and went to read the papers and have a coffee in Starbucks. On our way, I was tapped on the shoulder by a man offering us a 'FREE MEAL'! Now I always thought there was no such thing as a free meal but oh how wrong I was. There appears to be an exception to the rule. He explained that Huckleberry's Restaurant, the American Bar and Grill, had just been refurbished and was going to open the next day. As the manager he wanted the staff to get a bit of practice with the new menus and restaurant lay-out and so he was inviting random families to 'come and dine free'. He reserved a table for us and asked us to order a selection of various starters, main courses, side orders and desserts. Now the expression 'I could eat a horse' doesn't really do justice to our children's appetites or my own for that matter. Suffice to say that when we'd finished our'free' and very large meal in Hucks, we were about as full as full can be and the warm feeling inside that I already had about Centerparcs had grown to a positive inferno.

Centerparcs is a great place to go for families of all ages. It's not uncommon to see 3 generations of the same family holidaying together as the facilities for old and young are equally as good. Once you've been once, chances are you'll become hooked like us.

- Mum and Editor of TheBabyWebsite
October 2008

Take a look at the Center Parcs website HERE.

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