Written on: 29/08/2013 by glenc (310 reviews written)
We've considered going to Center Parcs for a long time but never made the plunge - mainly because I can't stand really busy, noisy places where you have to queue for everything - not something I wanted for a holiday.
I was very pleasantly surprised. They've clearly thought things through very well. The villas, although they are in a 'terrace' feel really private because when you look out the back patio doors all you can see are trees and wildlife and there's enough space at the front of the villa not to feel like you're in the middle of a holiday park.
The fact that it is all encapsulated in a massive forest really helps to feel open and free rather than on top of people and claustrophobic.
I'd definitely recommend booking a few things before you go - the choice is utterly overwhelming. We booked 4 or 5 things to do over 4 days and then when we got there we booked a load more.
We have two young kids and they were both thoroughly entertained pretty much every minute of the stay. They loved it.
Prices within the center weren't horrendous - they haven't followed the motto of pile people in then charge them vast sums as you have a captive audience. They really seem to want to impress and to have people come back - makes sense but so many places don't have this attitude.
I read a few reviews about rude staff - our experience was quite the opposite. We must have communicated with maybe 50 members of staff over the 4 days (we did a lot of activities!) and without every single one seemed very happy in their job, to care about customers and to generally be helpful and knowledgeable. I don't know how they do it. In the hospitality sector you generally pay low wages and get what you get - which is often grumpy non-customer focused staff. Center Parcs was a revelation - the staff really helped to make it a great stay.
My only gripe - and the reason I've marked it down as 4 stars not 5 - is cleanliness.
Our villa was poorly maintained and poorly cleaned. The sofas gave off a cloud of dust when you sat on them, I wouldn't want to venture under the beds for too long and generally you keep finding hairs and dirt that you know wasn't left by you - yuck.
A real shame as you'd have thought this would have been one of the easiest things to resolve - but our villa was grubby and generally felt like it needed a bit of a revamp - eg the patio doors were rusty and looked like they'd seen better days.
This is enough to mark down Center Parcs in my view - as my wife's first comment wasn't "wow this is amazing" but was "Ok - should I spend the next hour giving this place a clean?" Not the reaction you're looking for on holiday.
This aside, I'd definitely recommend Center Parcs - especially if you have kids, they will love it.
We will definitely go again - I'm really hoping they've sorted out their cleaning by then though
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