Written on: 30/12/2009
I have been to the Sherwood Center Parcs in Nottingham about 13 times over the past 12 years but my last visit has put me off going again. The good points are the setting, which is in the woods, peaceful and better the farther away from the main facilities your are. Oddly, you now pay extra for the villas nearer the centre, so unless you have to be in the centre for mobility reasons, opt for the outer area and cycle around. The whole place is very child friendly and good for families apart from one of my biggest complaints which I'll come to later. Cars are banned from the complex outside arrival/departure day which helps with the peace aspect and due to distances you will need a bicycle or walking shoes to get about. You can either bring your own bikes or hire them there, but be prepared for naff machines that cost - alot. The accomodation is basic but I have always found it to be clean, comfortable and well enough equipped. One year we upgraded and shared an executive four bedroom villas with another family which gave us our own sauna, hot tub etc etc. but don't bother. The most basic villas are fine and the executive type are over-hyped and not worth the extra money for many reason: the 'hot' tub was not hot, just luke warm and the controls are not adjustable and there is nowhere to park buggies and put your families coats and boots apart from the entrance hall floor - you get fed up stepping over them after a few days. The whole layout of the posh villas is also not conducive to a family holiday spending time with your kids. They have however finally got plastic drinking cups in the villas for young children which until a year ago they didn't have - a basic safety consideration.
The whole place is clean and well maintained and staff are helpful and respond well to any problems you may have - there is even a medical center there which I unfortunately had to use once. Activities are endless and all listed on the Center Parcs website but don't expect them to be cheap. Entry to the water park is at no extra cost and it is pretty good - you'll be impressed the first time you see it and the kids will love it. You can do as much or as little as you decide but the more you do the deeper your pockets will have to be unless, like us, you bring your own entertainment. Your own bikes, a games console or DVD player (with the appropriate leads to plug it into the provided TV), board games, colouring books for the kids etc are useful if you can squeeze them into your car. Also one big tip: bring your own food/drink supplies and save an arm and a leg. There is a supermarket there which is fine for the odd item or fresh stuff like milk but you will pay over the odds for everything and there are no real offers. There is alot of good things about Center Parcs (Nottingham) but one very big negative and that is the cost. This time I left after a six day christmas break feeling like I had been mugged. The prices for most things especially eating out has increased and the quality has declined. On day one we arrived after our car jouney and ate as a family at Huck's restaurant, a basic american themed diner. For two adults and three children (one being a four year old who eats like a sparrow)and we had a bill for £75 which was a real punch in the wallet for average food (burgers, chips etc). Try £10.50 for just fish and chips and multiply this by the people in your family/group plus drinks and you can see the problem. There are no family deals such as you will find elsewhere, young kids eat for free or suchlike, you will pay every penny for everything. Fine for rich people or couples but stir in three children and eating out is a non-starter. Also some of our previous favourites like the 'luxury' hot chocolate was now watery and insipid - obvious evidence of penny pinching. Centre Parcs is probably trying to push themselves up market but all their efforts have done is alienate people like me who until recently was a big fan. I am sad that they have adopted this policy of cost cutting and price raising which will have me taking my family elsewhere after over a decade of regular visits. Too bad.
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