I would highly recommend Center Parcs Whinfell Forest for a relaxing and fun family break.
We first visited when our son was 14 months old and we have since returned twice. While I would definitely recommend it for families, I wish we had tried it on our own as a couple first but to be honest we had only thought of it as a family place. Not so! It would equally make a lovely couples or friends break though I'd definitely go outwith school holidays unless you want kiddies everywhere!
Price-wise we thought it was reasonable. Not terribly expensive but not a bargain either. To give some context we paid approx. £350 for a 2 bedroom woodland lodge both mid May and mid Sept(2013) for a 4 night break (Mon-Fri). The woodland lodges are the more modern ones which have been refurbished. They are really lovely, was spotlessly clean and certainly provided us with plenty of space for. We've always had the luxury of going outwith public or school holidays but I believe prices can almost triple at peak times. For us that would absolutely not be worth the cost.
Center Parcs is known for all the additional activities you can do. These come at a price and I'd imagine if you were there with older children it would become an expensive holiday. With a toddler however, we were fortunate that long walks, fabulous play areas, HUGE swimming pool and soft play area (£3ish) was entertainment enough.
Food options are mixed - the pancake house was great, the carvery less than average, Italian was lovely and the onsite take away delivery wasn't very nice. The Italian restaurant also provides a take away service which we've used and that was a great bonus.
On the whole we have loved our holidays here. Having the benefit of a full kitchen and plenty of living space with a young family is fantastic and quite difficult to come by in such a nice facility. Each lodge automatically has a high chair and a cot and this family friendliness is felt throughout the whole resort.
TIPS WE'VE LEARNT ALONG THE WAY ...
1. The spa is amazing- look out for offers online before your holiday. Also they have a specials board where they try to fill up any empty treatment times they have that day.
2. Take a bag of bird food with you. It's much cheaper to bring from home and if you scatter some outside you'll see wildlife aplenty.
3. If you have toddlers you probably don't need to book activities for them. All the new sights, sounds and free / included things will suffice.
4.Although check in time is 3.30pm, you're welcome to arrive much earlier (from 10am I think but obviously check), park up and enjoy the facilities until you collect your keys at check in time.
5. Take some bread up to the big lake. There's a little beach where friendly ducks will be delighted that you brought a snack!
We have been to a Center Parcs in Whinfell Forest at least once a year for the last 12 years.
The free swimming pool. It is massive with loads of slides and different pools for all ages. Even a small outdoor pool.
The Spa -expensive, but has the most spa rooms of any Spa I have visited.
The organised football - this is the main thing my sons and husband enjoy. They love the competitive lads and dad's football. We meet the same families every year while playing this. Costs about £5 per head, book in advance.
Walks / bike rides - as it is car free it is great to go for walks/ bike rides.
The organised activity prices can add up.
The supermarket although well stocked is not cheap.
It is very hilly.
Some of the bike riders can be a bit dangerous.
Take your own bikes
If hiring bikes consider the £99 early check in as 2 bikes included.
Get there early and explore on the first day.
Book your lodge address in advance by looking at the map. Some of the lodges a good distance from the facilities.
Throw bread out your patio door for the wildlife. It is lovely to see all the rabbits/ squirrels/birds etc.
Find the rangers lodge, normally squirrels feeding there.
Take your own food to reduce costs.
I was pregnant when we visited, with working and getting ready for the new arrival too, we fancied a relaxing trip away. This is what I got - but it came with a big price tag.
We visited out of school holidays and rented a 1 bedroom apartment. It was big enough for two of us and was the cheapest option available. It cost £199 for 4 nights Monday to Friday, although I know it costs a lot more sometimes dependant on accommodation and time of year. It was our first visit and we weren't sure what to expect. Everyone we knew who'd been loved it.
We're people that like eating out on trips away. I do enough cooking at home and don't fancy doing the same thing on my hols. So, that was probably why we found it quite expensive. I get the impression the majority of people do a mixture, do a shop at the supermarket there, make their own meals sometimes and eat out sometimes. It's not the sort of place you visit and go out and about - once you're there, that's it for the trip (I don't think it's entirely impossible to leave for a day but I wouldn't have tried it) so we only had the choice of the on site facilities.
When we arrived, we were told to drive into this room and checked in at the desk in there while still sat in the car, that was a new experience. Cars are only allowed onto the main site at certain times on changeover days only (Monday and Friday). We parked up, walked around and then at 3.30pm they allowed everyone to reach their accommodation with vehicles to unpack. All hell broke loose, cars everywhere, big queues. We unpacked as quickly as possible so we could park the car back up. Once the car's parked up again, you don't see it until the day you leave. Unfortunately I forgot something from it, my poor husband had to walk for over half an hour round trip to go and bring it back in the pouring rain! That said, it's a nice idea that no cars are allowed on site, it makes it very pleasant. You often however see Ranger cars driving around.
There is a huge lake in the centre. Around this are the pub, the resort centre and the swimming pool. The sports hall and spa are up near to the pub and accommodation radiates out from the centre - some are very close to the centre and some are a good distance away.
Our apartment was clean but basic, the bathroom could have done with being replaced but it was usable and there was a kitchen, living area and bedroom all open plan. The number one annoyance was one 'starter' toilet roll and that was it! The room doesn't get visited by a cleaner, our apartment had bedding but I think there are other accommodation where you have to take your own so it's worth checking.
We visited the supermarket on our first day to get some supplies that we'd not taken with us although I did fill the car up with a few snacks and this tends to be the norm, as long as you have space in the car. The supermarket is ok - has most things but not a massive selection. There's also a counter that sells fresh cakes that always looked tempting. There are some other little shops dotted around the main centre, a couple of clothes shops (not big brand shops but sell a very limited amount of branded stuff) and a couple of souvenir type shops too.
Food and Drink
At the time we visited, there was a Bella Italia, Café Rouge, a steakhouse, a sports café and a burger place that shut the day after we arrived. There was also a pancake café, two Starbucks, a pizza takeaway and an indian takeaway. I think now they've opened a couple of other restaurants too. There's a café at the spa (but we never went in there) and there's also a pub that serves nice food until 9pm. There's a bar area near the bowling alley for hot and cold drinks but this always seemed empty, there is a play area near there too. We ate at Bella Italia twice, it was lovely, similar priced to a normal Bella Italia at about £25 for two meals, a starter between us and drinks. We also ate at Café Rouge twice, same menu as other café rouge restaurants and it cost around £30 for two meals, a starter between us and drinks. The steak house was overpriced - it cost £40 for a burger, a steak, a couple of drinks and a starter between us so we only visited once. To be fair though, we enjoyed the food a lot in there. We used Starbucks a few times, it rained most of the week (I think it's an exception when the sun shines!) and it was one of the cheapest places apart from the room to sit and have a drink! One overlooks the big lake and the other is located in the sports hall.
Things to Do
Being pregnant, I was limited for things to do. It's a place where most people take part in sports activities, water activities and spa treatments throughout the day. My husband is sporty so took part in a few things - football, tennis, badminton - these are all timetabled and a place can be pre-booked on the sessions over the internet, at the main desk or at one of the self service points in the main centre. They can be booked in advance of visiting. The problem is that some of the activities, eg football and tennis rely on the weather - my husband's tennis was cancelled for this reason and they do warn you that a lot of activities are 'weather permitting'. Very little is included in the price that you pay for your stay. Almost everything has a fee during the day and it adds up. I took part in the adventure golf (a bit daft because it was on a hill - the ball just rolled wherever it felt like!) and that was £4 per person and was pre-booked, the swimming pool had a wave pool and big slide and was nice to go in although it wasn't a pool that you could have a relaxing swim in. It was so busy - I don't remember being charged for that facility though so maybe that was why! In the bowling I used the children's ramp, it was also good fun and cost around £18 for a lane for 60 minutes (it is exactly 60 minutes - if you are in the middle of a game it's tough luck, it disappears from the screen and the lane closes!). It was £6 for a badminton tournament, £6 for the football. We hired a pedalo around the lake for half an hour for £10. I'm not sure on prices for other things as these were the only ones we did. There are other activities for children but again I don't know their costs and what there was on offer. We spaced out the activities so we had something booked for the morning and then in the afternoon each day and in-between just walked about and drank tea and coffee!
With no cars allowed, the main way seems to be hiring bikes, again this isn't something we did but I suppose in the rainy weather it must have been quicker to get from A to B. I didn't feel we missed out as our apartment was central to everything. It would be a good way to see the park. They also offer horse and cart rides, these were only on offer at certain times across the week.
There is a spa where you can have various treatments and massages but as we didn't visit this part of the park I can't give any comments about it.
There seems to be a culture of early to bed and early to rise, we visited the pub most nights, where sometimes a quiz was on which we enjoyed but when the pub shut, everywhere seemed quiet. There were a lot of families with small children there and I think people tend to stay in for the evening sometimes instead of venturing out, especially when staying in bigger lodges.
When leaving, a similar thing as when arriving happens -You have to walk back to your car and drive it back onto the site when the park gates open, fill your car up with belongings and then you're homeward bound. We tried to leave about 10ish in the morning and we didn't have to queue too much to leave the park.
We had a lovely time, very relaxing but spent far too much money than necessary for four days away. I'd recommend it for families and would visit again but only with making our own food sometimes too.
We have just got back from Center Parcs Whinfell Forest and it was absolutely brilliant! I can honestly say that I was not expecting it to be so good but it was better than I ever could have imagined. So good we have already booked to go back next year! We stayed in a New Style Woodland Lodge which was luxury in itself, everything was so clean. We went with some friends so there was 9 of us altogether ( 4 adults, 4 children and a baby) and we found that there was more than enough room for us all. We had looked at staying in seperate lodges but it cost the same for 4 of us to stay in a smaller lodge as it did for all of us to stay in one big lodge so we saved quite a bit of money doing it this way!
The lodge had 4 bedrooms (2 double and 2 twin), a shower room, a bathroom with an overhead shower and a seperate toilet also. The fact that the lodge was open plan was also a bonus as we could always see where the children were and what they were up to. The entrance to the lodge was very big too which was excellent as we could just lift our pram in if the baby was sleeping and it saved putting it up and down all of the time.
We were in a lodge on the very outer edge of the parc but it still only took us approximately 15-20 minutes to get to the centre and it was such a lovely setting that we really didn't mind the walk anyway. We were very lucky to see quite a few red squirrels on the way, which kept the children entertained too.
The parc itself is very child friendly. Obviously before we went we knew it would be a good place for the children but I never thought it would be as great as it was. There are various outdoor parcs which don't just have your run of the mill see-saw and swings but they have zip-wires, bridges and musical instruments among a number of other things that keep the kids entertained for ages!
There is also a free play gym in the sports bar which is only small but again kept the children entertained and was definately cheaper than paying £3 for the soft play area which is no better.
I was very impressed with the baby changing facilities which are all around and even in most of the changing rooms at the swimming pool. There are breastfeeding rooms also which is great for those feeding mums thatwish for some privacy and comfort as every room has its own glider chair(ultimate comfort!!). there are also smaller child-friendly sinks in every toilet and a moveable step to make it easier for them to access.
Many people worry about the cost that is involved in going to center parcs and I have to say that this is what we were wary of too, however it really can be as expensive or as cheap as you like. The fact that you can book activities online prior to going helps a lot. So long as you are wise with your choice of activity you really can get your moneys worth. I would definately recommend the Hawking around and the mammal magic activities as the children loved learning about the different animals and even got to hold a Hawk too! Swimming is free so we did this every day and the kids loved the slides, rapides and of course the wave machine!
To save a bit of money we also did a shop at the Morrissons which is in Penrith (approx. 10 min drive away), we planned our meals so that we didn't go overboard and we ate out on the Thursday at the sports cafe. The sports cafe restaurant has a different offer on every day so you just choose which option is best for you. There are other offers on at the other restaurant too, so its not overly expensive if you don't want it to be. (All of the offers are in the booklets that you receive on arrival in your lodge).
I also visited the Spa, indulging in the 3 hour spa experience, which I would highly recommend. I was persuaded to take part in a Garra Fish spa also (little fish nibble at your feet to get rid of dead skin), this was a very strange experience, I wouldn't say relaxing but it did make my feet nice and smooth! There are different offers available at the spa, so it is worth going in and asking if you are interested.
The only grumble I do have is that there are no child safety gates available in the one for lodges (not even for hire). Of course they are available in all two storey lodges, however we had our 20 month old daughter with us who sleeps in her own bed and without a safety gate on her door she had easy access to the bathrooms (we caught her brushing her hair with the toilet brush in the middle of the night). Needless to say I would have got more sleep had I known she was safe in her own room. We had asked prior to arrival if they had the gates and we were misinformed that they were available in all lodges. We will just take our own next time, for peace of mind!
Although I have talked about how child friendly the Parc was, I would also definately reccomend it for couples as I could see it being a very romantic place to get away to. The lake view in itself is very romantic and the horse and cart rides look amazing!
Overall I would say this is a fantastic place to go and would highly recommend it for anyone, don't be put off by the prices, you can get a bargain and it doesn't have to cost you the earth once you are there. We are just looking forward to next year now!
Whinfell forest in Centre parcs is a great family holiday destination. The lodges Are very neatly presented and we have been very lucky that everytime we go we always get nice weather.
There are many activities for children and adults to enjoy. Some of the activities I did with my family were; Pottery, Quad biking, Archery, Tree Trek and Laser Combat. All range in prices but are all very good activities. They are all worth there money and are all very exciting. Activities can range from 45 minutes to 2 hours. Some may even be longer.
My family and I have a dog so we always stay in the dog lodges. They are very modern and have plently of space. We always go with 4 people and a dog so you'd imagine it would be pretty cramped but it was really roomy. They have 3 rooms. One of which has 2 single beds and the others have a double bed in each room. They have a wardrobe and a dressing table for getting ready with ease. You cannot get into your lodges before 3 o'clock so we always go swimming first or book an activity to do while we wait on our lodge being cleaned.
In the living area there are a TV and a corner couch. Also there is an arm chair. They do have a TV with a basic package of 15 channels. Cbeebies and Sky 1 are a couple I can remember.
The kitchens are very clean and modern with a contemporary twist. They have a dishwasher, Fridge/Freezer and very spacious cupboards. They are very clean and are very spacious.
*Round the Area*
The area is very secluded and I don't mind letting my kids go for a walk without us. When you are there you can hire bikes to go on bike rides and helmets are also provided. The area is a breeding group for lot's of wildlife. My kids always play a game where they keep count of all the animals that they see. It gives us some piece and quiet for a while. ;)
*Pool and Central Area*
The pool has a wave pool and has a brilliant tropical theme to it. Water slides keep the kids busy and there is a restraunt to have some lunch if you plan to stay there most of the day. The central area is full of shops and fun things. There is a huge soft play located in the Centre for young ones to play in.
This is a wonderful place to go at night and relax. In the same area as the Aqua-Sauna there is a beauty place where you can get a facial and get your nails done too. For the facial you must go for a patch test on arrival.
This is a great place to go with your family and is definatly worth all of your money. 5 stars and I'd really recommend it!
I've been to Center Parcs at Whinfell twice now with my family.
Both times we've stayed in a New Style Woodland Lodge and they've been lovely. The beds are really comfy, there is loads of storage space so you're not tripping over your cases all week and they have all the facilities you could need for a short break.
The kitchen is fully equipped - even has a microwave and dishwasher. The lounge area has a big corner sofa and a tv and dvd player. There is also a wood burner, although you can only burn duraflame logs (you can buy these on the site shop, but I buy ours before we go at a much more reasonable price)
The whole unit is just so well designed. We have 3 kchildren and this year stayed in the 3 bedroom lodge and we had lots of room.
The site itself is lovely. After check-in day there are no cars allowed on site other than maintenance /delivery vehicles, so it's really peaceful and you can walk around without worrying that there are cars everywhere - great when you've got young children. You will also see lots of bunnies and red squirrels - a real thrill for our kids.
For us, the trip is all about the swimming pool, which we go to every day. There are lots of changing rooms, including plenty of family rooms which are reasonably spacious. There are plenty of lockers, which you don't need to pay for, so no fiddling around for coins at the last minute.
Once inside the pool it is very warm, so quite a relief to get in the water. Usually the water is a lovely temperature, but the last time we went we did find it a bit chilly. We complained and were told they'd had boiler problems. To be fair it did warm up a bit the next day, but was still colder than it had been in the past.
However, our eldest two kids (aged 2 &4) didn't seem to mind and would happily have spent all day in there. There are plenty of shallow areas for the kids to play in and the wave machine comes on every half hour which our kids loved. There is a pool side cafe where you can sit with drinks and snacks.
There are playpens dotted around the side of the pool so you've somewhere to put any young children if you need your hands free.
There are lots of slides, both for tiny tots and adults and for me, the fact that pool use in included in the price of your holiday is the main bonus.
We've only ever done one of the other activities that are offered, a make a memory session, which we found to be over-priced and not worth the money. We might as well have just taken some clay with us and some sparkly stones and done it ourselves in the lodge for under a fiver - as it was it cost us £15 for our 2 children to go in a room, be given a lump of clay to press their hands in and then decorate it with some paints and sequins.
Going out of season means we usually pay around £230 for a 4 night mid-week break and at that price it has been great value for money. If we did start paying for all the extra activities, the cost would rack up very quickly and it wouldn't be such a bargain break!
We do hire a bike, with a buggy attachment whilst we are there and the cost of that has been very reasonable, around £50. Our kids love sitting in the buggy and being chauffered round, so if you have small children I would recommend it.
Overall a lovely holiday park, plenty of nice walks, great pool, good facilities, great for families looking to relax
I've been to Whinfell Forest twice now - in the space of a year.
I had previously been when i was younger and it was oasis so i couldn't remember it that well, but i decided to book a 4 day break with my boyfriend as we just wanted a short break away, and didn't really fancy going to any family caravan parks.
Upon booking i noticed it was a little expensive, but as it was off season it wasn't too bad, and i was lucky enough to find a discount code on the internet saving us around £40.
You can pre-book all of your activities online, which suited us, although i'm sure for some people deciding what day and time you want to do a certain activity would not be suitable, but its not really essencial to pre-book as more often than not you can just book there and then. Activity prices are quite a lot, but an advantage of pre-booking is you can already pay so you don't have to worry about that cost when on your holiday.
Upon arriving at the park there was a great atmosphere. The main centre is really nice, there are a couple of shops and resturants there aswell as the swimming pools. Although like most holiday shops they are expensive.
There is also another centre - which is a sports centre where a lot of the sports and classes and again a couple more shops here.
We stayed in the block of apartments both times, aat first i was a bit worried me knowing we were so close to others, but we had no problems with noisy neighboroughs, its not really that sort of park! A bonus with the apartments is how close they were to the main centre, as i know with some lodges its a long walk - which is why bikes are a great idea at this park.
Food wise we tried the pub and it was so good and well priced we didn't try anywhere else! It really was some of the nicest meals we have had in a pub. The pub also holds family quiz nights.
The whole of the park and centres where clean, and it was apparant how child and dog friendly the sight was. I cannot wait to take my 2 year old here, as there are so many activities she would love to do.
There is also the aqua spa on site, which is quite expensive, but i booked just the spa day, with no treatments and you can stay there quite a while so you can get your moneys worth going in and out of all the stunning sauna and steam rooms. they also have an indoor and outdoor pool, which is open all year, as i was out in the outdoor pool in the snow! - it is a heated pool.
The spa is a MUST if you go to Whinfell it is certainly worth the money.
The entertainment on site was ticket only which i think was £10 per person, so a little expensive, but they are top shows. I think we only went to one with them being quite expensive.
The activities were all well run, and everyone was lovely.
This applies to the two times i have been, i have never had a problem.
I cannot wait to go again and take my daughter but unfortunitly cannot afford it, i keep checking the site all the time see what the prices are like, and they are steep, but if you have got the money it is so so worth it.
I had heard lots of things about Center Parcs and mostly it was everyone saying "its really expensive and you have to pay for everything"... so was always put off by it. So never really thought about it.
I use lots of discount codes so when I found a great discount code for Center Parcs I thought I would have a look.
So I looked up their website which is easy enough to navigate through and found a location, date and then price added the code and it was £140 cheaper... So I decided to go from Monday to Friday...( just in case it was horrible ..)
We booked for first week in the October Holidays.
It was brilliant.
There a plenty sign posts easy to locate. We arrived at 3pm so had to wait about 15mins to get in. But you are surrounded by trees and squirrels that it wasn't stressful. The booking in is done online before you go so when you drive through what looks like a car wash... they greet you with your name and had you all the paperwork and map and it only take about 5 minutes.
You drive to your lodge and unload your car. The lodges are lovely. The are all easy to get to and have brick paths. There are no garden boundaries as such it is all open with trees and stumps etc. But lots of birds and wildlife around. Once you unpack your car you drive it round to the secure car park and leave it there till you leave.
There is a range to choose from depending on how many in your party ranging from Comfort to Exclusive. The only real difference is what is included in your lodge.
I went for the New Style Woodman Lodge and they are very stylish. Flat screen TV, open plan with wood buring stoves. The rooms are clean and well equipt.
There is something for everyone, young and old. There is so much to do that you can't do it all in one trip. You will receive a brochure which shows all the activites that are on offer, the timetable of events and costs.
There are a good range of restaurants which you really need to book in advance at peak times. Apart from the Lakeside Inn which is usually easy enough as it has large seating capacity.
There are shops which sell clothes, sports equiptment as well as shops selling toys, sweets and gifts. There is also a grocery store. Starbucks for coffee.
Swimming is of course FREE but to be honost that is really all the kids want to do anyway. The pool area is massive and has a jungle feel. They play bongo drums when the wave machine comes on. There are pools for all levels of swimming. There are baby pools, toddler pools, mini flume and chute complete with water toys.
There is a fast flow pool which goes outside.Great at night time. There is another level at the top which has another pool and then another area with 2 big outside pools with seating area.
There are fast flumes and slower ones plus slides. There are lots of seating areas all around. There are pool table and ther is also a cafe which is poolside.
There are childrens buoyance aids available so you just help yourself. These are great for non swimmers little orange jackets with a zip up the front.
The area is very warm and great for just sitting in.
I would recommend that on first trip not to book too many activities. Spend a day or so walking round getting to know where everything is. The parc is massive and depending on where your lodge is can take a while to get round it all. But you are on holiday so take as long as you like.
I would also recommend NOT eating out every night unless you really want to. It can work out very expensive for a family. What I do is I empty my fridge and take food with me. So I have my meals there. So it isn't costing me anything else. The kitchens are well equipted and you can even make homemade apple crumble and custard..
When going swimming go AFTER tea time. It is much much quieter. In October it is dark and the pool area looks amazing and swimming outside in the freezing cold is fun and the kids love it.
Take good comfortable shoes/trainers and waterproof jacket. The accommodation is really warm but you can't guarantee the weather outside.
It is nothing like butlins it is not noisey at night time it is lovely and quiet. The beds are very comfortable.
Remember to take salt and pepper and washing up liquid. I take my rubber gloves and antibac spray.. but I take that anywhere anyway...
This holiday is really what you make it. You can just pay for you accommodation and take your food and it hasn't cost you a penny more. Lots of Playparks for the kids which are availble
You can book activities every day and eat out every day and it will cost alot more.
also on ciao
Thank you for taking the time to read my review. I would definately recommend going as you won't be dissappointed. I have been many times now and still really enjoy it, if anything the more you go the better it gets.
The Centre Parcs website was easy to use and find accommodation that would be suitable. You just select your preferences and it thinks about it for a minute and spills out some suitable lodges in various price brackets. We initially booked a Comfort lodge, however, after speaking to some people we upgraded to the newer Woodland lodges for an extra £50. The upgrade was easy to arrange and the person we spoke to on the phone was efficient in doing this and the confirmation email came through straight away. You can also chose to specify your lodge area or number for an extra fee of between £25 and £40 depending on how close you want to be to the centre, we choose not to do this as the website states the most you will need to walk is about 20-30mins which was fine by us.
The website was good with lots of information about the facilities available and you are encouraged to pre-book your activities so as not to be disappointed. We choose to pre-book a few things, however, as we were going out of season things weren't too busy anyway. You can then print off an itinerary to take with you. You can also pre-book your bike hire, however, we choose not to book bikes as we were travelling with my husband's mother and a toddler so walking was easier for us.
Finding the Parc was easy as it is right off the A66, you drive down a long road through the forest to the security lodge where a friendly security man was there to greet us and ensure we were pointed in the right direction, we arrived about 2.30pm and check into the lodges isn't until 3.30pm at Whinfell. However, you are allowed to enter the Parc and park in the car park, wander around and use the facilities until check in time. The arrivals lodge is rather unique with a large glass building with automatic doors to drive through, the arrivals gate woman could have been a bit more jolly but she gave us all the required information and a map with our lodge details on. We then found a car space and pottered off to get our toddler some dinner whilst husband then returned to unload the car.
We booked a 3 bedroom Woodland style lodge and we were allocated 55 Badger Wood on arrival. This is on the edge of the park so looks out onto trees, there is also a good break of trees out the back so you aren't over looked at all. The patio out the back has a brick BBQ and the patios are all open so if you booked a couple of next door lodges with friends you could happily have a giant BBQ out the back. We were about 20mins walk out of the centre.
As you enter the lodge there is an entrance foyer with the boiler cupboard and a separate WC. Leaving the entrance you head into the dining area with a decent sized table for the size of the lodge, you could comfortably get 6 people around it without being squashed, there is also a lovely huge blackboard in the dining area which was good for a giggle and my daughter loved (chalk and a board cleaner was provided!).
It is an open plan living space so the kitchen and living area are just off the dining are, the kitchen is separated out a bit through the layout. The kitchen had all the equipment you would need to make simple meals and breakfasts, including having a full size dishwasher (you need to take your own dishwasher tablets though!) the kitchen was clean and you are provided with a dishcloth and sponge scourer as well as a little sachet of washing up liquid and a tea towel.
The living area has a comfortable corner sofa and a chair as well big enough to get 6 people sat down in. There is an open fire, however, we didn't use this with having a toddler running around as there was a guard over the front but it was so close to the fire it would still have been too hot for her to go near and there was no extra fire guard. The flat screen TV and DVD player are built into the side of the kitchen units and there are large patio doors heading onto the patio from the living room.
There are 3 bedrooms, a double and 2 twins. The double room is just behind the kitchen and has a comfy double bed and a radio alarm clock. As well as a TV. There was a hairdryer and wardrobe and shelf space as well as a safe in the wardrobe (we never used this though)
Both TV's have a good selection of channels including all the main terrestrial ones, Cbeebies and Sky1. You also get Badger TV to watch the badgers in the forest at night!
The twin rooms are a just and so big enough, you can push the beds around which was useful to be able to get the cot in for my daughter (I am glad we booked the 3 bedroom so she had her own room as the double room would have been quite a squash with the cot in as well, although it would have been possible) with both beds pushed up to the wall we were easily able to get the cot in and have enough room to move around.
The cot was clean and well maintained, easy to erect and a good size. The mattress was also clean and in good condition.
In between the 2 twin rooms there is a shower room and a separate bathroom. The shower was clean and worked well, however, the shower over the bath was damaged, although still worked one of the buttons had been broken off.
One thing I was not pleased about was the toothpaste scum around the underside of the sink in the bathroom, the cleaners had obviously only done a visual wipe round and had not cleaned this off from the previous occupiers.
The Parc itself was well maintained and well sign posted to get around with regular maps showing you where you were to find your way around. There are lots of free things for the kids to do such as swimming and the adventure playground as well and soft play areas. The pool is great, we had loads of fun in there - so much so that even though my daughter was due her dinner she wouldn't even leave to eat she was having so much fun on the slides!
There are numerous paid activities as well, although the selection does increase once your little ones are over 18 months (my daughter is only 16 months) so we found the selection a little restricting. We went to the pottery painting that was fun, although by the time we had paid the studio fee and for our pottery it soon added up! £9 for a small frog ornament and £16 for a medium sized piggy bank. Although there was a good selection of things available to paint and the staff were helpful.
We also spent an evening at the spa which was lovely and just what we needed whilst Grandma babysat! There are various different experiences using dry heat and steam heat as well as an outdoor pool and a spa pool. Also returned the next day for Reiki and found the spa staff very professional even though we had a bit of a mix up they soon sorted it out.
The food in the restaurants was also good, we ate in Café Rouge, Lakeside Inn, Sports Café and also ordered takeaway. All were good value and good food.
We took most of our food with us so we barely used the Parc Market as we had heard it was quite expensive. What we did have to buy wasn't cheap, but no more than you would pay in a corner shop.
This is the simplest bit of all, load up your car and deposit your key card on the way out!
just returned from midweek break at whinfell forest.
first timers - took our son who is 2 and a half. we had a ball. this place has something for everyone.
read constant reviews about it being sooo expensive and started to get a little worried however, you can make it as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it.
we booked £75 worth of activities in advance - mini swimming lessons, woodland detectives, mammel magic and pony pals - every single one of these activities were fantastic. my son got to touch various animals including a chinchilla and also got to hold an owl, all of which he totally loved. while we were there we also took a pedalo on the lake which was £9 for half an hour and so enjoyable because it was a gorgeous day. we also went to the kids tots fun which is kind of like a soft play but it is all on a flat area. kids get to run about a very large space and play with shapes, cars, ball pits and stuff - this was £3 for however long you wanted to stay.
we paid just slightly over £400 for a new style woodland lodge and we were allocated beechwood which is a fantastic location and i personnaly would request this area when we book next year as we did find the farther side a little hilly (probably only because one of us always had the extra weight of our son on the back of our bikes).
the lodge itself was great, flat screen in living room and main bedroom, large bathroom (which had great under floor heating) and also separate toilet at front door, comfy seating area and very comfy beds.
we took enough food for 3 dinners out of the 4 nights and also snacks for lunches. we ate out only twice and both times i found it reasonable.
we took our own bikes and child seat which all in all saved us around £65 so it was worth doing it.
i found the parcmarket on site to have everything that we needed that we hadn't brought and i also found it reasonably priced considering they could be hiking up the prices alot because it is convenient.
all in all this is the best holiday we have had in years!
As a family we have been visiting Center Parcs Whinfell Forest since before it became part of the Center Parcs chain and it was called Oasis!
Our original reason for visiting was for somewhere to take our (at that time) 2 year old twin girls for a family break which did not involve
A. travelling too far
B. being away for too long
C. staying in a caravan!!!
and Center Parcs (or Oasis at the time!) appeared to hit every button!
That very first visit convinced us that we had made the right decision. There is just so much to do at Center Parcs that I defy anyone to ever get bored!
We now visit at least once a year, usually either in April or October (sometimes both!) and each time we go there is something new to try. I do accept that some of the activities outside of the swimming pool can be expensive, however there is no need at all to do any activities for which you would need to pay extra.
Listed below are my suggestions for how to do a 'cheap' visit to Center Parcs and then a 'blow the budget' visit.
1. Make as much use of the swimming pool as you can bear. It is open from 10 o' clock in the morning until 8 or 9 o'clock at night and is wonderfully warm. You can also just take a book and chill at the side of the pool for a few hours whilst the rest of your family splash about if that it more your thing.
2. Go for a walk in the beautiful woods. We have spent countless hours spotting wildlife and for young children, if you take pens and paper with you, it is a fab idea to 'spot' the wildlife and then go back to the lodge and draw pictures of it. Similarly, find some pine cones, branches etc and then you can make many a craft picture outside of the lodge. We have spent time making faces out of these and seeing who can make the best expression out of a pine cone and some branches!
3. There are a number of outdoor play areas which are free to use. The very best one has to be the adventure playground which can be great fun for all the family. It has loads of different things to climb on and run through and the zip wire type thingy is great!
4. People watch at the sports plaza. This is the place where people go to play all sorts of different sports and it can be really fun to watch all the competitive Dads as they play badminton, football, go roller blading etc for the first time in years!!
5. Take all your own food with you and have a barbeque. Each lodge has its own set up out the back and if you get the weather it is a nice place to chill and have some barbequed food!
6. Take your bikes with you and get fit by cycling around everywhere. There are some fabulous trails and it can be really good fun cycling in the rain - you will be surprised at how much enjoyment can be gotten out of trying to splash mud everywhere!
7. If you like to jog and/or keep fit there are some great 'trim trails' dotted around the place which can make a really good change from the usual routine.
8. We also like to spend some time making pizzas, baking etc if the weather is bad. Take your ingredients with you and all muck in!!
Blow the Budget Visit
1. Book a session in the aqua sana spa. There are literally loads of different treatments to try and if you can't decide then you can just book a two or three hour slot where you can simpy try out all the different steam rooms etc.
2. Take a ride in the horse and carriage around the park. There are no cars allowed in Center Parcs so it is delightful to be ferried around in a horse and carriage.
3. Try out paintballing, quad biking, driving a mini tank etc. These fun packed activities are all really good fun. But watch out - the paintballing can hurt!
4. Have a game or two of ten pin bowling. Flashing lights, thumping music and balls to throw are all available to be had!
5. Have a dance session - out next trip (due to go in October) we have booked to have a go at cheerleading!
6. Book a meal out in one of the lovely restaurants. Each restaurant has a different type of food so you can have your pick!
7. Upgrade your lodge to one with a hot tub or a spa or a sauna!
8. Try the different activities in the outdoor area - such as tree trails, climbing wall, zip wire etc. Guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush!
As you can see there is no reason why Center Parcs has to be expensive - but then again you can spend a fortune if you choose!
After each of our visits we have came away exhasuted and happy - all the glorious fresh air for one thing is a real treat!
There appear to be people who love this place and return time and time again, you can spot them as they are the ones who get all the tables at the restauarnats, bookings for sporting activities etc. If I was to give you one overriding tip it would be this - book as much as you can before you arrive! There are so many different activities that the website has a planner which allows you to plan your days and lets you know what activities are on when. It is much better than arrving and trying to book things and finding them already full!
We are due to go this October and love it so much that we have already booked for next October!!
In my opinion, Centre Parcs Whinfell is a bit like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. I hate Marmite, couldnt get used to riding a bike everywhere. The chinese take away wasn't as good as my local. Quad biking was pricey for two £80, and if you cant handle the Quadbike you wont get a refund. Prices in the on site mini market arent very competitive. My tip is to get a lodge as near to the car park as you can. That way you can drive on and off site into Penrith only 5 or 6 miles away, stock up on food in Morrisions and also get access to reasonably priced take aways. You will also have easy access to the A66 and by taking the A592, you get to see some stunning views around the lakes. Personally, I'd rather stay at home and explore the Norfolk countryside and North Norfolk Coastline, costs nothing and I can also take a bike too.
I had never been to Centre Parcs until a couple of months ago when I went there on a hen do, and always had the impression it would be like Butlins (ie very cheesy, but I haven't been to Butlins either so may have the wrong impression of there too!). I was pleasantly surprised in many ways.
We rented a couple of basic chalets with about 6 of us in each. It was basic but everything you need - a kitchen, living room, patio for BBQs. There are normally two reactions I got when I said I went to Centre Parcs, either a bit of ridicule as again a lot of people think of it like Butlins, and secondly the reaction that it's very expensive. Well actually, I paid I think just over £50 for 3 nights in the chalet (although I only stayed Fri and Sat in the end), and because it has a kitchen you also save a lot on being able to cook your own food.
Centre Parcs is whatever you make of it really - if you want to just go and stay somewhere with beautiful surroundings and go on nice walks, cook your own food etc, then you don't have to spend much at all. You can also rent bikes for about £15 a day as far as I remember, and go on pedalos for not much at all. At the other end of the scale you could have an action-packed weekend doing horseriding, quad-biking, watersports, wall-climbing, and many many other activities both indoors and outdoors. The one disadvantage is that activities get booked up quickly, so definitely book before you go. We spent a day in the spa which also has an outdoor pool, and had a fantastic time.
In terms of the nightlife, it isn't great to be honest but then it depends what you want. There are a selection of chain-style restaurants and a nice pub overlooking the lake. There is a club which we went to which was not very full and the crowd on the dancefloor where mainly teenagers, but if you want to go and have a dance and a giggle to some cheesy music one night, why not pop along.
All in all I have been recommending it to everyone I speak to since I've come back as something a bit different to do which doesn't actually cost that much if you look into offers and the cheapest times to go. It's fun not only for families but for groups of friends who want to try something new.
I have been to centre-parcs several times but only to centre-parcs whinfell forest once. Prior to it becomming a centre parcs it was an oasis, this means that unlike centre parcs sherwood forest it has most of it's ammenities under a large white dome, rather than in the setting of an outside villiage. This doe's not detract from the overall feeling but gives it a slightly different feel of being indoors while in the centre of a forest. The main dome is situated on the side of a large lake which offers lots of different water sports such as conoeing and pedal boats (which come with a fee), included in the cost of the cabin you hire is the very large and excellant swimming area where you can enjoy lessons such as snorkeling (fee applies) or simply enjoy a nice swim, it also has rapids which are very fast and only for experienced swimmers not small children. The parc also offers many other forms of entertainment from nights out at the bar which hosts a caberet show(twice weekly when i was there) to archery and mountain biking (which are available to hire). Now i really love centre-parcs, all of them and one of my favourite bits is the biking which includes (for me) hitching a trailor on the back and towing my two yongest children around. The only problem with Whinfell forest for this, is that it is quite hilly and very tiring at times which lessens the enjoyment factor compared to centre-parcs sherwood forest(which is mainly flat), this is a small negative but the only one i have as all other areas are exceptional, such as cabins are really clean, restaurants are excellant, bowling area great for kids. Overall an excellant holiday that i would recommend to family and fully intend to do again!
Centre parcs or as i call my home away from home. for the last five years we have visited whinfell forest and it gets better every time.
it is a hugh complex set in woodland forest with wooden lodges of single and two story, it also has apartments which are beautifully situated around the lake.
on arrivals day everyone is allowed to drive upto their lodge to unpack and then you take your car park to the secure car park as no cars are allowed apart from arrivals and departure days. this makes it great for kids as its safe, the method of travel once you are settled in is bikes and they can be hired from the bike park in all sizes and ones with child seats and also carriers that you pull behind.
The lodges are all well equipped with all mod cons such as dishwasher, washer dryer, tvs hifis and dvd players.
there is loads to do for all ages although you do need to pre book activities as they get booked quick and some can be expensive.
There is lots of places to eat and they cater for every taste and the brilliant thing is that all the baby food is free!.
There is also a great little supermarket which is handy although it can be expensive so after our first visit we stocked up with food and things before we went.
Whinfell Forest is nestled in a stunning landscape on the edge of the Lake District and is a wildlife haven, home to one of the few remaining colonies of Red Squirrels. Experience the exhilarating Canyon Ride in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, or take a stroll around the lake to the dynamic Sports Plaza, home to a wide range of sports.