Since having children, the family have become regulars at Center Parcs. We have vowed not to take the children abroad until they are old enough to watch an iPad for 3 hours!
For the last few years we have taken regular trips to Center Parcs, 3 times last year alone and we have visited different locations depending on whether we are going for a week or the weekend.
We are fortunate that our children are not yet school age so we go out of season for less than £500 but during our various trips we have learnt some simple hacks to make life stress free which I want to share with you.
There is usually a supermarket close to each Center Parcs location; we have found there is definitely a Tesco within 5 miles of every one we have been to. I always do a weekly online shop which I ‘click and collect’ between 2pm and 4pm the day of check-in. If you do a weekly food plan in advance, plan and book the meals you want to eat out at Center Parcs and then your food shop should give you everything you need and you can take it in and unpack it with your car when you check-in. This saves you having to buy expensive food at the Center Parcs supermarket and also saves you having to carry heavy shopping bags back to your lodge. The fridges are quite small so aim for a good mix of fresh and store cupboard food to be able to store it all. And remember to take carrier bags to pack your shopping in, Tesco’s don’t supply carrier bags for its click and collect service.
When you out enjoying all the activities that Center Parcs has to offer no one wants to have to cut the fun short to go back and spend ages cooking a family meal. We took our slow cooker with us on our last trip and it was a bit of a revelation. I did a Lamb Tagine one night; you can do Lasagne or casseroles. We put the ingredients in before we left in the morning, set it to cook for the day and when we got home at the end of the day dinner was ready and waiting for us. You can even use it to make a fry up for a lazy morning breakfast.
Explore outside the parc
Center Parcs has so many great activities on site it is tempting not to leave, especially when you have to trek to the car park. But in all the locations we have been there are lots of great things to do just down the road from Center Parcs and things seemed to be a bit less expensive. We’ve done Go Ape in Elveden, the Safari in Woburn and a kids’ farm near Sherwood, just in the last year. Plus a quick Googles Maps search has revealed some lovely coffee shops within 3 miles of Center Parcs.
When at Center Parcs we spend a lot of time in the swimming pool, you can hire towels for £2 each but they are usually threadbare and hard. Also, it is hard to identify your own in the ‘Tropical Paradise’ with everyone else’s. It is worth packing some pool towels for your family. The more individual and colourful the better, it will make them easier to find when you are ready to leave the pool.
Depending on whether you have a standard or executive lodge, your cleaning may be done for you daily but if you go for a standard lodge, it is worth taking some basic cleaning items such as tea towels, a dish cloth, washing up liquid and dish washer tablets. We also take toilet bleach as well for good measure. Center Parcs supply a few dishwasher tablets and a cleaning cloth but not enough for your whole stay. We put everything into the dishwasher to save us doing any washing up and it quickly fills up. We put the dishwasher on a couple of times a day.
We really do love our time at Center Parcs and always make great memories but these few little hacks help keep the costs down and being a little bit more organised makes it less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone. Whichever location you’re going. Have fun.