A few weeks ago now, I went to Center Parcs Elveden Forest with my family. We were in desperate need of a break and it was such an exciting prospect to be able to stay in a villa with my parents and husband and of course Rocket!
My dad booked the villa and we were all set and counting down the days!
On the first day, having experienced Center Parcs in the past, we decided to get there early and check in but park the car up and scoot off to enjoy the swimming whilst everyone else was queuing to get to the villas in their cars.
Rocket ADORED his first swimming experience! I had taken him when he was about 3 months old but of course he couldn’t remember and we hadn’t gone since.
I was petrified he would scream and be scared but that’s not how he reacted at all! He was a little unsure at first but there were no tears at all and he enjoyed splashing around!
One thing Aaron and I love is the rapids and Aaron loves the slides so it was nice to get some time alone to experience the swimming facilities and at different times of the day. At night when it’s dark the pool is all lit up and the rapids glow blue! It was a very chilled out time and I particularly loved the jacuzzi … Which Rocket did too as it wasn’t that hot. One of our swimming trips Rocket was so worn out and relaxed that he fell asleep while we were dressing him in the changing room!
I loved the shops in the plaza, we were able to buy anything swimming and baby related we needed so my dad bought Rocket a lifesavers swim jacket and we got an underwater digital camera and Aaron got nose plugs so he could go under water comfortably. There were even one off swim nappies (disposable) nappies there so really as far as child friendly goes we were really impressed.
We were given bikes to hire and Rocket had a child trailer that went on the back of my mums bike (which Aaron used mostly) and even though to start it was a bit strange for him he soon loved riding in the back with the wind in his hair!
That day that he fell asleep in the changing room, he didn’t actually wake up til after we got him home in the trailer!
Our villa was awesome, we had a beautiful view out the back as the way the villa was placed you couldn’t see the others and it really did look magical when the sun shined through the trees lighting up the forest. We even saw muntjack deer and lots of squirrels and rabbits!
In the villa a highchair and travel cot were provided and I was extremely pleased with the quality of the travel cot , it was easy to put together and it was wooden and sturdy and it was nice knowing Rocket was safe in it. We didn’t know what the provided travel cot would be like so we also brought our own and he slept in our room in it but to my shock on the first night I was awoken by a tapping on my leg at the end of the bed and as my heart jumped through my throat I realised Rocket had used our bed to lever himself out of his cot! Lesson learnt – never put the cot near something he can use to escape 😉
I had a mobility scooter for the week, which to be honest made my holiday so so more enjoyable. I struggled on our last trip and as the nature of Center Parcs means alot of walking (or biking) the scooter was a god send. You can hire them from the cycle hire shop for £50 for the week and a returnable £200 deposit. It wasn’t very fast but on holiday it’s best to be laid back! So if you are visiting and you have a disability or problems walking then don’t panic as there are disabled friendly facilities.
Aaron was excited to have a few activities booked to do during our stay and the most exciting one was the Extreme Action Challenge which involved a lot of heights!!! Ropes, climbing, jumping of a diddy pole way way up and taking the ‘leap of faith’. I went along to take pictures. We were worried as it had been raining heavily that it would be cancelled but Aaron was really happy to find out they never cancel and it’s all weathers! I’m glad he got to experience this as he was on a natural adrenaline high for the rest of the day!
The other activity that Aaron did alone was laser clay shooting. Again I was able to go take pictures whilst a small group did mini challenges and shot at the clay piece whizzing through the air. This was another one of Aarons great experiences even hough his arm did hurt a bit after! The staff were really nice aswell.
For my birthday treat, Aaron had booked the Aqua Sana spa so I could go with my mum one evening and chill out. This was one of the best experiences of my life I swear! There were many different steam rooms, themed to around the world and I was in heaven. My favourite was near the Japanese garden ( I adore the smell of Jasmine) I could sit outside in the fresh crisp air whilst the flowy pieces of material blew in the wind.
Whatever you like there were many to choose from… Foot spas, sauna, many steam rooms, showers that had aromatherapy oils and fancy statues with ice for refreshing your body.
The pool in the middle of the spa looked amazing but was outside and not heated much so we didn’t stay in there long, mainly because my mums a wimp 😉
After our time there we got dressed to go and there were powerful hairdryers and fluffy dressing gowns and shampoo to use, we loved how equipt it was and I was sad not to be able to spend more time there. We did see construction for new hotel rooms to be built within the spa and if I could ever afford it I wouldn’t hesitate!
The wildlife were always around. Aaron and I were heading down to the laser clay shooting and a squirrel jumped onto Aarons leg and wouldn’t let go! When I tried to get it off it ended up on my chest! I was terrified it would bite but it was really friendly and turned out to be a baby squirrel and we wernt the first that it had approached, we had quite an audience! Luckily Aaron had his camera and managed to get some awesome squibble shots 😉
That wasn’t the only close squirrel encounter either! My dad was napping one day when all of a sudden he came flying into the lounge stunned, turned out that a squirrel had come through his bedroom window and was jumping on his bed!!! We managed to get some awesome pictures of the culprit!
The pancake house….. Need I say any more??? I was in heaven! Omg I would eat there for the rest of my life if I was allowed I liked it that much! Poor Aaron kept getting dragged back for ‘just one more pancake’ lol!
We also ate at Hucks which is the American restaurant – 10/10 for staff friendliness, our waitress was incredibly helpful and the food was delicious! I had the Philly cheesesteak and it was such a big portion I couldn’t finish it. We all came away feeling very full and happy!
One early morning we went on the ‘woodland awakening’ walk. There was a small crowd of us and a leader who provided binoculars for everyone. I wasn’t able to walk far as the scooter couldn’t come and Rocket was a bit restless so Aaron and I took him back to the villa whilst my parents enjoyed the mornings walk and then we met them back at the sports bar where everyone was given a Danish which was delicious!
On the last day I was panicking as I had a whole load of washing to do but I didn’t have to panic for long as they had on site laundry facilities so I was able to go home with no washing to do, it was brilliant! There’s nothing worse than getting home from a week away with loads of dirty washing!
All in all we enjoyed the trip together so much that we are already planning next years holiday, probably to Sherwood Forest! Now I’ve got the Center Parcs bug I’d love to visit them all!
Thank you to Center Parcs for providing a family friendly, fun, fresh and relaxing experience! And a massive thank you to my mum and dad for taking us on this memorable holiday, one we shall never forget!