Last weekend we spent a blissful weekend with friends at Center Parcs, Whinfell Forest. This was our 17th trip as a family. Our first being when Joe was only 12 weeks old.
Last year was the first year we had not visited Center Parcs for 11 years and we missed it. So this year we were thrilled to be visiting for a post-Christmas treat.
This was a bit of a different trip for us as Jack stayed at home due to a football match and college. However Joe was more that happy to fill Jacks shoes with his best friend Fin and his family, very good friends of ours, who we having been visiting Center Parcs with for many years.
I have always been an advocate for finding new places to travel to and explore. However I feel that our Center Parcs trips have evolved and changed with our family, growing with us as the boys have grown. Thus making that time very precious to us. Long gone are the Winter Wonderland trips, the excitement of seeing Santa, his reindeer, pony rides and elves the weekend before Christmas. That pre-Christmas wind down and magic that we had looked forward to for 11 years.
I have such wonderful memories of the boys negotiating the forest on their tiny little bikes, meeting Santa, heavy snow that very first time Jack and I did tree trekking, Joe measuring himself every year willing himself to be tall enough. And the thrill and pure joy the very first time he was tall enough to take part. Center Parcs has become part of the fabric of our family and friends.
We have swapped pre-Christmas to post-Christmas, which gives us something to look forwards to in January and offers such great value for money.
A new phase has started for our family. It is time to enjoy Center Parcs in a new and different way.
Our trips have changed as the boys have grown, their interests are different, and they have also outgrown many of the activities they loved as tots. They have grown into bigger, sportier activities, I have to say like everything in life, visiting Center Parcs with older children is so much easier. Making it the perfect choice for a yearly trip as there is always something to engage us all. But also allows us to enjoy much-needed chill time that teens and tweens crave.
And meal times have become more relaxed, we can enjoy 3 courses over a couple of bottles of wine in Cafe Rouge as we chat the evening away. No rushing back with tired tots, or fitting in early sittings so they can get to bed.
One thing I really noticed on this trip was the clear sign of investment.
I am sure this is a constant thing when you have thousands of people flocking through the gates on a weekly basis. However I noticed things were looking a little tired on our last trip nearly 2 years ago. Nothing major, just little things but the vibe is so different now. You can see signs of improvement all over the park, from the pool area to the restaurants. Center Parcs looks like it has a new lease of life with improvements in the restaurants, such as funky new booths, personalised TV booths in the sports cafe and the tiles and slides being renovated in the pool.
Center Parcs with tweens is an altogether more chilled experience.
The lazy mornings snuggled by the fire catching up with the news and a cup of coffee as the boys enjoyed a lie-inn. Their favourite pastime at the moment! Lazy breakfasts, long bike rides and family walks finished off with a gingerbread latte in Starbucks.
But when they are up and ready for action there is plenty to keep them occupied. We packed so much in during our trip and tried out so many new activities. I can’t wait to share them all.
Another of the bonuses of having older children is that the boys were happy to head off to the sports plaza for an afternoon of lads and dads activity, whilst us mums hit the spa for lunch and a massage and a couple of hours of relaxation. That never happened with toddlers, there was never time. So yes our Center Parcs experience has totally changed, I would say for the better. But we also have our wonderful memories from years of our magical trips.
Now roll on next year, we booked next years trip the day we arrived home. Here’s to new and exciting adventures and spa afternoons. Safe in the knowledge that Center Parcs only ever gets better.
If you would like to see some of our adventures check out my Center Parcs stories collection over on my instagram page.