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A week in the woods - A review of Center Parcs Woburn

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Centre Parcs Woburn Review

So you may have seen on a previous post that my family, some friends and I all visited Woburn Center Parcs for a midweek break. It's actually our second visit to Center Parcs as we all went to the one in Longleat last year and it was so good we decided to go away again but try a different park this time.

Center Parcs Woburn review

We chose a 4 bedroom executive lodge which held 9 of us altogether - 1 nineteen month old and 8 adults and despite the large number of us, the lodge was comfortable and spacious with each bedroom having its own ensuite. The lodge was in the upside down style with 2 bedrooms, hall and storage room downstairs and the remaining 2 bedrooms, open plan living/kitchen/dining room upstairs. We also had a games room containing a pool table, board games, Xbox one, and tv and out the back a patio with built in barbecue and our very own sauna. 

Our toddler was well catered for and I was surprised to see that in addition to the 2 cots and high chairs provided there were also safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. (We wish we'd known before actually as we'd brought our own gate with us). So he could run around to his hearts content without getting into trouble, even onto the balcony as the wooden surround was high enough that he couldn't climb over. Also the space and design of the lodge meant there was plenty of space for all of Cotswold Kid's toys that we'd brought with us.

The parc
The parc seemed much smaller than Longleat. We brought our own bikes and baby trailer as they are pricey to hire (£30 per adult bike and £28 for baby trailer), but our lodge was located less than 5mins from the pool complex and 5mins to the plaza (activities and spa) and lake. So we didn't need to use the bikes except to travel to the outdoor activity centre (for archery, laser clay, Segway etc) or care trail. There is also no train at Woburn and there do seem to be more people on foot with pushchairs than we observed at Longleat. I'm not sure that I would bother with my bike if we came here again.

Woburn may be one of the new parks however it is not short of wildlife and we had our own resident squirrel - named 'Steve', the odd hare and tonnes of ducks everywhere. The ducks in particular were very tame and came right up to our patio doors for food but when we offered them lettuce they weren't keen and we didn't see them again.

Subtropical Swimming Paradise
The pool area was lovely with a lazy river, rapids, children's areas for toddlers and older children, plus slides for the older ones. We spent a lot of time in the wave pool and on the lazy river and the water temperature was very good particularly if you have a very young baby. Free water jackets were also available and whilst we had brought our own armbands it was good to know that they also had these jackets available too. From a safety point of view there were a lot of lifeguards scattered around so that was reassuring and there was plenty of warning before the waves started in the pool in case you wanted to get out.

The changing area was family friendly with family cubicles available with more space, some of which had nappy changing facilities (drop down tables and bins) which was helpful when getting the little ones changed. The wrist bands we were given on entry to the parc (your lodge key) also acted as a token for a locker if topped up and they also had points where if you had forgotten your locker number you could scan your wrist band and it would give you your locker number. Also by being able to register your card against the wristband meant you could buy snacks, gifts etc in the pool area without towing your wallet or purse around with you. (great idea but dangerous - it's far too easy to spend money here).

The Activities
Last year when we went to Longleat we struggled a bit to book activities as a lot of things were booked up already so this year we booked them in advance instead. We did Target Archery which was my favourite where you shoot at a target 25m away, a treasure trail where you follow clues around the park (this is more for those with kids) and laser clay shooting where you use a modified rifle to shoot at clay rings. I was awful at laser clay but the others in my group seemed good at it and certificates were handed to the top scorers and the same for archery. There are tons more activities - but it is simply impossible to do everything, and with CK requiring a 3 hour nap each afternoon this also reduced our availability to do activities.

Activity Den
We got quite a bit of usage from the activity den which ran the crèche and children's activities. On Tuesday CK and I participated in toddler sensory which included a singing activity with a parachute and free play in the crèche room with musical activities, puzzles, books, toys etc. - it was really lovely and a great introduction to the activity den.

On Wednesday whilst the adults took part in archery and laser clay shooting, CK was booked into the crèche and he spent three hours painting, reading, singing and doing puzzles. We were also given a little hand out at the end showing what he got up to during the session. Unfortunately CK was not very keen on joining in much and was quite withdrawn throughout. (So much so he didn't want to go back Thursday but that's another story) We think he was just maybe overwhelmed and out of his routine but we're glad he got some benefit from it the first day.

On Thursday after he refused to stay in the crèche, we were squeezed into Mucky Pups - messy play for toddlers. Painting, gluing, sticking, plastercine, drawing, and a sand box - it was great fun but very messy - highly recommend this too. CK is more creative than I thought. My only regret was that I didn't put on a bib too as he was still out of sorts and kept wanting me to pick him and kept clinging to my leg - result? a Cotswold Mummy covered in paint.

The Spa

The spa has become an annual tradition for me after my first ever visit last year. I didn't get to go around all the experience rooms but those I did go in, the volcano and ice rooms and the blossom rooms were lovely and I am told that the rest of the rooms were great too. I did enjoy a back, neck and shoulder massage with some lovely smelling oils including Frangipani and this was so relaxing I nearly fell asleep. I also had my first ever facial and I can still feel the effects of this several days later - I would definitely do this again too. I also learnt something for next time, as earlier in the week I tried to book a massage and it was fully booked but after my session in the spa ended early on the Thursday I was offered the value towards a treatment and there were massage appointments available. Apparently they have an extra therapist to cover sickness however if everyone is in then that therapist can do extra appointments so if you are unable to book in advance it is well worth contacting the spa on the day you want to see if any further appointments have opened up. It's well worth bearing in mind.

So my overall verdict?

I think this is a holiday you should fully plan in advance as the activities get quickly booked up, you can book some activities on site but to avoid disappointment you should book prior to going. It was also a fun holiday, with plenty to keep you entertained, fantastic facilities and a very child friendly parc. You can spend as little or as much as you like here and in our lodge we took food with us only shopping to top up essentials on the site (milk and bread) as the supermarkets on the parc are a little pricey. To keep the costs down, each couple in our lodge cooked one meal each night which worked really well and the only time we ate out was at the Pancake House on the final morning when we left - which was a lovely finish to the break.

Overall this was a great holiday, we had a lovely time despite the weather and I very much expect that we will return again next year. I highly recommend it to everyone.

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