Center Parcs Holidays can be mega expensive. But between last minute deals and some savvy planning you could save some serious dosh
So you’ve seen Center Parcs advertised on the telly and think it looks like a wonderful place for a holiday. You go to their website to have a look and are utterly horrified at the prices! Trust me, I feel your pain. I love Center Parcs but it’s certainly not a cheap place for a family break. Read on to discover my top tips for saving money on a Center Parcs holiday.
Why chose Center Parcs?
With five locations throughout the UK, Center Parcs offer a fantastic place for family holidays. Their range of
accommodation is set in acres of woodland and with a vast array of activities to suit all ages they have become a favourite with families and couples alike.
However, Center Parcs breaks are definitely not for the budget conscious; a Monday to Friday stay in the Summer holidays comes in at a whopping £1295. That’s based on a family of four sharing a two bed woodland lodge. For comparison, the same break in mid-November would cost just £359, however many parents wouldn’t want to take their children our of school. A way to get around this would be to go for a long weekend in term time. Arrive on Friday evening after the kiddies finish school and they would only need to miss Monday.
Sometimes it is possible to bag a last minute break, but if you want to book well ahead of time then be prepared to pay full price.
Center Parcs do operate a ‘lowest price guarantee’ so if you find the holiday you’ve already booked at lower price they will refund the difference.
Is Center Parcs it worth it?
I think this is entirely dependent on your family’s needs and circumstances. I personally have had three fantastic family holidays and a lovely girly weekend away at my nearest Center Parcs (Longleat Forrest.) I think the sheer amount of activities on offer is unrivaled. The Swimming Pool and Spa facilities are the best I have ever encountered. While the price of accommodation may seem high,the overall feel is of a more upmarket place to say than a typical UK holiday park.
Activities included in the price of the break include use of the Sub-Tropical Swimming Paradise, use of the Land Train (Longleat only) and several children’s play parks located around the site. There are also picnic areas and the (man-made) beach. There is a free family disco in the Sports Bar every Saturday night from 9pm – 12am.
So how do I save money?
While it may not always be possible to save money on the cost of the accommodation for your break there a plenty of ways to save money once you are on site. Planning ahead will really help you figure out what to do with your budget no matter how big or small.
Some of the activities Center Parcs offer are easy to recreate yourself with a little bit effort beforehand. Last time we went we created our own nature trail and scavenger hunt to do while walking around the park. Ideas for these included looking for animal footprints, finding different types of leaves, listening for birds and finding different types of flowers. Or try here for inspiration. You could also plan an I-SPY game with a cheap disposable camera and make a scrapbook with the pictures when you get home. Why not print off more than one copy of these activities so the kids can do it again later in the holiday if they enjoy it. There are also lots lakes dotted around so a trip to feed the ducks is a nice way to spend an afternoon.
Taking your own sports equipment is a must as it’s quite expensive to buy or hire onsite. Things like badminton sets and tennis rackets can picked up cheaply in stores like poundland and Wilko’s. My family love a good game of Ping Pong. DIY sets with a net, bats and balls can be picked up for around a fiver. We usually set this up on the dining table in our cabin so we can play for as long as we like with no table hire charges.
If you’re planning to treat your kids to some onsite activities have a look around the Center Parcs website before hand. This will give an idea of what’s available and what you think they would enjoy. It will also show what is within your budget. I wouls advise going ahead and booking to avoid disappointment on the day. Certain activities can get booked up months in advance. You may wish to splash out on one amazing activity or spread out the fun with a few smaller ones.
If you are staying at Longleat Center Parcs, Longleat safari park is right next door. Booking tickets through the Center Parcs website is around 30% cheaper than gate ticket prices.
Food & Drink
Center Parcs do have their own supermarket onsite. However the choice is limited and it is very expensive so I would advise bringing as much of your own food with you as possible. Do try popping in during the few hours before closing though as they do reduce lots of fresh food. In particular, we found the fresh cakes and biscuits were nearly always reduced at the end of the day. Plus items like milk and salad. Center Parcs will deliver to your accommodation for free if you spend over £40. You don’t need to be in and they will pop perishables in the fridge/freezer for you.
Using google maps, find the nearest supermarket offsite and pop there during your stay instead; the nearest to Longleat is Morrisons Warminster, less than 10 minutes away. You are permitted to come and go from Center Parcs as much as you wish during your break. However, cars are only allowed to park by the cabins/lodges on the changeover days (Monday and Friday) and must be kept in the car-park the rest of the time. This is to make the site as safe as possible for children and families riding bikes and walking.
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There are lots of restaurants onsite – most are slightly more expensive than their external counterparts. Again have a look before you go at prices and decide what works best for you and your budget. There is also various takeaways available to pre-order and have delivered to your cabin door. There are some good meal deals available from here, coming in at around £20 for a family sized lasagne or pizza and wedges.
Spending time as a family is one of the main reasons we go on holiday. Planning some activities to do indoors together is a great way to save some pennies. Snuggling up and watching a favourite movie (with popcorn of course!) playing board games or cooking a meal together can be great ways to get everyone feeling the love.
Come back soon
Center Parcs have a ‘come back soon’ offer if you re-book with them within 28 days of your break. They give you free cancellation insurance and vouchers to spend on site, worth considering if you plan to return. Also signing up to their newsletter is a good idea for last minute break offers.
If you are planning a Center Parcs break in the near future I hope these tips help you to save some money!