Center Parcs, Woburn Forest
Words Pendle Harte
Center Parcs Woburn Forest is the newest UK site, and the closest one to London. There are a lot of misconceptions about Center Parcs. People who’ve never been are usually convinced that it’s soulless, intense and not at all adult-friendly. Certainly not a luxurious destination. But those people might like to consider whether they like the sound of a weekend away in acres of beautiful forest within an hour of London, in spacious and comfortable accommodation with a high class spa and one of the best pools imaginable. Admittedly it’s not something you’d necessarily want do without children (though some people do), but if you’re sniffy about being in an environment designed for families when you are a family, then by all means take your children on a glamorous weekend in New York instead. But for a bit of stress-free Friday-to-Sunday fun, Center Parcs Woburn Forest is hard to beat.
We arrive by train (less than 50 minutes from Kings Cross) and shuttle bus, so our bags are whisked away and taken straight to our lodge while we collect our bicycles and head out for dinner. It’s not until bedtime that we arrive at our home for the weekend and it’s as comfortable as you could hope. Good beds, powerful showers, a well-equipped kitchen and even a ready-stocked fridge, thanks to a special pre-ordered groceries package. The family-sized sofa is perfect.
WHAT TO DO
This is the question. Try to do everything? Or simply swim, cycle and relax? Because although the amount of available activities can be daunting, you can also simply ignore them. We sign up for a family geocache adventure, which is a treasure hunt that keeps us all entertained – and we also enjoy a roller disco, some bowling, an indoor climbing session and a treetop adventure with a fabulous zipwire.
THE POOL/THE SPA
The pool is everything you hope it will be. This vast subtropical paradise has a wave pool, two adventurous waterslides, a toddler area and a lazy river. But if that’s too hectic for you, adults can retreat to the (child-free) luxurious Aqua Sana spa for the fully relaxing sauna and steam experience, with its own outdoor pool and wide menu of treatments.