Who knew Center Parcs was so good? – The ATWWAH’s


WHO WENT? Mr & Mrs ATWWAH with Master ATWWAH along with both sets of grandparents, one uncle and 4 year old nephew

WHERE? Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, Cumbria

WHEN? May 2013


A holiday at Center Parcs with kids isn’t exactly the most innovative holiday idea.  It has been running for years and most parents are aware of it.  But, when we were looking for somewhere to go with both sets of grandparents, Mrs ATWWAH’s brother and his four year old, Center Parcs felt like a good choice.

We chose the Whinfell Forest one, there are four to choose from for the uninitiated.  This was the closest for all members of the family apart from us but we like an early start 🙂

The range of accommodation available is pretty varied and the booking website recommends the best lodges based on how many people are in your party and we opted for the Executive 4 Bed Games Lodge so we’d all be under the same roof but with added space.  The pictures on the website looked promising but I think we were all really surprised when we got there.  It was so much better than we’d imagined.


Kitchen/dining/lounge area


There were four bedrooms (two doubles, two twins) all with their own bathroom, a big lounge/dining/kitchen area and another big room with a pool table and loads of games.  Plus upstairs there was a Physiotherm Infrared room you could choose to sit in if you needed to relax.

The one very tiny downside was that our particular lodge didn’t have a big outdoor space for BBQ’s etc but you could easily overlook that with all the indoor space and the fact you do have a whole forest on your doorstep.

Center Parcs has a reputation for being expensive but the lodge cost just under £1000 for the long weekend (Friday-Monday) so between four different households it didn’t feel very pricey.

The food definitely was a bit overpriced.  There is nothing stopping you bringing your food with you and the kitchen was well equipped and there is a supermarket on the site.  We had brought enough for breakfasts in the lodge every day as well as the usual kids snacks and fruit.

On the first night I’d pre-ordered the Chinese buffet to be delivered to the lodge and the food was lovely but it was pretty pricey per head.  On the Saturday we had lunch at the Café Rouge which was pretty over-priced but worth the cost for the Fawlty Towers type service from the teenagers of Cumbria.  And, although I’m not a big carvery fan the Sunday lunch at the Lakeside Inn was really good and highly recommended.

For those not wanting to feel ripped off in the restaurants just bring your own food and self cater.  If the weather is warm enough there were built in BBQ’s outside the lodges.  And, despite the rain you could still smell burgers burning.

As soon as you’ve booked your holiday Center Parcs inundate you with emails urging you to book restaurants/activities in advance online.  Being the cynical marketer I am I assumed this was a ploy but I’m glad that we booked a couple of restaurants in advance as they definitely filled up.  Activities were easy enough to book while we were there and Mr ATWWAH booked two on his way out of the pub on Saturday night.   Nothing like a drunken decision to participate in extreme sports the next day.

We were there out of school holidays though so if you’re going in peak season booking online at home before you get there is probably the best idea.

Activity wise there is tons to do as long as you’re over two.  Unfortunately Master ATWWAH isn’t and he couldn’t join in even some of the more basic activities which was a shame.  Having said that there were tons of things to entertain him – play areas, the swimming pool, riding on the back of his dad’s bike in a trailer, the boating lake, feeding red squirrels and ducks, watching everyone else do stuff……

Center Parcs

Master ATWWAH enjoying the attention of grandparents

Mr ATWWAH and his dad took advantage of the activities over and above the swimming, boating lake and ten pin bowling and took themselves off for a day of quad biking and Segway fun.  They both came back looking exhausted and surprisingly were still in one piece.

Being in the north west the weather was to be expected and there was torrential rain on one day although it didn’t really spoil it.  We just all got soaked going from the lodge to the centre but we told ourselves it was part of the fun.

In terms of organisation Mr ATWWAH regularly asks me if I’m from Germanic descent due to my obsessive delight in things running to time and being orderly.  And Center Parcs could happily be based in Munich.  The process felt seamless.  You can arrive early and park up and explore before taking your car to the lodge to unpack and it just all felt very organised.  Even going to collect some bikes was easy despite us not pre-booking them.

The only minor gripe here was that Center Parcs is meant to be car-free during your stay and you are encouraged to take your car to the car park once you’ve unpacked but there were some cars that stayed outside their lodges during their whole stay.  Fair enough if you’re disabled and it’s easier to keep it with you but it did spoil the overall effect a bit as it was so nice thinking you didn’t have to worry about oncoming traffic.  Mr ATWWAH persuaded me letting the offending cars tyres down wasn’t a good idea.  He can be such a spoilsport.

We’d definitely visit again and are already deciding which of the other locations to choose.  And, my main aim will be getting to the spa which looked amazing but I didn’t get a chance to take advantage of it.  Surely that alone is worth another visit?






  1. Was googling executive lodges and your blog came up, so thought I would say hi. We are staying in the games lodge the boy cant wait. Have a wonderful Christmas xxx

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