Set in acres of beautiful forest, Centre Parks at Longleat provides the perfect setting for family fun.
situated across the site, some very close to the amenities and some more secluded. We stayed in a 4 bedroom Exclusive lodge complete with sauna, steam room, games room and hot tub.
lodge was very clean, with everything we needed already in place for our arrival. It was also serviced everyday by very friendly Centre Parks staff. Our older 2 children loved the large games room. They spent time relaxing on the beanbags, playing on the Xbox
and challenging us to games of pool!
The bedrooms were good sizes, 2 twins and 2 doubles, all with ensuites. The kitchen was well equipped too. In my opinion, our lodge provided for
all occasions with no real need to bring a huge amount with us other than our clothes.
The lodge was in the ‘Maple’ area of the forest which meant we were right at the bottom
of the big hill! Everyone knows the best way to get out and about at Centre Parks is by bike and the hills certainly gave us a good workout, (I seemed to be walking and pushing my bike quite a lot!). We decided to take our own bikes, but you can hire them
and each one comes with a bike lock. No need to worry about sizes either, they have a huge amount to choose from for all ages!
For those who prefer a more sedate way to travel from A
to B, there is the option of the Land Train. This proved to be a life saver at times, especially with a toddler! It runs all day from about 9am. Please check the Monday and Friday services while you are there as these are a little different. The train runs
late into the evening which is perfect for those wishing to dine out and don’t fancy a wobbly bike ride home after a few drinks!
For this visit we decided not to pack any food,
so before we hit the pool we popped into the Parc Market to do a spot of shopping. Inside you will find everything you need to feed and water a hungry family. Toddler discovered the miniature trolleys and turned what should have been a quick visit, only purchasing
what was on my list, into a supermarket trolley dash! The ‘grown up’ trolley got piled high with fresh fruit, milk, fresh bread from the bakery and gin. The toddler’s trolley got piled high with Pom Bears, Dunkers, Pizza, Crème Eggs
& Pringles! Centre Parks offer to deliver your shopping if you spend over £40. Needless to say, we reach that target easily, so all our groceries, (& treats!), were delivered later that day. If you are out the friendly delivery staff will let
themselves in and even put the chilled and frozen food away. This was a huge help to us as we had more time to enjoy ourselves!
Our adventure began in the Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise.
Just like many other families we spent our first afternoon and early evening splashing about, flinging ourselves down slides and generally having huge amounts of fun. Toddler loved the adventure play areas particularly the pirate themed area with age appropriate
slides, water fountains and buckets to saturate himself with. Our older 2 children couldn't get enough of the Typhoon and Cyclone rides. Luckily the queues were not too long and I found myself being launched down these 2 mammoth rides too!
Cyclone is a two- or three-person raft ride with 142 metres of twists, turns and gravity-defying drops and added audio-visual themes to choose from.
Typhoon is a single or two-person experience that takes riders on drops and swings with an exciting personalised lighting element, travelling at speeds of up to 45km per hour.
Elsewhere we all enjoyed the flumes, which Luckily toddler was tall enough to experience, safely held on Husband's lap. He also enjoyed the Lazy River which is a tame version of the Rapids. Centre Parks supply float vests for youngsters or you can of
course bring your own. Toddler has his own and was quite happy to bob along on the gentle stream of water that makes its way around in a loop. The bigger version of the Rapids is brilliant! Not for the faint hearted but as long as you feel capable of swimming
in rapid water you will love it! It's great fun even though my older 2 children laughed at me as I got deposited off the end of the rapid slides with arms and legs everywhere!
all that fun it was time for a beer. Next door to the Swimming Paradise is the bowling alley complete with bar. Sitting outside the alley, under the dome, with a well earned beer made for a very pleasant break before cycling back down the hill to our lodge.
Center Parks offers a Dining In service which we decided to take advantage of. We ordered a Chinese takeaway which was delicious, hot and reasonably priced. Just to give you an idea of price and
lemon chicken dish is £7.95 and egg fried rice is £2.95. Most main meals range from £7.95 to £10.95.
A new day saw a new adventure waiting for us. Are older 2
children headed out early with Husband to the pool to attend a scuba diving session. It took place before the pool was open to other guests and they learnt all about diving in the safety of the big pool. They loved it so much they asked if they could go back
for the Thursday morning session too. It looked like great fun and a brilliant way to try diving for the first time.
We headed for the Pancake House mid morning and were completely spoilt
for choice with the extensive menu. We chose a selection of pancake stacks with bacon and maple syrup and waffles with bananas. Toddler also decided to order a gingerbread man complete with cream, chocolate and sweets for decoration. All 3 children decided
on huge milkshakes to wash it all down! It was a feast! Just a little tip - make sure you are hungry when you visit, the portions are big!
Our afternoon was spent splashing about in
the Subtropical Paradise. We decided to hire a cabana which was fairly pricey but very useful with a toddler. We hired the cabana for 6, they have larger 8 seat cabanas too. It was equipped with towels, drinks in the fridge, a television and a safe. We hired
it for 3 hours and found it a great respite from the chaotic watery fun just on the other side of the bamboo walls. We ate lunch in our cabana and just had chilled out moments before heading back out for more flume fun. We showered back at the lodge, so the
cabana was the perfect place to get dry and changed. Much quieter for Toddler!
Later in the evening we decided to try one of the many restaurants Centre Parks have on site. We booked
in advance and chose Las Iguanas which serves a lovely range of Brazilian, Mexican & Latin American food. We were shown to our table but soon requested to move as there was a beautiful stream running through the restaurant.A lovely touch but there was
also a play area on the opposite side of the stream and I just knew our over enthusiastic toddler would fall off the small stone bridge at some point during the evening if he had to cross the stream to get back to our table! Toddler loves a play area and Center
Parks seem to have thought of everything as this meant he could play quite happily, socialising with other children, while we sat and watched. We ordered Tapas for 4 of us and Toddler had quesadillas. All the food was great quality and our waitress was very
knowledgeable on all of the dishes which meant we didn't over order. The drinks menu is extensive with something for all including mocktails for toddlers!
We caught the land train back
to the lodge, which I was rather grateful for as the cocktail menu had been somewhat tempting .
The following day we woke up to rain, but that didn't dampen our enthusiasm and it soon
cleared up enough for us to get out and about. We booked a pony riding experience for Toddler and made our way to the meeting area. The ponies were all very cute and well behaved and toddler thoroughly enjoyed his 15 minute ride . We walked alongside him and
smiled as he chatted to the lovely lady in charge of making his first encounter on the back of a pony a wonderful one. I did have my doubts as to whether he would actually get on the pony, but the ladies were really lovely with all the children and Toddler
soon had lots of confidence.
After his pony experience he also enjoyed the large wooden play area full of slides and bridges. If the weather is dry it's a great way to let the kids run
off a bit of energy. There are cafes close by and after a fairly wet start to the day we enjoyed a small spot of sun and a coffee while Toddler did what he does best ....made use of a play area!
We hit the Sports Plaza in the afternoon for some sporting action. There is enough to keep all ages entertained with bowling, badminton, wall climbing, table tennis and photo shoots to name but a few . We also found the sports bar with a soft play area
and huge TV screens showing the big sporting events plus an Indian restaurant. We booked table tennis and football pool. We didn't book in advance for these activities and found no problem in getting the time slots we wanted. However, other activities looked
really popular so my advice is to plan in advance! We found ourselves in the bar early evening, mainly due to toddler noticing the soft play area. The older 2 children loved the Sports Plaza too as it gave them a chance to wander off and try sports all within
the safe confines of the building. We headed back on the land train to our lodge in time to take delivery of the pizzas we had ordered before we left the Plaza. Again, reasonably priced and tasty. Prices range from £7.95 to £14.95.
Our final full day dawned with the older 2 children heading off early to enjoy scuba diving again and I headed to Longleat Safari Park to feed the giraffes. I will add a separate review on this soon. Husband
took Toddler on the Low Ropes which he loved. This was made up of wooden bridges and toddler was clipped into a harness and free to explore the walk ways across a small area on wooden logs about a metre of ground.
We all met up later to dive straight into the Subtropical Swimming Paradise and chose to book a cabana again as it was so useful a few days before. We ate lunch within the swimming paradise, there really is no need to leave once you
are in your costume and ready to go.
We booked our last meal in Hucks and enjoyed Tex Mex food in lovely surroundings. Yes, there is a play area and our older 2 were happy to help toddler
play, which was great because we couldn't see the play area from our table. Top tip - if you have young children you may want to ask for a table near the play area. It will be busy and noisy but at least you can keep an eye on the kids coming in and out. Our
meal was very tasty. We started by sharing Nachos and for mains my Husband opted for Fajitas and our Teenager choose chilli. I chose a cajun chicken burger and both boys decided to go to the under 12s buffet. This consisted of a choice of chicken nuggets,
hot dogs, chips, burgers, beans and peas. They were welcome to visit as many times as they liked. After all the excitement Toddler fell asleep on the land train on the way back to the lodge and I have to say we all slept well after an exhausting day.
Lodges have to be vacated by 10 AM but we were free to make use of the facilities before we left. One final dip in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise and refreshments in Starbucks ended a wonderful
week away. I thoroughly recommend visiting Centre Parks at Longleat. I have heard people comment that it is expensive for a UK break. In my opinion, yes I can understand those people who would prefer some guaranteed summer sun and jet off abroad but Centre
Parks have made it easy to enjoy a wonderful family holiday with so many extra touches and things to do that are either fairly cheap or free. There are lots of activities you can pay for but actually if you prefer no more added extras there are plenty of play
areas, cycle routes & a lake to enjoy for free and don't forget the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is included within the price you pay for your lodge. So why not try some brilliant Forest family fun? Just be prepared for those hills!
Centre Parks website: https://www.centerparcs.co.uk/
Las Iguanas at Centre Parks, Longleat: https://www.centerparcs.co.uk/discover-center-parcs/things-to-do/restaurants/las-Iguanas.html
Hucks American Bar & Grill at Centre Parks, Longleat: https://www.centerparcs.co.uk/discover-center-parcs/things-to-do/restaurants/hucks-american-bar-and-grill.html
The Pancake House at Centre Parks, Longleat: https://www.centerparcs.co.uk/discover-center-parcs/restaurants/the-pancake-house.html
Activities to book at Centre Park, Lomgleat: https://www.centerparcs.co.uk/discover-center-parcs/activities.html