We’ve been to Center Parcs Longleat lots of times, with family, with friends and on our own. As you drive through the entrance your shoulders sink 3 inches and you feel like you are coming home, to the woodland, to your lodge, to the amazing swimming pool. Spend a weekend, or even a week, where you get to enjoy life’s more simple pleasures, watching the wildlife, warming up in a sauna, walking through the forest and feeling the wind in your hair on your bicycle.
Not just any pool … this is the best pool we’ve been to in the UK. Which is just as well as my kids will spend many hours in there every day. Inside the huge clear dome is a tropical wonderland of water activities. In the inside area a pool with waves – listen out for the Tarzan call, a lazy river, two water pistes guaranteed to make your stomach jump and 2 water tube slides. There are plenty of areas to sit around the pool and chill out if you have non swimmers in the group or want to take a breather. Outside, as well as the free form open air pool, are 2 of my kids’ favourites. First up are the Rapids which hurl you down a river of water – quite simply the most fun you can have in a swimming costume. Second are the cold plunge pool, which my children spend many minutes in (competitive much? that’s twins for you!), and the outdoor hot tub. Swimming outside at night with the lights twinkling in the trees is one of the real pleasures of Center Parcs. I’ve never been there in the snow but I’ve heard that being in the outside pool surrounded by snow is a great experience.
THE AQUARIUS SPA
My favourite spa. I like it so much that I go there for the day every year, separate to going to Center Parcs. From 9am – 6pm my friend and I spend a full 9 hours of bliss in the spa. If I am there for the weekend, I book a 3 hour session. The array of steam rooms, saunas, relaxation rooms, salt rooms, relaxing areas is the best I have come across. Water beds that make you fall asleep, log burners, zen gardens, an outdoor relaxation pool, you can tour around the various rooms all day, breaking for a treatment, lunch or a drink. Do not miss this.
Deer on the patio, squirrels, ducks, birds, rabbits, there is wildlife everywhere. Take some bird or wild animal food with you or buy it there, sprinkle it on the patio and in the morning open the curtains to find deer having a nibble. Or that it’s all been scoffed by hungry wildlife in the night and you need to put more out! When my nieces were young we used to like feeding the ducks outside the villa. This year we crept out in our dressing gowns to watch the deer outside. If you live in the city, you will particularly love this.
This picture of deer was taken from inside the lodge! Enjoy your morning cuppa whilst watching the visiting wildlife.
We book the Executive 2 bedroom lodge in the Pine zone and we prefer one that backs onto a lake for extra wildlife spotting opportunities. The lodges are well equipped with all the basics plus a brick bbq outside and a log burner indoors. My kids like the luxury of an ensuite bathroom and a TV in the bedroom.
My kids cycle everywhere in Center Parcs, which gives them more freedom and independence than they would have at home. If you don’t want to cycle it’s easy walking or you can take the land train.
The lake is one of Longleat’s most attractive features. Fringed by a man made beach with woodland all the way round, it has water-sports and water fowl and it’s lovely to cycle round.
THE AERIAL ADVENTURE
This is my children’s favourite activity. I have no head for heights so I personally don’t join them! You traverse across the tree tops, extremely high up, using various walkways, nets, planks and ropes. Many wobble and move when you are on them. When you reach the end you take a 200m zipwire across the lake. They love it.
There is a huge range of activities, both indoors and outdoors. It’s the chance to pick up old favourites or try something new. Height and age restrictions do apply to some activities and it’s wise to book in advance. We’ve most recently done kids’ segway, indoor climbing, roller skating, badminton, table tennis and all of them have been a big hit. There are plenty of kids’ playgrounds as well, dotted around the parc.
The forest here includes Redwood trees that are over a hundred years old. If your children love exploring woodlands they can do that to their heart’s content here. Step outside your lodge and you are in the midst of the forest.
At night, walking around the village, take a torch! This is real darkness where you can see the stars.
TAKE ME BACK!
Center Parcs Longleat is like an annual pilgrimage for us. It’s not too far from home but it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Last year as we were leaving my daughter offered to sleep on a bench if she could stay longer. I think that says it all!
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