Center Parcs Whinfell, Cumbria – 2nd March to 6th March 2020
There is no doubt travelling with a 5month old isn’t easy – it really did feel like we were packing the kitchen sink when packing the car up to get there! That being said, Center Parcs did have all the facilities and were geared up to make the break feel relaxing.
Whinfell covers over 400 acres of woodland and includes activities to suit everyone’s interests. I particularly love the no cars and ability to feel completely switched off from the rushing of everyday life. Children and babies of any age love the surroundings with always something to see, Whinfell in particular are lucky to have red squirrels if your lucky enough to see one (we were!)
Whinfell is the largest of Center Parcs holiday villages but you wouldn’t know this when visiting. With everyone choosing to do various activities or stay in their lodges at different times you can go for a walk which is peaceful.
Our break specifically –
In total their were 5 adults (70yr to 30yrs) and one baby staying – we booked a 4 bedroom Executive Lodge, with a games room knowing that we could spend the evenings in (with a Gusto box for cooking throughout the holiday). Executive Lodges come complete with en-suite bedrooms, all of which have TVs, daily housekeeping and a private sauna. Our lodge was over two floors so myself, my partner and the baby were on the top floor when the rest of the family were on the bottom floor. Perfect for a bit of privacy. Staying Monday to Friday outside of school holidays with a bigger party makes it financially a lot less of a stretch.
- Early check in is a must, it meant for us we were able to access our lodge at 1pm (official time is 2pm) – means no querying and just takes the hassle away from the mad rush to get in at 4pm.
- Worth considering if you want a lodge closer to the Village Centre if travelling with older family members as some lodges can be quite a walk
- If there was a problem in the lodge (we encountered no scissors or bottle opener) within 5minutes these were delivered directly to our lodge. After reading other negative reviews, do bear in mind though if you don’t let them know of any concerns they can’t fix it.
- They provide a good quality high chair, safety gates at both the top and bottom of the stairs and a decent quality wooden cot (no linen supplied). Saving yourself a bit of car space here!
Always going to be busy as unlimited entry is included within your break, as it’s open from 10am to 9pm you can look to pick a time that suits you. Also good to know they offer an hour from 9am to 10am ‘Baby Dolphins’ for 0-3yrs. This is a session which allows little ones to get a bit of time in the water whilst it’s quieter. They refer to the pool as their ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’, which is heated to 29.5C all year round and is surrounded by lush green tropical plants and trees. For the ultimate relaxation, you can hire a private Family Cabana, complete with TV, refreshments and loungers (do book these ahead of your visit though if it’s something that interests you).
Obviously you rely heavily on the weather to make these a true success, we were lucky and our little one managed to have a go on her first swing, equipped with a full 5 point harness it was ideal for her first time. There were 3 outside play areas in total one for older children outside the Village Centre and one for 0-3yrs near the Sports Centre.
The Lakeside Inn and Sports Cafe both have reasonable sized soft play areas for children, while the Leisure Bowl and Cafe Rouge have smaller ones.
We completed activities you could do as a family together –
Ping pong (Indoors in Sports Plaza)
Golf driving range (Outdoors at Outdoor activity Centre)
Pool/Snooker (Indoors in Sports Plaza)
Outdoor Bowles (Outside of Sports Plaza)
Swimming (In Village Centre)
Overall all reasonably priced we felt and enabled us all to participate alongside knowing the little one was included. Tempting to pay for the Aqua Sana spa which can include babysitting for a few hours to take full advantage of complete R and R.
We decided against bike hire as our little one was just a bit too small for sitting in the trailer. There were plenty of people choosing this option to explore and make travelling from their lodges to locations a lot quicker. At £29 for each bike and another £29 for the trailer for the duration of our 4 day stay, it would have been a big expense but added a quicker way to get around and explore, something as food for thought I guess depending on circumstances.
Eateries within Whinfell Forest include:
- Cafe Rouge
- Bella Italia
- Rajinda Pradesh
- The Lakeside Inn
- Pancake House (just reopened after a nice refit)
Put really simply, we ate at Bella Italia to celebrate a birthday whilst we were there. All restaurants are not cheap but offer convenience a change in atmosphere and bog standard food and drink.
Think about taking a Gusto box with you for meal times – has only the amount of food you require for your party with all the ingredients sorted for you, just get it delivered to the house the day before you leave for Center Parcs and it takes all the hassle shopping beforehand or on your journey there.
If there is an activity you really are keen on completing book it before you get there so you aren’t disappointed if it’s full when you arrive.
If your with little ones it’s probably worth downloading the Center Parcs app to your phone so you are aware what is available before you get there, also it makes it easier to book activities beforehand or whilst you are there.