We are really lucky because our cousin works at CenterParcs in Woburn (which is the recently opened 5th village) and because of this we got to go there for the day as her guest, so I thought I would review it for my readers. I feel so lucky to have one of my favourite holiday venues open up just 20 minutes from Milton Keynes.
Like all the CenterParcs venues (I have been to all but Longleat) it is very beautiful, woody, green and with very few cars around. You have to park your car up at the beginning of your break and come back for it at the end. (Although there is the odd maintenance van etc). Due to the lack of cars it is very safe, which is lovely when you have young children. We have always enjoyed the ‘in the middle of nowhere’ woodland setting, where deer come up to your lodge and squirrels run across your path, it is so peaceful.
Woburn CenterParcs is a big place and the walk from the car park to the plaza and from the plaza to the village square is approximately a 15 minute walk, so bear that in mind, especially with little legs. Our Nate had to be carried a couple of times, but then if we were staying we would have used a bike with a trailer, especially in the cold weather.
Here is a map of the village:
We went into the sports Plaza because the Australian Open was on (Hubby is tennis mad). While we enjoyed our hot chocolates and tennis, Nate ran straight off into the soft play, how lovely it was to have a warm drink while he played. Then he wandered off into the little arcade and played on the Batman machine. (How great that he doesn’t realise, at this age, that you need money to play it)!
I had a good look around and saw in the sports plaza the following: bowling (although there is also a bigger bowling alley in the village square), pool tables, tennis and badminton courts, squash courts, table tennis, a build-a-bear type workshop (definitely want to try that next time), a cooking area, a craft and messy play room, a pottery workshop, some shops and at the back the Aqua Sana Spa (definitely coming back for that one with Hubby).
Above: Craft room in the sports plaza
Nate was eager to bowl so we decided to have a game. He has only bowled once before so thought it would be fun. It was quite funny watching my aunty bowl (not sure she has bowled before), not sure who bowled slower, her or Nate, although at one point the ball didn’t quite make it to the pins, so that was funny! If I was a paying customer, I would have been a little miffed that we were only given an hour to play, it then kicks you off and asks you to return to the desk to pay. We were not told this when we booked the bowling.
We then had a play in the park outside of the plaza and walked up to the village square for lunch. I’m not sure how many parks they have, but that one was not suitable for young children, Nate couldn’t climb either of the steep steps to get onto the slide. At the village square they had lots of restaurants but we were excited to take Nate to Hucks Diner because we knew it was the best one for kids and an American menu which we all enjoyed. However, to our disappointment, Hucks doesn’t open until 4pm at Woburn, the one in Elveden opens for lunch so we assumed this one would be open too. Alas, we went to Dexters Grill instead which was much smaller, no soft play, only one toilet and a limited menu. In spite of that, the food and service were very good so we still enjoyed it. The Millies cookies inside were a treat and the milkshakes were delicious.
Nate needed a potty stop on the way back, so we stopped in Cafe Rouge which was large, had a small soft play area, crayons and proper toilets, so that would have been better, in hind sight. I am not complaining though because we did have a lovely lunch and it was a special setting to spend time with family.
The Sub-tropical Paradise looked amazing from the outside – I really cannot wait to take Nate there, it looked great, I could see a lazy river ride that came outside, several log flumes and a baby slide. All of the other sub-tropical paradises that I have been to at Sherwood, Elveden and Whinfell were amazing and a definite highlight of my holidays, especially as they are free.
We walked past the beautiful lake and back to our car, it was a lovely day out. To clarify though, it is not currently possible to obtain or buy a day pass for Woburn unless you know someone who is staying there or works there. I really think they should allow day passes for anyone though because it is a great day out. Another way to try it out without committing to a full weekend break or holiday is using the Aqua Sana Spa. They have a 5 hour Spa Experience that costs £50, and you can stay on the site after the spa for dinner if you wish, so I will be trying that some time.
The newness of Woburn is a lovely perk, especially as the lodges are all brand new, however the only downside to this is that the Forest is new too and not grown in. I noticed the difference compared to the other CenterParcs, the Forest seemed sparse, and very little wildlife. However, I am sure this will change within a year or two when the forest and foliage grows in. I would definitely come back here for a weekend break and for the spa.