With 25 years plus in the travel industry, there is no greater compliment than booking your next stay before you even get home – and that’s exactly what we did before we left Center Parcs in County Longford.
If like me, you have this image of what Christmas such be – families sitting around watching movies and chatting about nothing in particular, the excitement of a Santa visit in the fresh air, long walks in the outdoors, hot chocolates and minced pies, cosy fires, then a Christmas-time stay at Center Parcs is for you.
We travelled the first weekend in December for three nights and I can honestly say that this was the first time in years that the start of Christmas was almost tangible.
On waking on the first morning myself and my sister and youngest child took off on an adventure walk – it was still dark – so it added to the secluded feel of the location. After a few minutes we stumbled on Santa’s Winter wonderland, and what magic. We decided to wait until we had all the children in tow before we started on that journey, so armed with warm croissants and coffees we went back to the cabin.
The Santa experience offered all that one could hope for, it was full of twists and turns that kept the kids entertained and enthralled all the way through. Santa himself was a joy and though sat behind a glass wall it felt like he was in the room with us.
Later that day we prepared for the jewel in the crown – the Subtropical swimming paradise. With a four-year-old and 20-month in tow, we decided to book a cabana to take the pressure off us. At 29 degrees – be prepared to enjoy summer heat in a winter setting.
This truly is a joy, with areas for kids of all ages, my two had so much fun that the youngest cried all the way back to the cabin. Myself, my brother and sister hadn’t been together in such a fun atmosphere since we were kids – and boy how we laughed.
The highlight for me was the outdoor pool, with steam rising off the water due to the four degrees outdoor temperature and with the views across the park, it was just heavenly.
After the pool, we drank hot chocolates and listened to the Christmas Carol singers. We went back to the cabin and ordered in an Indian takeaway and sat by the fire watching Christmas movies and we were treated to a drive-by Santa in his car.
The next morning, we decided to take it easy and go down for a leisurely stroll, with so much going on it can be hard to take it all in so taking the time out worked for us. Later that day myself and my daughter went off to design Christmas stockings for the fireplace. It was lovely to have that mummy/daughter time together. We visited the Sub Tropical Paradise again that afternoon and, in the evening, we strolled through the forest of lights and danced to Christmas music.
Our final day arrived all too soon and we were packing up before we really unpacked. A trip to Center Parcs truly is a memorable holiday experience and one that my daughter still talks about on a daily basis.
I would highly recommend this as a group, family or multi-generational trip. It is all about the kids here, and as they say, happy kids – happy holiday. But next time I will be trying the zip lining and the Aqua Sana Spa – it looks amazing.
- Book everything straight away when your time slot opens.
- Slots for restaurants were booked out within 10 minutes of going online and there was no change closer to the date, many activities sold out in minutes.
- Book bikes – even one or two in case you need to nip down to the shop.
- Don’t book too much in a day, one activity a day is enough.
- Cook as much as possible – we couldn’t get restaurant bookings and so we used the takeaway facility. Delivery slots were very late especially with kids.
- Arrive Early – The check-in queue took almost an hour at 5pm.