My top 10 tips for Center Parcs

My top 10 tips for Center Parcs

  • We love Center Parcs and have been quite a few times with Finn. I think we love it so much because Finn is in his element with the swimming & exploring the forest. He’s always shattered at the end of the day so we then get a chance to relax. I know people say it can be pricy but we try to keep the costs down. Hopefully these tips will help.
  • Go Swimming first
  • We always pack a bag for swimming and keep it handy for when we arrive. That way we can park up, get some lunch & go swimming. I think we make the most of the first day then & avoid the car park queues. The gates open about 3.30 for you to drive round to your lodge but we find it really busy at this time & you just waste your time queuing. I think its better to go swimming then wait for the queues to die down and drive straight round. We do similar on the last day but pack up, park the car and then go swimming and make the most of our last day.
  • Take Supplies & Shopping
  • The Parc market on site can be quite expensive. We usually bring things from home & go to the Aldi close by (Whinfell). We take our own fire logs, toilet roll, dishwasher tablets, snacks drinks etc… to keep costs down. Stock up on alcohol as well as this is expensive in the Parc market.
  • Pre Book your activities
  • Once you’ve booked your break you can start to book activities. I try to spread the cost of these by booking one every few weeks or one a month. That way you don’t have to spend a big amount when you get there. You can also pre book restaurants with a deposit. I use the app to book all my activities and you view your itinerary on here to see what you have booked.
  • Cook in your lodge & eat out at lunch.
  • We find eating out at lunch time a lot cheaper as a lot of the places have set lunch time menus. It’s also easier for us with Finn as we can then relax in the evening. We cook a few nights & just take easy to make things that way we can keep the costs down.
  • Look around for the cheapest weeks
  • We find staying Monday- Friday in term time a lot cheaper than a school holiday break or a weekend one. Also when you go to book you can scroll through the weeks to find the cheapest ones. If you’re not too tied down to set dates it’s definitely worth searching to find the cheapest week for you.
  • Pick your lodge for your Budget
  • We’ve stayed in the apartments, executive & the more basic lodges and I think they are all really nice. The executive are obviously nicer but if you are doing it on a budget I wouldn’t be put off by going to a more basic lodge. You can pay extra to stay in a central location but we never bother with this and don’t find it too much of a walk.
  • Take your bikes
  • You can hire bikes there but it can be expensive. We always take Finn’s bike or scooter, there’s plenty of bike racks so take a lock.
  • Make use of the free activities
  • There’s plenty of free things to keep you occupied there’s swimming, a beach & sandpit, parks and a massive forest to explore. We make sure we take advantage of these. We go for a walk through the forest each day and we’ve done bug hunts ( take a cheap magnifying glass) or a nature hunt. I also love the bird hide as well so we always have a walk to that. There’s a few soft plays as well so usually we go to the lakeside inn and have a drink while Finn plays in the play area.
  • Take Snacks/ Lunch for around the pool
  • Now Finn’s getting older we can definitely spend more time round the pool so next time I will take some snacks or lunch a few days so we can make a longer day of it. The subtropical swimming paradise is heated to about 29 degrees and has plenty of places for you to sit.
  • Plan your day around the quieter times
  • The pool is always busier first thing & after lunch so where possible we avoid these times. We also try and avoid the restaurants at busier times as well just to make it a bit more relaxing.
  • I hope you find these tips useful and I’d love to hear yours in the comments below.
  • Jodie. X
  • Swan Hotel & The Lake District 

    Swan Hotel & The Lake District 

    This August Bank holiday weekend we headed to the Lakes to stay at The Swan Hotel in Newby Bridge near Lake Windemere.  We love this hotel and have visited a few times. I always leave feeling totally relaxed. this time we went with my parents.

     

    Me and my Mum started the break with an Espa Intensive facial. This treatment was so relaxing and totally worth every penny. As a Beauty Therapist I don’t always enjoy treatments as I  often think how I would do them different or what I can add to my treatments  but I was able to totally switch off during my facial. The Pool is also a lovely place to relax with a sauna, steam room and hot tub.

    One of my favourite things about the Hotel is the riverside location,it is so peaceful. We were lucky to have nice weather so we were able to enjoy a drink in the afternoon sat by the side of the river.

     

    We stayed in a ground floor room called a ‘lovely room’ this had everything we needed including some lovely ESPA toiletries for us to use thoughout our stay. There was plenty of room to put Finn’s travel cot.

    I love the different  lounges in The Swan and we made full use of the playroom, there was a TV, books and toys Finn loved it. Following the recent refurbishment there is now a pool table which is a lovely touch when staying as a family.


    Every time we visit we always notice how warm and welcoming the staff are, every member of staff you pass will greet you and they always make time for conversation. If we ever have any requests I always feel like they go out of their way for you.

     

    In the evening we ate at the Swan Inn and all of us really enjoyed our meals, I had the ‘on toasts’ to start which included various toppings like avocado, egg and capers. I then had the chicken and chorizo paella. Both were really tasty. Another thing I love about The Swan is the breakfast. There is a buffet with cereal, fruit, yogurt, pastries etc.. then there is a selection of cooked food to pick from.

     


    We took advantage of the lovely weather on the Bank Holiday Monday to visit some of the local area before we headed home. The first place we visited was Hawkshead a lovely pedestriansed village. There are plenty of shops,cafes and pubs to visit. We then headed to Coniston, the lake here is stunning, defintrly worth a visit. We could have happily spent a day by the lake if we didn’t have to get back as there was so much going on.

    At luch time we headed to Chesters by the River an amazing cafe, deli and shop. we sat on the terrace which has beautiul views over the river. My parents had stumbled across this the last time they were in the area, it was a bit out of the way for us to visit but was defintely worth it.

    The last stop on our trip was Kirkby Lonsdale, to see  the beautiful Ruskin’s view. this was well worth the drive and walk and I loved photographing such a stunning landscape.

     

    I can’t wait for our next visit to the Lake District, which places do you love to visit when you are there?

     

    Swan Hotel & Spa, Newby Bridge 

    Swan Hotel & Spa, Newby Bridge 

     I thought I’d share with you our favourite UK mini break, the Swan Hotel in Newby Bridge Cumbria. We absolutely love this hotel, we’ve already been with Finn twice with more visits planned for this year. 

    The hotel is right next to the river Leven which was lovely when we visited in the summer to sit outside. In the grounds there is an adventure trail and park which is brilliant for children. We visited when I was pregnant and again when Finn was 3 months and 11 months old and both times we felt really comfortable and welcome with a baby. 


    My absolute favourite part of the hotel is the various lounges, there is a library and a lounge with open fires. The library has plenty of toys, books and board games for children and we loved sitting in there in the afternoon with a coffee or in the evening with a drink knowing Finn could play and we could relax. There is also other lounges with open fires, when I was pregnant we spent hours there one afternoon reading and relaxing and when we returned with Finn we made the most of nap time to do the same.


    The hotel also has a pool with jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. Finn really enjoyed the pool as it was always quiet enough for him not to feel overwhelmed. When I was pregnant I had 2 spa treatments and they were both amazing (and I’m very fussy with being a beauty therapist.)

     The rooms are all decorated really homely they have a shabby chic feel but are still modern. They are big enough to fit a travel cot in​ as well and plenty of room for all the baby stuff you inevitably have to take. 


    The food is also always really good. I think it’s difficult to find a hotel that does good quality but reasonable priced food. The Swan definitely does this though, we have enjoyed every meal we have had there and always choose to eat at the hotel  when we stay. It is traditional pub food with a twist.  The Breakfast is also lovely with a wide selection made to order.
    The hotel is that relaxing we don’t always venture out but we have visited other areas of the lakes including Cartmel,   Bowness and Ambelside. Which are all within easy reach. One day out we really enjoyed was getting the steam train from the stop a few minutes walk away to Lakeside where we visited the Aquarium. We then went on the boat on Lake Windermere to Bowness, this was a lovely way to see more of the Lake District. 
    I honestly can’t recommend this hotel enough, every time we have been we feel like we have been away for a week as we are so relaxed. 
    Here’s a link if you want to have a look for yourself. Swan Hotel