Center Parcs are famous for their woodland breaks, subtropical swimming paradise, serene lodges and car-free (mainly) roads. It has five villages in the UK and we reviewed Longleat Village’s Woodland Lodge entry tier accommodation last year.
We returned a year later to test out the Executive and was interested to see if it remains the same since it was acquired by Brookfield Property Partners, one of the world’s largest commercial real estate companies in August 2015. We had a wonderful time.
Price: £299 – £1249 for a 3/4 night stay for 2 and 3 bedroom lodges
Included in the price: Self-catering accommodation with en-suite bathrooms, hydrobath, bedding and towels, a land train, access to the subtropical swimming paradise and extensive outdoor area with playgrounds, a lake and artificial beach.
Added extras: Small convenience extras are available, like £2 for a pool towel and £1 to use the large dryers at the pool. There is also a wide range of on-site activities, including 3-hour workshops for children that require no parental supervision, pedalo hire, bicycle hire, a tree-top trail, mini-golf, archery, ballet, sports facilities and a spa.
Retailer: Center Parcs
Accommodation and activities can be reserved and paid for on-line.
About Center Parcs UK and Brookfield Property Partners
Center Parcs UK has an established reputation for providing top quality family friendly short breaks. The first UK-based village was established in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire over 25 years ago. There are 5 villages in the UK, each set in about 400 acres of woodland with a Subtropical Swimming Paradise, Spa, Restaurants and Activities that accompany self-catering accommodation. Read more here.
Center Parcs was acquired by Brookfield Property Partners, “a global commercial property company that owns, operates and invests in best-in-class office, retail, multifamily, industrial, hotel and triple net lease assets.” Brookfield Property Partners is environmentally conscious and their sustainability policy and 2015 Corporate Responsibility Report is available here.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
Center Parcs is a versatile venue with a large range of options for a wide range of consumers. There are multiple tiers of accommodation, starting with the lovely Woodland lodges skirting the edge of the village right up to Tree Houses with outdoor hot tubs and a games room. Specialist adapted lodges are also available.
The facilities cover a large range of both indoor and outdoor activities. The sports facilities on offer is centrally based near the lake, next door is a Spa and there are multiple restaurants offering different cuisines across the village. The subtropical swimming paradise is indoors with waves, slides, children’s water play spaces and an outdoor heated pool that is something to experience when it snows. Outdoor activities abound and there is plenty of space for long walks through the woods or around the lake.
It is venue that has something for everyone of all ages. Many of the visitors we passed were multiple generation families that included grandparents and children, yet there were also plenty of group parties, obvious business visitors making use of the conference facilities and many couples enjoying a luxury break.
The village is highly accessible, a joy to visit year round regardless of the weather and not only offers a versatile environment, but encouraged us to be more versatile when planning our day with a large choice of activities on offer that was easy to access.
Center Parcs UK is committed to making their villages accessible and a detailed Access for All accessibility guide is available for Longleat village here.
Center Parcs Longleat is well designed as a village, offering a secluded feel despite being near facilities. The lodges are designed with comfort and convenience in mind and on entry immediately feels welcoming and homely.
My first thought of Center Parcs is centered around my ideal life – having the space to watch deer and squirrels over my morning coffee from a comfortable couch, enjoying breakfast at the bar whilst everyone is bustling around the space, making toast and pouring orange juice, heading out for an action packed day and spending evenings at the well-lit table playing board games.
It is a space that is designed for people. Comfortable, efficient, providing exactly what we needed. The small exceptions were little details, like toilets that are difficult to flush for young children or adults with dexterity issues and stiff turning locks. The accommodation doors and pool lockers are key-based and require some force to lock/unlock. Whinfell and Woburn Forest have switched to wristband based key-less lockers that can also used to unlock accommodation, which is generally more accessible and on enquiry we were informed that the same system will be rolled out to Longleat as well.
Environment & People
Center Parcs has a robust environmental policy in place and is committed to protect and enhance local wildlife and habitats. Products and services are sourced locally, where possible. Read more about their environmental policy, sustainability strategy, employee relationships and charitable partnerships here.
As a guest, there are recycling facilities available, leaving your car in the car park for the duration of your stay is strictly enforced and this not only reduces carbon emissions, but also provide the opportunity to experience what it’s like to walk, cycle and use public transport options instead of driving short distances.
The architectural style of the village creates a peaceful, woodland atmosphere. Lodges have large windows allowing plenty of light and gorgeous views yet feel private and remote. The executive lodge we stayed in was a 10-minute walk to the dome and yet felt as secluded as the more remote units.
Every time I stay at Center Parcs I wish that we built our towns more like this – creating spaces where walking and cycling is the norm, where children can learn to rollerblade, cycle and walk in the middle of a road. I want to live in a house where a red robin, squirrels, deer and a friendly cat look in through glass patio doors over breakfast to see whether there is any food to spare.
Center Parcs villages is a huge step up from the norm, but it isn’t at the top of ecological design. Water and electric usage has to be pretty enormous, the chain restaurants and shops on-site are not quintessential eco and activities are less ecologically based than they could be. Center Parcs are working on improving their sustainability and encouraging their 1.7 million annual visitors to be more environmentally conscious.
Few of us have the luxury of living close to nature, but a visit to Center Parcs is a great reminder that it is possible to combine luxury and convenience with a more sustainable lifestyle. We expect to see more eco-improvements over time that will continue to decrease the environmental impact of Center Parcs villages without sacrificing any part of the Center Parcs experience.
The executive lodge is one step up from the Woodland Lodge and although I would and have highly recommended a woodland lodge short-break at Longleat, there is clear advantages to upgrade to the next tier. All bedrooms are en-suite, the main bathroom has a hydrobath and some lodges also have a sauna. A cleaning service is included and the executive lodges are situated closer to facilities.
Our lodge was obviously dated and not impeccably clean – little details were overlooked, like dusting lamp fittings and large smudges on the glass doors and windows which was present when we arrived, remained through cleaning visits and was still there on the morning of departure until my 5-year old grabbed a bottle of surface spray and a damp cloth and wiped it down “so that the next visitors can see the deer better”.
It didn’t impact significantly on our stay and the usable surfaces like the shower glass doors, carpets, kitchen bins, counters and the rest of the facilities were cleaned to a high standard.
The big advantage of an upgrade is location. The shuttle service is filled to and sometimes beyond capacity on cold winter evenings, but the distance from pool to the executive lodges offer the opportunity for a brisk walk rather than a long wait. We also much appreciated being home after a late swim in ten minutes rather than 45 minutes to an hour. The huge time saving on a holiday where there is always so much to do and never enough time to squeeze it all in, is definitely worth the extra cost.
The exective lodges at Longleat is a cost-effective choice, particularly when combined with frequent discounts on offer and outside of the peak season.
Travel season: Winter
Accommodation: 2-bedroom terraced Executive Lodge
Location: Longleat Forest, Warminster, Wiltshire
On-line booking: Yes
Check-in time: 3pm (Facilities available for use from 10 am on day of arrival)
Check-out: 10 am (Facilities remain available for use until 10 pm)
Map: PDF map can be found here.
Kitchen & Food
Self-catering lodges with a full-equipped kitchen (cooker, hob, dishwasher, microwave, toaster, kettle).
Multiple restaurants on-site, details and menus available from the official site.
Small supermarket on-site.
Bathroom /Toilet facilities
All bedrooms are en-suite as well as a guest toilet near the front door. The master bedroom had a hydrobath with over-shower, toilet and sink. The second bedroom had a level accessible walk-in shower, toilet and sink with floorspace large enough for a wheelchair turning circle. Taps are standard and toilets are flushed with a button press that required some force and dexterity.
Cotton towels are supplied free of charge and exchanged twice a week for fresh towels on demand.
Comfortable rooms with polyester duvet and pillows, cotton sheets and covers included in the price. Wall-mounted bed-side lamps are reasonably bright – if you experience photophobia, bring your own dim light. TV in bedroom has a bright red light (put a sock over it). Kitchen is nearby, we recommend not running the dish washer at night if sound is a problem, also the wine cooler is quite loud in particular, but the doors provided a good level of sound proofing, creating quiet, dark, comfortable spaces for a good night’s sleep.
Iron and ironing board, hairdryer, cot (cot linen not included) and high chair, patio with furniture and BBQ, central heating and open fireplace standard in all executive lodges.
Multi-channel TV in the lounge and master bedroom
Plugs in all rooms.
Ergohacks Recommends: Pack your own
Washing up liquid and dish washer tablets*, bathroom cosmetics and bring your own food.
Coffee connoisseurs, there is a cafetière and pod coffee machine in the executive lodges.
Bring your own bike lock – not supplied even if you hire bikes.
Black-out window cover: Large windows provide lots of light and the curtains are not black-out.
Dishwasher tablets for the first evening is supplied and the free housekeeping service for the executive lodge included the offer of more dishwasher tablets.
Center Parcs Longleat is a lovely village in a great location. The executive lodge was comfortable, convenient, accessible and feel secluded despite the proximity of the neighbours or the road. We live in Wiltshire and yet once we take the turn-off into the woods, it feels as if we are a whole world away from home and our every day lives.
We spend our days walking to the pool or lake, my daughter roller blades, cycles, scooters and loves the adventure play ground and it’s easy to curl up with a book in front of the fire or play a board game after dinner. We never turned on the TV and sat on the patio in January star gazing with a hot chocolate in hand.
In a way, a visit feels a little more like an alternate reality than a vacation spot – it’s renting a dream life for a few days.
This travel review is based on a short-break stay in an executive lodge at Centerparcs Longleat Forest in January 2016. This article was first published on 26 February 2016.