Where do I even begin to explain how much we thoroughly enjoyed our 4 night stay at Center Parcs, Longford Forest?!
When I was approached by MummyPages to visit and review a short break here, I jumped at the opportunity but I wasn’t too sure what to expect. If you had asked me before our stay what I thought Center Parcs would be like, I may have said “basic self-catering accommodation with activities” but I was so wrong - it’s far more superior to those sentiments.
I’ll try and keep the post as concise as I can and cover all the main points, but to be honest I could write reams on each aspect. A good overview of the break is saved in my highlights on Instagram (@burpeesbabiesbeauty_jess) for anyone looking to get more detail and to have a better look around. We booked a Mon-Fri break and a lodge for 8 people as we were joined by Ben’s parents and his grandparents over the 4 days. The beauty of this place is that it caters for all ages and is ideal for families as the lodges are super spacious, so it means everybody is comfortable and not in each other’s pockets.
We especially loved being able to bring our extended family with us on our short break. It was so lovely for them to get to spend quality uninterrupted time with us over the few days away, instead of the usual afternoon visit with a cup of tea. Most of the lodges are bungalow accommodation so there is no issue with older members of your family being unable to use the stairs. While the flat surface throughout the resort is ideal for gentle walking and a wheelchair if you have one. The bicycles available for hire are designed to suit all ages and abilities too so Center Parcs really offers fun for all generations of your family!
Location/Accessibility/ Check In
Center Parcs is located in the heart of the Longford Forest. We left on Monday afternoon from Dublin and it took us just over an hour to reach it. When we arrived, we gave our check in details at the arrivals lodge you drive through to enter Longford Forest - all very handy no need to get out of the car. Here we were given our maps and fob bracelets which act as your key for the lodges and as your lock for using the lockers in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise. You are able to drive your car to your lodge and unpack, after which point you must drive your car back to the main car park and then either rent bikes/use your own bike/ or walk for the rest of your stay. Everything is very accessible on foot, however for ease of access and speediness the bikes we had rented were super handy. Ellie was able to sit in a little trailer (which holds two kids) on the back of Bens’ bike, while the rest of us had regular bikes. There are various bikes/models and options for kids so you wouldn’t be stuck. There is also the option to rent mobility scooters which was ideal for Ben’s grandparents.
Everything is well signposted to get around, which is great as the place is huge! Wheelchair accessible lodges are on site and there are hoists in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise also.
As I mentioned above, our lodge spaciously slept 8 people. There’s a fully equipped kitchen, dining area, two bathrooms, TV/lounge area, patio area with outdoor seating with space to have an outdoor barbecue. It’s all very modern and super clean. Each bedroom has hotel quality bedding and towels and a hairdryer with spacious wardrobes. We had two double rooms and two rooms with two single beds. Other things included in the lodge were an iron and ironing board, hoover, sweeping brush, ladder, cot, high chair, coffee machine, chalk board. We also loved the small added touches such as USB sockets and free Wifi. The fireplace really was such a gorgeous feature to have in the lodge and have a lovely atmosphere. You have to buy your own fire lighters for it, which you can bring yourself or purchase at the Parc Market.
There’s too much for me to even cover with regards what is available to do in the Center Parcs village. The choice of activities is vast, my main advice would be to check out what you want to do before you arrive and book online as they do book up fast and best to avoid disappointment. Ellie got to do the Teddy Bear Picnic, Roller Tots, a Junior Pony Ride and we all got to do Bowling as well which was great craic and perfect for the whole family from young to old. If you bring or hire bikes you have loads of places to explore and cycling around the forest.
The best part for us was the Subtropical Swimming Paradise which was free for everyone and again has something for all ages. There is also a gym which is quite small; however, given that this is a break away that you can choose to be active between cycling, swimming, walking and jogging around the lake, this really didn’t bother me at all. I feel that you’re there to enjoy the surroundings so it’s really lovely to be active outdoors.
As the lodges are self-catering this saved us money in terms of having to eat out for each meal. We did a big shop on the way down so we made our own breakfast and lunches in the lodge and then had two meals out, and ordered a take away to the lodge one of the nights as well. Again, I would advise to book restaurants ASAP to avoid disappointment. We ate in the Italian restaurant ‘Bella Italia’ with the whole family on the Wednesday evening and it was really delicious. The service was fantastic and each of us really enjoyed our meal. Prices are very similar to anywhere else outside of the resort. There’s other choices such as Cara’s Kitchen, Hucks American Bar & Grill, and Rajinda Pradesh for Indian cuisine to name but a few restaurants. There’s also a Sports Café which doesn’t require a booking and is perfect for a bite to eat with drinks; Ben loved it here as there’s massive screens showing sports all day.
I wanted to make a point in this post to highlight how fantastic each member of staff was that we dealt with from Center Parcs. Even cycling past members of staff we always got a friendly hello; it really makes all the difference when everybody is approachable and warm. Whenever we had a query for Guest Services they were super attentive and dealt with things with ease and speediness.
On our last day we had to vacate the lodge by 10am and have our bikes returned – however you can re-park the car after packing and hang around until night time on the day you are leaving (and are still able to use the pool etc). On exit, we simply returned our fob key as we exited the barrier and essentially that is the “check out” process – very simple and no delays.
Like I said, I could be here all day writing about each aspect of the above, however I hope this gives a good overview. The main thing I took away was that they have thought about individual needs for families, there wasn’t anything that stood out that they had forgotten about.
I cannot wait to revisit again, it truly is a home away from home with all the bells and whistles of a high end foreign resort.