Center Parcs Longleat Holiday Village
Center Parcs Longleat
As soon as you turn into the winding drive of Center Parcs Longleat it feels as though you've been enveloped in a blanket of peace and tranquility.
It could be the effect of the surrounding woodland, which throws dappled shadows across the drive, it could be the effect of gradually becoming aware of the various rabbits, ducks and other wildlife going about their business as you drive along - but it's more likely to be because of the wonderful lack of a mobile phone signal - ensuring guilt free peace.
That easy feeling of just going with the flow pervades Longleat holiday village, everything is calm and quiet - well almost - I mean you can't call the squeals and screams of enjoyment coming from the swimming pool rapids quiet, or those coming from the rope slides, the soft pay areas, the boating lake, the bowling alley, the indoor rock wall, the table tennis, the roller skating and all the other activities quiet - but they are definitely signs of enjoyment, and if you want quiet, there's always the spa.
What To Do at Center Parcs Longleat
Centre Parcs Longleat is packed with activities which are based around two main areas; the Plaza swimming pool complex and the Jardin De Sports.
Longleat holiday village itself is built on one side of a valley, with the Plaza is at the top of the hill near the entrance to the site, and the Jardin de Sports at the bottom of the hill by the boating lake.
The Plaza is primarily a swimming pool area, though the term swimming pool doesnt really do it justice. It's full of slides, wave machines, rapids and other pool based entertainment. The temperature inside the dome is almost tropical and the water is warm - which is good, as the rapids route is mainly outside (there's a great viewing platform for the outside area where you can watch the fun) - and the best bit is that entry to the swimming complex is free - and that's something to watch as a lot of other activities have to be paid for separately.
Also in the Plaza complex is the bowling alley which can be booked for sessions of various lengths (depending on the concentration levels of your kids), a few shops i.e. sweet shops, gift shops and a good selection of restaurants. The restaurants vary in the type of food they sell and how child friendly they are - kids are welcomed in all of them but some, such at Huck Finns has a little soft play type area where the kids can run around while waiting for their meals.
At the top of the Plaza is a lovely little cafe, where you can sit and watch the world go by (does great hot chocolate) and just next door is the Parc Market - but more of that later.
The journey from the Plaza to the Jardin de Sports takes about 20 - 30mins at a gentle amble (quicker if you cycle, or you can take the little free train). On the way you pass adventure playgrounds, kids activity places and a few more cafes before coming to the boardwalk - which is the path that meanders down the hill in a zig zag way towards the Jardin de Sports and the boating lake. On the way down you pass the treetop walk course which starts at the top of the hill and stays level through the trees as the hill drops.
The Jardin de Sports houses all the really sporty stuff, i.e. gym, areobics classes, badminton, table tennis etc. It also has an indoor kids climbing wall, runs roller-skating a couple of times a week and has a large cafe / bar area which has it's own small soft play area for little ones which is free of charge. A great feature of the cafe area is several microwaves which can be used to heat baby food.
From the Jardin de Sports you can wonder along the lake to the crazy golf, take a pedalo out on the lake, or choose from one of the many other water based activities operated in the area.
Center Parcs Longleat
Getting Around Center Parcs Longleat
The beauty of Center Parcs is that you drive onto the parc on the day you arrive to unload the car, then no cars are allowed until the day you leave.
This leaves the wide pathways and roads almost traffic free save for a few parc vehicles, bicycles and the train. The train is a fabulous touch, it runs on a continuous route around the parc, stopping at every major point, is free to use, and at roughly 1 train every 20 mins is frequent enough not to get too crowded. Great for climbing up the hill from the Jardin de Sports to the Plaza area.
The Parc Market is the on site supermarket based in the Plaza.
It's small but well stocked with all the essentials such as milk, bread, daily papers and of course a pretty good selection of wine. It also sells fruit and veg, tinned goods, frozen pizzas plus a good selection of toiletries and general necessities.
It's probably a little more expensive than 'on the outside' but certainly not enough to make it seem as though you're being ripped off at all, and the benefit of just being able to nip out for that extra pint of milk far outweigh a few extra pennies on the price.
Wifi and Mobile Signals
Mobile phones signals are not good. There are some parts of the village you can get a signal, such as the Plaza, or hanging out the top floor window of 2 story accommodation - but it's a gamble as to how long the signal will last.
Wifi however is a different story. Free wifi was introduced a couple of years ago and is available in the Plaza, the Jardin de Sports and a few other places around the village - plus in some of the accommodation.
You get issued with a code to access wifi and then just use it as and when you need it. I first took my pc a couple of years ago to keep up with emails, but it turned out to have been a great thing to do for a couple of other reasons too.
- It entertained the kids and meant they could access their favourite sites whilst waiting for dinner to be ready.
- Centre Parcs have an online booking system for their activities so you can check availability from the comfort of your villa, then either book online or go to one of the main booking points.
Planning Your Center Parcs Holiday
Arrival and departure day can be busy. Generally on arrival you can access the parc from around 10am, though cars are not allowed on until 3pm. What you'll find is that at 3pm there is a mammoth queue of traffic waiting to get in - so take some advice and leave it a while before taking your car to your villa - Longleat isn't going anywhere. In fact if you can arrive around 11am you can normally sail into the car park without queuing, spend a few hours in the swimming pool, or down at the Jardin de Sports, then collect your car and drive onto the site around 5pm without any delays.
Leaving day can be chaotic but once the whole packing up thing is done and you've returned your car to the car park you can still spend the whole day in the village, maybe go swimming and have a leisurely lunch before leaving.
It's a holiday so you don't want to have to plan the whole thing with military precision, but it's advisable to book up big activities (or those you really want to do) before you go i.e. treetop walk, gym classes etc. You can then other activities such as bowling as and when you want to do them as they tend to have more availability.
The Cost of Center Parcs Holiday
This is a difficult one to answer as there are so many variables.
Go at peak season, stay in top flight accommodation, do lots of activities and eat out every night and you'll need a small mortgage.
Go out of season with young kids who only want to swim, play in soft play areas and have the odd game of crazy golf and eat in every night and it's a very inexpensive holiday.
Mainly its somewhere in the middle, i.e. not cheap but in my opinion the convenience and the quality of Centre Parcs makes it worth every penny.
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