When we first went to Center Parcs, way back in 2003, with a toddler and a barely-visible baby bump, we stayed in one of the Comfort Lodges. It was rather basic and we didn’t much like it. It was also a long way from all the Center Parcs action – the swimming pool, Plaza and sports activities at the Jardin des Sports. (The accommodation has been improved since then and is now a lot better.)
When we returned two years later, with my parents and an extra 18 month old boy in toy, we’d upgraded to the Executive accommodation. This was SO much better. It was more modern, spacious and luxurious. Every bedroom had an en-suite and a television and, most importantly, there was a dishwasher! We pretty much always self-cater on holiday because it gives us more freedom than a hotel and is cheaper (hotels weren’t designed for families of five – grrr!), but I don’t go on holiday to do the washing up! A dishwasher is essential.
We also fell on our feet by getting accommodation very near to the Plaza – where the Sub-Tropical Swimming Paradise is based. Since then, we’ve always paid a bit extra on booking to ensure we get accommodation close to the Plaza.
We’ve now been to Center Parcs a fair few times (I’ve lost count, but I think it’s about eight times in total) and we always stay at the ‘modern’ Executive accommodation. Except it’s now become ‘Original Executive’ because, sadly, it’s not what it once was. Somehow it’s not so modern now. A lot more accommodation has been built since we first stayed here, not to mention the refurbishment of the earliest accommodation and the Original Executive has got a bit left behind.
The decor is looking both tired and gaudy. The colours are a bit bright, the carpet a bit thin. The TVs in the bedroom are chunky things which look straight out of the ark. Or 1987.
On the plus side, there are new, more modern, less gaudy curtains and, most important of all, there’s WiFi! The last time we visited, two and a half years ago, there was no WiFi and I wondered if it would still be the case. Center Parcs is about getting away from it all – relaxing, unwinding and take a break from the stresses and strains of life. But WiFi is essential for life. Many people use it to relax and unwind and, sadly, many people (my husband included!) need to check up on work while they’re on holiday. It makes for a much more relaxing holiday for us if he can do his work in the house, rather than sit on his own in a coffee shop trying to pick up a tiny bit of signal.
The Original Executive accommodation has a lot to offer – it’s in a really good location and is comfortable and spacious. It’s great to have ensuites in every room, especially if you’re sharing a house with another family (which we don’t do, there’s enough of us to fill a house!). Included in the price is a maid service, similar to housekeeping at a hotel, so they pop in and quickly spruce the place up. The accommodation also includes towels, which is another real positive. If you go on self-catering holidays, you really don’t want to be filling an entire suitcase and taking up a lot of space in the car taking towels for the whole family.
I would recommend the Executive accommodation, but I do hope to see it modernised a little bit before we next visit.