Center Parcs is our go to place for a short break. Since having Ruby, we have been to both Elveden and Longleat and stayed in a variety of different accommodation types. We are lucky enough to be able to go outside of school holidays – I did have a look for a long weekend in the summer holidays but I could not believe the difference in price. I’m certainly not looking forward to the day we have to pay those prices!
We took Ruby to Longleat first at around 5 months, at the time they were renovating the park to have similar facilities to Elveden including a better pool area for babies/toddlers. I feel that Longleat is more suitable for older children, it’s very hilly and on a bigger site than Elveden so pushing a buggy round is hard work – although it helps to burn off the holiday calories!
Accommodation wise, we were lucky to get a great deal on the 4 bed executive games villa at Elveden and it was amazing. I could not believe the size! Each bedroom had an en-suite, the living area was very spacious with plenty of room for 6 adults and 2 babies, the outside area was very private and even included a sauna. Usually, we stay in a 3 bed woodland lodge which is perfectly adequate for a family of 5 or to share with friends, 4 adults with children is comfortable but we had 6 adults and Ruby which we found a squeeze! I’m always impressed with how the kitchens are kitted out, we tend to self-cater quite a bit to keep the cost down and usually always find what we are looking for.
We have been as a family with Ruby as a baby and toddler. I feel there is enough for babies, if you include feeding/nap times, you soon fill up the day. The paid activities we did included sensory play, story time and soft play which we found more than enough. Ruby loved the pool the best, there are little life jackets to borrow (at no extra cost), although for small babies a float would be handy. The pirate ship area at Elveden is great and suitable for smaller babies to sit and take everything in, the water is very shallow and warm – more like a bath than a pool!
One other thing to mention is the cots/highchairs. You only get one set per villa which is a little cheeky if you have a bigger 4 bed villa, you can pay extra for another set (about £20!). This is my only criticism about Center Parcs, it can turn into a very expensive holiday if you take into account all the extras. If you have children under 5 that enjoy the pool, you can get away with minimal extras, however the cost of activities for older children all add up. It’s certainly a holiday that we will enjoy will Ruby at pre-school age, after that it will probably be too costly in holiday time with children wanting to try the activities on offer.
The final thing to mention is the spa! I tried out both spas at Longleat and Elveden, they are pretty identical. I did the evening twilight at Longleat and morning session at Elveden, I did not have any treatments but they offered a great selection. There are lots of different relaxation areas and rooms to try in the spa, the Japanese Salt Sea Bath was lovely as were the water beds and the heated outdoor pool. If you have a spare 3 hours child free, I would highly recommend some ‘me’ time here!
Overall, Elveden is for us. It has the slight edge over Longleat for babies/toddlers with the site being smaller and the facilities on offer.