Saturday, 15 August 2009
I have been fortunate enough to enjoy many wonderful holidays but my recent five days at Center Parcs was truly sensational. Only two hours from home, 123 miles door to door. We arrived mid Monday afternoon to a wonderfully organised arrivals point where each car was recognised as it passed through electronic glass doors. From then on, we were treated like we were the only two people who mattered, ever. Armed with map and directions to our accommodation, we set off along the one-way single-track road which leads around the Parc, tree-lined, cottages hidden amongst the forest and people carefully roaming on their hired bikes. As everywhere is so well sign posted, I found the Lakeside Apartments without any problems which is an achievement for me. We parked the car, unloaded our kitchen sink, then took the car to the huge car park. Cars are only allowed to drive around the Parc on Monday's and Friday's which are arrivals and departure days, of course with the odd exception of disabled access. We had hired a bike each but I decided it wasn't to be when I realised how street-wise some of the other kids appeared to Amy's lack of road sense. But shanks pony was perfect, we walked our socks off and got more exercise in those few days than I have probably had in a full year.
What can I say about the pool? Subtropical Paradise certainly lived up to its name, it is beautiful. Huge sections of clean and clear waters, some for non-swimmers, a lot dedicated to those whose ancestors were fish. Fortunately for us, both Amy and I are good swimmers and were able to take full advantage of the fantastic waves, rapids and the slides, A-Mazing! Horse Riding; excellent instructors walking with us, Amy got the best pony she could have wished for called Digby. Tree Trekking; walking the tightrope at around 40 feet up, from tree to tree under caring and patient supervision. Roller Blading; great activity, but not really for us as Amy was a little frightened of falling and I couldn't even stand up! Owl demonstrations; totally awesome, where the best guide told us everything we needed to know about these magnificent creatures. Falconry Club; Amy held a beautiful owl and a buzzard on her gloved arm, before we watched other birds of prey devour a full chick. The restaurants are child friendly consisting of American, Italian, French, Indian and English cuisine, all excellent taste and good value for money. The Parc itself is a little gem in a tranquil setting; red squirrels everywhere, badgers and deer to spot at the right time of day. Our apartment was clean, spacious, well equipped and in a perfect location close to central amenities.
In summary, I really can't fault it. Not that I would want to but I genuinely couldn't find anything to complain about. The staff were well mannered and friendly, patient and understanding to Amy's needs, always willing to go a step further. We met parents who were there with their autistic children, all agreeing that this place is very "autism friendly" too. I've decided to book again for next year and even request the same apartment. When we had to pack up on Friday morning I felt a little emotional at leaving the place behind, as did Amy as she said goodbye to just about every item in the apartment. We spent a fortune of course, it has to be said that it isn't the cheapest of holidays, but it was worth every penny. And I genuinely mean that. Thanks to Bonnie and Kevin and all the lovely people who have made our holiday so special. See you next year!