Family holiday review of Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest Nottingham
I never thought I’d be the sort of person to visit the same place twice on holiday. Once you’ve been there and done that, why bother returning to send yet another postcard?
Yet, less than 12 months after our first visit, my husband James, our four-year-old son, Kasper, and I found ourselves back at Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire.
We had previously enjoyed a September break here with my dad during term-time, but we were back to test the resort during one of its busiest periods, the first week of the school summer holidays.
On this occasion, we were joined by the in-laws, Jennie and Pat.
Having visited before, we were wise to the long queues that can build up as guests head to their accommodation, so we had booked a family cabana in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise on our first day.
This is a great way to experience one of the most popular attractions on the site.
While others were sitting in their cars, we relaxed on loungers in a private area, sipping complimentary ice-cold drinks.
After a few hours of fun, including plenty of goes on the many slides, we checked into our three-bedroom Woodland Lodge.
There are various types of accommodation available, but this style is one of the best value and, with its smart open-plan living area, barbecue, shared bathroom and additional toilet, it suited us perfectly.
Center Parcs Sherwood, Rufford, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG22 9DN. Visit www.centerparcs.co.uk or call 03448 267723.
We had hired bikes, so after leaving our car parked up for the week, we relied on pedal power to get around.
You can walk, but it’s much more fun this way and it would be a shame not to take advantage of such a beautiful traffic-free route through the woodland, where the village is.
Although our lodge had a small but well-equipped kitchen, we decided to treat ourselves to eating out each evening of our four-night stay, beginning at French restaurant Café Rouge.
Here, Pat declared his steak the best he had ever eaten and we all enjoyed our food.
We also dined at Huck’s American Diner, which has a tempting menu and a buffet especially for kids; The Pancake House, where the portions are huge yet so tasty that we all cleared our plates; and Rajinda Pradesh, an Indian restaurant of very good quality.
A particular culinary highlight was the excellent Strada, where we had a fantastic Italian meal with a brilliant bottle of wine.
Overlooking the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, it is a lovely spot for dining and has a leafy terrace which made us feel like we were abroad, thanks to the warm weather we were lucky to get during our stay.
With so much great food on offer, we made sure we had plenty of activities planned to work up an appetite.
I would recommend arranging these in advance as we did as it makes the holiday so much easier.
We made sure we had booked something for everyone every morning and afternoon so no one had the chance to get bored and precious time was not wasted deciding what to do.
Kasper enjoyed a gentle pony ride, tennis, archery and a nature trail.
He also had plenty of laughs watching Pat and me attempt windsurfing on the lake and enjoyed a paddle-boat ride on the water himself later.
With so much to choose from, we were able to spend time together doing things like adventure golf and outdoor bowls, and time apart doing interests we had chosen for ourselves, such as Segway riding.
But it wasn’t all action. Any concerns that the village would be too packed to find a quiet space proved to be totally unfounded.
An afternoon in the Aqua Sana Spa pampered me and Jennie and we spent a lovely few hours in the outdoor pool and the experience rooms, rounded off with a glass of Prosecco in the sun.
The high temperatures ensured we spent plenty of time sitting outside either on the beach area, overlooking the lake or on the patio of the welcoming Foresters’ Inn pub.
Although our lodge was very near others, our outdoor area was not overlooked.
We used the barbecue to make brunches and burgers and I couldn’t resist persuading Pat to toast giant marshmallows on it one evening too – after spotting them for sale in the village’s well-stocked supermarket.
Served with melted chocolate, like the holiday itself, they were a sweet treat to savour. Who wouldn’t want to repeat that?