Center Parcs Woburn review – best family break in the UK?
Huddled together under twig, bark and fern, we grimaced, expecting a soaking of cold water.
The weather during our late-summer break at Center Parcs had been hit and miss, but it wasn’t a rain shower that had us worried.
The sun was shining in the forest and the only water being poured was from a can in the name of testing the den we had just constructed.
It was one of the many activities we squeezed in during a four-night midweek break, our third as a family, but our first visit to the site in Woburn, Bedfordshire, which opened last year.
It offered the familiar opportunity to do as much or as little as you like, with a few new touches that impressed.
The range of outdoor and indoor pursuits, from high-adrenaline tree-top adventures to sedate arts and crafts sessions, are what keep us coming back to Center Parcs and we were pleased to find that, in Woburn, we could easily fill our days.
Like the other locations, Woburn is situated in a forest, offering a stunning backdrop whether we were relaxing in our comfortable three-bedroomed woodland lodge or out and about on our bikes.
Pedal power is the best way to get around, even if the area here is rather hilly, so it is well worth hiring from the friendly cycle centre or bringing your own.
It’s also a quick way to get from place to place, important if, like us, you have a packed timetable.
We like to book everything in advance, making the most of our time, and we began the holiday with a morning in a private cabana at the poolside of the Subtropical Swimming Paradise.
Here, the pristine condition of Woburn was particularly evident, with smart changing rooms and a brilliant system for the lockers using waterproof wristbands.
These were given to us on arrival and also worked as the keys to our lodge and for cashless payments in some places.
It would be great to see these used more widely across the site as they offered a convenient way to pay.
Also handy was the Center Parcs app, which we used to check our itinerary.
With one set of grandparents joining my husband, our five-year-old son and me, we often split up to enjoy what appealed to each of us.
While the men of the group enjoyed laser clay shooting, for example, the women took part in a nature trail with our youngest holiday maker.
And all the boys got together for a game of golf while the two girls visited the Aqua Sana Spa.
This vast and luxurious space was a real highlight, featuring six different themed experiences to relax and revitalise mind and body, as well as a smart outdoor infinity pool.
But it was also a joy to spend time together, whether eating out at one of the restaurants – Italian eatery Strada and Huck’s American Bar and Grill were both excellent – or simply building a den.
As well as Woburn, Center Parcs has sites in Nottinghamshire, Cumbria, Wiltshire and Suffolk.