Center Parcs Sherwood Forest – Review
By Richard Jones
Their little eyes were full of excitement and fear – it was the moment they had been secretly dreading for weeks.
Cautiously, one by one, they stepped onto the ledge, before making the leap of faith and flying over the lake to the safety of their friends and family on the other shore.
We were taking part in the Aerial Adventure at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest, and contrary to what you may think, the (unnamed) individuals weren’t among the younger members of our group.
Nevertheless, despite their trepidation before and during the high-ropes and zip-line activity, everyone confessed to enjoying the experience – even the adult scaredy cats.
Our safety was paramount on the beams, bridges, ledges and zip wires, as it was during the rest of our break at Center Parcs. And when you feel safe, you can unwind and have fun.
During the weekend, we enjoyed high-octane activities in the forest, as well as plenty of relaxation and something that we have all missed immensely over the past 18 months – spending quality time with friends.
For the short break, my wife Rachel and I and our two daughters Isla and Evelyn were joined by the Bianchi family – Steve, Pam and Charlotte.
As soon as the two clans stepped foot inside our base for the weekend, we felt at home.
The four-bedroom Exclusive Lodge was cram-packed with home comforts, as well as a few spectacular touches including a pool table in the games den, and a sauna, steam room and eight-person hot tub outside.
There are even two dedicated parking spaces outside, meaning we avoided the walk to and from the car park after arrival and before departure on the Monday.
After a Friday evening catching up over a few glasses of wine and pizza, we headed to the Cycle Centre the next morning to pick up our mountain bikes and helmets for the weekend.
From there, we took the scenic route around the forest en route to the Village Square and our pre-booked slot at the Subtropical Swimming Paradise.
Most visitors to Sherwood will testify that the changing areas were never the most enjoyable part of the Center Parcs experience.
However, the spacious and pristine new cubicles, lockers and showers have improved matters no end.
There also seemed to be noticeably less people in the pool and queues for the rides, perhaps due to the introduction of the pre-booked slots.
Charlotte, Isla and Evelyn are all serious swimmers, but it was great for them to splash around in the waves, float through the Wild Water Rapids and slide down the gravity-defying Tropical Cyclone rather than perfecting their breaststroke in a pool.
After a quick change, we headed out for tea at French-themed restaurant Cafe Rouge.
With the kids now a bit older, they were all over the Passion Fruitini and Tropical Fizz mocktails, while the grown-ups were more than happy with a glass of pinot and a beer.
Food-wise, we had smoked chilli prawns, chicken liver pate, Giarraffa olives and cheesy garlic sourdough flatbread for starters, before tucking into succulent Black Angus sirloin steak, duck confit and Evelyn’s favourite from the kids’ menu, sausages and mash.
The next day, after a bit of early morning running and biking, we explored the forest’s paths and the trails a bit more, before stopping off at Starbucks for lattes and Frappuccinos.
After lunch outside on the lodge patio and a second trip to the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, it was time for Rachel, Isla, Pam and Charlotte’s pre-booked session at Aqua Sana.
“Refreshed and rejuvenated”
The teenagers had never been to a full spa before, and their mums were quick to point out that there aren’t many as good as the recently named ‘Best Day Spa’ at the 2021 Good Spa Awards.
After relaxing in the Nordic Forest, Hot Springs, Volcanic Forest, Treetop Escape and Forest Immersion, Rachel was booked in for a Mind, Body and Soul treatment.
Starting with a full body brush exfoliation, she was then covered in body oil and lotion, before a scalp, neck, and shoulder massage, foot exfoliation and full-body massage.
I’m told it was “relaxing and invigorating” and Rachel was quickly on the internet looking up products that she had been recommended.
Before the girls arrived back, Steve, Evelyn and I ordered an Indian takeaway through the Rajinda Pradesh app.
A delicious selection of tandoori chicken, tikka masala, rogan josh, poppadum, nan breads and rice arrived on the dot, and after supper, there was still time for a few frames of pool and one last dip in the illuminated hot tub.
It was the perfect end to an amazing weekend with friends and family, and the seven of us were left refreshed and rejuvenated ahead of a new week at work and school.
With restrictions at home and abroad, it has been the year (or two years) of the staycation, and many people still feel uneasy about going on holiday, even in the UK.
Thankfully, that needn’t be the case at Center Parcs.
You can check-in online before you leave home, while the Parcs are cashless and paperless, slots can be pre-booked at the restaurants, pool and spa, and the daily housekeeping service has been paused (a replenishment pack was delivered to our lodge).
In addition, the familiar sights and sounds of Center Parcs ensured we never felt any anxiety, Covid or otherwise, in what has become our home from home over the years.
In fact, the only trepidation any of us experienced during the weekend was of a high-wire vertigo variety.
Richard Jones and his family were guests at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest who offer short breaks at a four-bedroomed Exclusive Lodge (sleeps eight) with outdoor spa area from £2199, based on dates in February 2022.
Go to centerparcs.co.uk or call 0344 826 7723
Center Parcs’ Book with Confidence guarantee, applies to breaks up to and including April 18, 2022, and means guests can cancel their break, receive a full refund, or move to another date, in the 11 weeks before their break if they are directly impacted by Covid, or if they simply change their mind.