Two in There!

it costs how much?!
September 10, 2009, 11:44 am
Filed under: 1

Staring at my now tea-speckled computer screen, agog, I can barely believe my eyes.


six hundred and nine pounds. for four nights. midweek.

And that’s the bog-standard, 4 walls and a roof offering, with only the most basic amenities to equip you for your stay. And they have the bloody cheek to call it comfort’ accommodation. The middle of the road offerings between £749 and £949 depending on how fluffy you like your towels, whether you prefer the convenience of a hairdryer, and the option of a brick bbq, which lets face it in the middle of English spring, is not likely to be overworked. The top of the range lodge is £2099, which you would hope came complete with self-making beds and a golden goose, but alas no. You’d be forgiven for assuming that we’re planning some extravagant respite somewhere, mingling with the upper echelons of british society, however the reality is this is the cost of a short break at centre parcs.  I wonder if they call it a break due to the detrimental affect on your poor bank account?

Being spurred on by the effects of the recession and the resurrection of the good old fashioned British staycation, we’ve been mooting the idea of a few days at centre parcs with some friends of ours. Little did I know we’d need to sell our organs on the black market to afford a ‘wee break’. How could one possibly enjoy four days in Cumbria when it’s costing so bloody much? In four short days I know I’d feel compelled to squeeze every ounce of worth out of my stay, biking at dawn, kayaking at lunch, abseiling in after tea. I’d need a holiday at the end of it just to get over the stress of having to get my money’s worth!

Shocked, I raise my concerns with my other half who chews over this new information for a few moments before offering up this gem:

” If money’s the concern then you’d be best looking at Haven. Centreparcs is like Sainsburys;  people pay more to not have to mix with boiled-sweet eating idiots,  that wear rangers tops for the duration of the holiday and piss-and-moan when they cant find a copy of the daily record. Thats the beauty of it.”

“That said, kids would have fun if you took them to a skip for a fortnight.”

It’s true that centreparcs is perhaps the top-end of British holiday parks (if they’ll even allow us to refer to them as that), but it’s something that’s geared at the demographic we find ourselves wandering aimlessly in; 20/30 something professionals, and their young children. Granted, you get some bang for your buck in terms of ratio of  activities in close approximation to your locale, but still – can we really justify it? I mean, that’s in Cumbria; that’s barely even in England!

It’s at this point that my mind starts wandering.  For that money, in fact, less than that money,  we could have a week in a delightful little gite in the South of France, with its own pool, and microcosm of all things wonderful and French. There would be wine, cheese, and pastries-a-plenty.  Sunshine, and no doubt that wonderful joie-de-vivre that comes with surveying your delightful surrounds and truly feeling like you’ve gotten away from it all,  included in the price. Weighed up against the possibility of spending a dreich four days, quite possibly in wellies, tromping through the countryside and marvelling at acorns and rabbit poo, it seems infinitely the better choice.

The little gite on the banks of the Dordogne comes with no kids clubs and no plethora of pre-arranged outdoor pursuits. This doesn’t phase me; instead there are numerous little villes et villages to explore, not to mention Bergerac, Bordeaux and St. Emillion, heart of wine country to enjoy, complete with bustling markets and every other french stereotype us brits enjoy so much. At this point it sounds like heaven to me.


It’s then pointed out to me that as this would be a self-catering holiday, as centreparcs would be, I’d be doing the exact same things I do at home; the very things you’re supposed to go on holiday to escape.  Suddenly, a wave of unwelcome images start infecting my beautiful French daydream; shouting about the mess, picking up after everyone, spending the day trying to manoeuvre buggies through cobbled streets and through pokey shop doors,  and collapsing into my bed at barely gone 10pm from the sheer exhaustion of entertaining a brood of under threes and doing everything for them.  This is not what I want to think about.

“Bagsy not entertaining the kids”

Well, we could always just put them in a dinghy on the Dordogne, with a packed lunch and a distress flare, no?

Sod it, maybe we’ll just book an all-inclusive week in benidorm, and spend a week in the sun, mingling with all the other day-glo pink brits, wondering where it all went wrong.


2 Comments so far
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I would strongly advise the gite, but add in some grandparents to play with the kids and share domestic stuff. That’s what we did in July (they also paid for it!) and it was absolutely fantastic. Rosemary (almost 3 at the time) loved the garden and the pool and we did various outings – beach twice, Mont St Michel, Enchanted Village (quite basic and quaint theme park), Bayeux tapestry (she didn’t like that one), Normandy beaches (she enjoyed going down into the bunkers and running along between the craters; I hated it, too much walking and just very depressing.

All that said, I have friends who swear by Centre Parcs and go at least once a year, if not twice.

The other French possibility is the big campsites. Lots of on-site entertainment – big parks, pools, etc. – and lots of other children to play with right there, which takes a lot of the stress out of entertaining the children. (Haven’t done this ourselves, but again have friends who swear by it.)

And you could always bite the bullet and go for Butlins. It’s supposed to be moving upmarket – did you see all the parent bloggers’ reviews of the fancy new spa hotel in Bognor?

But regardless of where you go, I would definitely recommend taking grandparents or aunts and uncles who can play with the children while you get a chance to relax a bit. Especially if you’re going to have twins on board by this point!

Good luck!

Comment by Coding Mamma

Roping the grandparents in is a fantastic idea, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have to put too much effort into persuading my parents to tag along; the sunny climes and foody delights would quite possibly do that all on their own!

Though it’s an entirely new area for us; holidaying with the parents – I imagine to childless couples this sounds like their worst nightmare, but as a busy mum and overworked dad the idea of babysitters on tap sounds like heaven!

I have however discovered the elusive centreparcs bargain – it would seem that in order to get a good deal you need to venture into the European villages. We can get the same holiday we’d priced at CP belgium for £331 for the five of us. Land of frites, chocolate and fruit beers, married with a cheap holiday, might just be onto a winner there!

Comment by twointhere

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