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“Fantastic. Surpassed expectations! Can't wait to return”

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Center Parcs Whinfell Forest
Certificate of Excellence
newcastle
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Fantastic. Surpassed expectations! Can't wait to return”
Reviewed 25 January 2014

Just back from a lovely midweek stay at whinfell. I was so very impressed with all the staff at every activity we did, and from checkin to departure. People so genuine. They even noticed it was my fortieth birthday and sent complimentary chocolates and wine to the lodge on the day. The lodge was lovely. Beds comfy. Had everything we needed with added extra of a sauna which was a really treat. So relaxing and the big sofa was really comfortable. Onesies and movies every night after active days. Subtropical pool area fantastic. Kids disappeared for hours on end. Plenty of space to chill and relax. Horse riding recommended. Lovely experience even for us beginners. Half hour enough for young kids. Aerial adventure was amazing. Again staff were exemplary knowledgable and made all our experiences memorable. A must do for adults is aqua sana. So relaxing and well worth it!! Altogether a wonderful break. Starry skies, perfect setting, active holiday. Or just kick back and chill. Word of advice...If you bring or hire bikes, get your bearings before it gets dark as, once the sun goes down, navigating is tricky and we got lost several times!! Bring torches!! Enjoy! Thanks whinfell CP XXX

  • Stayed January 2014
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Helpful?
Thank carrieerin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Skipton, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
16 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 January 2014

This was our third year visit to the winter wonderland. We always stay in a modern lodge, which this year we took our dog. This break is as cheap or expensive as you want to make it. Fantastic for our 6 year old daughter. While we were there this year Mother Nature hit the country with strong winds and took down lots of trees on the site, which did mean that some of our activities were cancelled, but this was out of the hands of the staff on site, but refunds were forthcoming immediately. Can't really fault the staff or site and the indoor tropical pool is ace.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Simon H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Edinburgh
Level Contributor
93 reviews
47 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 January 2014

Clearly some people look out of their chalet window and think "Woo HOO, I'm in the woods". Sorry, but to my mind it's more like Milton Keynes with pine trees. The zillion acres of woodland is incredibly densely populated with street after tarmac street of little wooden chalets - except for one tiny, tiny segment of woodland near the Ranger's hut, apparently devoted to squirrels and organised nature hunts. There's no place to roam at all - you're fettered to tarmac roads and enclosed tarmac walkways. You can't wander because you'd be on someone's patio.

There is nothing peaceful or remote about this place. There is one tiny woodland path which doesn't abut the wooden chalets (about 5 minutes walk's worth) that leads to the Bird Hide. It is a real hide, but as you can see the road from it, it's hardly a remote spot to watch nature. They get round this by piling huge amounts of bird food in front of the hut - so yep, there are birds. I'm sure the hide is a bit neither here nor there - you could probably do line dancing in front of it, and they'd still be birds on the feeder - but hey ho... you'll either think it's great, or not.

Also bear in mind that diesel service vehicles continue to use the roads all week, and without any enclosed outdoor space you need to be mindful of small children as there is nowhere safe to play outside your chalet.

We stayed in a new style woodland chalet - quite comfy, clean and stylish. It says they have real fires - however, you are only allowed to burn flamefast firelogs - £5 each on site, or £1 from Home Bargains - so do stock up if you are planning on a fire! I had never heard of them before - basically you light the wrapper, and it ignites a bit like a disposable bbq. It gives off an impressive flame, to be fair, but zero heat. The whole thing then smoulders away to nothing. So you'll either think it is great - or like me, you'll wonder why anyone bothers with a fire that you can't build, prod or poke, which gives off absolutely no heat at all.

They push the cycle hire at you - the bikes aren't especially good, just pricey and the distances across the park are tiny... it really isn't that big, so there is no need to cycle anyway. It is certainly no quicker, as the tarmac roads and walkways are busy with pedestrians. Unless you enjoy cycling slowly past little wooden chalets, I wouldn't bother.

There is a real lack of choice in terms of dining out - or rather there is tons of choice if you like microwaveable meals. Cafe Rouge, the Pancake Place, papa's pizza and so on abound... the knock on issue is the quality of the public spaces... I don't mind having a coffee in Starbucks if I'm waiting for a train, but that and the other standardised chains aren't exactly comfortable relaxed surroundings to be on holiday in... well they don't drip charm and relaxation as far I'm concerned.

If you are going to self-cater, you'll need to bring everything with you. The Park supermarket is more like a corner store (eg no fresh meat, limited fruit and veg) and everything sells at a HUGE premium to regular supermarkets.

We found the rules and penny pinching a bit of a downer. Our mid range 2 bed chalet ranges from £250 for a 4 night midweek stay up to a whopping £900 for 4 nights midweek in August. So imagine our surprise to find that they won't replenish toilet roll, and leave a sachet of single use washing up liquid! They also leave an envelope and price list to pay for breakages - £2 for a wine glass - £3.50 for a cheap white dinner plate. Surely the odd breakage is something that most hotels and restaurants just accept? Despite not letting you into your accommodation until 3.30pm and wanting you out by 10am, they also expect you to strip the beds, put all the crockery etc back in the cupboard and empty all the rubbish. I've rented a fair number of cottages and apartments, and I can safely say no one, nowhere in the world, has ever asked us to strip beds, except in a YHA - and it's certainly not what you'd expect when you're paying up to £225 per night, is it?

Oh yeah, and it's £2 to rent a towel in the pool... and 20p to use the spinner for your costume. Per costume that is - I kid you not!

The real downer for us though was (and this is the total killer) was that we found it just a tweeny weeny bit boring. 4 days there with my husband and wee girl, and we'd had enough... I am sure a week would have tipped us over the edge. There are very few free things to do on the site. The waterpark is the highlight - and it is good fun - rapids, slides, flumes, waves, baby pool... the first day we went we had a great time... but how many times do you really want to go swimming - by day 4 it was really wearing thin.

The only other free activities were 2 playgrounds. I was sort of expecting to be wowed - but you won't be. Neither are especially good - sort of municipal park standard - nothing special at all. The only other free things to are walk around the tarmac roads peering at other people's chalets or go feed the ducks... or did I mention the Bird Hide?

There are however loads and loads of chargeable activities - however they are pricey and the standard of tuition seems quite poor. For example - cupcake decorating, lasted 1 hour 10 mins and cost £23. It's not exactly brain surgery, but I was expecting to be taught by someone who knew how to decorate cakes. Hmmm... the class was taken by a nice lass, who told me she'd originally worked in the call centre, but was now mainly a nursery nurse. She had been taught rote style to decorate 6 cupcakes and she could demonstrate how to do it. She also did hair braiding, face painting and a range of other stuff. I mean - it wasn't terrible - but c'mon... they ran the course at a table in Bella Italia out of hours... so 8 people brings in £184 per course... so I reckon that our "tutor" must have been on about £7.50 an hour tops... c'mon CentreParcs, you could have run to a proper baker, couldn't you?

Ditto - music for under 5s.. OK, I was expecting someone with a bit of talent, who would interact with the kids for my £7 - maybe even a guitar - but instead we had an affable teenager who played a CD and encouraged us to dance along to the hokey cokey.

Ditto Little Hawkers - there was a Hawk called Bob.. he flew about a bit.. but it felt like the sort of activity that you usually bump into at a castle in the summer - not something that should have cost £19.
Beware too that things like access to the spa pool and sauna, which would usually be included in most hotel stays, are extras here too.

So basically, if you like sitting around a pool for a long, long time, and you want to do that most days... and you enjoy low key planned activities run by "Red Coats" you'll like CenterParcs. For me, it was boring, repetitive and lacking in WOW. It's sort of neither one thing or another... you could have been anywhere... and pretty much all the activities are stuff I could have taken part in within a mile of my house - for less money - and my own fire burns proper wood too.

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank EdinburghSusan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sharon_Center_Parcs, Guest Services Executive at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, responded to this review, 28 January 2014
The concept of Center Parcs to provide family holidays in a natural forest environment and I am genuinely sorry if your visit to Whinfell Forest did not meet with your expectations. Although we do have a high volume of returning guests, we do acknowledge that Center Parcs is not for everyone. We do however thank you for sharing your observations on your stay, as we do value feedback from all of our guests.

Kind regards
Sharon Press
Guest Services Executive
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Barcelona, Spain
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 January 2014

Just returned from a great week at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, we arrived on the Monday and were directed to the drive through check in. Within 10 minutes we had completed this and headed to our lodge (21 Seven Pines). Level of cleanliness was excellent apart from the odd plate which looked as though it hadn't been cleaned properly but not a problem it was easily washed.

Facilities were excellent especially the sub tropical swimming pool. The only downside was the cost of eating out at Whinfell. We decided to eat in for 2 nights, and took our own food and ate out the other 2 nights offsite though. I think if the prices were a bit cheaper to eat onsite we would have done without a problem. We did have one problem one night with the dishwasher, we phoned guest services and they sent someone straight away the morning after. All the staff were friendly and did the upmost to make sure you had a great trip.

I would defiantly recommend one of the refurbished lodges especially the Executive lodge which we had. We also booked the Birds of prey experience activity, this was really informative and was well worth the money.

Overall a fantastic stay and will defiantly be returning in the near future.

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Chris123421
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
glasgow
Level Contributor
11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 January 2014

Nice place although weather not great during our visit didn't do any activities as short break plus felt were a bit expensive for family things lodges are nice and clean nice break probably return again food was quite basic but bit expensive for quality pub type food provably didn't see much as arrived late Friday and only stayed til Sunday check in and out straight forward all in all nice wee break indoor pool was great could spend hours in there out door slide great even though it was January pools are heating good fun for kids and adults

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank reillyrosie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Preston, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
33 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 January 2014

excellent break yet again had by myself and family. brilliant lodge location in bilberry wood again - ideal for all areas of the forest. spent more time than usual in the swimming pools and in the village centre this break and was perfect. kids could of stayed in the pools all day. did many walks round the forest too on the bike and on foot - perfect location for both indoor and outdoor activities and at anytime of year. Lodge ideal and so warm and cosy - had 3 wonderful nights in. had all facilities you needed. already booked for the winter wonderland in november - definately recommend going at this time of year - magical for both children and adults!

Room Tip: Bilberry wood ideal for families
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank susanne b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Corby, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 January 2014

Hugely disappointing that a reputable organisation like Center Parcs cannot deal with a serious complaint. I finally managed to get hold of a manager at Whinfell after having gone through the torturous process of dealing with a centralised complaints call centre. I explained that we had had a good family holiday in one of their ‘exclusive’ lodges with a hot tub during half term October 2013. I expressed my deep concern that I had contracted ‘hot tub’ Folliculitis from their poorly serviced hot tub (at least this is the opinion of the GP who saw me 3 times over a 4 week period). All I asked from them was an assurance that they would do appropriate and regular servicing of their hot tubs in future. I looked up the appropriate regulations and recommendations for hot tub servicing and read it out to them. During our stay there was no proper cleaning only sterilising tabs popped into the water. Folliculitus is absolute hell. GPs find it hard to match the right antibiotics. It results in horrible scabby patches on your head and agonising head aches due to the inflammation. In making my complaint I was not at all interested in pecuniary gain. What I wanted was for all adults and particularly all children to be able to safely use Center Parcs hot tubs. It is now months later and I have not even had a courtesy follow up letter. My opinion is that they are so afraid of litigious clients they daren’t offer a basic apology and this is very disappointing.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Margy W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sharon_Center_Parcs, Guest Services Executive at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, responded to this review, 28 January 2014
I am very sorry to read of your illness and regret that my colleagues who you spoke to have not fully addressed your concerns. We do have a dedicated Guest Services team at Center Parcs Head Office, who we ask that you contact with any concerns you may have following a stay, and I am sorry if you were not directed to them at the time of contacting us.

I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that we do take all aspects of health and safety seriously. With regards to the Hot Tubs, water samples are taken and checked 3 times a day, with each tub being fully drained and deep cleaned on change over days.

As I have said, I am sorry that your concerns have not been fully addressed and would ask that you contact the Guest Services team via the “Need Help?” section on our website and we will be happy to resolve any ongoing concerns you may have.

We look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Kind regards
Sharon Press
Guest Services Executive
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Center Parcs Whinfell Forest

Property: Center Parcs Whinfell Forest
Address: Whinfell Forest, Penrith CA10 2DW, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Cumbria > Lake District > Eden District > Penrith
Amenities:
Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 23 Speciality Lodging in Penrith
Hotel Class:5 star — Center Parcs Whinfell Forest 5*
Number of rooms: 20
Also Known As:
Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Hotel Penrith
Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Penrith, Cumbria

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