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“Our amazing family holiday with our autistic daughter”

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Center Parcs Woburn Forest
Certificate of Excellence
Witney, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
69 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Our amazing family holiday with our autistic daughter”
Reviewed 8 August 2014

First of all a general review of the fantastic new Center Parcs and then a few tips and bits of information for families with an autistic family member that might be useful.

We've been to other Center Parcs in the past and we've always had an amazing family holiday, this was no exception. We arrived for early check in and got through the gates with only about half an hour queue and went straight to our accommodation which was great, all very comfortable and well-appointed and the free wifi throughout Woburn was very useful.

From there straight down to the swimming pool which was amazing, we were in it for at least 5 hours per day and the children would have happily stayed for longer. Particular mention to the amazing staff in the swimming pool (and elsewhere) who were all helpful, friendly and looked like they loved their jobs. These staff are a fantastic asset to Center Parcs, particular mention to Jono who ran the aquajetting course my 8 year old son went on (recommended). The wrist bands were very convenient for the lockers and for buying snacks in the pool.

Now for the bits that might be useful for families with autistic members. My daughter Jessica is 6 and at 1.2 metres tall she was able to go on all the rides which was fantastic. She is non-verbal but the main challenge we currently face is that she doesn't perceive any danger of being separated from us so, to allow her to play freely, we are always checking routes in and out of an area so that we can monitor her whilst giving her a bit of space to roam. She doesn't have issues with loud noises or busy environments and can cope with unfamiliar settings. It is worth mentioning that she is very confident in the water and doesn't require buoyancy aids which means she was able to go down the rapids. CP will not allow children to go down the rapids unless they can swim without floats so bear this in mind if your child needs them to avoid disappointment, the same could be said for the height requirements on the slides. Some are 1.1m, others 1.2m, so worth checking to avoid getting to the top and being turned away.

One of the pleasant surprises was that we hardly had to queue for any of the slides, even on the change over days. I think this was because there were so many different areas in the pool with loads of things to do so it never felt busy and it was always easy to find a seat.

There's a great play area in the pool for children with no height requirements and 3 or 4 great little water slides called Venture Harbour which was a real hit with Jess and also her older brother who is 8. Their 2 year old cousin enjoyed it too. My one criticism is that it first looks like an ideal space to "control" as it's all fenced in however there is a small exit to the rear of the area leading to the outside area of the pool. It was possible to keep an eye on this but it did make it harder to allow Jess the sort of free play she likes without having to watch her every second.
I had a similar issue with the playground attached to "Hucks" restaurant, on arrival I did my usual inspection of the area and despite my huge experience in this area I completely missed a second gate into the playground. I thought I had the only way in or out covered only to subsequently look up to see that Jess was making a run for it and was already 200 metres ahead of me!
In the accommodation patio doors and the front doors could not be key locked from the inside but one would expect this, in addition one window only can be fully opened (the rest have retainers on them). The front door did however have a chain on the inside positioned up high which stopped Jess escaping that way.
For peace of mind my wife slept in a room with Jess and we used a Howsar portable door lock to lock the door from the inside. £6 well spent on the Howsar! Sure Jess could have disassembled it but once it was on she just settled in for the night instead. A couple of portable door alarms might have been useful but it was easy enough to keep an eye on her during the day.
All in all a very autism friendly place, I appreciate the challenges vary from one person to another but we found it easy to have an amazing family holiday that we all enjoyed.
I should also mention that CP quickly responded to my requests for information and were able to accommodate us on a couple of things we needed.
All in all an amazing family holiday and one that really worked for us a family. We'll be back next year.

Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
7 Thank GJJ09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 August 2014 via mobile

We were first timers to Center parcs came as whole family 2 executive lodges for family ranging from 7-68. On arrival we queued for ages to get into the car park which was a pain , once in we parked up and wandered around till we could go to our lodge at 3pm. Lodges were lovely no complaints and luckily we paid extra to be in the middle as the hills are big specially on your bikes will small kids. First night we ate in sports cafe, man serving us was lovely but didn't have a clue, we waited ages for food and when it arrived was tad cold but we were starving so ate it should have complained as cost £180 ( for 11 ...6 adults 5 kids)!! Activitys were fab but expensive kids tried most of them and was lovely to see them enjoying it so much,must say Richard was fab with the kids laser shooting he made it really fun!!! We also ate in Hucks and strada both ok better than sports cafe but lacked any sort of atmosphere. Swimming pool was packed but kids loved it, lots of little teething problems with the rapids kids getting off cut and bruised although didn't seem to put mine or any others off going back. Worst part for me was the constant smell of sewage and the pumping machines as u walked up the hill to our lodge was nice weather so smell
Just lingered !!! Also bikes and people walked on the same little paths were lots of little accidents!!! Speaking to others they have said the other centre parcs are much better I have nothing to compare it to!!! Kids enjoyed it and want to go back so that's all that really matters for me!!!

  • Stayed August 2014
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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1 Thank lottielay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ampthill, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 August 2014

Stayed in Center Parcs Woburn in two bed exec lodge.
Lodge was all new and very well equipped. Dishwasher, microwave, wine fridge, fridge with freezer compartment. All well chosen and good quality but obviously the fridge eases customers toward eating out or shopping daily. Maid service was first rate.
Beds very comfortable but lodge was very warm in the 29c summer heat we experienced. Guess with the open fire it will be cosy in winter.
Wifi seemed reliable and made booking activities easy.
Bike hire is a must to get around quickly and is fast and efficient.
The restaurants were ok if not too exciting and the whole park site was staffed with really friendly and helpful staff which is a positive bonus.
The pool is exciting for kids and adults alike but lacks any cooler calm spots to just relax. Those with deeper pockets may find sanctuary in the hotel Aqua Sana, but we have no experience.
On the whole a week was enough for the adults but the kids loved it.

Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
2 Thank Trevorgent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Berkshire, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed 7 August 2014

We could not had picked a better weekend to go only downside was that the lodge was very hot we had two bad night sleep no aircon or fans to help. Only advice take a fan if the weather is warm other then that we could not fault the facilities staff or food.

Defo recommend the spa amazing however do pre book treatments we had already done so online.

When we wanted to do a couple more activities they were already booked up or not suitable times due to our other activities already being booked before hand online so it's a must to book or your miss out. Target archery was fun, fab staff!

Try the 4 person water slide amazing I'm not even a water slide person loads off fun but not for the faint hearted lol.

Do take your bikes or even hire them don't forget a padlock I've never seen so many bikes but we had so much fun as a family from 7years-38years.

Worth every penny memories that will be treasured and a birthday I shall not forget.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank paulbennett150
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
linda_pike, Guest Services Executive at Center Parcs Woburn Forest, responded to this review, 8 August 2014
Hi there thank you for taking the time to post your lovely review.

I was delighted to hear that you have memories of your family holiday at Woburn Forest that you will treasure forever.

We wish you a belated happy birthday and hope to see you again soon.

Kind regards
Linda Pike
Guest Services Executive
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oxford, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 August 2014

Just returned from a 3 night weekend break at the new Centre Parcs in Woburn and had a fantastic time! I agree with others that it could do with a bit longer for all the trees to grow etc but this did not distract from our time here. We stayed in the hotel and our room was perfect, lovely patio area, very comfy beds and clean much better than the accommodation at Longleat. My only grip was there were not enough plugs next to any mirrors for hair appliances.

We hired bikes and used them all the time although as the hotel is very centrally located we probably didn't need them but we just enjoyed cycling from one place to another. The swimming pool was great fun and the wrist bands worked well for the lockers and for getting in and out of our accommodation.

I took my 15 year old daughter so we booked the 3 hour spa experience which was just amazing, there are loads of different rooms to try plus water beds and a pool which overlooks the lake, we went from 6-9pm and watched as the sun went down from the pool which was lovely.

I couldn't have wished for a better few days :-)

Room Tip: We stayed in room 2 in the hotel which was excellent, its on the ground floor but has easy access to...
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Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
1 Thank AdrenalinJunkie22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nottingham, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 August 2014

Had a three day break with the family but it was still being developed and had a digger spraying out soil over the patio they did offer to rehouse us when we complained but the alternative accommodation wasn't in such a nice location as the one we had chosen so we stayed put
They sent round a bottle of Cava as an apology - most of the restaurants are excellent but the diner is atrocious service non existent asked twice for a glass of wine which never arrived and the place was empty!
Major complaint was I had to hire a buggy as I'd torn a cartilage and because the majority of the houses are up steps it's impossible to get up to the door the ramp the have built alongside the steps isn't even wide enough for a pushchair nor very disable friendly and you have yo be a fit family to carry pushchairs or cycles up the ramp
Not thought about air conditioning after the summer we had it was desperately needed

Room Tip: Look for houses close the the pool area
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
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2 Thank Kathy B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 5 Contributor
66 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 August 2014 via mobile

Never been as excited about a holiday, but as nice as this new place is, it has a litany of ill thought out issues.
Subtropical 'Paradise'- massively flawed. It's been well documented that it's dark inside, there are no Jacuzzi pools or actual swimming areas, the steps to the rides will wear many people out after a while and the wave area is small, shallow and crowded.
The pathways esp. near the Pancake House, Plaza etc: what a mess! Far too narrow and a danger to all. Pedestrians & cyclists bumping into each other and so few areas for cyclists to do any real riding at this v. small centerparcs. They should put lane lines down or signage to prevent a major accident. We regretted bringing the bikes.
The Lake: not a lake at all, more of a pond. Would never hire a kayak etc here, a waste of money.
Restaurants: Best food = Strada.
Smallest portions = Strada.
Most are overpriced, but unashamedly catering to the London/Essex/South brigade.
Service in restaurants tends to be slow, by far the worst was the Pancake House.
If you haven't been to a C/P before, you would think this was 5/5 but it's so deficient compared to the other parks it's unbelievable. With a clean slate they have managed to take a big step back.
Good points:
Villa - v. nice, tho some complaints about lack of privacy though.
Housekeeping: stars of the show, the real workers at the village.
The activities were good, though the expense racks up!
Aqua Sana simply awesome.
Food generally good, except a rough omelette from the quite grimy Pancake House.
Staff in shops etc friendly & helpful.

Overall, we had a nice holiday but won't be returning to this village, I'd advise going to one of the others.

Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
4 Thank jussafax
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Center Parcs Woburn Forest

Property: Center Parcs Woburn Forest
Address: Woburn Forest | Millbrook, Bedford MK45 2HZ, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Bedfordshire > Bedford
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 11 Speciality Lodging in Bedford
Hotel Class:5 star — Center Parcs Woburn Forest 5*
Also Known As:
Center Parcs Woburn Forest Bedford, Bedfordshire

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