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“Go to Elvedon instead”

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Center Parcs Woburn Forest
Certificate of Excellence
Cambridge, England
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Go to Elvedon instead”
Reviewed 19 August 2014

We have been to all the Center Parcs over the past 15 years, mainly Elvedon. The new Woburn Village promised so much and delivered well below expectations. First the plusses:

i) Wristbands - brilliant! They are waterproof and you wear them all the time as your villa key and for the pool lockers. You can get extra wristbands for £2.

ii) Queues to get to the villas much less than Elvedon where when the gates open at 3pm you can often wait ages to get out of the car park. Seemed to work better here - we went to the car park at 3.15 to drive to the villa and were out of the car park within 5 mins. Really good.

iii) Excellent free Wifi in our villa

Now the negatives:

i) Villas - we paid through the nose for an Executive Games Lodge. Both front and rear patio areas are completely roofed preventing light entering the villa downstairs - it was very dark and gloomy even on a sunny day. The villa was completely overlooked on all sides - even to the extent that our bedroom window looked straight into the bedroom next door.

ii) Lack of wild animals - this might improve as time goes on, but the villas are close together so there was a lack of sense of being 'amongst nature' - the woodland area was not near our villa

iii) Subtropical Swimming Paradise - I was amazed to hear it is on a larger footprint than Elvedon as the Woburn space felt very claustrophobic. The wave pool is small and shallow with high walls - not pleasant at all. The designers seem to have prioritised concrete walkways and hard landscaping and the whole thing feels unwelcoming and claustrophobic. Elvedon's pool wins hands down. The rides and rapids are good but no better than Elvedon apart from the boat vortex which was excellent.

iv) Sports Plaza - again some poorly thought out designs - the badminton courts face a high strip of bright window in which players completely lose sight of the shuttlecock. The squash/racketball courts have a back wall which stops at the court height so balls continuously hurtle through the gap into the main sports area. Doh.

v) Restaurants - Strada pizzas are nice and I recommend the Shearings fish pie but overall the meals were overpriced and mediocre. We were particularly disappointed at the Sports Cafe when we went for our last night treat of ice cream sundaes - the portions were mean and not at all like the picture on the menu. No need for that Center Parcs!

BEWARE - if you book a table at a restaurant in advance and pay the £5 deposit per head, this is NON-REFUNDABLE even if you try to cancel several days in advance.

vi) Laundry - there are no laundry facilities and the charge for a service wash is £8.50 for a carrier bag of washing. Pretty steep given there is no alternative (we went for a week).

vi) Guest Services - I got passed from pillar to post and back again several times trying to resolve an issue. There seems to be a strict hierarchy with little delegation so you constantly have to wait for the right level of management to be available to deal with your issue. Frustrating and old fashioned.

Room Tip: If you can select a villa, choose one on the outside of the village so you have more chance of being...
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank windymillar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Oxford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
23 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 August 2014

Having stayed at some of Center Parcs other sites on a number of occasions it was nice to visit the new member of the family.

The site had the usual Center Parcs feel and same restaurants etc so it felt familiar straight away. The park is well laid out and felt less crowded than some of the other sites especially in the restaurant areas.

As an adult group I would not bother hiring bikes next time as nowhere is more than a 10 minute walk so there really is no need. We went for a bike ride around the site but had covered its entirety within 20 minutes including the steep hills. These are really short by the way so people moaning should maybe consider getting a bit fitter!

The thing that really impressed us were the staff. Every member of staff was friendly, polite and smiled! The site is new and clearly the staff are all fresh and not jaded but the right people have clearly been recruited. The management team must work hard to maintain this excellent customer service as it really was some of the best experienced en masse.

Only one minor gripe and that is that the main pool is not large enough to swim in. Having said that the pool in the Aqua spa is and after all that is aimed at Adults.

Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
3 Thank Mount_of_Joy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Yatton, England, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 August 2014

We arrived at Woburn Forest and first impressions were good..

We entered our accommodation at 3pm and it had been cleaned really badly. Ice cream dripping from the freezer, black hair in the bathroom, rotting wet towel's in the wardrobe, food in the kitchen shelves, mould in the saucepan, thick dust on the tables, bath, everywhere...dried food on the dining chairs (oh, don't move any of the furitiure as you will find lots of food, wrappers and a sprinkling of dust..) steam room not cleaned..I could go on but you get the picture..

We had booked an Executive 3 Bedroom Lodge for a whopping £1800 for 4 nights (self catering)..

I rang Guest Services at 3.05pm - phone took ages to be answered and got cut off twice! After a lot of explaining I got a call back from a "manager", I asked them to move us and they said they would look into it. They also said they would assemble a cleaning team and be there straight away just in case....4.30pm - the cleaning team finally show up. I ask about moving and finally at 5pm they admit they cannot move us...6pm - a team of 4, yes 4 cleaners having spent a total of 6 hours cleaning our accommodation leave.. we are finally all able to come out from one of the bedrooms where we have been holed up while they cleaned.

I informed Anne (Manager No1) that I was very unhappy and being a very loyal customer of Center Parcs felt my families first day of their holiday had been ruined. I asked for the duty manager to contact me to resolve this issue. Manager No2 calls - Helen from Guest Relations and offers me £120 of vouchers to use at Centerparcs - I kindly decline the offer and inform her I am fed up of visiting Centerparcs and having issues with unclean accommodation, broken appliances and a general poor state of the accommodation. She then has the cheek to turn around and say it was only 3 hours your family was inconvenienced and she thought that was a good offer - Great customer service Helen! I asked again to speak with the duty manager - a while later Rebecca (Maanger No3) called - she was a duty manager! - I spent another 15 minutes explaining this sorry saga for the 4th time! She was apologetic and asked what she could do to resolve the matter - I told her I wanted the first day refunding (knowing for well that Centerparcs do not refund a single penny of money - the best you will get is £20 - £50 of vouchers to spend at Centerparcs.

She said she could not authorise this and had to speak to, you guessed it...Manager No4 - their title was a "Duty Line Manager" apparently there are 6 of them at Centerparcs! About an hour later Helen (Duty Manager) called me back and informed me that she had spoken to the Duty Line Manager who said they could not refund the first day and that the offer of £120 in GV was more than acceptable for a complaint of this type..She said would you like to accept these vouchers (normally we would as by this point you are giving up the will to live) but I said no!!! The surprise on her voice was worth every penny..."I can drop them around if you like Mr Perry" - shame she did not want to look at the state of the accommodation I was expected to put my family in..

The park is actually very nice, the new facilites are a welcome change to the other Centerparcs but it is small, very, very, very expensive, and I'm sorry to say overpriced and not worth the money.

There also appears to be a lack of staff - the cleaning seemed very rushed, there are big queues to rent bikes and big queues at some of the restaurants?

I was expecting great things of Woburn Forest as it only opened in June and the standards to be very high, but no, they are way off the mark..

We normally use Longleat Center Parcs and noticed over the last 2-3 years that the standards were slipping and prices rising very fast but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

An interested point - All the other Centerparcs have a Tripadvisor link on their home page. If you look at the poor feedback you will see there is a personal response to every complaint by a member of guest relations....Now take a look at Woburn Forest - there is no link on the home page. If you look on Tripadviser, you will see why - the feedback people are leaving over past few weeks is really poor and surprise, surprise there is no personal response by a member of guest relations.

I informed the Duty Manager that we stay at Centerparcs at least 4 times a year, spending over £5000 a year - they are simply not interested and every response seems to be from the training manual...

News flash- attempted to fry some bacon this morning - no frying pan - asked for a new one at 9am - now 12.15pm and still waiting!!!!!

In summary, if you have not booked, I would wait at least 12 months and see if it improves, if you have booked - good luck - you are going to need it!

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank Antony P
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, 26 August 2014
Thank you for taking such time and trouble to review your recent holiday with us.

It is really disappointing to hear that your accommodation was not cleaned in readiness for your arrival. This is clearly not acceptable and I would like to offer our sincere apologies that this was not resolved to your satisfaction quickly and easily.

I was also concerned to read your comments with regard to Trip Advisor. Having looked into this I can confirm that the inclusion of a link has been overlooked on the page you refer to as initially we were waiting for reviews to come through. Please feel sure that we invite each and every guest to write a review following their stay through a link from our Guest Questionnaire, however this oversight should have been rectified some time ago.

I would like to thank you for bringing your Trip Advisor concerns to our attention and I am pleased to confirm following your review our website has been changed. I genuinely hope that this demonstrates that we do care and changes are often made following reviews such as yours.

Finally, I would like to reassure you that I personally listen and respond to guest reviews in-line with the other villages however it does concern me that you cannot see my responses as they are evident.

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
Chelmsford, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed 19 August 2014

Having been regulars to Elveden for the last 10 years my family thought that we should try the new one for a change.

First impressions were mixed. We went to have a look around the new plaza. Felt like a shopping centre! But really Well done. The sports cafe is completely different, looked like an airport lounge or a service station. You wouldn't want hang around there to long. We weren't 100% sure on this as there wasn't much of an atmosphere unlike Elveden as it is the hub there. But the food was excellent as always.

Village square looked fantastic, really well done. But yet again no vibe as probably due to the plaza being down other end. The lake I have to agree it is like a pond, Starbucks is the same.

Now for swimming, this could be the changing point for us going to Woburn instead of Elveden. Changing rooms lovely and clean and less congested, showers? Some are cold, some are nice. Wave pool is much much smaller than Elveden, bit dangerous in the waves. No outside pool or hot pools-disappointing. Pool temperature was cold even getting in and out(rapids) always felt a chill. Rapids were very disappointing. Lazy river was ok, flumes were really fun and enjoyable. Food in the cafe was excellent. Overall me and my family didn't enjoy the swimming as much as we do at Elveden.

Our room was very clean and modern in which we expected. Double glazed windows! which is even better!

The food was very good especially in Hucks and Dexters!
Overall the staff are very kind and helpful especially the activity staff! Village is very good and impressive. Would we go back? Maybe but Elveden will always be first choice!

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Olly W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Suffolk
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 August 2014

Like others, I was really concerned reading some of the negative reviews on here before our stay. However I really needn't have been worried. I've come to the conclusion that everybody's ideas and expectations of their holiday will be different, but here is mine!

Arrival
We were greeted by a very helpful lady at lodge arrivals who have us every piece of info we needed. Car parking was easy and so was the walk to the centre.

Accommodation
We stayed in one of the 2 storey games room villa virtually opposite the village square. The lodge was absolutely spotless and had everything we needed. We had a lovely lady who came and serviced our lodge every day and she done an amazing job. Phone signal and wifi was very strong in our lodge. Although the lodge was opposite the village square, we never had a problem with noise from outside as the lodge was very well insulated. We didn't have a problem with our lodge being too hot like others did, but then there are heating thermostats in every room that can be turned down which we did!

Restaurants
We ate at quite a few restaurants. I have to say that I wasn't expecting a lot after some of the reviews about bad service. All I can say is I'm not sure they were on the same holiday as us! Hucks-really lovely food and brilliant customer service, so good we ate twice in the week. Same goes for Strada and Rajinda Paresh. Considering we stayed in peak season, I don't think we waited over 20 minutes for any of our meals (we booked tables around 6pm). We visited the Sports Bar a few times for rounds of drinks but cannot say we had to wait more than 5 mins to be served on any occasion. Yes drinks are expensive but we expected that anyway.

General
Yes this center parcs is smaller than the others, but I believe to enjoy people really must stop comparing it to others. Treat it as it's own entity. It may be smaller but it had every activity that any other center parcs I've been to had. Yes the swimming area is smaller, but my 3 children didn't have an issue, and between using the swimming area/wave pool, alongside the various slides and rides and lazy river and rapids etc they had a great time. I have to say the changing rooms and shower areas are definitely better maintained and so much cleaner than the ones at Elveden. Customer service I feel is much stronger here (maybe because they want to impress as it's all new), but this lacks at other parks. I didn't encounter any member of staff who wasn't happy doing their job, and all were so much more pleasant than at other parks. There are some lodges which are on the hills, but everything in the centre is on the flat. We went for a walk around the park one day and didn't find issues with the hills. I can see why those with a limited mobility would struggle but those moaning just for the sake of moaning are obviously not aware the world is not flat and would be boring if it were!

Overall we had a fantastic weeks stay here. Yes it was expensive but we knew that before we booked. The area was lovely, so clean and new everywhere. Yes it is smaller than other parks but that's nice in one way as you don't have so far to walk to get to everything, especially getting back to your lodge in the evenings. Customer service was top notch in all areas, much better than other parks and every restaurant we visited served good food with good service. Would I visit again-absolutely! Everybody's entitled to an opinion but I think too many people are trying to compare it with what they've had before-Woburn is different but it has many positives to that. Ignore the negatives and make your own mind up.

Room Tip: We stayed in villa Birch 682. (4 bed games room lodge) Very close to the village square and plaza bu...
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Highlodge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
18 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 August 2014

We stayed at Woburn Centerparcs for 4 days. The facilities were absolutely amazing from the second we signed in to the second we left. The activities were great, well worth doing including the swimming pool, geo cache, katakanou boat, mini golf, treasure trail, laser clay shoot, jewellery making, indoor climbing experience, pottery studio etc etc etc. The bikes are top quality and needed for moving around the facility.

I cannot fault centerparcs, the staff and the guests are always friendly and warming. The lodge facilities are out of this world. My little one loved staying there and even though unfortunately chipping her front tooth on the water rapids still wants to go back there.

Room Tip: The lodge at Maple area was truly amazing, space, cleanliness and facilities second to none.
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Tas G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wakefield
Level Contributor
17 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 August 2014

Yes it's very new, we knew that when we booked, so things have to grow, and it will take time as some of the new trees are very small. However, there are hundreds of other well established trees, with the lodges nestled amongst them. The lodges look great, all new and sparkling, such a difference from some of the older ones at the likes of Sherwood etc...
Yes there are teething problems as there would be with any new build on this scale. I agree entirely with the road issues, pedestrians and cyclists do not mix, you have to have eyes in the back of your head at times...
The park is a lot smaller and to be honest it suited us. 5 mins from the village to the sports plaza on foot, really no need for bikes, am glad we didn't pre book them. We had plenty of sun over the weekend which was a bonus, and sat outside at cafe Rouge in the sun, with a bottle of wine was great. We ate at lunchtime at Strada which was fantastic, and also at cafe Rouge, again it was good. You can pay from £9 for a basic pizza, in Strada through to £14 for a more adventurous one. £4.50 for a pint of Peroni, or £4.30 for a bottle. Yes it's not cheap, but that's Centre Parcs for you, and it doesn't just apply to Woburn.
Yes you miss the wildlife, we saw 2 squirrels all the time we were there, no swans either, just a few ducks, am sure they will come. There is an issue with some of the badminton courts, as the sun shines through the high windows and you can't see a thing. CP have recognised this and looking to resolve ASAP, with some blinds or something. We got a refund on the court.
We enjoyed the newness, it was nice to go somewhere different, wifi was everywhere which is isn't at the others, and we will definitely return. You know what you will be paying before you go, so why moan?

Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
Helpful?
4 Thank AJPWakefield
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
Amenities:
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 9 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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