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.
- Also Known As:
- Center Parcs Woburn Forest Bedford, Bedfordshire