This month, Group Executive Chef James Haywood has been doing what he does best: cooking food for guests to enjoy. But we’re not just talking about a three-course meal, we’re talking 86 dishes to taste-test. Bon appétit!
Tasting team, from left: Eddie, Carol, Wayne, Megan and James
As I sit and write this I’m contemplating adding another notch to my belt, which – thanks to my recent bout of menu development – acts as nothing but a reminder of how many dishes I’ve tasted, tested and evaluated.
Since my post last month, where I gave you all an insight into the new Huck’s menu, we’ve launched the updated Sports Café menu which has gone down exceptionally well. The allergen-friendly one has especially been popular with guests, and this is something we will introduce with every menu we bring in future. The Huck’s menu has also taken one step closer to completion, as we held a food tasting session at Elveden Forest last week.
The happy couple, Emily and Steve
How much do you love Center Parcs? A lot? Quite a bit? Enough to theme your entire wedding on Center Parcs? Well one super fan, Emily Wootton, has said “I do” to just that.
Emily, 27, married her partner Steve, 33, on September 19 in a scene created from years of family memories accrued through a lifetime of short breaks.
Mum of three, Emily, says: “I’ve been coming to Center Parcs since I was two. My first ever holiday, with my parents, sister and grandparents, was at Sherwood Forest when it first opened. It soon turned into a tradition and we visit together every January.
“I introduced my now-husband, Steve, to Center Parcs and as our family has grown we’ve visited more and more. It’s just such a special place for me; it’s perfect for families and feels like proper time away. The thought of taking my children on a plane terrifies me, whereas Center Parcs is just a couple of hours’ drive and, most importantly, they absolutely love it.”
After visiting 54 times since she was a child, Center Parcs held dear family memories for Hannah Leber. So when – after years of fertility problems and IVF treatments – she had a beautiful baby boy, there was only one place Hannah wanted to have her first family holiday. And this time, she was bringing along a very special friend…
From left: Mark, Donna, Hannah and Grant
I love children and always wanted to be a mum. I met my husband, Grant, when I was 16 and we married when I was 21. After a few years of trying to get pregnant, a doctor told me that my fallopian tubes were blocked. In 2011, we went to see an IVF consultant. He advised me to join an internet site for people going through IVF, to share stories and get support. That’s how I met Donna.
Why go abroad? The beautiful lakeside setting at Longleat Forest
The leaves are falling, the temperature is dropping and the daylight is dimming. This can only mean one thing: the results of the annual consumer survey by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) are revealed. Oh, and autumn has started too.
We’ve taken a look at the results, which are hot off the press, and I must say some of the findings sure are interesting. A nationally representative sample of 2,001 consumers – that extra one makes all the difference – was surveyed and the results show how you, our guests, choose to spend your free time. The most eyebrow-raising statistic that I noticed, was that a hefty 68% of those questioned had taken a holiday in the UK during the past year, while 41% had taken a holiday both in the UK and abroad.
Sadie and her husband, Matt
In the spring issue of Village Life magazine, we gave readers the chance to win one of 10 Luxury Spa Days for two at Aqua Sana. The successful ten entries had to then report back on their experience, to give an insight into what others can expect.
Sadie Hayfield entered the competition on behalf of her husband, Matt, who had sadly lost his mother to cancer on Christmas Day last year. She wrote: “In the months before and after, life had lost some sparkle. He works incredibly hard as a firefighter and in-between shifts he does some window cleaning to support our family.” Following their visit, Sadie reports back to give her verdict on Aqua Sana at Woburn Forest.
Taking a break from the constraints of everyday life can open the mind to new and exciting interests. The heady mix of a release from responsibility with the excitement that comes with unfamiliar places, has, in the past, pushed my family and me to do new things. For example, a clear memory from around the age of seven or eight was having the courage to swim all the way into the deep end of the pool. I’ve noticed similar moments with my children since becoming a Dad.
This may seem trivial but I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, a recent survey Center Parcs carried out with 2,000 parents revealed that 42% of respondents believed taking time out from the day-to-day with a short break has led to their child growing in confidence. Furthermore, 47% believed that holidays tend to be a place where major milestones take place. Crawling (11%), walking (10%) and feeding themselves (9%) are just a few milestones among them. Not forgetting, of course, my adventurous swimming.
From team training to a terrific Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Sue Goddard, Group Leisure Manager, shares the struggles and successes behind the transformation of our children’s activity offering
Woodland Adventurer activity
Tell us about the journey over the past three years; what prompted the children’s activity review?
At Center Parcs we pride ourselves on never standing still; we’re always looking at how we can evolve our activities every year. The past few years have seen huge developments in our activities for adults and older children in areas such as outdoor activities and action challenge, so we felt it was timely to have a look at what we offer younger guests.
Today we have some exciting news for families and children: a refreshed and improved children’s activity offering is now available to pre-book. The activity programme will be available to enjoy at all Villages from October 17 – just in time for half-term breaks, ensuring your family time together is even more special.
A red deer stag, which has been spotted at Elveden Forest
Written by the nature and conservation experts at our five Villages, the Nature Notebook details what sights and sounds have been unearthed at Center Parcs in the past month.
Autumn has well and truly begun at Elveden Forest, with many trees and shrubs in full berry and the bracken turning colour. The Conservation Team has been lucky enough to spot a red deer stag on The Warren, as well as a few roe deer and occasional hare. There has been a gathering of house martins and swallows around the Village Square, which is a sure sign that they’re getting ready to migrate south soon. Perhaps they’re just picking up some last-minute essentials from Aquatique and The Store Room before their winter holiday!
Packing up and heading off on a break can be a tricky affair at the best of times. You’ve got a million and one things on your mind, and that’s before you even start the car. With the October half term break fast approaching, we thought we’d remind you about five essential things to remember for your upcoming Center Parcs visit.