Alas, no. I looked up from my notepad to find guests – in their tens – edging towards us through the meandering driveway. It really is happening. Woburn Forest is open!
The security barriers lifted, and there before me and the eagerly awaiting Arrivals Lodge, were the very first guests at our new Village, Woburn Forest.
Our first guests
“We’re so excited,” says dad, Chris Levitt of Woburn Sands. He’s visiting Woburn Forest this weekend with his son, Riley, who turned nine this week. “This was a last-minute this for Riley’s birthday; as the Village wasn’t opened through the week we picked the first weekend.”
I caught up with the duo at Starbucks in the Plaza, once they had parked up, to see what their first impressions were of our new location. Chris says: “It’s great because it’s all new and shiny. It feels great to know we’re the first guests on here. Technically it was Riley because he was sat further forward in his car seat!”
“We’re mostly looking forward to trying out the pool, and the rides of course. I first visited Center Parcs on the opening weekend of Sherwood Forest, 27 years ago. It was brilliant, particularly the tropical paradise as it was brand new; I’d never seen anything like it. Center Parcs was completely unique then and it still is.”
Back at the Arrivals Lodge I caught up with some of the staff members who have been training in preparation of this very day. Emma Park, from the Security Team, says “It’s really exciting. It’s great to be here on day one. I joined in January and it’s lovely to work in the middle of the forest.
“Everyone’s just pleased that we can see real guests coming in and happy to be here. We’re looking forward to doing what we’ve been trained for, greeting guests. It’s fantastic and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Speaking of training, Rob Saunders, Training Officer for Woburn Forest, walked by just as I finished talking to Emma and stood for a moment to take it all in. “I started training the team in August last year and it’s surreal that this day is actually here now and we’re ready for our first guests. Seeing all the staff this morning, I feel like a proud parent watching the family doing what they should be doing.
“It’s just wonderful – a great feeling to see that the team are now getting to show off what they’ve learnt to the full potential.”
Sound of music
As I left the Arrivals Lodge I heard the sounds of the jazz band, Viva Jazz, stationed at the Cycle Centre, brought in to warmly welcome guests. I stopped to take a photo and to my right was Martin Dalby, CEO of Center Parcs being filmed for an ITV interview.
Maybe it was the music, or maybe it’s the sunshine glowing down on us all, but in that moment it felt truly glorious to be here, at Woburn Forest, on the first day of opening.