Passing on the Center Parcs baton: how one family has kept up the tradition for four generations

The Subtropical Swimming Paradise overlooking the lake at Whinfell Forest at night.

12 September 2022

Passing on the Center Parcs baton: how one family has kept up the family tradition for four generations

Thomas has grown up with Center Parcs family breaks, with his first visit to Whinfell Forest when he was just one year old. Center Parcs is a beloved family tradition for four generations of his family, with family members aged from just two years old to 83 years of age all joining in the Center Parcs fun. Thomas got in touch with us to share his love for Whinfell Forest and explain how a break in the forest helps his Asperger’s.

“Visiting Center Parcs has been a regular, consistent and calming influence in my life over 25 years and has been a great source of help with my condition. My first visit to Whinfell Forest was in 1997 - we were hooked from the get-go, and have stayed at Whinfell Forest every year since, sometimes twice a year.”

“Center Parcs is a calm and relaxing ‘home from home’ experience”

Thomas and his family regularly return to Whinfell Forest, and the consistency and familiarity of this setting helps him to enjoy his break. Thomas’ parents describe Center Parcs as “a very calm and relaxing home from home holiday for us.”. Thomas requires familiarity, routine and a calm and comfortable environment, which Center Parcs provides. Thomas also praises our colleagues - “The staff are very kind and patient, not just towards me but to everyone in general, which helps a lot.”

Exciting changes over the years

Over the 25 years that Thomas and his family have been visiting, he has noticed lots of improvements and changes to the village. “It just gets better and better, with the upgrading of accommodation, more choices of activities for all age groups, additional restaurants and facilities and an increase in environmental awareness – making the village more user friendly with better pathways, lighting, and signage. Also, the big noticeable change is how much the foliage has grown!”. Thomas shares some of his family snaps from his earlier visits to Whinfell, pictured below.

Passing on the Center Parcs baton

Thomas and his family have passed on the Center Parcs baton to new family members, including his nieces and nephews. He loved visiting with his late granddad, especially when he told funny jokes. Thomas shares a photo of his older brother and grandad relaxing in the Sports Café - “My grandad had just told my brother a joke, their faces shine with happiness which is how I feel whenever I’m at Center Parcs.”

In March 2023, Thomas and all 14 of his family members will be visiting Whinfell Forest again, including his Nana, aged 83, and a new-born baby due to arrive in September 2022!

Center Parcs traditions

We asked Thomas whether his family have any traditions they always do when they visit Whinfell Forest. “We have quite a few. We also go Ten Pin Bowling on the first night as the whole family can take part, family badminton is a must, and we always book a restaurant for the last night to celebrate our time – it also gives the cooks a break! My favourites are The Lakeside Inn and Bella Italia.”. Thomas also has memories of when he visited with his late grandad - he and Thomas would get the morning newspapers from the ParcMarket and have a sneaky breakfast, then have a second one when they got back. We think this is a great idea!

The family have stayed in different lodge types over the years and always book accommodation close to the Village Centre. As the family has grown, they have been booking larger three or four-bed lodges and sometimes enjoy the additional benefits of the hot tubs and games rooms in the Executive and Exclusive Lodges.

The love for Center Parcs grows

We asked Thomas why he loves Center Parcs so much and he said, “It’s something for everyone, but particularly for me, it’s like coming home! When I was younger I felt like I was on a wilderness adventure surrounded by nature in a forest environment. Center Parcs is an opportunity to try different and unusual activities such as Fencing, Quad Biking and Field Archery. I would love to work at Whinfell Forest, maybe as a guide or guest experience advisor as I know the village like the back of my hand! When I’m there, I enjoy telling other guests about the activities they should try and places they should visit.”

Tips for first timers

Thomas shares his top tips on getting the most out of a Center Parcs break:

  • If you like to choose specific accommodation and get the best value for money, it’s best to book early
  • It’s best to pre-book your favourite activities so you can do everything you want to do
  • Spread your activities out on your itinerary so you don’t get overwhelmed
  • The Subtropical Swimming Paradise is free and is great for all ages
  • Use the online itinerary planner on your Center Parcs booking to help organise your break – you can share it electronically with the rest of your family so everybody knows what activities are booked and which family members are where at certain times
  • The ParcMarket has a great choice of ready meals if you don’t want to bring lots of food. You can also get food delivered from the restaurants to eat in your lodge
  • On arrival day, take time to walk around to familiarise yourself with the layout and facilities
  • Relax and have a coffee and breakfast on the decked area by the lake – take in the view!
  • I would recommend Center Parcs to parents of young children on the autistic spectrum. We don’t like change or loud noises and we crave familiarity and routine. The calmness of the forest and exceptional facilities create a home from home environment, making it an enjoyable break for all the family

It’s been lovely hearing Thomas’ story and all the memories he treasures from 25 years of visiting Whinfell Forest – here’s to many more memories for Thomas and his family in the years to come!

Do you have a Center Parcs family story? We would love to hear it. Get in touch via

old photograph of family in lodge at Whinfell Forest
Old photograph of family on path outside apartments
Grandad and Grandson laughing sat on sofa in Sports Cafe
Group family photo of different generations
A group photo posing next to the Laser Combat activity sign

Center Parcs

This blog post was written by a former colleague of Center Parcs; the content in the post is still relevant for you to keep up to date with all things Center Parcs.

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