Our first family holiday – Center Parcs, Longleat

Last week we went our first family holiday to Center Parcs in Longleat, read on to find out how got on 🙂

How we chose Center Parcs

My other half and I LOVE our foreign holidays and we always thought that baby W’s first holiday would be to somewhere like Spain or Greece. However, as he still isn’t sleeping through the night, the thought of the 3 of us sharing a hotel room all week was unappealing! We’d been to Center Parcs separately (read about my girly weekend there when I was pregnant) and both loved it so we knew it would be perfect for our first family holiday as we’d have plenty of space! (And if he screamed the house down, we wouldn’t wake up any neighbours!!)


I’ve never been so busy in the run-up to a holiday! We wanted to take as much food and drink with us as we could, to try and recoup some of the money we’d spent on booking the holiday! So the day before I went to Aldi’s, home bargains AND got a delivery from Tesco lol!

The day we left it took us a good couple of hours to get our stuff together and into the car. The accommodation doesn’t include a washing machine, and the weather was looking mixed… and you never know when baby’s going to have a growth spurt… so I took a LOT of clothes!

So as well as food, drinks, clothes, toiletries we also managed to get into the car baby W’s bath, moses basket, bouncer and playgym!

Our accommodation

We had a ‘new style executive’ chalet in the Pines area. When we arrived I initially felt like it needed a good scrub and/or a bit of a refurb e.g. the bathroom grouting was grubby, handrprints all over the patio doors… but once we’d unpacked our stuff those thoughts faded away and it really felt like a home from home!

This was a slightly more expensive chalet than the previous one I’d stayed in and some of the extra features were a coffee machine (nice!), Jacuzzi bath (lush), en suite bathrooms, daily maid service (fab!) and TV’s in the bedroom (which we didn’t use). The rainforest-style showers in both bathrooms were AMAZING!

I love this wall in the chalet at Center Parcs!
I love this wall in the chalet at Center Parcs!

And of course the best thing about the accommodation is the view out from the sofa… the trees, the peace and quiet, the birdsong, the squirrels and rabbits running around….

the view from our back garden, Center Parcs
the view from our back garden, Center Parcs

We were really happy with the location – we could walk to the main Plaza and down to the sports area. When I’d been before we had to get the land train over to the Plaza, so it was nice to be able to be within walking distance this time.

What we got up to

We were blessed with beautiful crisp, sunny weather every day so we did lots of walking around with daddy and baby W making good use of their Baby Bjorn carrier!

Daddy and baby W went swimming nearly every day in the lovely, warm subtropical paradise pool – mummy joined them a couple of times too 🙂

Daddy treated Mummy me to not one but two massages in the Spa and a spa session – bliss! The massages were wonderful, and I really enjoyed using all the steam rooms and saunas that I was unable to use when I was pregnant – my favourite is the lemongrass steam room mmmm. I still think that this spa is the best one I’ve been to by far!

Even the walk to the spa is lovely at Center Parcs!
Even the walk to the spa is lovely at Center Parcs!

My parents came to stay for 2 nights so cue more walking, swimming and eating!

We ate most of our meals in the chalet but we did have brunch in the Grand café, lunch in the Pancake house, lunch in Café Rouge and a Chinese takeaway – all very good! I must add at this point that I noticed all the staff at Center Parcs are super friendly 🙂

So other than that we just chilled and played in the chalet. Unfortunately baby W was a bit grouchy for the first few days but perked up by the end of the week. my OH and I took it in turns to have lie-ins/naps so we both managed to catch up with some much-needed sleep 🙂 For the (un?) lucky one that was up early, we were blessed with some amazing sunrises….

sunrise at Center Parcs
sunrise at Center Parcs
sunrise at Center Parcs
sunrise at Center Parcs

One early morning when I was giving daddy a break I took baby W down the lake and we saw a baby deer (fawn?!) on the way 🙂

early morning walk down at the lake, Center Parcs
early morning walk down at the lake, Center Parcs

We also made a trip into nearby Warminster to stock up on wine, supplies and we bought some 99p reading glasses from Poundstretcher as my OH had misplaced his glasses!

The week flew by and suddenly it was our last day 😦 We made a lovely day out of it, going on safari in Longleat park which was great fun especially seeing lions very close-up (didn’t get a decent pic as I had baby W on me at the time!), having a monkey banging on our bonnet and watching the very nice Mercedes in front of us get trashed by the monkeys! Oh and making baby W wear a giraffe hat that came with a Next sleepsuit, he looked SO cute but unimpressed 🙂

We’ll definitely go back to Longleat park once W is a bit older…

giraffe at Longleat
giraffe at Longleat
Lemurs all cuddled up together at Longleat
Lemurs all cuddled up together at Longleat
Monkey on our bonnet! Longleat
Monkey on our bonnet! Longleat

We then stopped in Warminster for lunch – we went to a Wetherspoons for my first time in ages and I was really pleasantly surprised by the food, tasty and great value!

Home time

A couple of days after getting home, the weather turned – it seems to have gone from Summer to Winter here in Cardiff – a shocker but makes those memories from last week even more lovely… baby W falling asleep in his baby bjorn in the sun, his first real encounter with ducks… 🙂

Hopefully we’ll take W abroad next year, but we will definitely take him back to Center Parcs at some point – it really was a home from home and it was great being able to take all of his home comforts and toys with us – I’m not sure how we’d cope abroad without his playgym and bouncer!  (Although I guess by then he will have outgrown them!)

Where was your first family holiday? Or where would you like to go?! I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below, or follow me on Twitter or Bloglovin x

A mum-to-be’s girly spa weekend at Center Parcs, Longleat

So back in early March (c30 weeks) I had a fab first trip to Center Parcs and I wanted to share my thoughts on it as I think it’s a perfect place for mums-to-be (and hopefully new mums!)

We were organising a spa weekend for 6 of us, spread across the country and it turns out that Center Parcs was surprisingly good value – their basic accommodation was just about £90 each for 3 nights and I think we paid about £70 each for a spa day (a bit of a splurge but one of the best spas I’ve been to – more on that later)

Here’s how our weekend went:

    • Friday – arrived at our cabin in the Firs part of the park and we were all pleasantly surprised by the quality of the basic accommodation – comfy sofas, comfy beds, nice linen etc. One of the girls had brought a home-made lasagne with them which was v yummy and after dinner we all got into our PJ’s and put face masks on – relaxing, good fun and a good way of preparing our skin for the spa day 🙂
    • Saturday – after a great night’s sleep, it was wonderful to wake up to a fresh, sunny day…. opened the patio doors to wonderful light and peace and quiet…bliss!
    • Saturday morning at Center Parcs
      Saturday morning at Center Parcs
    • Saturday Spa day – We got there about 10am and had a pastry (delicious vanilla and raspberry one for me) and hot drink as part of our package. The spa was fantastic – as I was pregnant I couldn’t use the plethora of saunas and steam rooms but I made sure I had a good nosey around them and they all smelt and felt amazing (e.g. lemongrass) and no signs of wear and tear as you see at so many other spas.  Although I couldn’t use the rooms, it was nice enough to sit in the relaxation areas with magazines, and get into the small but cute outdoor pool in the sun. Lunch was part of our package and it was really tasty – I had a pasta dish but everything else looked great too!

Decleor mum-to-be treatment

  • Saturday spa treatments – Most of us had booked treatments and I plumped for the ‘Decleor sumptuous mother-to-be’ hour long treatment which was just what I needed – it started on my legs with a variety of massaging and refreshing gels/creams… moved up to the bump and gave bump a tummy mask which felt divine… and then finished off with a facial. I lost the leaflet she gave me with all the products on it so I can’t tell you what they all were, but it was my first time trying any Decleor and I wanted them all (but behaved and didn’t buy any!). I felt refreshed and relaxed afterwards and apparently looked ‘glowing’ according to my friends. It was another splurge at £55 but worth every penny!
  • Saturday night – we had another night in with pizzas and even thought it wasn’t a weekend for me specifically, the girls had clubbed together to get me some lovely presents so it felt like a baby shower 🙂 I was given everything from a mug that I could drink out of while feeding, a Cath Kidston bag, a Sanctuary mum-to-be set (and you will already know how much I love that stuff) to a gorgeous Johnson’s set including bag, changing mat and baby toiletries… I felt spoil rotten, I love those girls!
Spoilt rotten with gifts from the girls - Mammas and Pappas' baby set, Johnson's baby set, Sanctuary mum-to-be set, Bean's first book and more
Spoilt rotten with gifts from the girls – Mammas and Pappas’ baby set, Johnson’s baby set, Sanctuary mum-to-be set, Bean’s first book and more
  • Sunday – swim time! Sunday morning most of us headed down to the free pool, it was another beautiful sunny morning and the outdoor pool was even warmer than the pool in the spa the day before. So while the girls checked out the rapids and flumes, this pregnant momma sat in the warm water with the sun beating down on me… occasionally swimming about a few metres here and there… bliss!
  • Sunday afternoon we spent the afternoon down at the Sports complex as some of us watched England vs Wales (6 nations rugby) while the others did a Zumba class! When we walked over to the shopping complex (they have a beautiful gift shop) 2 deer ran out right in front of us! We tried booking a restaurant for dinner but had left it too late so that night we had a mix of Chinese and Indian take-away… nothing amazing but just what we needed!
Sunday afternoon at Center Parcs
Sunday afternoon at Center Parcs
  • Monday morning pedicures – 3 of us loved the Spa so much that we thought we’d go back for another treat before leaving on Monday so we all booked in for a Marine Spa Pedicure – our feet got a good scrub, mask and moisture followed by a nail treatment and colour – I went for a Spring-like lilac colour 🙂 I’m sure every mum-to-be and mummy would agree that feet during pregnancy need all the help they can get! (I should add that the polish lasted for ages… I still have it on now nearly 2 months later, am well overdue another pedicure!)
Spring toes!
Pedicured Center parcs toes in lilac

While we were there I saw lots of other mums-to-be, but also lots of newborns and lots of families. I loved our girly weekend there – it was SO relaxing and we loved our chalet – it was comfy and had everything we needed. There is a land train that takes you around as it was quite tough walking so much at 30 weeks but would love to do more walking and cycling next time – it was lovely seeing babies being cycled around by their parents 🙂 (Also, there’s LOADS of activities you can do there – the treetop activity looked like fun!)

I REALLY want to go back once Bean is here and a few months old – I love the idea of long nature-filled walks, and I love the idea that if we have a noisy Bean that it doesn’t matter as the neighbours won’t be able to hear a thing 🙂 We could take some in-laws or friends with us so that me and other half could use the lovely spa together for a few hours… and they have a babysitting service… here’s hoping…

Center Parcs, if you’re reading this I hope to come back soon (and even sooner if you want me to review any services ;))

Has anyone else been to Center Parcs with their babies? Would you recommend it?

Babymoon in Sensatori Tenerife

I was lucky enough to have 3 babymoon’s really…. the week we found out we were having a baby, we had already booked to go to London for the weekend…. we had a great time (Natural History Museum, the show ‘Wicked’) but it was slightly more subdued that it would have been if I hadn’t taken the test (i.e. I would have gotten ‘tipsy’) and I was SO tired! About a month later, we went to the beautiful Lake District for 5 nights which was highly relaxing and just what I needed = fresh air, nice food and sleeeeep!

But the piece de resistance was a late-deal to Thomson’s Sensatori hotel in Tenerife in February. I was 27-28 weeks pregnant, so we had it left slightly late but:
– my midwife gave me a letter for the airlines
– I checked up on the local hospitals out there (all looked good)
– we got our EHIC cards (free healthcare in EU)
– I checked the small print on my travel insurance policy to make sure I was covered (I’d been caught out by lack of travel cover previously)
So we were good to go 🙂

It’s always great to leave cold, wet, windy Britain for some winter Sun and we weren’t disappointed.. for the first few days this was my attire (tankini from JoJo Maman LeBebe)…..

Bikini bean
Bikini bean

And the first few sunsets looked like this….

Sunset at sensatori Tenerife
Beautiful sunset
Palm trees, sunset, tenerife
Palm trees, sunset, outside sensatori tenerife

While the UK was getting battered by storms, we too had some windy, rainy days in the middle of our break – what a great excuse to take full advantage of our fantastic, huge room and catch-up with movies. (oh and while the rain lashed down I also treated myself to a pedicure – much-needed treat for my swollen feet, she gave my calves a nice rub too :))

We couldn’t fault the hotel…
-great choice of restaurants and all good quality (including the best buffet restaurant I have ever been to!)
-room was large, spacious, biggest bed I’ve ever slept in!
-2 main swimming pools, we stayed by the family pool as the water was warmer than the stunning infinity pool (and there was a bit more action there too)
-beautiful lobby! (fountain show every night :))
– good mix of people, lots of other couples on their babymoons, young families with babies as well as older couples
-good fitness/activity programme – I did try and make it to a ‘sunset stretch’ class but got confused by the use of the 24 hour clock 😉
– the hotel was right on the coast – lovely promenade so nice walks – but was quite surreal as you could also clearly see the island’s volcano which seemed to be surrounded by snow?!
– right next to a small fishing village called Alcala – some cute bars and cafes, and a funny market on a Monday morning (a mix of nice, local crafts…. and fake tat!). If you’re lucky you can see turtles from Alcala harbour
-green incentive – if you chose not to have your room cleaned you got 20euros per day to spend at the hotel – we chose to only have our room cleaned once while we were there so these green credits went towards a couple of glasses of champagne, and some wine for my other half… we didn’t spend any other money there!

There were 2 other bonuses to the holiday in addition to the sleep, relaxing and great food…
1 – no cooking or washing-up! I didn’t realise how much these had become such a chore!
2 – leaving Tenerife, at the check-out desk the man took my letter from my midwife and proceeded to call someone (in Spanish obv!) – I was slightly nervous at this point that for some reason I might be stuck in Spain (I can think of worse things!!) but when he gave us our boarding passes it turns out he’d given us extra legroom for free #cashback 🙂

So there you have it, not everyone can afford a holiday abroad but I would recommend to any mum-to-be to try and have a break away somewhere – even if just for a few days – it really relaxed me, thank you Sensatori!