How to save money at Center Parcs

How to save money at Center Parcs

Despite a few reservations, not least about the cost, we recently enjoyed our first family holiday at Center Parcs. We went at the cheapest time of year and paid just £329 for a four night stay in a two bedroom Executive Lodge at Woburn Forest. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was largely won over and we had a great break. It didn’t end up being quite the bargain it appeared though, a couple of meals out and a couple of activities added an extra £150 to the total. Of course, we didn’t have to spend this extra money, and there are ways to save money at Center Parcs if you’re on a budget. Here are my top tips:

Don’t Shop at the ParcMarket

Every Center Parcs has it’s own supermarket on site. These are all well stocked and have everything you need to enjoy your stay. They are very expensive though! We did a food shop in a nearby supermarket once we had checked in and this lasted us for our whole break.

Nearest supermarkets to Center Parcs

LocationDistanceBrandPostcode
Whinfell Forest

4.9 miles
5.6 miles
Sainsburys
Morrisons
CA11 7FG
CA11 7JU
Sherwood Forest3.8 miles
4 miles
Tesco
Asda
NG22 9PL
NG22 9PL
Longleat Forest3.6 miles
3.9 miles
Morrisons
Lidl
BA12 9NT
BA12 9BR
Elveden Forest3.4 miles
3.4 mile
Sainsburys
Lidl
IP24 3QL
IP24 3RS
Woburn Forest3 milesTescoMK45 1LX

Don’t Eat Out

I know I sound like a killjoy, but the branded restaurants at Center Parcs are very expensive and an easy way to add £100’s onto your stay. If you want to save money at Center Parcs, I have included a downloadable PDF meal planner and shopping list, plus a packing list at the end of this post. This should help you get organised and save a few pennies.

You can download your own PDF version of these planners at the end of the post

Bring your own extras

There are a few things that we bought ourselves that helped to save money at Center Parcs. Nearly everything is available onsite, but will undoubtedly be cheaper elsewhere. For one, we picked up some logs and kindling for the log burner with our Tesco shop and it worked out cheaper than buying wood at the ParcMarket. Likewise, if you visit in the summer, disposable barbecues can be picked up cheaper off site. One of my best buys was a baby swimseat (aff. link) for Ollie, it saved us having to carry him the whole time and he loved just lounging about in the pool. These, along with other swim aids, are available to buy at Center Parcs, but (surprise surprise) they can be found cheaper. Also, my top tip is that the pool information desk has a compressor to blow up rings and arm bands. (That took us a while to figure out!) There are also swim jackets for children available to use free of charge, so you don’t need to bring your own.

Bring your own Bikes

Woburn Forest is a relatively small Center Parcs site, so we found it possible to get around without bikes.

Our lodge was located in the central area, so we managed fine without bikes

If you do want to use bikes, it is cheaper to take your own rather than hire them. Likewise, if you want to play tennis or badminton for example, you can save money at Center Parcs if you have your own equipment.

Go during term time

Ok, ok I realise that this is not going to be possible if you have school age children. You may be lucky and able to use inset days or your holiday dates may fall outside of standard term dates, but overall you’re going to have to pay more if you have children at school. There are still ways to keep the cost down and save money at Center Parcs. Firstly, be as flexible as you can as the prices change from week to week, even during the holidays. Secondly, book as early as possible as it only gets more expensive. Lastly, double up with another family and get a bigger lodge and share the cost. For example, at Woburn Forest a 2 bedroom Woodland Lodge for four nights from 29th July 2019 costs £1099, whereas a 4 bedroom Woodland Lodge costs £1699, or £849.50 per family saving nearly £250 each if the two families halve the bill. (Prices correct as of 13/01/19) There are many different permutations, so it’s worth playing around.

Make the most of what’s free

Entrance to the SubTropical Swimming Paradise is included in the price, so I advise that you use it as much as possible! We went swimming four days out of five and had a blast in there. There’s something for the whole family there, and it was a great way to have some fun.

The Subtropical Swimming Paradise is included in the price and is the focal point of every Center Parcs

We also enjoyed a few nice walks around the site, if Finn was better on a bike we would have also gone for a few bike rides. Also, Woburn has a nice beach area by the lake that would be lovely in the summer. After swimming, some of the best fun that me and Luke had was playing pool for £1 a game (not quite free, but as near as you’ll get at Center Parcs). It turns out I’m actually not bad with a cue!

There is a fantastic outdoor play area at Woburn Forest

Finn also enjoyed the outdoor play areas, there’s a small park and a much larger one at Woburn that passed a few hours. There are also plenty of small indoor soft play areas that were great for occupying Finn and giving us a few minutes peace.

One last tip is that if you do decide to go to Center Parcs, you are entitled to a special ‘Come Back Soon’ offer. If you book another trip within 31 days you are guaranteed to get the lowest price for that trip, even if it goes down after you book, you also get free cancellation insurance and £25 to spend at Center Parcs on your next visit.

It’s never going to be a bargain break, but the high quality of accommodation, the activities and facilities available and the family friendliness all come at a price. Hopefully, these tips have shown that there are a few ways you can save money at Center Parcs.

Read my first Center Parcs post here

Download your own free PDF meal planner and packing list here.

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