Think Center Parcs and images of screaming children racing down waterslides or youngsters tearing around on quad bikes and whizzing across zipwires readily spring to mind.
For an action-packed family experience, Center Parcs has few rivals.
But Center Parcs as the home of rest and relaxation!?! You better believe it.
After a hectic few months, we were looking to get some well-earned R&R. The must-haves on our checklist were 1. Fresh Air, 2. Good Food and 3. Pampering.
Yes, we wanted a good time and fun activities for the children, but chilling out was top of the agenda.
With a tweak to the usual demands we make on Center Parcs holidays, an adrenaline-free break was easy.
Center Parcs Sherwood Forest is not short on fresh air. With the resort set in 400 acres of woodland, you’re never far from the great outdoors, whether that be lush green woodland or nature’s wildlife including squirrels, ducks and badgers.
And you can take it all in at your leisure. The best way to travel round the site it by bike, so bring your own or hire them when you get there. We hired, and made a point of exploring the many trails in and around the forest.
With relaxation top of our agenda, we made sure we booked into the award winning Aqua Sana spa.
The luxury spa is designed to soothe away the worries. There are at least 15 different ‘experiences’ to be had from saunas, steam rooms to invigorating showers.
The centrepiece of the spa is an open air swimming pool, but you are free to wander at your leisure and indulge in your favourites.
I loved the waterbeds, where you could wrap yourself in warm blankets, close your eyes and drift off with pan pipes tootling over the airwaves.
While I wandered from Indian blossom steam room and through the Japanese Zen Garden, my wife took advantage of one of the many pampering treatments of offer.
You name it, they do it, from Hopi ear candles and reflexology to hot stone massages and mud treatments, but my wife decided to keep it simple with a Decleor total aromatherapy escape, which I’m reliably informed involves the use of aromatic balms and a deeply de-stressing body massage. It works.
Suitably de-stressed, it was time to tick off the our last Center Parcs demand. We’d done fresh air and pampering, it was time for good food.
The beauty of Center Parcs is that if you’re on a budget, you can bring your own food and cook in your lodge. All the lodges have kitchens, but then the point of taking a break, is to wash your hands of cooking and cleaning.
At Center Parcs there are plenty of restaurants to satisfy your needs. With two boys in tow (aged 15 and 12), the lure of American burgers proves irresistible.
Their favourite restaurant is Huck’s, an American themed burger bar and grill that delivers quality food in fun surroundings.
The boys love the Surfboard Platter which serves four and comes with chipotle shrimp; chilli cheese nuggets; barbecue wings; hot cheese and spinach dipping pot with tortilla chips; garlic bruschetta with tomato and red pepper and onion ring stack. It's all delivered with a selection of sauces and dips and served on a neon-lit surfboard! Great fun and good value at £28.35.
But you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants. There’s Indian, Italian, fast food, French food, pub grub and, if you’re wanting to stay in, there’s even a home delivery service.
With all the boxes ticked for a relaxing weekend break, we still managed to slip in a few activities to keep the blood flowing. Soft tennis, roller-skating, badminton and plenty of visits to the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, which boasts waterslides, waves, plunge pools and water rapids.
There’s no shortage of activities at Center Parcs but, as we discovered, the resort can also be a place of rest and relaxation.
Yes there’s drama on offer like off road quad-biking and daredevil zip-wires, but when you’re looking for a break, these activities make for great spectator sports, particularly when a good restaurant is only a leisurely walk in the woods away.
At a Glance:
Center Parks Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire.
To book a break go to www.centerparcs.co.uk
You can also call on 03448 267 723.
For a 2 bedroom woodland lodge sleeping 4 people:
A 4 night midweek break from Monday to Friday in Autumn 2017 starts at £329
A 4 night midweek break from Monday to Friday in Winter 2017 starts at £329
A 3 night weekend break from Friday to Monday in Autumn 2017 starts at £399
And a 3 night weekend break from Friday to Monday in Winter 2017 starts at £459.