After having a wonderful five days at Center Parcs Longleat in 2013, we decided to include Center Parcs in our 2014 vacation. This time we tried a new location, Elveden and stayed for seven days. The biggest difference between Longleat and Elveden is the terrain. Longleat is hilly and Elveden is flat, making it much easier to navigate.
Other than the terrain, the two locations were more similar than dissimilar. We had the same check-in procedure, which including picking up our keys at the arrival lodge.
We loved our room from last year, so we booked the same style executive cabin. It was nearly identical to the one we had in Longleat, including the same maroon couch and same forest prints on the walls. The only difference was the position of the bedrooms. at Elveden the bedrooms were next to each other and at Longleat, the were separated by the living room.
This is one of my favorite pictures of our trip.
I went into this Center Parcs holiday thinking that we were experts and that we were going to learn from our mistakes in 2013. One of the biggest things that we wanted to do differently, was food. To save money and to keep everyone happy, we were going to cook meals in our cabin. Nice thought.
We pre-ordered a grocery pack from the Center Parcs grocery store. The starter kit was okay, but many of the items we didn't use. We didn't touch things like the giant bottle of Pepsi or the HP Sauce. Although it was nice to have some groceries in the cupboards when we arrived, it ended up being a waste of money and food.
Center Parcs actually has a great on-site grocery store. It has a decent variety and the prices don't seem to be inflated. The best part is if you spend over fifty pounds, they offer a free delivery service to your cabin. We used this many times during our stay and had we been sensible, we would have just headed here on the first day and done our shopping, rather than pre-ordering stuff that we didn't need. We had also pre-ordered four BBQ kits. The BBQ kits can be great, if you use them. We only used one and since we were far from home, we just left them at Center Parcs.
We found that cooking in our cabin was great for a quick breakfast or snacks, but overall, it was more hassle than we wanted to deal with on vacation and ultimately, not a huge money saver. One big piece of advice from last year, make sure to bring extra toilet paper, paper towels and a cleaning solution to wipe down mucky tables. These items are not provided in your cabin.
The best purchase at the Center Parcs grocery store? Bird and squirrel food. We had tons of wildlife coming to our backdoor, including a beautiful deer.
My absolute favorite visitor was a moorhen family. The adults would peck at our patio door and they would gently take food out of a mug feeding it to their chicks. It was so sweet.
In Part Two, I will highlight the activities and restaurants of Center Parcs Elveden. We had a busy week!