What to take to Center Parcs

I'm at Center Parcs in Elveden Forest as I write this, celebrating my daughter's 18th birthday. It's lovely - beautiful, peaceful, full of wildlife (I've seen a stoat, muntjac deer, a heron, rabbit, squirrels, moorhens, ducks, a jay, and various other birds) and comfortable and relaxing.

In this post I'm using my blog as a reminder to myself for next time, but also as a public service to anyone else heading to Center Parcs. Essentially it's a list of things they don't tell you to bring, but which you really need to bring. They supply the smallest quantities of the basic essentials, but not enough because they want to you to stock up at the extremely expensive ParcMarket.

  1. Washing-up liquid. They give you ONE small sachet. They also give you three dishwasher tablets, but since our lodge only has six place settings' worth of crockery and cutlery we didn't use the dishwasher as we needed the plates.
  2. A tea towel or two. They supply one, but that gets wet and dirty quickly.
  3. Kitchen towel. They don't supply any.
  4. Toilet rolls. They supply you with one per bathroom, and again expect you to buy more at the ParcMarket.
  5. Towels. You get a bath towel and hand towel to use in the accommodation, but no pool towels. Bring your own. And ladies with long hair (like me), bring an extra one for your hair.
  6. Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel. They provide one tiny bottle of shampoo and conditioner per lodge, and believe me, with all the chlorine getting in your hair you're going to need lots of the stuff. (Also, take it with you when you go to the Subtropical Water World. They have dispensers of shampoo/shower gel, but they're always empty. Also take a small towel to stand on when you get changed - the floor is filthy.)
  7. ALL THE FOOD! The ParcMarket is so expensive, as are the restaurants. When you've probably forked out the best part of £500 just for your accommodation for the weekend you really don't need to part with more money, especially when the accommodation kitchen is pretty well equipped. We planned ahead and bought everything we needed for all our meals except two. One of those two was lunch at the Canopy Bar yesterday. For two portions of chips, two drinks, and two burger meals, we paid £40. You see why we bring our own food. (The second of those meals out will be the Pancake House today.)
  8. Barbecue stuff. You get a built-in barbecue. If the weather is anything but terrible, it'd be a shame to waste it.
Personally I don't think you need a bike. I'm in the lodge which is about as far as you can get from the village centre. It takes me 20 minutes to walk there, and clocks up about 3,000 steps on my Fitbit. Of course, if it was raining I might feel differently. But it costs £31 for a weekend to hire a bike. Maybe bring an umbrella.


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