Set in the lush green setting of Longford forest, covering 350 acres, the new Center Parcs is a luxury family Holiday Destination suitable for all ages. Driving into the park we immediately got the sense of an organized and finely tuned machine. Lodges are laid out in an orderly fashion and named according to different trees such as Pine, Oak and Maple. It’s impressive to think that this project was only started a year ago and built within budget of 233 million euros and delivered on time.
My family of two Fifteen year-olds who are used to travelling were thrilled that the journey only took one hour and 10 minutes from Dublin. Although the address is Longford it’s considerably closer to Mullingar. Center Parcs is listed on my GPS but Siri was trying to send me down numerous side-roads when the direct road from Mullingar is the best way to get there.
Key benefits I thought to this type of holiday is the ability to pack your car without the hassle of going through an airport or taking the ferry (although I find the ferry very little hassle at all). But especially for those with larger families young kids and kids with special needs arrival by car caters for them in a special way. From the moment you park your car, the only way to get around is by walking or on your bike. It’s possible to hire bikes at €35 for adults over a three night stay and €25 for kids. A great way to save money is to bring your own bikes.
Supermarket on site is well stocked and priced the same as your local supermarket, there are even special additions on sale such as the tray of chocolate and marshmallows suitable for barbecuing and free skewers were thrown into the deal for €10. This made a lovely activity for all the family on one of the nights.
With a selection of restaurants we ate at Bella Italia which was very good quality and there was a soft area for little kids to play in the corner of the restaurant. Cara’s kitchen has an Irish theme but the menu is generally Mediterranean with pizzas pasta and steak. Hucks is the American offering and the pancake house is open all day and good for snacks. There is also an Indian restaurant.
Savings can be made by going to a cheaper shop on your way to the Park and packing up with food – the self catering element is good for larger families and the kitchens are equipped to a very high standard. We stayed in a three bedroom executive lodge and with all ensuite bedrooms and TV seating area surround a warm fireplace and another TV. There is also an option for dining on the patio as well as in the living space.
Main attraction is the Subtropical Paradise which boasts the largest swimming area in Ireland, it includes several slides and a lazy river with rapid thrilling ride throughout. The water has a year round temperature of 29° which will make it very attractive in the depths of winter. Inside the family changing units are really well laid out and you walk from outside to change an area with ease and there is no need to find euro coins for the locks either because your room key is an easy to use wristband opens your doors and is your calling card for use throughout the park. The lockers are specially convenient as all you have to do is press your wristband against the door knob to open and lock it. The Spa is the largest in Ireland and it offers 14 different experiences that include rain forest walks and hot steam which was my personal favourite. The sauna is looking out on the trees with unique wall to wall windows. The swimming pool area is finished with an infinity pool and there are two hot tubs, to use this facility booking is required and is €37 per adult for a three hour session. I was speaking to the spa manager who told me that there will be options for people outside the resort to book a day visit and I think that will be very popular in the Midlands.
The outdoor adventure area is something really special but all activities must be booked beforehand and I recommend doing this before arriving at the park as they all have to be paid for. We took the adventurous Aerial Tree Trek which took us through the trees on an adventures course through rope bridges with six zip line and the ultimate finale is a long zip line over the man-made lake in the centre of the park. Safety is key and the staff are well trained and equipped to ensure that experience is good we weren’t allowed take our phones in case they dropped down from the treetops and this sort of details is necessary for the safety of others and those enjoying the experiences.
Another free thing to do includes the man-made beach which is very popular with little ones and all you need to do is bring a spade and bucket. You can’t swim in the lake but who would want to when the subtropical paradise is so good. I would advise everyone to bring their own towels to the resort, they can be hired for only €2 however. The indoor sports complex is huge and a lot of activities are included here from, badminton, table-tennis and rollerskating to wall climbing and there is a small gym I know my 18-year-old son would find it Limited as he works out seriously every day. the
Pottery and arts and crafts for little and big kids are also available. I spoke to some mothers who had painted and cups and pottery and they absolutely love the activity. Sports Plaza includes bowling alley which we partook after dinner on the second night – the cost is €24 for a 45 minute session which was more than enough for us to play one game and we filled the rest of the time playing pool which costs two euro a game. The girls loved some of the video games and also the air hockey.
Two snooker tables are also in the facility and they cost only five euros per hour long session which I thought was good value.
Holidays are all about experiences and spending time with those you love for stressfree break, Center Parcs is definitely a bit expensive if you do a lot of planned activities and yes the high season is expensive but it will be this at high season if you go to the Canary Islands or France or hire a holiday cottage in Clare.
A good way to split the cost is to bring granny and grandad along and they will have a great experience to I noticed some mobile scooters for older people and they were plenty of families with kids with special needs. It was great to see things such as the lifts in the swimming pool and the entire area is catered for buggies wheelchairs and anybody on wheels and that includes most of the guests who enjoyed their time getting around on their bikes.
I asked my 15-year-old today would you like to go back there and she immediately said yes! what was the big hit? Definitely the swimming pool and spa she said but she just loves the little house and going around on her bike so this is going to work really well for families of all ages. I also think it will work well for groups of girls in their 20s or 30s who want to go away perhaps even on a hen party they could take the challenge of tree trekking and then spend the afternoon in the spa and it could work out as really nice experience with something different to do.
Center Parcs Longford Forest Information
For further information on Center Parcs Longford Forest
Frequently asked questions:https://www.centerparcs.ie/contact.html