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Should I give Center Parcs Another Chance?

I have been trying to decide whether or not to write this post since early last year.  Why???  I don’t really like writing posts negative posts about experiences or products etc. so these generally don’t make it to my blog.  Anyone that knows me and that would be quite a few people will all agree that I am a happy, fair and friendly individual that doesn’t like to cause trouble but will speak up on occasion should the need require.

So in this instance I am making an exception to my no negative blog post rule as it appears my issue doesn’t appear to be a one off.  To be fair this post mentions positive aspects too so it does actually fit in to a degree.  A number of Center Parcs clients appear to have been affected by the same issue that my group had last year.  How do I know this?  Probably due to the fact that I talk a fair amount and not just to a select few at the school gates (although I do NOT gossip!!!).  My dad thinks I am like donkey from Shrek (the movie with the big green ogre) and that the trick is getting me to be quiet, lol, thanks dad.

 This issue turned what should have been a lovely holiday into a total disaster and here is why.  Last year in March I went on holiday with my family to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday.  My siblings and I had all discussed where to go and decide we wanted to relive the wonderful memories we had made during our childhood on our numerous visits to the various Center Parcs sites.  We booked the recently opened Woburn site as the accommodation at the last one that I had visited Elveden had been a little worse for wear a few years before.  Whose glad she took her bottle of dettol and some extra paper rolls that time around!!!!!!!

 We opted for a woodland lodge for our 2015 visit as it seemed to cover all our basic requirements.  We have been going to Center Parcs since I was little (it’s been a looooong time) and have been to most of their UK sites.  I loved it so much I even had my hen weekend there, although it was not your normal style hen weekend as my fiancé and other males were also invited (I tend not to follow the norm but like to do my own thing).

 Anyway last year extremely excited (me probably even more than the kids, lol) we drove to the site, checked in and collected the keys for what was to be our home for the weekend.  I was looking forward to my children (all 3) experiencing the beautiful scenery, the fabulous swimming facilities and getting that little bit closer to nature than normal.

DSC04263The lodge was well equipped although I must admit I did bring a few cooking essentials with me having remembered what I had to work with in the past.  The girls couldn’t wait to go and see the pool so of course we went swimming.  For those that haven’t been to Center Parcs this is one of the few things that you don’t have to pay for when you are there.  The subtropical swimming area is great for young and old although I did think the Woburn pool was a little lacking in comparison to that at Elveden Forest as for a start there were no hot whirlpools (with their own bubbles so you didn’t need to create your own, hey I never did lol). We ate out on numerous occasions and took part in various activities it wasn’t long until some of the party began to get ill.

DSC04229Not realising at first what the cause was at first we continued using the pool and more of the party began to feel ill.  Some of the party felt so ill that they almost went home on the Sunday.  By the time we had come home all but one out of the 9 of us were ill or showing the first signs of illness and through a simply differential diagnosis I deduced that the cause of the illness was actually cryptosporidium a microscopic parasite that is chlorine resistant.  I had thought this would be the case whilst on site so I made a point of mentioning the illness and likely cause to two members of staff but they didn’t seem that bothered.  I was surprised at the lack of interest in preventing this from happening to others as this was not what I had expected at all.

It was quite upsetting to have had this happen as it made what should have been a fun and positive experience the total opposite for all concerned and some of them now wouldn’t fancy returning.  I had wanted to begin making memories with my children but now when I mention Center Parcs they think of it as the place that made them ill, not a very good advert for them I am sure.  I was considering taking the children again this year my only concern would now be the swimming pool but as this is an important part of the holiday I am not sure exactly how this could be avoided.  This hasn’t happened every time we have been and clearly we were unlucky but as other families have said that they experienced the same thing at different sites it is not an isolated occurrence.  I will say that if we were to return that I doubt we would set foot in the children’s pool as this would be the most likely origin of the initial contamination.  What do you think guys, should I risk it and take the kids again???  Should I have contacted them and asked for compensation too considering what happened???  (I know others that tried this but had to keep on at Centre Parcs to get anything acceptable which was one reason why I didn’t bother at the time.)

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This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. I think you should have brought it to the attention of senior staff at the time of your visit. it wouldn’t put me off visiting again, but for me I can get a free day pass 🙂 ive been to centre parcs on 2 day visits and we have spend the whole time in the pool and none of us have been unwell x

    1. Thanks for your comment Ema. It doesn’t happen all the time it is just when infected faecal matter is present so someone with a tummy upset that may not have cleaned properly or an infected child with a nappy has a bowel movement and even though the bulk is contained within the nappy the parasite can still contaminate the water. It’s the first time it has happened to us and I have been to Centre Parcs 8 or more times.

  2. Interesting. How did you know your illness was due to that? And if you were sure, you should have complained whilst there to the management and followed it up in writing. In fact, if you are still sure, you should write to them..

    1. Thanks for your comment Julie. It was the only factor that all infected individuals had in common. We didn’t eat the same food etc. the only thing that we had all done was go swimming.

      1. I would be reluctant to go again, but then I think Center Parcs is overpriced anyway and not worth it. I would definitely complain.

        1. Thanks Julie, I am considering it now 😉

  3. Hmm this doesn’t sound good. We’ve been thinking of trying Centre Parcs and this puts me right off. I’m not sure if you raised the issue with Centre Parcs when you got home because if the pool was the source of the illness then they should have done something immediately to prevent further people falling ill. And if it wasn’t the pool then they should have made some further investigation to find out what the problem was. From the other things you say I get the feeling that some of the Parcs are pretty run down and not that clean. I completely understand that if you all felt ropey, all you’d want to do is get home as quickly as possible and forget about the experience though. Everything I hear is to the effect that Centre Parcs are very expensive too.

    1. Centre Parcs is quite pricey although I must admit it is beautiful. The more established sites look amazing and have all sorts of wildlife wandering about.

  4. We are regulars, or were regulars and everytime we have visited there have been issues. The pancake house at longleat being the worst with the chefs serving part raw eggs on pancakes resulting in food poisoning and dropping food and using the five second rule. Or sports cafe undercooked scampi again resulting in food poisoning. It wouldn’t be a surprise to hear similar stories to yours at longleat in particular. Unfortunately if you didn’t visit the medical centre there will be no record of your illness so no recourse. We won’t be returning, it’s nowhere near the standard it used to be and a lot of it is down to staff who just aren’t bothered or not being trained correctly

    1. Thanks for your comment Amanda. I do keep hearing mixed reviews about the food. I didn’t think to visit the medical centre unfortunately whilst we were there but having spoken with two seperate members of staff you’d think one of them might have suggested going.

  5. Personally I wouldn’t go back to that particular one. If they did not appear to be that interested in what you had to say then they are only likely to have gotten even more complacent since. There are plenty of other parcs which are great places to go. Members of my family went to Longleat and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Longleat is lovely but as I recall it was very hilly and I don’t think the children would cope going up and done those. I think we even walked up and down a few when we went 😉

  6. I have been to Centre Parcs once and did not have any trouble but with the amount they charge and the extras they charge, they should at least be able to keep the pool clean. I also think it is the responsibility of other holiday makers to make sure that they don’t spread their bugs.

    1. That’s what I thought when I mentioned it there especially as there are lots of small children that go.

  7. not a nice experience at all, I have never been to Centre Parcs, they look expensive and I would not been keen to return to that particular site again, if i would be prepared to give them another go I would a different one.

    1. Thanks for your comment Anthony, I am considering that as this visit to the Woburn site was very disappointing.

  8. I have been when my son was younger and we didn’t have any problems. Had I suffered illness I would think twice about going again.

    1. I a hoping it wouldn’t happen again but if it did I’d be fuming.

  9. You should complain – i would! I love centre parcs though – so i would probably give it another try!

    1. They picked up the complaint on twitter, yet no one has actually come back to me so not very impressed so far.

  10. I took my children to woburn centre parks also and we didn’t get ill but I found considering how much they charge for accommodation that the activities were overpriced and so we couldn’t afford to do much there, so I wont be going again x

    1. It is a biy unfair that they charge so much but there are a few things you can do that don’t cost anything.

  11. I dont go to centre parks its over priced,there are lots of nature holidays all over the country.If you really like the place i would go back,personal preference.

  12. Given how much the average centre parc holiday costs, I would be upset too. Hard to know what to do in those situations though as you often feel that moaning will make the holiday worse.

    1. It’s a shame that they didn’t seem to do much about it either when we were there.

  13. Hi, just wondered if you did complain and what the outcome was? We have just returned and we had a sickness bug there. We also believe from the pool. I have emailed almost a week ago with no response. The staff there didn’t even clean our lodge despite me showing them where my 1 year old had been sick. We did clean it with the limited cleaning materials we brought.

    1. Hi Claire, I did and they didn’t really see that bothered to be honest on site and also when I messaged them the said they had no reports from other guests. Basically they didn’t seem very interested and I wasn’t very impressed. There was no offer of any vouchers or anything as compensation their customer service skills really need working on considering I wasn’t reporting just one person being ill. I’m really sorry to hear your little one got sick. Keep on at them they have in the past given people some vouchers to apologise but they need to be harassed a bit to do so x

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