Video: a relaxing holiday deep in the woods

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Reporter Ben McVay spent the weekend at Center Parcs cycling, swimming and generally enjoying the outdoors. Here is what he thought of the place.

The last time I visited Center Parcs I was 14 and accompanied by my parents.

An awful lot of time was spent riding around in the woods on my mountain bike and going down slides in the large swimming pool.

I also have a vague memories of ten-bin bowling at the Leisure Bowl and a bungling attempt at dancing while stealing furtive glances at girls during a teenage disco.

So, I did wonder what a trip to Center Parcs would be like as an adult 23 years later.

Well, what struck me this time round was how simple and relaxing a place it is to take your holiday - especially if you hire bikes.

Most of the facilities and activities are within easy reach of each other, but if your accommodation is in the outskirts you might find the walking to-and-fro quite time-consuming.

We were staying just for the weekend, so time was short and we also had a five-year-old in tow who does not enjoy walking that much.

Cycling around the wooded resort, the three of us, from place to place was quick, fun and it was truly relaxing just taking in the fresh air all day.

Although the Sub-tropical Paradise pool was definitely not as much fun this time round, our son enjoyed it in his own way.

And he was more than happy to be a pirate at the kids’ Time Out Clubhouse while we spent the morning enjoying the Aqua Sana.

There you will find a good variety of lovely-scented and colourfully-lit steam rooms and saunas, which I thought could have been a touch hotter but my steaming preferences are extreme by most standards.

We were also struck by the variety of restaurants but opted for the family-friendly Foresters’ Inn, which offered a great children’s play area.

But the tasty, simple food and friendly helpful staff was what made it such a great evening for all three of us.

There are many activities to choose from at Center Parcs but one we opted for the Owl Experience.

This well worth the hour it takes as handlers brought out six or seven different varieties - from the tiny Pygmy Owl to the giant European Eagle Owl and enticed them onto our gloved hands with raw meat.

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