Save cash on a break at a Center Parcs… pick a foreign one: British families can save hundreds by going on holiday to a site on the continent
- A four-night Easter break costs an average £1,259 in the UK or £392 in France
- Activities are also cheaper on the continent, according to a Which? study
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Holidaymakers shocked by the price of Center Parcs breaks in the UK could save ‘hundreds of pounds’ by booking a park in Europe instead, Which? has found.
The consumer group compared the cost of a four-night stay in a two-bedroom lodge at 16 sites across England, France and Belgium during August, October half-term, next year’s February half-term and Easter 2024.
The figures, based on holidays for a family of four, show that stays in the UK cost £1,274 on average, compared with £701 in Belgium and £833 in France.
The most striking difference was for Easter 2024, which costs £1,259 on average for a UK break compared to £800 in Belgium and just £392 in France. If Britons book the latter deal, they could save more than £800.
Other big savings – as much as £756 – could be made over October half-term when a UK stay will set holidaymakers back an average £1,369 compared to £613 in Belgium and £868 in France.
Holidaymakers shocked by the price of Center Parcs breaks in the UK could save ‘hundreds of pounds’ by booking a park in Europe instead, Which? reveals
This is partly due to differences between school calendars in the countries analysed, Which? reveals.
UK prices are at their lowest in the February half-term, at £1,105. But this is still significantly more expensive than Belgium, priced at £657, and France, costing £879, for the same period.
Which? said large savings can be made by booking trips on the continent even when travel costs are factored in.
The consumer champion found return ferry sailings from Dover for a family of four during the October half-term can be booked for around £125 to Calais and £170 to Dunkirk.
Holidaymakers could make further savings by booking through the French website centerparcs.fr instead of the English-language site centerparcs.eu, researchers found.
Which? compared the cost of a four-night stay in a two-bedroom lodge at 16 sites across England, France and Belgium. Pictured is a two-bed woodland lodge at Center Parcs Elveden Forest in Suffolk
Spot checks revealed that prices for Center Parcs in France and Belgium were £68 cheaper on average on the French website.
Travellers may also stand to make savings on additional activities when staying in a Center Parcs Europe resort.
Archery costs between £19 and £26.50 at the UK’s Whinfell Forest park, compared to just £14 at Belgium’s Park de Haan.
Similarly, Laser Battle games range in price from £24.50 to £34.50 at Whinfell Forest, and cost just £15 at Park de Haan.
Visitors may also benefit from increased flexibility by opting for a European Center Parcs resort.
Center Parcs UK provides woodland-based holidays with accommodation in lodges and activities such as swimming, water sports, crafting and cycling. Pictured is the UK’s original holiday village at Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
CENTER PARCS PRICES FOR A FOUR-NIGHT STAY IN A STANDARD TWO-BED COTTAGE OR LODGE
- August 2023 – £1,392
- October half term 2023 – £1,369
- February half term 2024 – £1,105
- Easter 2024 – £1,259
- August 2023 – £1,013
- October half term 2023 – £613
- February half term 2024 – £657
- Easter 2024 – £800
- August 2023 – £1,137
- October half term 2023 – £868
- February half term 2024 – £879
- Easter 2024 – £392
While Center Parcs UK adds additional charges for changing your reservation, the European parks allow a single fee-free change to your reservation up to 21 days before your arrival.
Center Parcs UK’s five sites in England are Elveden Forest in Suffolk, Longleat Forest in Wiltshire, Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire, and Whinfell Forest in Cumbria.
Center Parcs Europe is a separate company, with 26 parks operating across Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Jo Rhodes, deputy editor of Which? Travel magazine, said: ‘While a holiday park may feel like a quintessentially British holiday, our research found that it’s well worth casting your eye beyond the Channel to snap up some significant savings.
‘Just do your research before you go, to make sure your chosen park has the facilities and activities you’re looking for.’
As the most-visited brand in Which?’s recent survey of UK holiday parks, Center Parcs proved to be consistently popular with guests though negative comments about the price were common.
It scored just two stars for value for money, and was described by one respondent as ‘second-mortgage expensive’.
A Center Parcs UK spokesperson said: ‘Center Parcs UK and Center Parcs Europe are entirely separate companies that share the same brand but operate under very different market conditions.
‘This makes comparisons between the two difficult.
‘There is huge demand for our short breaks in the UK which means we are almost full all year round.
‘Sixty per cent of guests will go on to make another booking with us, which reflects the quality of the experience we offer.’
The news comes as Center Parcs UK reveals it’s reducing its minimum booking age from 21 to 18 in a bid to appeal to younger families.
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