We are just back from an amazing weekend in Center Parcs. It is undoubtedly one of the best family holiday destinations in Ireland, but the questions I have been asked the most are all related to the prices, and how to save money at Center Parcs.
We rode bikes, we raced down water rapids, conquered the Aerial Assault course and shot a few strangers during Laser Combat. You know the best things about all of these activities? We did them together! It was one of the best family experiences we have had in Ireland, and the kids are already asking me when we are going back. As I browse through their website I notice massive difference in prices, depending on when you travel. This got me thinking that it is possible to visit Centre Parcs if you are on a budget. Here are my top tips on how to save money at Center Parcs Ireland.
1. Book in advance
There are only 466 lodges and 30 apartments in Center Parcs Longford Forest. It is smaller than Center Parcs in the UK, so it will get booked out in advance. Center Parcs use a similar model to the airlines and increase prices closer to departure if they have limited availability, so if you want to go during school holidays, book it now.
I was very lucky to be able to visit at Christmas time too – it was magical and a great way for the kids to see Santa. If you are thinking of visiting over the festive period – make sure to book in advance.
2. Visit off peak
If you can travel during school term, you will save a small fortune. Prices start from €399 for a four night stay during the winter-time, and bear in mind it is usually cheaper to stay for four nights mid week, than three nights over a weekend. Center Parcs Longford Forest is home to Ireland’s largest indoor water park and it is heated to 29.5c all year round – so don’t let the winter weather put you off.
If you don’t want to take the kids out of school, why not travel from Friday – Monday, but leave Sunday night instead ? You will be able to stay on-site as late you like on Sunday – as you officially won’t be leaving until Monday. If you love it as much as we did, you can always come back next summer.
3. Save €160 off your stay with Tesco Clubcard
I have to thank one of my Instagram followers for this tip on how to save money at Center Parcs: Every €2.50 in Tesco Clubcard vouchers rewards you with €10 towards your stay at Center Parcs Longford Forest. The maximum Clubcard voucher allowed off any one booking is €40, but this will give you €160 off your stay! See more here.
4. Bring your own bikes and pool towels.
Center Parcs is a car-free zone so everyone uses bikes to get around. Bike-hire is pricey, at €35 per adult and €25.50 for a 3/4 night stay, or €48.50 per adult and €36 per child for a seven-night stay. But you can bring your own – this will save you €169 if you are staying for a week. Incidentally you don’t have to hire bikes, you can choose to walk everywhere. If you want to do this, think about paying an extra €49 to book lodge close to the village centre.
The indoor subtropical pool is superb and I’m sure your kids will want to visit every day – luckily it is included in the cost of your stay! Towels however, are not. The charge to rent towels at the pool is €2 per day so this is €56 for a week, based on a family of four. Some people bring the rented towels back to their lodges to dry them so they are not paying the daily charge, but it is easier and cheaper to just bring your own.
5. Dine in your lodge.
I found the restaurants quite reasonably priced and the food was good in most restaurants, but there is no doubt dining-in will save you money. There is a BBQ and a well equipped kitchen in every lodge, so you can dine inside or out, depending on the weather. As you will be travelling by car, you can shop in your own supermarket before you come, or use the supermarket on-site.
I was quite surprised at the prices in the ParcMarket, they were similar to a local Spar or Centra, so if you don’t want to shop before you come, this is a great alternative. I’m sure most families cook breakfast and lunch in the lodge, but the likelihood is that you will be tired after a long active day, so a night-in will be welcomed too!
Note: Center Parcs offer a great Dine-In menu if you don’t want to cook. This can get booked out though, so you need to call at 3pm to book it and arrange a delivery time.
6. Pre-book activities
There are over 100 activities in Center Parcs, but with the exception of the swimming pool and playgrounds, they all incur additional costs. It is important to manage your kids expectations.
Once you book your trip you will receive emails (lots of them!) and even phone calls about pre-booking activities. This is your chance to look through the various options and decide what you and the kids REALLY want to do.
You can do mini-golf or play tennis anywhere, but can you do tree-trekking, raft building or let your toddler be a chocolate chef? There are some amazing activities for kids of all ages, many of which are not easy to come-by, so pick your favourites in advance and book them.
This will not only allow you to budget appropriately, but your kids will be aware of what activities they are doing, and hopefully won’t expect anything else!
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7. Enjoy the free things too!
It goes without saying that you will spend time in the subtropical swimming pool, but take time to enjoy your surroundings too. Center Parcs Longford Forest is set in 400 acres of woodland. Enjoy forest walks and see what animals you can spot, we saw some deer very close to the village.
Younger kids will love the fairy trail through the woods and the superb playgrounds on-site. Bring a bucket and spade for the man-made beach and a perhaps a football, but most of all enjoy the beautiful surroundings. This is one of the best ways to save money at Center Parcs!
I hope you enjoyed my tips on how to save money at Center Parcs. We were guests at the official launch of Center Parcs in Ireland, and you can see my ultimate guide to Center Parcs Longford Forest here.
For pricing and availability visit CenterParcs.ie