Move over Bear Grylls - Elveden Forest Center Parcs has found its new all-action hero
Anew he-man, all-action hero has been unearthed in the wilds of Thetford Forest.
He can build a den, sniff out danger, drive a boat, negotiate wild water rapids - and cart around two grandchildren in a colourful buggy attached to his natty mountain bike.
Ok, I may not quite be in the league of Bear Grylls, but I got close to emulating some of his wildest achievements on a short stay at Center Parcs in East Anglia’s Elveden Forest.
The family break specialist - which has five UK holiday villages - has built up an enviable business since opening its first village in Sherwood Forest back in 1987.
Center Parcs has sold itself on being the holiday the weather couldn’t spoil - the Indian summer meant we didn’t have to test that theory but we road-tested most other things a two-year-old and four-year-old could shake a stick at.
Since I last visited, sensory play has been introduced along with den building. The sensory area adds something extra to the mix of play areas, sports (indoor and out) and high-ropes action.
Den building brought out the Bear Grylls in me - and grandchildren Evie and Sophia seemed to enjoy collecting twigs, cones, leaves and carrying huge pieces of wood to help us build a great shelter. There are some nice touches (a craft area where you make things to furnish your den) and our guide Jay had a deadpan delivery which made the whole event full of fun.
Our break proved just how timeless holidays can be at a Center Parcs holiday village. I first went with my own children to Elveden Forest in the early 1990s, when a lot of the centre was undercover (before the 2002 fire). A lot has changed since then - but the park has evolved gracefully and kept up with ever-changing expectations of holidaymakers.
The new climbing wall seems to have won an army of new fans. Now there is an Adventure Cove of watery delights and slides for younger holidaymakers.
But the constants remain: squirrels, ducks, nervy muntjac deer and flitty blue tits still visit every patio at every villa in the woods. Center Parcs prides itself on its green credentials and has awards piled high for its conservation efforts.
The pool is another constant which, though added to (the thrilling Tropical Cyclone ride for example) has remained the central appeal for a holiday here.
Post the pool, we moved on to Huck’s diner. It has a real American vibe going on, our meal was packed with flavour, fast coming to us and the integral children’s play area meant younger diners were kept happy, too.
One of the popular areas in recent years at Center Parcs has been the emergence of the spa (called Aqua Sana) as an attraction in its own right. You can visit as a holidaymaker but you can also book in for anything from a half-day upwards as a non-resident. We enjoyed a few hours along with a facial and it really helped us leave any traces of normal life well behind us. For a special treat, consider the Spa Suites - they are a little bit of real luxury for special days.
Center Parcs is open year-round and stays vary between four-day weekends starting on a Friday to midweek breaks beginning on Mondays.
Full details via www.centerparcs.co.uk