The constant buzz of activity, the frenetic pace of life and its streets teeming with nine million people — London is a quite marvellous place to be most of the time. But every now and again, a day spent outside the vast metropolis can be the perfect reposal.
Which is why, as a city-hardened sort of person, I jumped at the chance to while away a day at Center Parcs Woburn Forest, sampling everything it had to offer. And I was in for a treat — from the fantastic conference and event facilities to the stunning spa suites to the expansive woodland stretching as far as the eye can see; this Center Parcs complex in Woburn is the ultimate escape all while being less than an hour away from the centre of London…
’The Venue’ — conference facilities
The gang of PAs and myself were greeted by the fantastic team at Center Parcs’ superb conference and event facility — The Venue. As someone who has attended many a conference and exhibition, some London venues have become tired and lacking in originality – criticisms that certainly can’t be levelled at Center Parcs’ purpose-built, flagship conference and event space. With capacity for up to 600 delegates, the flexibility to create the perfect delegate experience and a wider 370-acre location offering a unique balance of business and pleasure, The Venue has to be near the top of any PA’s ‘location list’.
Suitably fed and watered on coffee and croissants, the PAs and myself were led on a tour of the grounds to get a feel for the site as a whole. As several commented during the walk-round – if you’ve never visited a Center Parcs before, there can be a perception of the venue and what it offers. As a long-time fan of the Center Parcs experience, it was pleasing to witness those perceptions being shattered with every corner-turn and new facet of the park’s extensive activity, leisure and culinary offerings. And while the Woburn Forest Village is similar in layout to Center Parcs’ other UK venues, this complex is being used as a showcase of its latest innovations and technology such as cashless wristbands and keyless building entry.
It’s fair to say the staple of Center Parcs’ accommodation is its forest lodges. Nestled within woodland landscapes, these self-catering options can offer accommodation for up to eight people; perfect for team-building weekends. If you’re looking for something more business-like with a bit of privacy, the 75-room hotel is located conveniently next to The Venue. But the jewel in the crown of Woburn’s accommodation portfolio is the six spa suites attached to the Aqua Sana spa — beautiful interior design, lavish luxury and a Jacuzzi overlooking the tree-lined lake; this is the ultimate in privacy and relaxation. So much so, that the PAs and I agreed it was tempting to book a weekend break there and then.
Eating and Drinking
Having worked up an appetite touring the grounds, we were treated to the scrumptious bowl-food lunch menu on offer at The Venue, which is one among several dining options at The Venue, which range from finger buffets to a full-on gala dinner. But it’s the 15 other dining and bar offerings around the site that make booking an event here unique — with so many cuisines and locations, event organisers have an array of eateries and drinking spots with varying capacities to choose from.
Aqua Sana spa
The highlight of the day for myself and the PAs accompanying was the chance to spend an afternoon in the Woburn Forest branch of Center Parcs’ award-winning spa destination Aqua Sana, which boasts 25 experience rooms inspired throughout by nature and combining different approaches from many of the leading European spa cultures, as well as 22 cutting-edge treatment rooms, offering expert treatments from renowned spa beauty brands, including Decléor and Elemis.
Unfortunately for us, the hours slipped by far too quickly and it was soon time to head back to the hustle and bustle of the city. But travelling back to the Big Smoke gave time for reflection on what a unique location Center Parcs Woburn really is — a true ‘retreat’ in beautiful surroundings, with the perfect blend of practicality and luxury — all within a couple of chapter’s worth of Kindle reading from central London. Perfect.
You don’t have to take my word for it, why not see it all for yourself? The wonderful team at Center Parcs Woburn Forest will be happy to help you and can organise site visits. For more information, click here.