For a forest idyll has landed slap bang in the middle of Ireland courtesy of those wonderful people at Center Parcs. Just three hours drive from Belfast, this action-packed oasis brings families together to enjoy the great outdoors and reconnect with nature – and each other.
At the heart of this al fresco expanse, though, sits the sublimely sheltered Subtropical Swimming Paradise. This magnificent aquatic wonderland features a swimming pool surrounded by a lazy river, wild water rapids, hot whirlpools and several scream-inducing water slides. A children’s splash zone and cluster of private poolside cabanas ensure all ages enjoy this retreat’s balmy 29.5c interior.
Back outside and the fun never lets up, with cycling, zip lining, aerial tree trekking and a flotilla of lake-based activities designed to get your heart pumping. Indeed, cycling is central to your stay. As soon as you arrive and drop off luggage at your lodge, cars are parked and bicycles collected as your new mode of transport.
With 400 acres to explore, these vehicle-free paths are a welcome addition to this child-focused resort. Almost 500 pristine self-catering lodges and apartments are dotted throughout its Longford Forest home, providing stylish accommodation with all mod cons and space for up to eight guests. You’ll soon be whizzing along the lanes and waving a cheery “hello” to your fellow guests.
You can opt to cook your own meals in the well-equipped kitchen or outdoor bbq, using food and drink brought from home or bought at the ParcMarket. Or why not spend a night or two at one of the on-site restaurants ranging from The Pancake House to Bella Italia and Huck's American Bar and Grill? Take away can also be ordered from each restaurant and enjoyed chez lodge.
Ultimately, though, a stay at Center Parcs Longford Forest is all about the mind-boggling array of over 100 activities. Whether it's bringing out your inner Bollywood Dancer, loving lab life with Crazy Science, getting to grips with the Indoor Climbing or sitting behind the wheel as an Off Road Explorer, each activity is designed to entertain and excite all ages and abilities.
Our favourite ‘me-time’ moment, though, has to be slipping off for a few hours at the incredibly luxe Aqua Sana Spa. Yes, Center Parcs is all about the kids but this little slice of heaven, Ireland's largest stand-alone spa and reserved for over 14s, is a welcome world away from the hustle and bustle of the main resort. Nordic Forest, Hot Springs, Volcanic Forest and Treetop Nesting zones soothe the soul with saunas, steam rooms, waterfall showers and hot tubs. The outdoor heated pool makes the most of those sylvan surroundings. While the treatment rooms offer up all sorts of top-to-toe temptations. Who says children get all the fun?
Whether you’re planning a multi-generational holiday, weekend break with friends or trip away with the kids, Center Parcs delivers on every level. Its arrival in Ireland has brought a fantastic holiday experience to these shores, and a welcome tropical roof over our very unpredictable weather. What more could you ask for?
To discover more and book your trip, head to www.centerparcs.ie. All prices include unlimited access to the Subtropical Swimming Paradise. Popular activities such as the aerial tree trekking and zip lining should be booked ahead. You can bring your own bicycles or book bespoke wheels from the resort’s extensive Cycle Centre.