The wood life: After 25 years, has Center Parcs changed UK holidays for ever?
For 25 years, Center Parcs has been making big business out of UK short breaks. So what's the secret? Lisa Markwell takes to her tree house.
he silence that greets my statement is profound. "We're staying in one of the tree houses," I say, and everyone within earshot on the Center Parcs landtrain turns round to look. Then the questions start. "What's it like inside?" "Is it true there's a live-in maid?" And, inevitably, "How much does it cost?"
The tree houses at Longleat Forest are jaw-dropping. Even when not compared to what one might describe as plain and efficient "comfort" accommodation, they are opulent, expansive spaces of rustic luxury set in deep woodland – something you might expect to find at one of those "stealth wealth" resorts. But when you're en route from your compact apartment to the pool and you pass them, lit up and twinkling like the kind of place Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings might live in, the contrast is stark.