The surprising trick to saving hundreds of pounds on a Center Parcs holiday

The surprising trick to saving hundreds of pounds on a Center Parcs holiday

Swapping Center Parcs in the UK for a stay at the at their namesake resorts in Europe could see holidaymakers more than half the cost of accommodation, according to a new report.

In one example, choosing a Center Parcs in France could save over £800 when compared to a British holiday.

Consumer group Which? analysed the cost of a four-night stay for a family of four at 32 Center Parc sites across England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, focusing on five weeks of school holidays (in May, July, August and October).

On average, the UK outposts – which is run by a separate company to Center Parcs Europe – were substantially costlier than elsewhere in Europe.

The research found that the average price paid in the UK is £1,435, yet the average cost in Germany and the Netherlands was far lower – an average of £857 and £886, respectively. Savings could also be made in France (where the average stay was found to be £1,098) and Belgium (£1,121).

The biggest price differences could be found for bookings in the late May and October half terms, with Which? suggesting this could be due to the difference between school calendars in the various countries.

Center Parcs in Woburn Forest is one hour from London (Center Parcs UK)

The most substantial savings in the May half-term could be found in France, where before factoring in travel costs, a family could save £852 on average compared with booking in the UK.

At £1,449 on average, a UK stay costs a eye-watering 143 per cent more than the average cost of a comparable break in France (£597).

Over the same week, families could also save an average of £788 in Germany, £742 in the Netherlands and £672 in Belgium, compared to staying in the UK.

Those booking for the October half-term can find the biggest savings in the Netherlands, where the cost of a four-night break is a £804 less on average than in the UK, dropping from £1,449 to £645.

During the summer holidays, Germany proved to be the cheapest Center Parcs destination in each of the three weeks checked by Which?.

The average price for accommodation in a German Center Parcs was found to be £803, around £600 less than a UK break.

While the costs to European destinations don’t include the cost of travel, spot checks suggest “even once these factored in, families could still stand to save – particularly if booking ferries far in advance”.

Parks in France and Belgium are among the easiest to reach from the south of England. Park de Haan in Belgium is approximately just over an hour’s drive from Dunkirk, for example, while Calais is around two and a half hours from Center Parcs Le Lac d’Ailette. A return ferry to Calais could be booked for just under £150 for a family of four during the October half term, or around £165 during the May school break.

The Netherlands, which has the cheapest average prices in October, can be reached directly by ferry from Hull, Harwich or Newcastle, or by driving a few hours from Calais or Dunkirk.

Naomi Leach, deputy editor of Which? Travel, said: “While UK holiday parks offer families an easy way to explore the great British countryside, our research has found that casting your net further afield could make your break more affordable.

“Those holidaying in the May and October half-terms stand to make the most significant savings, but even during the summer a family could save hundreds of pounds on their accommodation costs. Do factor in the cost of transport and travel insurance to ensure the swap is worthwhile and always double check European parks have the facilities and activities you expect.”

A spokesperson for Center Parcs UK told The Independent that despite sharing a brand name, they remain “entirely separate companies which operate very differently”.

“At Center Parcs UK, our unique offering attracts loyal guests, a high number of whom return year after year – last year, we welcomed approximately 2.2 million guests and had continued occupancy of around 97 per cent.

“We continue to invest heavily in our facilities, accommodation, people and the woodlands in which we operate. With Center Parcs villages across the country, we offer the opportunity to enjoy a high-quality and convenient short break in a beautiful woodland setting, without the need for lengthy travel with children.”