Saturday, May 25, 2024

Revealed: British families could save up to £800 on a Center Parcs break… by switching their stay to a European resort

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Britons deterred by the cost of a Center Parcs break in the UK could save up to £800 on their accommodation by opting for a European site, new Which? research has found.

The consumer champion compared the costs of four-night stays for a family of four at 32 Center Parcs sites across England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany during five separate weeks of the school holidays – in May, July, August and October.

It found that the average prices paid in UK Center Parcs resorts ‘were considerably higher than prices paid elsewhere in Europe’, claiming Brits could save ‘hundreds of pounds by holidaying abroad’. 

Across the dates Which? checked, the average price for accommodation in UK Center Parcs is £1,435, while the average cost in Germany and the Netherlands is a fraction of that, averaging £857 and £866 respectively.

According to the watchdog, substantial savings could also be made in France and Belgium, where average stays cost £1,098 and £1,121 respectively.

Which? compared the costs of four-night stays for a family of four at 32 Center Parcs sites across Europe

Britons deterred by the cost of a Center Parcs break in the UK could save up to £800 on their accommodation by opting for a European site, Which? found. Above - Center Parcs Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire, England

Britons deterred by the cost of a Center Parcs break in the UK could save up to £800 on their accommodation by opting for a European site, Which? found. Above – Center Parcs Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire, England

Which? revealed that France boasted the most significant savings in the May half-term where, without factoring in travel costs, a family could save £852 on average compared with booking in the UK.

The consumer group found that at £1,449 on average for May, a UK Center Parcs stay costs 143 per cent more than the average cost of a comparable break in France (£597).

Over the same week, Which? found British families could save an average of £788 in Germany, £742 in the Netherlands and £672 in Belgium.

Meanwhile, those booking in the October half-term can find the biggest savings in the Netherlands, where a four-night break costs £804 less on average than in the UK.

Which? revealed that, using the £1,449 average, a UK Center Parcs break is 125 per cent dearer than a Dutch equivalent (£645).

In the summer holidays, the consumer group found Germany was the cheapest Center Parcs destination in each of the three weeks checked.

The end of the summer break offered the biggest savings, Which? noted. 

A stay at a German Center Parcs between August 26 and 30 came in at £803 on average, which is over £600 less than a stay in the UK (£1,409).

Between August 19 and 23, Which? claimed that travellers could save just shy of £500, and £254 between July 19 and August 2, compared to staying in the UK.

While travel costs could push these prices up, spot checks by Which? suggests that families could still save once they are factored in – particularly if booking ferries well in advance.

Which? noted that Center Parks in Belgium and France are the easiest to reach from the south of England. For example, Park de Haan in Belgium is approximately just over an hour’s drive from Dunkirk, while Calais is around two and a half hours from Center Parcs Le Lac d’Ailette.

Prices of four-night stays at Center Parcs resorts across Europe, according to Which?
DATES  UK  France  Belgium  Netherlands  Germany 
May 27 – 31  £1,449  £597  £777  £707  £661 
July 29 – Aug 2 £1,429  £1,472 £1,355  £1,210  £1,175 
Aug 19 – 23  £1,439  £1,419  £1,281  £995  £949 
Aug 26 – 30 £1,409 £1,143  £1,070  £872  £803 
Oct 28 – Nov 1 £1,449  £857  N/A  £645  £699 
Averages  £1,435  £1,098  £1,121  £886  £857 
Across the dates Which? checked, the average price for accommodation in UK Center Parcs resorts is £1,435. Pictured above is Center Parcs Woburn Forest

Across the dates Which? checked, the average price for accommodation in UK Center Parcs resorts is £1,435. Pictured above is Center Parcs Woburn Forest

Which? revealed that at the time of writing, a return ferry to Calais for a family of four could be booked for £147 during the October half-term or £165 during the May half-term.

The Netherlands, meanwhile, can be reached via ferry from Hull, Harwich and Newcastle, or by driving a few hours from Calais or Dunkirk.

Center Parcs De Eemhof has the lowest price in October – £505 for four nights, Which? noted. It’s approximately a one-and-a-half hour drive from the Hook of Holland, with a return ferry from Harwich available for £188 at the time of writing, according to the consumer group.

Amounting to a total cost of £693, that’s a saving of £606 compared to Center Parcs Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, which is the UK park with the lowest available price that week (£1,299 for a four-night stay), Which? revealed.

Which? does advise, however, that holidaymakers should factor in longer journey times, with a ferry crossing to the Hook of Holland taking more than seven hours.

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.’

MailOnline Travel contacted Center Parcs UK for comment.  

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