UK holidaymakers save money by going to overseas Center Parcs instead, Which? finds - price comparison
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Holidaymakers shocked by the price of Center Parcs breaks in the UK could save a lot more by booking a park in Europe instead, it has been found. Consumer champion Which? said on average, the cost of a UK Center Parcs stay ‘massively outstripped’ the prices paid on the continent.
The findings were based on the comparison of the cost of a four-night stay for a family of four at 16 Center Parcs sites across England, France and Belgium during peak periods in August and October half terms this year, and February half term and the first week of the Easter holidays next year.
The group found a UK stay comes in at £1,274 on average, compared to £833 in France, and £701 in Belgium. As for Easter holidays in the UK, a family needs to fork out £1,259 on average in 2024, compared to £800 in Belgium and just £350 in France. If British holidaymakers schedule the latter option, they could save over £800.
Additional savings of up to £756 could also be made during October half-term, when a stay in the UK costs an average of £1,369, compared to £613 in Belgium and £868 in France.
On average, a family could save 55 per cent opting for a Center Parcs resort in Belgium rather than the UK over October half-term, with a four night break costing just £613, compared to £1,369 in the UK. The savings in France were almost as substantial, with the same stay costing £868 on average.
Meanwhile, prices in the UK are at their lowest during the February half-term, at £1,105. However, this is substantially more expensive than Belgium, which costs £657, and France, which costs £879 for the same period.
But the group said even once return travel costs are factored in, families will still stand to save hundreds of pounds overall. Return ferry sailings from Dover for a family of four during the October half-term may be booked for roughly £125 to Calais and £170 to Dunkirk, which is less than an hour’s drive from its Center Parcs’ site, according to the consumer champion.
Researchers discovered that booking through the French website centerparcs.fr rather than the English-language site centerparcs.eu could result in additional savings for holidaymakers, with a saving of £68 on average on the French website.
Travellers may also stand to make savings on additional activities when staying in a Center Parcs Europe resort. For example, archery costs between £19 and £26.50 at the UK’s Whinfell Forest park, while it costs just £14 at Belgium’s Park de Haan. Similarly, Laser Battle games range in price from £24.50 to £34.50 at Whinfell Forest, and cost just £15 at Park de Haan.
Visitors may also benefit from increased flexibility by opting for a European Center Parcs resort. While Center Parcs UK adds additional charges for changing your reservation, the European parks allow a single fee-free change to your reservation up to 21 days before your arrival.
Jo Rhodes, deputy editor of Which? Travel said: “While a holiday park may feel like a quintessentially British holiday, our research found that it’s well-worth casting your eye beyond the Channel to snap up some significant savings.
“A family of four could save hundreds of pounds by choosing a Center Parcs resort in France or Belgium rather than in the UK, with the biggest savings over the October and Easter half terms. Just do your research before you go, to make sure your chosen park has the facilities and activities you’re looking for.”
Center Parcs price comparison
UK - £1392
Belgium - £1392
France - £1137
October half-term 2023
UK - £1369
Belgium - £613
France - £868
February Half Term 2024
UK - £1105
Belgium - £657
France - £879
UK - £1259
Belgium - £800
France - £392