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Center Parcs Elveden

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Kent
posts: 3
Center Parcs Elveden

I have just returned from this nasty place. Here is the letter I have just sent to the manager:

RE: HUGE COMPLAINT ABOUT ELVEDEN FOREST EXPERIENCE

I have just returned from Center Parcs in Elveden Forest.

I am still reeling from this horrific experience which was a complete and utter nightmare for the following reasons:

We stayed in a 'Comfort Villa'. This is the biggest misnomer ever. It was so ugly and used and grotty that the last thing it was was comfortable. And a villa?? Is this a joke? They are terribly old, ugly, concrete bunker shacks that looked like they had been built as emergency housing in a developing country 40 years ago.

The 'villa' stank of cat wee. I'm not sure if it was cat wee but if it wasn't, god only knows what it was that made it smell like that.

It was built from breeze blocks so either freezing cold or boiling hot - the quality of building was appalling. The radiators were not working properly so we had to call the Guest 'Services' - another misnomer as they were engaged for an hour and a half so I had to call the emergency line which the woman who answered berated me for. She then didn't believe me that the other line was engaged so called it herself to check which was such a cheek - I am the client, as if I'd lie! I hardly WANT to be calling Guest Services because the radiators don't work in my tremendously expensive 'holiday home'. She finally dealt with my situation. The men who came to fix the radiators were also exceedingly rude and unhelpful and spoke to me as if I was stupid although the truth of the matter is it is they who must be stupid as they are fixing radiators for a living.

The heating system was equally antique - the thermostat is in the living room which contains two huge radiators which means that as soon as the room is hot (5 minutes), all the radiators go off, leaving the bedrooms freezing. The only way to get round this problem is to sleep with all the bedroom doors open - ridiculous when you are sharing a 'villa' - or leave the window open in the living room overnight so the boiler had to continue working to heat the bedrooms. The radiators are all fitted with timers so even if you want the heating on at night, it is switched off automatically, which meant that my 3 month old baby woke up both nights freezing cold and then, in the middle of the night, I had to try and sort out the heating system as above. I do not take kindly to being treated as a child and having my heating turned off for me by a higher power. I am PAYING THROUGH THE NOSE and if I want (or in actual face, need, for my baby) the heating on, I want/need it on. It is absolutely ABSURD and like some kind of horrific boarding school. And although it is sold as being for environmental reasons, it only takes a second to realise it is a money-saving exercise, as is everything else at Center Parcs that is not a money-making exercise.

The decor was absolutely foul - from the early 80s and ugly even for that era with swirly puke-coloured curtains and carpet - and so old that the dirt was ingrained and I couldn't put my baby down anywhere for the foulness of the carpets and sofas.

There were no mattress covers which is horribly unhygienic.

The patio was unswept, uncleaned and disgusting.

The takeaway we ordered was completely cold.

The TV was also huge and ancient with only 8 channels - I would have thought the least we could expect is to have some kind of freeview (it is, as its name states FREE) rather than being stuck in the 90s. I'm surprised they actually had channel 5. Primitive is not the word.

Also, there is one guest services folder for all so the Comfort Villa ones contained irrelevant information on the sauna, games room, dishwasher, bbq etc that only exist in the Executive Villas. Is this because the Comfort Villa Guest Services folder would only contain instructions on how to turn on the heating as there is nothing else? And even that would be useless as the heating doesn't work.

You are told that you must book your activities before you arrive which is extremely inconvenient and is not even true - you can book them when you arrive as well. I felt completely misled.

We had to walk absolutely miles to the 'villa' from the car park and vice versa - which was awful for us with a baby and young children but especially awful for our day guests who had to bring bags and had to walk to car at night - my 62 year old mother had to find her way back to her car with all her bags at 9.30pm. I agree that cars should not be driving around the complex but surely there is a better solution than this hike to arrive and hike to leave for our guests.

Bikes, which are almost completely necessary are 15 POUNDS A DAY to hire. This is blind robbery.

We wanted to leave on the Saturday but managed to wait until 11am on Sunday morning before we finally just had to get out of that stinky hovel.

I am also horrified at the ridiculous price - we paid 539 pounds for a weekend (not including the over-priced activities including 60 POUNDS for a massage) and this is what we got. I would have been better off going for a bike ride near where I live and going to the local pool for a fraction of the cost and at least had the luxury of a non-smelly house to come home to.

I saw the Manager guy on Watchdog the other evening and he said that it is a Premium Short Break place. PREMIUM????? Is he joking??? And a 95% return rate?? Are people absolutely mad???

Are you aware of the statistic saying that each unsatisfied customer tells 9 other people? And I have in fact heard that, because of the internet, this figure has increased hugely.

I look forward to hearing your comments and to your suggestions as to compensation for this horrendous waste of my time and money and saddened that what I expected to be so amazing was such an obvious and terrible money-making exercise.

33 replies to this topic
Hertfordshire
posts: 126
reviews: 3
1. Re: Center Parcs Elveden

Sorry that you didn't have a good time but I am not sure your complaint will get dealt with properly if you have submitted the same rant that you have placed on here. You haven't explained which villa you were staying in to give them an opportunity to check out your views.

Did you complain about the smells or dirt when you were there to give them an opportunity to move you or rectify the situation for you?

Their website clearly shows what the accommodation looks like from the outside and you knew what you were paying. They also make it clear how long it takes to walk from place to place and they make no secret of the fact that you can only use your vehicle for unloading at the start of your stay and loading at the end.

Sounds to me like this wasn't the holiday for you and a little more research before you booked would have saved you a lot of grief!

Kent
posts: 3
2. Re: Center Parcs Elveden

Hilarious! You MUST work for them for a) responding to my post at all and b) responding to it on a Sunday evening!

And don't patronise me.

Maybe the brochure did show the pre-fab shacks from the outside and mention the ridiculous walking distances, but, if you read all my other complaints, you'll notice that the brochure failed to mention any of them.

UK
posts: 40,531
reviews: 84
3. Re: Center Parcs Elveden

So all people who reply on Sunday evenings work for the company in question if there is a complaint?

I don't know you, and I also don't work for CP, and nor is it Sunday evening, so I obviously have no axe to grind, take what follows in good faith.

You have made several classic mistakes in your rant, assuming that's pretty much what you sent them.

1. You didn't state, clearly at the outset (or in fact, anywhere !) what you wanted. You asked what they would do. Well, maybe what they'll do is send you a message saying how disappointed they were to hear your issues and send you a voucher for £25 off your next stay. Is that what you want? I'm guessing not, but who's to know.

2. You didn't state exactly what villa you were in, or the dates you stayed.

3. Your complaints about pricing, such as 'ridiculous', 'paying through the nose' etc are irrelevant. AFAIK they do get very high occupancy, so the prices work for them. They aren't going to write back and say "you know what, your letter gave us pause for thought, we are cutting our prices in half".

They are also irrelevant as far as your complaints, because heating should work, hot food should be hot, etc, whether you paid £100 or £1000.

4. Its a rant, with subjective and objective stuff intermigled.

Far better to itemise each complaint. For example;

1. date and time. heating didn't work, couldn't get through on the phone for 1.5 hours.

2. date and time. takeout food arrived cold. Complained, no offer to redeliver.

3 etc

Leave out the irrelevancies, the subjective opinions, eg stuff about decor , ugly villas, asides about being built as emergency housing. Thats got nothing to do with you getting recompense (if that's what you want), stick to the facts that might entail you getting a refund, put the other stuff in a review.

Be factual

- are you sure they say you MUST prebook activities? I'm guessing, they SUGGEST you pre-book. If you really MUST, then again, state where it says it.

- Did you actually have to walk MILES?

- Is 62 years old so ancient and decrepit?

Finally - Don't be abusive to people who respond to your posts calmly and rationally, as per the previous poster MatyMoo. Just because someone didn't agree 100% with you, doesn't mean they work for the company (!!! ) . Its a common reponse here when soemone doesn't hear what they want. Try and read it again without emotion.

Your rant is , IMHO, counter productive, especially when sent to the company, and possibly, even here. I wouldnt use CP again (have been a couple of times) because I dont think its worth the money, and also too many instances of people coming away with stomach bugs (all those babies pooing and weeing in a warm swimming pool all day, what do you expect?) but I did my research beforehand - I look at what you get and thought "£600 for 3 days? No thanks". It seems you didn't?

That's no excuse for the failings of course, but its also no excuse for you to make claims about it costing too much when they are 95% full. Obviously, its NOT too expensive for many.

Finally finally I'm not sure you'll be here much longer as having an abusive name AND abusing helpful responders, probably wont ensure longevity.

Kent
posts: 3
4. Re: Center Parcs Elveden

I haven't got time to read your reply.

you're one of those incredibly patronising know-it-alls who thinks they know how to do everything better than everyone else and insists on spending their lives doing so.

Get a life and stop interfering where your opinion is not welcome (impossible I'm sure for someone like you).

And don't bother replying, I'm deleting all your stuff from now on.

Glasgow, United...
Destination Expert
for South Ayrshire, Glasgow
posts: 13,929
reviews: 234
5. Re: Center Parcs Elveden

I was interested in reading your post as I am a keen fan of center pars and have been going almost since they started out. We've had one villa that was looking a little tired but apart from that it's been brilliant. They don't order you to book activities in advance. It's adviseable to do so for the more popular acivities but there's always plenty you can book after arrival, despite their very high occupancy rate. The comfort villas are the cheapest and most basic of the accommodations, yet still manage to have under floor heating, full kitchen and excellent amenities. Add to that their position in a traffic free, well managed forest, and eco friendly environment and plenty of free activities, I'd say it made the perfect venue for a great family holiday.

Part of the joy is walking or cycling in that traffic free environment and feeling that your kids are safe. There is no need for the whole family to schlep to and from the car park, so you have no cause to complain about that. Most people drive to the villa for loading and unloading. Why did you do that? Only the driver needs to walk to and from the car park. I feel you need to read the brochure/paperwork a bit more closely and do better research. This type of holiday, with it's simple pleasures is plainly not for you.

Having read what turned out to be an objectionable and rude rant, I am now starting to feel sorry for the people you dealt with rather than feeling sorry for you. If things didn't work they need to sort it, but your insulting tone regarding heating engineers/plumbers tells more about you than them, and perhaps your attidude made matters worse. BTW didn't you know that they are among the highest paid people in the country, and you're calling THEM stupid?

You've already dismissed the excellent and insightful replies you've had, but as we have had the good grace to read your diatribe, have the good grace to read our responses and maybe ask yourself 'Is it me?'

PS which Villa number and what date please?

Edinburgh, Scotland
posts: 2,005
reviews: 5
6. Re: Center Parcs Elveden

My thoughts exactly Purple. Calling the tradesmen stupid is not only ...well stupid but also counter-productive. I do agree with the OP about many elements of Center Parcs being tired, expensive and out-dated. However expressing things like that is not going to get him/her anywhere.

UK
posts: 40,531
reviews: 84
7. Re: Center Parcs Elveden

<<Get a life and stop interfering where your opinion is not welcome >>

You've got to love someone who posts on a forum and then not only doesn't read replies but doesn't even want any :-)

Dunfermline, United...
posts: 11,723
reviews: 40
8. Re: Center Parcs Elveden

What Joeintheuk gave you was excellent advice on how to make a complaint in a constructive manner rather than just blindly ranting which you have clearly done.

The fact that you choose to abuse him for helping you makes you a complete moron in my opinion and I would suggest you take your vitriol and ignorance somewhere else

Upminster, United...
posts: 11,235
reviews: 37
9. Re: Center Parcs Elveden

A far as I can see you have one legitimate grievance

>>Bikes, which are almost completely necessary are 15 POUNDS A DAY to hire. This is blind robbery. <<

Bikes are £23 for the weekend if booked when you arrive. If you paid more, then you should send the receipt to CP and ask why.

centerparcs.co.uk/mybooking/specialoffers.jsp

South...
posts: 93
reviews: 61
10. Re: Center Parcs Elveden

I don't think your complaint is going to get you anywhere, did you write it in green ink? As for you comments on the guys who came to fix you heating, well, you've kind of lost any sympathy you might have got. I got the feeling you didn't quite read the brochures that well before you got there, still never mind, it's a learning curve.

FYI I had a great time at Elveden and I think 8 channels on TV when your on a break is absolutely fine. <ducks for cover>

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