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.