It’s been a while since we have been to Center Parcs, eight years in fact, and quite a bit has changed in that time. Some changes are temporary brought about by the current pandemic but others are permament.
The most noticable change was obvious from the moment that you arrive at the welcome huts at the entrance. You used to be given two sets of keys for your villa with a large, square, brass key fob engraved with the number. These were slightly cumbersome but you would struggle to lose them as they where a) huge and b) noisy so if you dropped them you knew about it.
Now though the keys are gone and in their place are rubber braclets with some kind of NFC chip in them. This can be used to unlock the villa doors (see picture above) as well as activate the lockers in the changing rooms and collect any pictures that have been taken by official photographers on site.
On the one hand the bands are an improvement to the keys as they are multi-purpose. On the other they are a one size fits all affair and Center Parcs have clearly chosen to size them for someone with mighty meaty wrists. I’m thinking Geoff Capes (look him up, I couldn’t think of a more contemporary reference!) must have modelled for them. Also, not being that into rubber, they aren’t the most comfortable things to be wearing.
Elsewhere there are the usual one way systems and other temporary Covid related changes including a booking system for the pool. Actually this is one thing about the pandemic that I like. You can book into a place knowing that you are guaranteed entry and the numbers will be restricted. So it was in the pool this afternoon.
The one fly in the ointment was that it hammered it down with rain as we walked to the pool so arrived wet. This was fine but having to pull on wet and cold jeans, socks etc for the return journey was less pleasant.