Myra isn’t sure of the exact date of her first Center Parcs break. What we do know is that she came to Sherwood Forest at the behest of her daughter and grandchildren in the mid to late nineties, way back when the Spice Girls were championing girl power and nineties fashion was ‘in’ the first time round. It was the start of Myra’s 16-year love affair with Center Parcs.
A love affair with Aqua Sana
“We loved it immediately because it felt so safe. That was really important to us because the children were little and they would wander around without us worrying about them,” says Myra. “My husband and I came on our first break together in 2000 and that was it – we were hooked and we came every March and November from then on. He was in a wheelchair so we would go for long strolls around the lake and I would push him. When we got tired, he’d go back to our apartment and I’d head to Aqua Sana.”
Aqua Sana spa is Myra’s favourite part of her Center Parcs breaks. It offers a little respite and solitude where she could relax on her own.
Their twice-yearly breaks to Sherwood Forest were the perfect escape for the couple until March 2009, when tragedy struck. Sadly Myra’s husband suffered a heart attack and later died in hospital.
Heartbroken, the last thing on Myra’s mind was returning to Center Parcs, until a few months later when her next break – which had already been booked – approached. “I wasn’t sure if I could come on my own,” says Myra. “I thought about cancelling it and never going back, but a friend convinced me I should do it. I’m so glad I did because I saw all the familiar faces of the staff who knew what had happened and everyone was so kind.
“That break really showed me that I could still do things on my own, I could still enjoy myself. Life wasn’t over.”
Since then, Myra has continued her twice-yearly tradition at Center Parcs on her own. Except she doesn’t feel like she is holidaying on her own so much, because over the last 16 years, she’s made many friends at Sherwood Forest. So many, in fact, that she has to bring a list with her on her breaks to make sure she remembers to catch up with each one!
“I’ve been coming for so long now that I’ve got to know the people who work there,” she explains. “You have such loyal employees that I see the same faces every year. They’ve become real friends to me now.”
Myra’s list currently sits at ten people she makes sure to see on every break. They work all over the Village, from Aqua Sana to The Pancake House and Leisure Bowl to Housekeeping.
One of Myra’s friends is Gemma, the Assistant Manager at Aqua Sana Sherwood Forest. Gemma says: “Myra is a loyal guest and she always checks in with us when she visits. In November, she’ll always bring me a birthday present. This year she found out that I would be on maternity leave in November so she brought my present in March instead – it’s a cardigan for the baby that she knitted herself! I was so touched.”
In between her busy schedule of social appointments, Myra still loves going for long walks in nature on her breaks, and still stays in the apartments that she and her husband would visit.
“I’ve been coming for so long now,” she says, “and ever such a lot has changed. Aqua Sana has moved and of course there are many more Lodges than there used to be. But the important things have stayed the same. You can be walking around and someone in a Center Parcs uniform or a badge will stop and say ‘hello’. The friendliness hasn’t changed.”
Myra thinks that her breaks have helped her keep her independence after the loss of her husband. “It helps with loneliness. I still feel it from time to time, of course, but I know I always have my next Center Parcs break to look forward to.
“I only wish I could come more often – a couple of times a month would be perfect!”