As a family we have been lucky enough to visit Italy, Spain, the UK and even Australia, but this past week we may have hit the lottery, well, as far as my kids are concerned anyway. We ventured a short hour and a half from our house to a location right near Eindhoven, Holland...yep, you guessed it...we went to Center Parc!
What is Center Parc you may ask. Well, I had no idea either until I moved to Europe. Center Parc is a kids dream. It's a cross between Disney~on a MUCH smaller scale~and any water park that you may find in the Midwest. Actually, we talked about it the whole time we were there, and never could really find anything that compared.
My kids have been real troopers as far as travel goes. They have been dragged around to so many old cathedrals, museums, and villages that date thousands of years. They could care less about these things most of the time. I am constantly telling them, "There will be a day that you appreciate this." or the quote that they now say to me constantly; "Do you know that people save their entire lives to come see this?" Don't get me wrong, my kids are grateful for the experiences that they are having, but like many Expat kids, they won't appreciate many things until they are much older and many times they would rather just be hanging out with their friends. That is until I hit it out of the ballpark on this particular weekend!
There are Center Parcs all over Europe. They are holiday villages set in forest type settings. You can rent a "cottage" with all the amenities of home. There is an indoor pool with slides, a snorkel area, beach and even a "cabana bar". You simply show up with your swim suits and towels~DO NOT FORGET YOUR TOWELS~and have all of the fun your little heart desires. Then, after a couple of hours of pool fun it's time to head over to the indoor ski park. In the summer there is water skiing, wake boarding and rock climbing. Yes, they have all of that as well, it really is a kids dream.
We had a great and I must say, relaxing weekend. We read, the kids spent hours on end in the water and at night we had casual dinners and went bowling. I have to say, it was a great and easy 4 day weekend.
If you ever visit a Center Parc, I do have some advice. Like I said above; do not forget your pool towels. I did, and had to rent them for 12 Euro a day, although I conveniently forgot to give them back on day one, so it only cost me 12 Euro for 4 days. Secondly, make sure that you order the "towel package" for your cottage. Yes, that's right, if you don't you will have NO bath or hand towels. Also, keep in mind that there is no oven...stove and microwave yes, oven no. I had planned out dinners and made lasagna so that I could just pop it in the oven on our first night there, yea well...there is nothing like microwaved lasagna! And remember to book your activities ahead of time. It is a little sad when you wake up at 7am to go to Scuba lessons to learn that they are booked solid.
I would easily give Center Parcs an eight out of ten as far as weekend get aways go, my kids on the other hand gave it a solid 10. Take a look, maybe you don't have to go quite so far for your next holiday!