Center Parcs Vossemeren in Belgium
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Although we have been in Europe for almost two years now, we’ve yet to really experience a large Vakantiepark. Vakantieparks are a European must. The parks typically offer a variety of activities all in one spot. The Dutch are known to visit these Vakantieparks with their whole extended family or all their friends and neighbors. They rent cabins all next to each other and spend a week with their friends from home in a new location. It is not typically how our family travels but I wanted to give it a try.
Scheduling is a huge problem with these parks. Most are on a strict week or long weekend rental schedule (Friday-Monday). I wanted a quick weekend option so when Center Parks Vossemeren in Belgium offered a flexible booking schedule plus a last-minute deal I booked us for a Friday through Sunday visit. Check-in starts at 3pm and check-out is 10am, but you are welcome to use the park for a full day on both your check-in and check-out days. We drove down Friday after the Big Little’s half day and drove back late Sunday. Center Parcs Vossemeren is just over the border in Belgium near Eindhoven, making it a 2 hour drive from Delft.
Once you have booked your reservation you can log into “My Center Parcs” to prepare for your visit. You can view the schedule of activities, make reservations and order groceries or meals before you arrive. There is an app as well, but it was unavailable to download on the U.S. App Store. (I attempted to switch stores but was unsuccessful.) I was given a pre-check-in sheet to print before we arrived.
When we arrived we followed signs for an e-pass and completed check-in at a drive-through station. We were given keys to our cabin and a park map. That is when we realized how massive the complex was. You cannot bring your car onto the property until after 3pm on your arrival day and then only to unload. As we pulled up to our cabin I was worried. The old cinder block houses looked dated.
Inside the cabin though things were generic, but bright and clean. The five of us were in a 4 person VIP cabin. There was plenty of space for the five of us. The cabin included a high chair. I brought my own crib for our Little Little. I could have requested one free of charge though.
We had two bedrooms with two twin beds in each. This gave us plenty of sleeping room. The VIP cabins come with the beds made and towels provided. You do have to strip the beds before you leave.
The bathroom had a large jacuzzi tub, a double sink a rain shower and a sauna. They even included a stool for the kids so they could reach the sink.
The sauna was working but a bit on the fritz. The toilet was not located in this room but in a room off the entrance hallway. It was a bit awkward but did allow for people to be in the bathroom getting ready or showering while someone else could use the toilet, which with a large group is nice.
The back patio had a great view and little path down to the lake. The kids could venture down to a small beach area to throw rocks into the water and watch all the ducks walk past. We had perfect weather for sitting on the patio to enjoy the view.
There are so many activity options at Center Parcs it is hard to decide what to do. We hardly scratched the surface in terms of taking advantage of what was offered.
The large indoor/outdoor pool complex called Aqua Mundo was a huge winner. I had no idea how much the kids would love the pools and water slides. We could have just hung out here all day and there would have been no complaints. Children under 12 without their swim diploma are required to wear flotation devices. We have puddle jumpers for our Big and Middle Little that we love. Center Parcs has life jackets available to borrow. We attempted to put one on our Little Little but it continued to ride up into his face. The store at the pool sells baby inflatable rafts (€10 there/ $7 Amazon) which we purchased and had a happy baby for the remainder of the trip.
The largest indoor pool had a lazy river which had two speeds. Every 30 min it would go into turbo mode but otherwise had a nice leisurely pace. The large pool was also a wave pool every 30 min. An adult could touch in all of these pools.
The park has five waterslides, none of which have hard age limits. (Like most of Europe it’s a “use your best judgement” sort of deal.) This large, wide slide empties into the main pool. Two tunnel waterslides empty into a separate pool. A large waterslide that starts at the top of the dome, makes its way outside and empties into a funnel before dropping you into an outdoor pool. Finally, the crazy rapids, which presumably was designed as a tube ride, but you go down body surfing runs outside and drops you back off inside. Our Big and Middle little rode everything except for the tallest slide. (We did bring the Little Little on the crazy rapids thinking it was the lazy river. . .but you only make that mistake once). Again everything empties into a pool which an adult can stand in.
There is also a kids play area, which was super shallow and warm. It had one little slide that looked like an elephant that all the kids were obsessed with. This area became incredibly crowded every day.
I signed up for a baby swim class to do with our Little Little. The class was conducted in Dutch but was easy enough to follow along. The class was held in the sauna pool, which was small and warm. The instructor took time with each little baby and family. It was a great way to get some one-on-one time with the Little Little.
One of the special features of Center Parcs Vossemeren is Discovery Bay, a large pirate themed play area. If you’re staying at the park your ticket will let you come in and out of Discovery Bay to explore and play as much as you would like. This pirate themed activity area is full of fun.
There are nets to climb that take you over the water and onto ships.
The building has a rope bridge that stretches across the roof of the building and ends in a giant slide.
There are floating ferry bridges to cross.
Even a water maze that looks like a waterfall. Cross it without getting wet, or just blast right through it in your swimsuit.
On Sunday morning there was a free activity in Discovery Bay where gold coins were hidden all over for little pirates to find. You could keep the coins or turn them in for face painting. My boys didn’t want face painting, but kept turning them in so the staff would re-hide the coins for them to find again and again. My only complaint is that the activity starts at 10 but the co-located cafe isn’t open till 11! Tables full of parents were watching their kids hunt for treasure and wishing for a pastry and cuppa.
We also signed the boys up for a paid activity where they went on a pirate adventure. The boys learned sword fighting and treasure map making.
They were put to work swabbing the decks, which they incidentally thought was the greatest thing ever.
They also went fishing. . .which is seriously the cutest thing ever. They had an absolute blast on their pirate adventure. (The park offers similar programs for just about anything you could want from little chefs to zookeepers.)
I’m actually not sure how we had time for anything else between the amazing pools and the pirate play area.
There are playgrounds all over the place. Every few set of cabins you will find a small playground with some swings and rockers in a sand pit. They were perfect for waiting for a slow walker or one parent entertaining the kids while the other cooked a meal. There was also a larger hut with slide just outside of the ‘Market Dome’ which housed all the food and entertainment.
A larger adventure course playground could be found out by the petting zoo. To our amazement our Big Little (5) was able to complete the course, giggling with delight.
The whole place is designed for kids with little fun pathways for them to follow as we walked around the park.
Even inside the buildings the kids could choose to take paths over the water, while the adults stuck to the more formal sidewalk.
The petting zoo is what we have come to expect here. Tons of animals running around for children to enjoy. They have free feedings most days where you can come help feed the animals. There is also a “be a farmer” program where you get to play with the animals. Drop by anytime though to drive mini tractors around the yard with the animals or enjoy climbing on the large tractor. If we had been here more days I’m sure we would have spent more time out at the farm.
On the Kids Safari you rent the safari vehicle for a half hour and drive on a kids safari trail. Adults get a remote ‘kill’ switch to shut the vehicle off, but otherwise it is entirely driven by your child. Our Big Little (5) was able to drive the course successfully. A half hour is enough time to drive the course three times. The course is ‘no joke.’ There are hills and turns that would make even an adult driver nervous.
We picked this activity because it was something I had not seen anywhere else. There are however a ton of choices depending on the age of your children. There are boat and bike rentals of all types, a high adventure course and zip line. You can even rent a golf cart to get around during your stay.
Our biggest regret was not finding time for some miniature golf. Center Parc Vossemeren has two putt-putt courses, one indoor and one outdoor. The indoor course looks new and fun. The course makes noise and lights up. We couldn’t pry the kids away from the pool long enough to check it out with us. It is small and likely perfect for younger kids as well as older ones. The outdoor course was more classic with hills and sand pits. The carpet of grass looked worn, but still fun.
The food options at the park are plentiful, which is a necessity if you are staying for a long time. The self-catering cabin also helps keep your food choices more like home, which we enjoy when traveling with the kids. You can bring food into the pool area, so we packed lunch to bring with us. There are high chairs and baby boxes all around the pool deck. The food choices in the pool area to purchase were your typically fried options.
One fun option is to have Center Parcs deliver everything you need for a meal to cook yourself in your cabin. I made all the choices online and when we arrived on Friday everything was waiting for us.
The grill package had more than enough food. The kids got kids meals including the little boxes and prizes they would have gotten at a restaurant in the park. There were meats and veggies to grill, a baguette and pancakes, which we saved for the morning. They deliver the griddle you need for cooking the meal and even an extension cord so you can plug it in through the bedroom window to enjoy your meal outside. There are several cooking options available like a gourmet meal or pizza night.
We tried one of the restaurants for a late lunch Sunday before we left. The food was good and servings large. While we were busy with the big kids the Little Little grabbed the bucket of fries for himself.
There is also a general store that has everything you would need. You can actually order your groceries ahead of time and have them delivered to your cabin. The prices are slightly elevated from what you would see in the grocery store, but not so much that it would turn you off from shopping there. We checked everything out but arrived with a car full of groceries. We did pop by for some post swimming ice cream.
There are so many choices here. You can order pizza to your cabin or check out one of the many restaurants. Whatever you do you won’t go hungry.
I don’t think we will ever be full-time Vakantiepark people, but I have a much better appreciation for them and plan to visit a few more before our time in Europe is over. They provide an easy getaway with plenty of options to suit every sort of family.
This is the first trip where I’ve seen so many new babies and pregnant women. The park really caters to the family environment which makes it fun for everyone.