Landal, Coldenhove: A Vakantiepark Weekend
The Vakantiepark is a European vacation staple which we’ve come to appreciate and enjoy. The Dutch call it “camping.” In reality, it’s a small equipped cabin with pay-per-service amenities and all the activities you could ever want. Although Europeans often book a week or more at these parks, we’ve found they are best suited for long weekend family getaways.
Hema, a home goods store most comparable to Target back in the States, was selling discounted weekends at Landal properties in the spring. We immediately bought the promotion and booked for the first weekend in September. Now, with a Fall chill in the air, we drove an hour and a half east to Landal Coldenhove for a family fun weekend. (Read about our weekend at Center Parks, another Vakantiepark option in Europe.)
We may well be Vakantiepark people. Sure, there are some weird European things – you have to bring your own towels (bath, pool and kitchen) and have to make your own bed, and everything from wifi to meals costs extra. However, these parks typically have great pools, playgrounds, restaurants and everything you would need for a weekend away. Most importantly they are incredibly family friendly.
Landal Coldenhove is an excellent example of everything we love about vakantieparks. Overall it has less big ticket features than the CenterParks we stayed at, but overall had a more “gezellig” feeling.
We were greeted at check-in by the bear mascot, Bollo. The catering staff was offering some rhubarb lemonade and brownies. The staff were friendly, chatty and warm, something we don’t often see in the Netherlands. They talked to our kids, quickly warming them up – giving high fives and balloons. There were coloring sheets at check-in, and a piece of candy for kids who were good listeners.
While Jeff was finishing check-in we paused to peek into Bollo’s house. There are actually two of these cabins on site. The other one is out in the woods. This one is right by the main entrance. It has buttons that play music and cute little displays inside. Every time we passed by this place we paused to check in on Bollo’s house.
You can drive your car right to your house. Each house has a parking spot out front, which is super convenient. Our cottage was close to all the stuff, so we didn’t need the car to get around the property. Nor did we need bicycles. You can actually pay extra to choose your cabin location, presumably to choose a cabin closer to the amenities you’re interested in. We got lucky!
The housing units have a strange layout with a main hallway and a bunch of doors. Yet behind each door the spaces are crisp and functional. We had a two bedroom house. The first bedroom had two beds on separate walls and plenty of space for the travel crib. (A crib and high chair are standard in all the houses,) The second bedroom has two double beds pushed together and a sink.
We also had a bathroom, shower room, living room and outdoor space. We were even amazed to find several English language TV stations!
The kitchen is small but functional. If we had stayed longer than a weekend we would have needed some rules to keep it from being cluttered, but there is enough space to do what you need.
We started our visit with a walk to the main building to sign up for the kids programing for our visit. Some things, like cooking classes, have a cost while others, like outdoor games, are free but require you to sign up. There are also plenty of drop-in activities, so you don’t have to plan in advance.
Then we headed out to the main stage for Bollo story and dance time. Bollo read the group a story in Dutch.
The entertainment staff then led the whole group in some popular dances. Our boys (except Jeff) were a bit hesitant to join in, but eventually partook in the dancing. (We all participated in the immensely popular chu chu wa dance.)
They even had their photo taken with Bollo!
The outdoor playground is fun, inviting and on the edge of the restaurant. Every other parent was enjoying a glass of wine while the children happily played. (We are working on being more Dutch in this respect!)
Our boys stuck together, but explored all over the playground. The Big Little’s Dutch is quite good so he is able to participate. Amazingly he doesn’t seem to mind helping his brother make friends too.
The jumping pillow proved to be one of their favorite parts of the playground. Again, the location right outside of the restaurant is amazing. The kids had a blast playing in sight of the adults.
The on site grocery store is well stocked and reasonably priced. Once we could pry the kids off the playground, we popped in for some breakfast items and a bottle of wine.
We cooked dinner in our place. We have a magnatron oven, but really have still not grasped entirely how to use these things. Instead we made stovetop pizza, in our own cast iron skillet. We ate outside on the patio, waiving to several other families also enjoying the crisp night air.
I got the Middle and Little Little down for bed. Jeff took our Big Little out for a round of putt-putt (a reasonable €3) and then to evening marshmallow roasting. They came back just before nine and he passed out in the kids room, still talking about how he was allowed to have four marshmallows!
The next morning we were the first ones at the indoor playground. A few other families joined us.
The cafe opens a half hour after the playground and all the parents flocked to the counter for coffee.
The big boys loved the large climbing structure. It has a few slides to come down and lots of fun things up in the tunnel. The layout around the room means you can see the kids the whole time they are climbing around. They have giant Lego bricks, a ball pit and an indoor jumping pillow. There was also a small ball pit and walled area perfect for the Little Little.
Dad even got in on the fun for some ball pit time!
The Big Little went to pie baking class. It was a drop off class, so you just let the staff know where you are going to be. We stayed around on the playgrounds, poking in to check on the Big Little from afar.
We found all the activities to be so well thought out. The kids got to walk their pies into the kitchen to bake. While they were baking they made chef’s hats and decorated their pie boxes.
By the time I got to see the pie, the Big Little had already sampled some of the sugar coated top crust!
We grabbed some lunch at the restaurant, opting to sit outside so the kids could play. Then we headed to the pool for some post-lunch swimming.
The pool has changing rooms, including large family ones. You store your stuff in a locker, so make sure to have a coin with you to operate the lock. The pool is perfect. It is not as over the top as the water park we loved at CenterParks, but had plenty of options to keep the kids entertained. Floats are mandatory for children who do not have their swim diploma, even if they are with an adult.
A shallow kids pool with lighthouse slide is at the far end of the complex. This separate pool is warmer than the main pool. It has a snake that sprays water intermittently. Our Middle and Little Little loved this pool.
The kids all enjoyed the large pool. It has rotating activities. Sometimes the water mushroom is on, sometimes the lazy river is on, sometimes the bubbles are on. There is also a larger pirate ship water slide. The kids kept asking to return to the pool, so we made several visits during our stay.
We had signed up for sports time, but only our boys showed up. The leader invited them to go grab their swimsuits and to meet her at the pool for some pool games. They were ecstatic. The far end of the pool was transformed with some floats and mats.
I took the boys to craft time at the Bollo Club, located in the back of the indoor playground. The staff is so welcoming and helpful. This is typically a drop off open craft time, but I stayed to help the Middle Little do his craft.
The Big Little sat down with one of the staff and was guided through the mask making process. Meanwhile I completed most of the Middle Little’s.
They were both thrilled with the outcome and insisted on wearing the masks all the way home.
The Big Little used the color pencils we had at the cabin to continue to work on his. He wanted it to look just like the Lion Guard. Hilarity ensued in the cabin as the boys reenacted the Lion Guard until dinner.
We had dinner in the restaurant. It’s best to make a reservation as it can get crowded. They have these fun tables with swings for seats. We spent about two minutes at one of these tables before losing two Littles to the floor. They happily reseated us.
There is a kids buffet set up for dinner. The whole thing is at the kids’ level and they are encouraged to serve themselves. There is a staff member there to assist them as well. There is even a sink in this area so the kids can wash their hands.
The boys loved being able to get their own food and bring it to the table.
Jeff and I also enjoyed some amazing food. We were seated near the open kitchen and could see everything that came out of the kitchen looking delicious.
Dinner was so good on Saturday we made a Sunday dinner reservation as well.
The kids were exhausted when they got back to the house. Everyone fell asleep hard! I was even able to get some work done while Jeff went out for a run. (Internet in the cabin is an extra fee. I use a bunch of bandwidth uploading photos and videos for the blog but you may be better served by buying extra minutes and making a phone a mobile hotspot for the evening.)
The next morning Jeff took the boys out to play some soccer as soon as they were up.
We packed the little scooter with us as well so the kids could have fun getting around the grounds.
We sent them both to applesauce making class on Sunday morning. Again we were allowed to drop them off and come back when the class was over.
I snuck back a few times to capture their work. They were so engrossed they didn’t even notice me there.
The Middle Little was on the young side for this workshop, but loved being able to go with his brother. The staff helped him with each step. Honestly, by this point in the weekend the kids staff knew both the boys, so they both felt really comfortable.
We opted to sit in the restaurant with the Little Little and have some coffee.
Eventually we also ordered breakfast and enjoyed a quiet morning while the boys happily smashed apples.
We came back just in time to help them do the final smooshing of the hot apples.
They had decorated hats and labels while waiting for the applesauce to cook.
To say they were proud of their accomplishment would be an understatement. They both immediately ate their applesauce for lunch.
The cabin rentals run Friday to Monday or Monday to Friday. The Big Little has school on Monday and is not allowed to miss. I thought it would be fun for me to take the Big and Little Littles back by train.
The ride got off to an exciting start when we ended up on a packed train in the silent car. A few stops later though we had our own space. We picked up dinner in Den Haag Station and continued home for an on time bed time.
The Middle Little and Jeff explored some of the neighborhood playgrounds, sprinkled between the cabins. They ranged in size and activity, so it was fun finding new ones.
They also went for a walk in the heather fields which were in bloom. We simply ran out of time to do this as a family.
They also peeked into the bowling alley. We had talked about bowling as an activity, but ended up with nice weather and being outside whenever possible.
Finally, it was time to check out and say goodbye to our weekend of fun at Landal. Each Landal property is different so we look forward to checking out some others. All in all though this was a great way to spend the last weekend of summer in the Netherlands.