Friday, 10 April 2015

Center Parcs Erperheide in Belgium

Update - we loved our holiday to Center Parcs, Erperheide so much that we returned the following year! You can read my more recent posts about that trip here:

A second holiday to Center Parcs, Erperheide
VIP Accommodation at Center Parcs, Erperheide

Before Harry started school we had several happy family holidays at Center Parcs in Elveden and Longleat. We took advantage of term time reductions, and enjoyed a reasonably priced short break. But when we came to investigate the school holiday prices we found that the prices for a holiday at one of the UK parks were far too high. But to our surprise, we found that the prices for a break at one of the Center Parcs resorts on the continent were a good deal cheaper, and also seemed to offer a lot more for your money. So we took a chance, stretched our wings, and booked ourselves a week at Center Parcs Erperheide in Belgium, and we are so glad that we did.

Family holiday at Center Parcs Erperheide in Belgium

Because we visited over the Easter bank holidays, the break was extended to an 8 night trip. We travelled to France through the Channel Tunnel (a cost that we were able to cover with our Tesco Clubcard vouchers) and then from Calais the park was about two and a half hours drive away through France and Belgium. In terms of petrol, it didn't cost us that much more than a trip to Elveden.

VIP Cottage at Center Parcs Erperheide

We paid a small amount extra to stay in a VIP cottage. It wasn't huge, but it had a few extras that made our stay a little easier. For example, all bedlinen and towels were included, as well as a kitchen and toiletries package, free WiFi and a big bag of fresh rolls which were delivered daily to the cottage. The two bedroom villa also had a sauna, and a small kitchen with a dishwasher (although no oven, just a hob and microwave). There was a lovely, private outdoor area with barbecue and sun loungers, although it was a bit cold for that when we visited!

Despite visiting during the Easter holidays, we found that the park was much quieter than we've experienced in the UK parks. And what really set Center Parcs Erperheide apart from the UK parks was the huge amount that there was for the children to do, all included in the price of our holiday.

Eating ice cream at Center Parcs Erperheide

Aqua Mundo is the swimming area, comparable to those that we've found in other Center Parcs resorts, possibly slightly larger. It has the usual central pool with an hourly wave machine, which is connected to a series of small, warmer pools linked together by shallow rocky waterfalls. There is a baby pool with small slides, and a toddler pool with slightly larger slides. There are longer water slides and an outdoor rapids slide, a large outdoor pool and a lazy river. There was also a pretty cool themed outdoor area where you could dive under the water to see fish in tanks swimming alongside you.

Then there was Baluba, where we spent a great deal of time, and it was awesome. It is a huge building, filled mainly with a large soft play slide area and an enclosed foam ball play area. 


Center Parcs Erperheide indoor foam ball play area

There is another soft play area on the other side, and around the edges are a bouncy castle, trampolines, enormous Lego play area filled with different sized bricks and an indoor race track with little cars that you can drive around for €1. 


Center Parcs Erperheide Lego building area

In Baluba was a cafe for drinks and food, and then a small stage where mainly free kids activities took place most days, like the disco, crafts and storytelling. Twice a week there was also a late night show called Straordinario. It was on quite late for our little ones so we only lasted for the first half (the entire show finished around 10pm) but it was quite entertaining, if a little surreal.

Center Parcs Erperheide evening show

The children's daytime entertainment was hosted by a character called Orry and his three friends, and they were often seen driving about in their Orry Mobiel car, it was a really good way to tie all the children's fun together.

There was plenty to do outdoors too. The children loved the Children's Farm, which was full of baby lambs and goats, as well as rabbits, guinea pigs and ponies. There were plenty of ducks to feed, and lots of outdoor playgrounds, some in the centre and some spread around the park.

Center Parcs Erperheide animals on the farm

As well as all the free activities, we found that the extra activities were very reasonably priced. We've never paid for any extras on our UK breaks as they can be so expensive. But at Erperheide our booking included four 'Toppings' vouchers which you can use towards various extra activities on your stay. We used one voucher to secure a particular villa number, two vouchers to pay for an hour of bowling for the family and one voucher for the children to play mini golf.

Center Parcs Erperheide mini golf

There were lots of little craft activities that the children could do, and you paid for them as you did them without needing to book in advance. We paid 2.50 each for the children to decorate a light up stick for the kids disco which they loved. We also treated the children to an Easter Egg hunt for 5 each which they really loved and they came back with more than 5 worth of chocolate each!

Center Parcs Erperheide Easter Egg hunt

The only other activity that we paid for was the Kid Safari. For €12 Harry was able to drive Mia around in a little jeep for half an hour, it took him a while to work it out but it was pretty fun!



Just down the road in Peer is a large Lidl which is easy to spot. Although we took most of our food with us, it was useful for the extras as well as for stocking up on some local favourites like big bags of Belgian waffles! There's a string of other supermarkets and fresh fruit and veg shops in Peer too, and the shop on site at Center Parcs itself is very good and reasonably priced.

We mainly self-catered in our cottage. Erperheide doesn't have the wide range of chain restaurants that we've found in UK parks and the restaurant selection was mainly based around all you can eat buffet style dining, which doesn't really suit us as our children are fussy and don't eat a lot. We did eat a couple of times in the Grand Cafe which offered a range of reasonably priced food and drinks in a pleasant setting along with a couple of play areas for the children.

Belgium has three official languages - Dutch, French and German - and all the important information was given in these three languages as well as English. The Orry kids show was in Dutch and the story time was in Dutch and German, but this didn't seem to bother the children. I do speak German and can understand some Dutch so I was able to translate, but I don't think you'd find it a problem if you couldn't, and all the staff and entertainers knew English.

We had such a brilliant time and would absolutely recommend a holiday in Center Parcs Erperheide, whether you are a Center Parcs regular or not. If you have any questions please do feel free to ask in the comments, I'm very happy to help!

If you like Center Parcs, you might enjoy some of my other Center Parcs posts:

A second holiday to Center Parcs, Erperheide
VIP Accommodation at Center Parcs, Erperheide
Our holiday at Center Parcs, De Vossemeren, Belgium
VIP Accommodation at Center Parcs, De Vossemeren
Center Parcs - Elveden Forest
Center Parcs - Longleat
Center Parcs - Things to do for free in Elveden Forest

We paid 680 (approx. £490) for an 8 night stay in a VIP Cottage at Center Parcs Erperheide. The full price for the Channel Tunnel was £146 return, which we paid for at a third of the price using our Tesco Clubcard vouchers. As a comparison, a similar villa for the four of us at Center Parcs Elveden that week would have cost us over £2000, without the many extras that we feel Erperheide offers.

I'm linking this post up to #TimeTraveller at Mari's World and #travelwithkids at Smiles and Trials.

35 comments:

  1. I've heard before that the European centre parks were cheaper and they aren't too far away either. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

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    1. It really was great, I'm shouting about it everywhere because I think it's such good value!

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  2. I've always wondered what the European parks were like as a work colleague used to insist on always going to them instead of the UK ones. Fantastic to read and find out.

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    1. I'm glad that it was interesting, I think that once you've been to one there it's hard to go back to the UK parks.

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  3. I tend to find Europe cheaper. Sounds like a fantastic place. Wish I had thought to use my Tesco Clubcard points for the tunnel - I have just paid £155.

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    1. I think that there was a special offer on at the time that we booked, we booked for two trips at the same time and it worked out really well for us.

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  4. We went to the Dutch Center Parcs as children, I have really fond memories of them and have often thought about going back with mine as it's not all that far to drive. You have encouraged me to take another look! :)

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    1. I think that we might look at the Dutch ones next as they are very slightly closer. We chose Erperheide because we'd read that it was best for younger children but I'm sure that ours would love any of them.

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  5. What a brilliant idea! I had never considered looking abroad for Centreparcs breaks. It's crazy that they are so much cheaper, but great if you can take advantage of it!

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    1. It's definitely worth having a look, we were shocked at the difference in price, even when you take the cost of travel into account.

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  6. I love that jeep! What a cool thing to do - looks like a fab time and what a bargain compared to the UK :)

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    1. It was a lot of fun once he'd got the hang of it!

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  7. Gosh, that sounds like fantastic value Jennifer. I've always liked the idea of Center Parcs but as you say, the price during school holidays in the UK is really high. Sounds like you had a great time - I hope you brought some of those big bags of waffles home with you! x

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    1. Oh definitely, I brought back two bags of waffles and a couple of marble cakes too which I also can't resist!

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  8. This looks amazing and is something I would never have considered - it sounds like amazing value for money x x

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  9. This isn't the first I've heard that the European Centre Parcs are just as good and cheaper and it's so lovely to see you had such a good time. I am really intrigues now to do some research for next year or maybe autumn half term.
    Thanks so much fro linking up to Time Traveller I've really enjoyed reading your post

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    1. My husband tells me that if you book 6 months or so in advance the prices are even cheaper, so it's an ideal time to look for autumn half term (we will be as well!)

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  10. I feel a bit dumb not to have previously known that Centre Parcs even existed outside of the UK! We've not been but would tend to head for the continent on a break rather than something like that in England, so it's good to know that our preference is more cost-effective :) Thank you for linking up to #travelwithkids

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    1. They originally opened in the Netherlands I think and there are quite a few across Europe, definitely enough to keep us busy for a few years!

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  11. My friends stayed at one of the Belgium Centre Parcs over Easter too. They always visit the ones abroad as they're so much cheaper. The UK prices seem such a rip off!

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    1. The UK prices really are very high, especially in the school holidays. We had some cheap out of season breaks before the children started school, but we just couldn't do it now. I think that now we've discovered it we'll definitely be back, either there or to one of the others.

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  12. oh wow - we love Longleat Centerparcs, we have never thought of staying at one abroad. What a great idea! Lovely post - thank you for linking up to #TravelwithKids

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    1. Thank you for hosting, we really loved our Center Parcs holidays and we're so pleased that we've found a cheaper way to do it!

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  13. We've just got back from Center Parcs in Sherwood. Great fun and the kids love it. Definitely tempted to try the european parcs now I've seen the difference in price! :-)

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    1. It's definitely worth a look to get a feel for prices, worth checking quite far in advance as that's when it's cheaper.

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  14. We are off to Erperheide next week. Very excited and think we have made a good choice after reading your review. Our children are 4 1/2 (boy) and 21 month (girl) . Is there anything you would recommend taking with us that you wish you had?

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    1. Sorry for the delay in replying, I've been away! I hope that you have a great time, I'm sure you'll all love it. We needed to buy extra toilet rolls from Lidl as they only leave you a couple to start off with, and also they only left a few dishwasher tablets but luckily we had some with us. The kitchen only had a hob, no oven, so you need to remember that if you're planning meals to cook there (the microwave was quite fancy though so you could cook quite a bit in that). Enjoy, and I'd love you to pop back and let me know how you got on!

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  15. Wow, that's a huge difference in price! tbh I'd rather go overseas for a holiday anyway - the fact that it's cheaper is an extra bonus.

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    1. It really is a bargain! We've actually now booked to go back again in February half-term next year because as a break in the school holidays it is such good value for money.

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  16. Hi Jennifer. Do you know if there is a large supermarket nearby to stock up on supplies? We have booked to go next year! :o)

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    1. Hello! Yes there is a big Lidl just up the road, you'll pass it on your way to the site. There are lots of other supermarkets on the way in too, we definitely saw an Aldi and there are lots of fresh fruit and veg shops, but the Lidl is closest and has everything that you need.

      It's really easy to drive on and off the site too so you can pop out if you run out during your stay, it's only a few minutes drive away.

      Have a great time, we are going back too in February!

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    2. Oh and there's also a very good supermarket on site which we found to be very reasonably priced.

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  17. Hi can you tell me about the actual park my friend likes cycling and we like badminton does it have all the free roaming natural beautiful animals who come to your patio doors at breakfast. Are all these usual things available. We were thinking of Woburn next year as we will be celebrating 30 years of friendship but we no longer have young children I have 6 grandchildren and she has 3. So it would be relaxing and spa days for us. Would you recommend it there for our type of holiday?

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    1. Hi there, sorry for the delay, we have just returned this morning from our second visit!

      There is plenty of scope for cycling around the park and although we've not done it ourselves Erperheide seems very well connected to local cycle paths and routes, we certainly passed lots of cycle routes as we were driving around and they all looked smooth, flat and interesting, there is a large map at the entrance with suggested routes.

      There are badminton courts in the sports hall but I'm not sure about prices.

      We didn't see as many wild animals as we have done at the UK parks I must admit, we saw ducks and had lots of birds on our patio, also red squirrels. This might be because the villa that we stayed in is quite close to the main areas, a villa further into the park might see more wildlife. There is a farm area with animals (sheep, goats, chickets etc.) that you can go up close to and also ponies and donkeys in an enclosed area.

      There is a sauna in the swimming pool, I've not used it but Erperheide doesn't have the same spa experience and facilities that I've used in the UK park (the Aqua Sana area). It's also worth noting that the sauna only has a couple of sessions a day where you can wear a swimming costume, otherwise it's without!

      So if you are looking for an adult spa experience then I'd probably recommend the UK parks over Erperheide as the spa facilities are excellent. But there is lovely cycling and walking in the local area and also quiet places where you can enjoy a meal and coffee in the Market Dome and of course you can relax in the villa.

      I really hope that this helps, please let me know if you have any other questions that I can help with.

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