Over February half-term we spent a second wonderful holiday at Center Parcs, Erperheide. You can read all about our first holiday at Easter last year, and about our second holiday to Center Parcs, Erperheide here. I also wanted to write a little review of our accommodation. I have had so many responses to my previous post and to my other social media updates, and it seems as though lots of people are interested in staying at a Center Parcs on the continent, so hopefully I can share some useful information.
The reason that we chose to visit a Center Parcs abroad is because although we have had some lovely holidays at Center Parcs in Elveden Forest and Longleat in the past, now that the children are at school we've found that the holiday prices for the UK parks are ridiculously high. If you book in advance, staying at a park on the continent is a great deal chaper, even once you've added in the cost of the Eurotunnel ticket and any extra petrol.
We chose Erperheide in Belgium because we didn't want too long a car journey once we'd reached Calais. The other park we've seen with a similar driving distance is De Vossemeren which we also hope to visit one day. We went for Erperheide in the end because the play facilities seem at the minute better suited to our little ones (aged 4 and just 7).
We have stayed in the same cottage on both of our holidays - Villa number 514. It's in a great location as it's close to the entrance and car park, and a few minutes walk from both the Market Dome (for the swimming pool) and the Baluba soft play centre. Because it's so central it does perhaps lose some of the forest isolation feeling, but it's perfect for us as we didn't have bikes and the children aren't up to too much walking. To secure our particular villa we used one of our Toppings vouchers - vouchers that you receive when you book your holiday that you can also use towards activities when you arrive.
It's a VIP cottage which is the most expensive, but we found that it was worth the small extra cost. You can find out about the different types of cottages available at Center Parcs Erperheide here.
The main perks and extras for staying in a VIP Cottage are:
The cottage has a sauna and DVD player. The beds are made up and towels (two bath towels and two hand towels per person) are included (but you'll probably want to pack extra beach towels or similar for the swimming pool). In the kitchen there is a kitchen package containing a kitchen towel, tea towel, sponge, matches, cleaning cloths and three dishwasher tablets. There is also a small toiletries pack. The villa also comes with a canvas shopping trolley that you can use to bring purchases back from the shop on site (or carry anything else about with you!).
The biggest perks for us with the VIP package are free wi-fi for up to four devices during your stay (as we can't get free 3G in Belgium on our phone packages), and fresh bread rolls delivered daily. Every day at around 8am a carrier bag was delivered to our villa containing enough bread for us all for breakfast and lunch, often with some left over. There were always lots of plain bread rolls, both soft and crispy ones. On a few days we received croissants and one day we had some lovely fruity bread. The leftovers went for feeding the ducks!
The VIP villas also seem to have nicer patio furniture outside and from looking around are perhaps a little more modern and more recently updated with regard to furnishings.
There is no daily cleaning service in the villa like there is in the UK parks (I believe that there is a weekly service if you are staying longer than a week). This means that the toilet roll and dishwasher tablets are not replenished, so you'll need to bring some with you or you can buy them at the local Lidl or the shop on site. You'll also need to bring washing up liquid for things that can't go in the dishwasher. It might be a good idea to take extra bin bags as the bin is small and you'll probably fill it up quickly. A large bin bag for recycling is provided, and the daily rolls are delivered in a carrier bag which you can reuse as bin bags.
I didn't really take any photographs of the accommodation on our first visit as it was always in such a mess! So this time I sneaked in first and snapped some quick photographs while the children were being unloaded from the car.
There is no oven in the cottage but there is a hob with four gas rings and a fancy microwave which you can probably use to cook most things. There is a dishwasher and the kitchen is fully stocked with everything that you might need. There's a toaster, kettle and what seemed to be a couple of coffee machines (not my area of specialty!) There is a safe above the fridge/freezer. The only thing that I'd take if you had very little ones is some plastic plates and cups if they can't be fully trusted yet with glass and china.
The villa was always very warm and there are plenty of radiators. The bedrooms aren't very big with only narrow spaces around the sides of the beds. Both beds are also single beds pushed together, and although they have one fitted sheet they have two separate single duvets. The cottage is provided with a cot but it would be impossible to fit it into either bedroom with you, so it would have to go out in the living area.
A tip when it comes to making a booking - register with the UK site but check out the prices on the websites from different countries as the prices do vary. We've found the French site to be the cheapest. If you register with the UK site your booking confirmations should be in English but some of your e-mails and welcome letter will be in the language of the country you booked via (and they will assume that you come from that country when they greet you!) Also book in advance for cheaper prices.
I'm very enthusiastic about Center Parcs, Erperheide as we've had such lovely holidays there, so I'm happy to answer any questions that you might have if I can. Please do leave a comment and I'll get back to you as quickly as I am able.
We visited Center Parcs, Erperheide for a week during February half-term 2016. We paid around £500 for our break, plus about £100 for the Eurotunnel crossing.