Over February half term we spent a week at Center Parcs De Vossemeren in Belgium. Although located in Belgium, De Vossemeren borders The Netherlands along one side if you fancy popping across the (barely noticeable!) border to visit a different country. After two lovely holidays at Center Parcs Erperheide (which is only about a half hour drive away from De Vossemeren) we decided to try out a different park this time, and we were tempted towards De Vossemeren in particular because of the indoor pirate themed play area Discovery Bay, which you can read more about below.
We have enjoyed many holidays at various Center Parcs locations in the UK (most recently at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest) but we have found that if you want to visit during the school holidays, the continental parks represent far better value for money - even once you have added in the extra travelling costs of the tunnel and petrol. It's not just the fact that the overall holiday is cheaper, there is also far more included in the price of your holiday, and the extra activities are very reasonably priced.
We travelled from home by car and Eurotunnel. Once through the Channel Tunnel, Center Parcs De Vossemeren is about a three hour drive from Calais. It's a fairly easy drive along motorways for the main part, with a choice of similar distance routes so you can keep up to date with traffic and tailor your drive accordingly. There are plenty of places to stop along the way. If you aren't used to driving on the continent I'd recommend timing your journey to travel during daylight hours, and we rely heavily on our sat nav for directions. In both directions we aim to leave very early in the morning to avoid traffic, and to allow for delays through the tunnel. On our way home the quickest route took us through The Netherlands as the park is right on the border, worth a mention as when booking car insurance you may need to list the countries that you will be driving through.
We stayed in VIP Cottage 251. We paid a little extra on booking to secure this cottage as it's close to the Market Dome and other main areas of the park. As we don't have bikes we didn't want too much walking for the little ones. We found the cottage to be spacious, comfortable and clean. From what I could see, pretty much every cottage on the site has a view across a lake or stream, we were lucky to have a beautiful view over the lake and enjoyed some gorgeous sunsets. One of the perks of a VIP Cottage is a delivery of fresh bread every morning, which was lovely and gave us enough croissants and rolls for both breakfast and lunch each day.
As I mentioned above, we were drawn to Center Parcs De Vossemeren because of Discovery Bay, the large indoor pirate themed play area, and it didn't disappoint. Situated inside a large airy building, the play area is a fantastic place for children to play safely and enter their own world of make believe. There is a sandy beach area with a shipwrecked pirate ship, and a river runs through the middle with stepping stones and bridges.
Across the middle there's a suspension bridge, and the high wires course also runs around the edge (this activity has an additional cost). There are slides, tunnels, fish tanks, a water maze, a raft to pull yourself across...so much to do! Along one side there is plenty of seating and a cafe for the parents to sit, or you can join in the fun with your children! It's all well heated, so children can play in the water and sand in their swimming costumes, and definitely pack some beach wear.
Throughout the week there are all sorts of pirate themed activities to join in with. Our children took part in the free hunt for gold, where they had to find coins hidden in the play area. On the second occasion they could exchange them for real chocolate coins. There was also a scavenger hunt quiz, and they received a small prize for completing the questions. There are additional themed activities that you can pay for and I watched a group of younger children dressed up as pirates having a brilliant time fishing for wooden boats in the river and sword fighting on board the ship. There was also a pirate party one evening with food and drink, and they host laser tag battles after dark (these activities are an additional cost).
I put together a little video of the fun that we had in Discovery Bay, and as you can see there is so much going on!
We also spent a great deal of time in the Aqua Mundo indoor adventure swimming pool. Our children are not very confident swimmers, but they have both come on a great deal recently and so we were able to really make the most of all the different attractions in the pool. Both children particularly loved the Coral Reef, an outdoor pool which has underwater fish tanks around the edge. You can dive down under the water (you can borrow some goggles) and see the fish swimming around next to you. There are plenty of slides for children of all ages. Only I was brave enough to go on the Monkey Splash, reached by ascending a narrow spiral staircase to the top of the dome and then finding yourself going round and round in a huge enclosed bowl before dropping down through the middle, great fun! The Outdoor Rapids was another hit with the children, and it was fantastic to see how their confidence in the water increased throughout the holiday.
There is an outdoor farm on site with animals that the children can approach and stroke, and several outdoor play areas, as well as exploring in the forest and the lakes. In addition there are lots of extra activities included for the children for no extra cost, for example a kids show and disco. There's an evening family show too which is on twice a week, having already seen it twice at Erperheide we didn't watch it again, but it's nice to have some extras included.
When we stay at Center Parcs in the UK we very rarely pay for any additional activities as they can be very expensive. At De Vossmeren however we treated the children to a few extra bits and pieces as the prices were much more reasonable. They both enjoyed a short Pony Ride (4 Euros each), even if I found it pretty terrifying leading the horse through the forest!
The children also enjoyed the indoor Treasure Hunt themed interactive mini golf (6 Euros per child, 8 Euros per adult, 25 Euros for a family). We went first thing in the morning and we were the only ones there, although it was never very busy when we looked in. There are lots of imaginative holes to try, and many of them come to life with noise and lights which was a lot of fun.
Finally we paid 12.50 Euros for the Kid Safari, a chance for the children to drive around an adventurous course in their own little car for half an hour. Harry did most of the driving and he managed it confidently. Mia was desperate for a turn too, which led to Harry jumping out the car as he was so terrified by her driving when she approached a downhill slope! There is a remote control brake for the car so an adult can stop it if they are heading into peril, and the car itself is easily controlled with a simple foot pedal and steering wheel.
I made a video showing some of the fun that we had at Center Parcs De Vossemeren which you can see below, I hope that it gives a flavour for the park! You can also see a little more of the inside of our cottage.
If you are looking for a family day trip close by then I can fully recommend Plopsa Indoor Hasselt, which is about a 45 minute drive away.
We have spent two week long breaks at Center Parcs, Erperheide which is very close by and a similar driving distance from the UK. You can read my blog posts about Center Parcs Erperheide here:
If you have any questions please do feel free to ask in the comments!