Dream of taking the kids to Europe but find the logistics daunting. One popular strategy is to follow European families to a family-friendly resort chain. Better yet if the resort offers an indoor waterpark and a huge slew of activities for kids and adults alike.
Center Parcs for Family Holidays
Ready to play? Center Parcs' signature feature is a large domed building that houses a beautifully landscaped tropical pool and an Aqua Mundo waterpark, plus play zones, restaurants, shops, and spa. Some of the indoor play zones are terrific and the waterpark features include waterslides, lazy rivers, interactive wet play structures, and kiddie pools.
A second plus is the wide array of outdoor recreational activities, which range from archery to ziplines, rafting, raft-building, tree-climbing, ATV, horseback riding, geocaching, stand-up paddleboarding, Segway tours, paintball, high ropes, mini golf, pony riding, inline skating, soccer, and golf.
Most guests stay in private cottages that are available in different sizes that can accommodate between two and 10 people. Cottages include fully equipped kitchens with a dishwasher; living area with flatscreen TV and fireplace; one or two bedrooms; and a private terrace.
Cribs and high chairs are furnished on demand. Wi-fi is available for a fee. Premium cottages are slightly more upscale and include larger units that can accommodate up to 16 people.
Certain locations offer more unique accommodations such as houseboats or treehouses.
Along with cafeteria-style restaurants, Center Parcs properties always offer a supermarket so that guests can save money by preparing meals in their cottages.
Baby feeding facilities are available at the market and in all restaurants where families can help themselves to free jars of baby food, a microwave oven, and a bottle warmer.
There are programmed activities aimed specifically for kids ages 4 to 12, including pretend and role-play for little kids and adventure challenges for kids age 8 to 12.
Of course, all the facilities are designed with families in mind. In addition:
- Pricing includes accommodations, access to the waterpark, and most activities. Some activities come with an additional fee. Meals are extra.
- In busy seasons, children's entertainment is also available
- Some locations also include children's farms or children's activity pools
- Larger premium cottages can accommodate up to 16 people
Worried about a language barrier? English is widely spoken in the BeNeLux countries and Germany. Moreover, several Center Parcs locations in France are popular drive-to locations for visitors from England, so staff are well prepared for English-speaking visitors. Visitors from North America can can also opt for several choices in England including one near Sherwood Forest.
Bottom Line on Center Parcs
- Center Parcs resorts are reasonably priced and very popular options for families
- Great signature concept, with a huge domed area featuring a tropical pool
- Center Parcs resorts offer an easy base from which to explore the surrounding countryside, cathedrals, villages
- Lots of recreational activities for kids and adults
Check rates at Center Parcs locations in continental Europe
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.
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