Belgium Part 1: Centre Parcs, Erperheide

We love Centre Parcs and have had an annual trip to our local park, Longleat, for the last four years. Each time we go we comment that a weekend just isn’t enough time to do everything you want to do so when considering our summer holiday, we looked at spending a week at Longleat but wowzers-the price! I know a couple of people who have been to parks on the continent and have been really impressed so it was certainly worth a look and I am glad I did; it was nearly half the price!

So we begun to plan. As did our neighbours, who have visited parks in Belgium over the last couple of years. They highly recommended Erperheide, whilst my other friend thought we would prefer De Vossemeren. We eventually decided to join our friends for a week in Erperheide and then head up to De Vossemeren for a few days on our own.

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I was a little concerned that the drive would be a bit crazy with two small children but with an over night stop in Bruges, it was really easy. In fact the journey home, without stopping, was fine too-we had the ipads to thank for that! Crossing with Eurotunnel was remarkably easy: we arrived with about an hour to spare so had a little mooch around the terminal and let the kids burn off some energy in the (very small) indoor play area before getting back in the van and following the very clear directions to the train. We climbed out the van and watched the land race by before entering darkness (outside the train at least). By the time the kids had clambered over us in the front seats, we had had a snack and checked out the route on google maps (yes we had signal in the tunnel!) we were out the other side and on the road to Belgium.

Since returning, lots of our friends have asked us to compare Erperheide and De Vossemern to Longleat but it’s really difficult to do that. Longleat is far bigger than either of the parks we visited in Belgium and whilst there are many similarities such as the market dome, swimming pools and the landscaping, it was very different in other ways including the children’s entertainment, farmyard and of course the fact that everything was in a different language! As for the accommodation, again it’s difficult to make a comparison as we have in recent years, stayed in the executive town houses at Longleat but we opted for the lower grade comfort lodges in both Erperheide and De Vossemeren on the basis that we would rather stay longer in the lower grade accommodation than to go for just a week and upgrade. I have to admit that it took me a couple of days to remember this was our motivation as I lusted over the rather posh looking premium lodges! No regrets though, comfort was comfortable and all we really needed.

We loved Erperheide. I’m not sure if it was the site itself, which was great, or whether it was the company of our friends. Our children all get on really well so they kept one another entertained. A daily trip to the farmyard, a play park, of which there were many, the huge soft play – Baluba, and a splash around in the amazing pool was exhausting for us grown ups. We tended to eat out most evenings, which certainly wasn’t the cheapest option but it did mean that we didn’t need to keep rushing back to the lodge. We had a BBQ one night thanks to the BBQ that we salvaged – note to self, pack the Weber next time!

Like Longleat, there was a toddler pool which was perfect for Dougie and he was happy to go up and down the slides, whilst we sat at the bottom and watched. Unfortunately Heidi seems to have got to the age where she’s a little more cautious and wasn’t willing to have a go on any slides other than the really small ones in the baby pool. Such as shames as had we come a couple of months ago, she would have been dragging us up to the biggest ones! She did however love the lazy river and as the toddler area had a decent size swim area, which was separate from the baby area, she was happy to splash around with her ball and noticeably gained confidence in the water.

Like they say, time goes quickly when you’re having fun. The week soon came to an end and it was time to say goodbye to our friends who were also venturing off to another Centre Parcs while we went off to explore De Vossemeren for leg two of our Center Parcs adventure.

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