This is the 5th Center Parc we've been to, and it's definitely the best out of the lot (especially when comparing against the backdrop of a rather disappointing visit last year to the Domaine de Trois Forets). I'll be assuming the reader may not be familiar with CenterParcs, so if you are, please excuse the excessive amount of details.
De Kempervennen is located in the middle of a pine forest, with a largish (probably artificial) lake in the middle (making the navigation within the park a rather trivial affair - there's one road along the lake, another one along the perimeter, and plenty of radial roads/paths) and all kinds of little rivulets flowing throughout. The park is almost entirely flat, which (considering that cars are banned through most of the week) makes bicycles the ideal means of transportation (you can either bring your own, or rent one at the bicycle center). There is also a bus circling the park every half an hour (but some of the days of our stay it was out of commission). The cottages are of the older sort (as compared to those of Domaine Des Trois Forets), but are well maintained and thoughtfully located. This time we went for the more expensive (VIP) kind, which meant larger living room (nice if you're having people over for a visit), a Jacuzzi tab, a personal sauna, and a prime location - within 2 mins. walk from the Montana Ski center (the real reason for the choice both of the park and of the cottage type). Also, you get bread roll every morning on your door handle (make sure to leave the shopping trolley out in the evening for the delivery service, otherwise they just leave them outside, for the benefit of the birds and the beasts) and 2 vouchers for 12 euros each for the supermarket (it says you can only buy "breakfast food" with them, but in reality you can spend them on anything in the supermarket). Speaking of the supermarket, it's quite expensive (so we usually shop up in the nearest city before checking in into the park), but it's ok to replentish the fresh food stuff.
So, the Ski center. If you're an even slightly experienced skier (feeling comfortable on blue slopes and up), and so are your family, and you don't have a freestyler among you, you may just as well skip it: a single 100 m slope will not be challenging enough to bother getting the ski equipment on. If, on the other hand, you're contemplating taking your loved ones with you for your next Alps vacation, but you're afraid to discover they're not into skiing while on the mountain - by all means, book them a course at the ski center. That's what I did, and I'm really happy about it. The kids just loved it. The instructors are good, the equipment is quite decent, and you can rent skiing suites and gloves for 5 euros per day per person. Do note that the middle of the week course lasts just 3 days (with 1 hour lesson each). There is a restaurant on the second floor, from which you can watch your loved ones learn the basics of the pizza slice slide on the slope below.
Other attractions: there's the water ski and wakeboard (we haven't tried it, but it looks good from the side - make sure to reserve in advance), the roofed sports center (tennis, squash, ping-pong tables, gym, pool table), paddle boats on the lake (the boats are REALLY heavy. Too bad they don't have any rowing boats or electric boats - the lake is very nice, but the boats are quite awful), children farm (very nice - we've spent quite a lot of time there), and pretty much all the other standard attractions. The Aqua Mundo is great (although the 'tropical fish' thing was a bit disappointing: I thought you get to swim with the fish somehow, in reality there are aquariums along the sides of a pool, and you dive in order to look at them). The Dome in general is on the smaller scale (than, say, the one in Domaine des Trois Forets), but it's cosy and nice (with the only exception being the hoards of smokers lining the only exit: placing the ashtrays at the entrance may make sense for the smokers during the rain, but not for the kids and other non-smokers trying to navigate the doors). There are all kinds of shows at the dome, both for kids and adults, unfortunately, they are all in Dutch. There are also Wannabe activities for the kids, but they require prior registration (if you ordered one on the site, and you get an e-mail from them, make sure to answer with the activity you've chosen).
Eating out: the market restaurant (all you can eat buffet) is nice - lots of options for every taste, though rather expensive. We also tried the family grill restaurant, and it was rather disappointing: the menu is not very rich in options.
What I liked in particular is the service. The Aqua Mundo is open till the last moment stated - and then some. Same with the restaurants. Everyone speaks English, and is happy to help.
One more info item, mysteriously absent from the CenterParcs site. There's a laundry service (9-13 on Mo-Thu), and a laundromat (any time any day) near the reception: buy the tokens to operate the washer at the reception, the dryer takes 50 cent coins for every 10 mins of laundry (I found it easiest to drop 3 coins at once and set it to the highest temperature, then pick up the laundry 30 mins later).
As for attractions within a (relatively) short driving distance, Eindhoven is worth a visit, and if you're into cars, make sure to visit the DAF museum there. Duisburg is famous for it's zoo (make sure to visit the dolphin show, but take an upper row), and Efteling theme park is nothing short of amazing.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- De Kempervennen Holiday Park offers a varied, unique and sporty selection of activities for a carefree holiday. In addition to having a wonderful time in the subtropical leisure pool, strolling through the Market Dome - with various restaurants, a grand café and lovely shops – you can try climbing, baby and toddler swimming, archery or go in search of Big Mama. Or as a previous guest commented: “Perfect for our annual group holiday! Everything was within reach for a great week.” The park also has a number of unusual types of accommodation, such as the spacious Eden cottages and luxury houseboats. The countryside as a playground De Kempervennen has two large lakes where you can go diving in search of the giant catfish Big Mama. Or you can go water skiing and wake boarding on the water which you can also whoosh over on the Zip Wire. You can be in the beautiful Malpi nature reserve in minutes by mountain bike, but to be honest, you don’t even need to leave the park for a really great time. Jump into your skis or snowboard the whole year round in the 5500 m2 of real snow in Montana Snowcenter, try paintballing with your friends or gain your PADI diving certificate during one of the multiple-day courses. “Really great for the children” The innovative holiday park offers a huge number of great activities for children of all ages, both indoor and outdoor. Orry and his friends put on various shows while children can play at being a chef, princess, knight or painter. Or how about snorkelling among exotic fish, a DJ workshop or the Aqua Scooter which will pull you along under water? And there is an extensive and highly entertaining programme in the evenings, as witnessed by this enthusiastic guest: “Holland’s got Talent: eat your heart out..!!!” Come and discover for yourself why De Kempervennen, about fifteen kilometres south of Eindhoven, is rightly called the ‘Pearl of Center Parcs’. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Center Parcs De Kempervennen Hotel Westerhoven
- Center Parcs De Kempervennen Westerhoven, The Netherlands, Europe