Center Parcs are very popular FREETIME PARKS we could say, set between woods, lakes, the sea or mountains – in Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. In each park is built based on a similar concept, so once you were in one of them you pretty much know what to expect elsewhere. There is always a central building (called Market Dome) with hotel rooms, restaurants, shops, tropical indoor swimming pools and halls used for different sport activities. Nearby one usually finds walking paths and cycling routes, some Parcs have special extra features. For the last 3 years we have been almost traditionally now visiting the Center Parcs in Medebach, Hochsauerland, which is one of the 5 in Germany – once a year, for a weekend.
MEDEBACH is a smaller town, a little less than 3 hours drive from our home. The last 45 minutes of the way we drive up and down, surrounded by hilly landscapes somewhere between KASSEL, MARBURG and DORTMUND. Not far from here you can ski in WINTERBERG or watch ski jumping in WILINGEN, in the summer there are many possibilities to explore the beautiful natural environment on a bicycle – if you just want to take it easy, the town itself is quite peaceful, with restaurants, shops and cosy cafes. From Köln, Dortmund, Kassel and Frankfurt the distance to here is less than 200 kilometres, which makes it a great spot to spend a weekend.
If there are many of you you can RENT A HOUSE, which will in this case save you some €, plus you can have your own kitchen and a terrace. The HOTEL ROOMS are connected to the main building which can be practical if it rains or snows as you don´t have to step outside in order to come to all the ACTIVITY ZONES or RESTAURANTS. The whole park is in one way like a huge camping place, only there are no tents ;). You can have a very delicious breakfast for 10€ (kids above 3 pay half the price) or get bread delivered from the BAKERY directly to your front door. Outside there is also a smaller LAKE, MINI GOLF, various children PLAYGROUNDS, rent-a-bike place and more. It´s impossible to get bored ;).
Every day from morning until evening you and/or your kids can have much fun in the swimming paradise called AQUA MUNDO. Pools with water currents, waves, massage pools, separate pools for babies, slides and water playgrounds and a few tunnels through which you swim to get to the outside pool area. Everything is really nicely done, the lush tropical vegetation (which is btw. not artificial) and the sitting/relaxing areas which divide certain pool sections make it a very cosy place with much daylight. Of course there is also a restaurant/bar inside the pool area, we´ve also spotted the sauna and the self-tanning area. So, there is really everything you need and more!
Because it was SNOWING this weekend (yeah, it´s crazy, it´s almost May and we have snow), the swimming pools were pretty full, but during the lunch hours and in the late afternoon it was better. I have to admit I´m really not a big fan of indoor swimming pools (or of pools in general), but when I see Lu jumping into the water and “happy” is written all over his face I bite my teeth and try not to think about the amount of pool water I will drink or if the restaurant serves something else than French fries and “curry wurst”.
Without a doubt, the most attractive part for the kids must be this amazing WATER PLAYGROUND. There is water coming out of everywhere while the kids climb the hanging bridges and ropes or slide down and as if all this was not enough, every few minutes a huge 900L barrel full with water turns over and makes everybody scream, some almost get flushed away ;). Anyway, the kids have fun and it´s really hard to drag them back to the seats even though their lips are already dark blue.
Just like the swimming pool area, the MARKET DOME is also very tropical, with palm trees, rocks, waterfalls and little ponds everywhere with fish and turtles. Here there are also many restaurants, bars, a supermarket opened until the evening, a bakery, shops with toys and clothes, a place for the evening animation (reading stories, bingo, theatre…) and even a real disco, for grown ups. You can use different sport fields, take part at bowling, archery, game slots and other organised activities.
AVENTURA PLAYGROUND is with its 160 metres length THE LONGEST OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND IN EUROPE! This playground paradise contains of slides, webs, ropes and towers which are connected all the way to the top and is suitable for kids all ages, although those older than 4 can have more fun. The whole thing is pretty much new and is locate don a nearby hilly slope, behind the last apartment houses that belong to the Center Parcs complex. You cannot miss it because you see it from everywhere you stand. Another good news – there is not entry fee and even daily visitors are welcomed without problems!
At the beginning and on the top there are a few little wooden huts where you can relax or have a PICNIC (or hide from the rain and snow) – if you´re lucky with the weather the view is pretty nice! The playground is surrounded by the forest and the place is very peaceful and relaxing (well, if there are not tens of kids jumping around exactly while you´re there).
Even though we travel rather differently otherwise and we almost never stay at such big resorts or hotels I have to admit, on one side they are very practical. Especially these ones, because they are so FAMILY ORIENTATED that it´s almost scary. There are baby chairs in every restaurant, crayons come with the menu, there is a round-the-clock babysitting service, in each toilet there is a changing room, each restaurant has a little play area, at breakfast you get free baby food glass if there is a baby on board, there is an official photographer in the swimming pool for babies ready to take photos of you and so on and so on. Some friends of ours come to the Parcs for the whole week once a year, but we are completely happy with just one weekend ;).
The active weekend in the beautiful hilly HOCHSAUERLAND was coming to an end and we had 3 hours of driving ahead of us before crashing onto the sofa at home – we used the not so good weather this time for spending more time at the pools this time and were really tired Sunday evening ;). Untill next year!