I’ve been away – out in the woods, devoid of an internet connection, in a little cabin in the Netherlands. Read my thoughts on the Dutch Centre Parcs village of Het Heijderbos.

Ah, the Netherlands, home of the hash brownie, the colour orange, and – as it happens – a fast food chain named Taco Mundo which I can’t get enough of. Last weekend we embarked on a great adventure across four countries which eventually deposited us (for the second time) into a Dutch Center Parcs village by the name of Het Heijderbos.

Het Heijderbos is located in the Limberg region of the Netherlands, with the closest ‘larger’ city being Nijmegen – 31km away. So yes, Het Heijderbos is out in the sticks and devoid of an internet connection unless you want to part with your cold, hard-earned cash. Hence my lack of updates whilst I was there!

So, let me give you some background. As I mentioned, this was our second visit to this Center Parcs location. It was my second time EVER in a Center Parcs, though Liam has visited numerous CP locations throughout the years. After doing some quick research I’ve come to discover that CP UK and CP Europe are owned by two entirely separate entities and do business separately, though Liam assures me the UK ones have most of the same amenities, so if you’ve visited a CP in the UK, you’ll roughly know the deal.

Within CP, you stay in a small lodge within a ‘forest’ location. Located on-site are various facilities, including a market dome housing eateries and shops, a sports centre where you can rent equipment and play a number of different sporting games, a bicycle centre where you can rent a bike for your stay and the pist de resistance is of course, the ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’ – or in the Netherlands, the Aquamundo.

On top of these facilities, Het Heijderbos also boats a ‘Jungle Dome’, a rainforest style environment with huge rope ladders and wooden bridges to climb on surrounded by flowers, lakes and trees which are adorned by tropical birds and squirrels.

So, with this being our second trip, let me start by getting the negative out of the way in a short, sharp sting:

  • Staff were not always attentive, at all, and often seemed like they could care less (though we did kindof say to be fair we’re not using their language so we’re the awkward ones really!).
  • Small problems were not fixed when requested during activities, with meant during our Bowling session (which we had paid 25 euros for an hour) we were left stood on the sidelines for 15 minutes of our 60 as bowling balls had stopped coming back to our lane and there were none spare. Our game was then stopped at 55 minutes.
  • The Twitter account for Het Heijderbos repeatedly mentioned to me that 30 free minutes of Wifi were available in the Market Dome per day, however this was incredibly hard to attain in a bit of a con which I suppose is supposed to force you to pay for their internet.
  • The ice cream sundaes are smaller in size and double the price *sad face*.

Still with me? Ok, good. Let’s get on with it! We had the most brilliant and relaxing week – I think the point of a stay in CP is literally to relax and do more or less nothing. We had an amazing view from the back of our studio cabin and funnily enough we were allocated the cabin right next door to the one we stayed in in 2013!

We purchased the log burning kit from the onsite store and this was one of the best decisions we made. Each evening Liam got the fire burning and we’d watch trash TV, read and stay up late knowing we didn’t have to get up early in the morning! One evening we even had a makeshift feast of olives, cheese fondue, bread and cider.

We rented bikes again this year, but sadly we had very rainy weather compared to visiting in October so we weren’t able to leave the complex at all (last time we cycled out via the gates and round the Netherlands to the border of Germany!). All in all, we didn’t even cycle round the site much and we noticed the majority of people were opting to walk rather than cycle. And that’s when we either saw other people. The place was so quiet that week people were few and far between, which was great for the swimming pool.

Ah, the swimming pool, our favourite. The tropical paradise is heated to 30 degrees and every evening and the majority of the mornings we headed there. We played in the rapids and went down the slides, even though they seriously cripple you. Honestly I badly hurt my knee and it’s still bruised now but I literally regret nothing. The best time to get there was as soon as it opened at 10am, we’d stay for an hour or so and once it got busy we’d leave. Each evening it closes at 9pm, so we’d arrive there for 7pm and spend two hours in the pool and in the wildwaterbaan. It’s our ritual to get out at about quarter to 9pm and spend the last 15 minutes in the hot tub for a hit of 36 degree heat.

Because it was so stormy during the week we were away, we did have one evening in which they closed off the rapids as the wind was blowing so badly on the outdoor section. Friday is the day you depart, and they don’t make you leave straight away – you can spend the entire day in the pool if you want. So knowing we were only travelling down the road to Eindhoven we did this, and the rapids were closed for roughly an hour whilst they cleaned up the debris again.

We also booked a couple of things this time, which we didn’t do last time. First of all, we went and had our dinner in a ‘pancake’ restaurant. This was nice but also a bit crazy because we were the only two people in the whole building, the chef literally cooked our food, delivered it to us and then watched us eat it from afar. But it was tasty!

As well as that, we booked to go and play Bowling. This cost about 22 euros per lane, so could be cheaper if there were more of you, but as you’ve seen above we did have some issues. Finally we booked an hour and a half Archery session for 10 euros each. Well we turned up and we were the only people who had booked! It was great! We basically had an archery master class and got to play a load of fun games. By the end of it my fingers were crippled, but I really enjoyed it.

To begin, and cap off, our holiday we stayed in the city of Eindhoven an hour’s drive from CP. We were so glad we did this rather than drive all the way from the UK straight to Het Heijderbos. We stayed at the Best Western Eindhoven which is really a 15 minute walk into the town centre, and offers free parking. We actually stumbled upon Carnival season, and this mean everyone of all ages was out having fun, dressing up, and they had a crazy parade! So it couldn’t have worked out better.

The prices at CP in England are absolutely crazy, especially as the week we visited was half term week. I would fully recommend every visit a CP in Europe, and I can personally recommend Het Heijderbos.

You can find my full Het Heijderbos gallery below, as well as my YouTube video!

Have you ever visited Centre Parcs? What did you think?

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