Growing up with six kids in my family, camping was usually the vacation of choice. It was great, because all of us kids could run around and just be kids in nature. Now that we have kids we have taken the kids camping a few times, but found that we are more like a glamping family or a family that likes a real bed. I know that is cheating for those of you that camp, but we need a good nights sleep with all of our traveling.
If you recall, we went “camping” a few times on our 6 week European road trip last summer. We even went camping in Rome! Of course we rented mobile homes rather than tents, but we still had experienced what I remembered most about my childhood: the outdoors. So, as we were planning our 3 1/2 week European road trip for summer 2014, I wanted to get that same experience. This time we were going to explore the Netherlands, Belgium and a bit of France.
After searching many options, I happened upon Sunparks De Haan aan zee in Belgium. This looked just like what we wanted and needed, but even better. It wasn’t a mobile home, it was a holiday park with cottages! Score! I thought as we travel, we will do our best to review all of our accommodation choices for you and let you know what we think.
Sunparks De Haan aan zee Belgium is now in the Spotlight!
Sunparks De Haan is located on the western coast of Belgium, just 20 minutes from the gorgeous city of Bruges, Belgium. (Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders, in the Flemish Region of Belgium.)
From Sunparks, you can easily walk (15 min) or bike ride (5 min) to the vast sandy beaches along the North Sea. This was a real treat for us to be in soft powdery sand. After living in Spain nearly 2 years, with beaches of stone and gritty sand, this was lovely.
We were pleasantly surprised with our cottage. It was an adorable free-standing cottage, completely surrounded by high trees and hedges for complete privacy. We had our own little front yard, as well as a good-sized back yard. Inside the cottage we had 2 bedrooms and a bonus sauna room upstairs! How cool is that?!
Downstairs was a combo kitchen, dining and family room with an incredible fireplace and a flat screen TV. We were very excited to have a dishwasher and the microwave was also a combo grill/oven. It was just perfect for our stay. The cottage did come with WiFi ability and you just select the plan you want online and pay for the WiFi you want.
I asked the front desk if I could take photos of a lakeside cottage (higher end and bigger) and they said yes! I could really see how a large family gathering here would be ideal. Here are a few photos of the larger cottages:
Wow, we were amazed with the selection of activities. We all had bikes for our entire stay. This was fantastic and it was even difficult to get Anya to come indoors for a change. The park is a car free park, so you can walk and ride bikes everywhere. There are plenty of roads, trails and bike lanes to choose from. We found a few playgrounds, a miniature golf, bocci ball and a few other activities outdoors. I must also mention there is a kids klub that looks fantastic. Our kids say “we’re to old for that”, but it looked great!
Indoor activities in the Market Dome, was an entirely new world!
There is a water park with 3 water slides, 2 hot tubs, a toddler pool, a fun and crazy lazy river, as well as an outdoor pool. They also had a very good-sized wave pool that would go into action about every 30 minutes. About 15 minutes prior to the waves, waterfalls would begin to flow into the pool.
There was also a bowling alley, video game room, tennis courts, squash courts, kids climbing area, as well as ping-pong, badminton, and volley ball. Let’s just say, no matter what the weather is outside, there will be plenty for you to do indoors.
The Market Dome is the place to go for food! We found the on property grocery store/market to be very well stocked and reasonably priced. We didn’t have a need to find any other store to buy food for our stay. Lars even found a 5 kilo jar of Nutella, which we did not purchase, Ha!
We did check out the restaurants on property and found them to be a bit on the pricey side for every meal out. That said, you do receive good value for money. When you are on a budget like us, it was a treat to eat out. We do prefer to cook our own meals.
I have to say we had a wonderful experience at Sunparks De Haan. This is just what we needed and the kids were never bored! That is key in our book. We had plenty of nature, yet the comfort of a bed and hot shower. For me personally, I like that we had a kitchen to cook our meals and save money on eating out. You know me, anyway we can save a little money. We all loved riding the many trails on our bikes and the staff was always very helpful. This was the perfect option for a holiday on the Belgium coast.
“Do you speak English?”
Every staff member we encountered was professional, nice and accommodating. To top it all off, they all spoke English! This shouldn’t really be part of a review, but that was huge for us! We didn’t know how to say anything in the local language and it was such a comfort when we would ask that question, “Do you speak English?” and they would reply Yes! It is amazing, how that one thing really made our stay complete. We were able to get all of the information we needed in the language we knew. Phew!
- Rent bikes! That is all I have to say, just do it.
- The cottage was well stocked as we ordered the comfort package (inclusive of towels and bedding). You also receive dishwasher tablets a sponge and scrubber brush. If you have room in your luggage, I would recommend you bring your own beach towels. When you order the towel package, you receive one bath and one hand towel per person. So, it is not really meant for a swimming towel. That said, we found we didn’t really need towels at the pool. We just stayed until we dried off and then used their huge changing rooms, to put on dry clothes.
- Book early if you can and receive the early bird discount as well as other specials, like extra activities. Check their website for current offers.
- We booked the last-minute deal, just 10 days before travel and feel we received an excellent deal. The only risk is they may be sold out, which happened to us at another park we were interested in.
- No matter how long you stay, you need to visit the gorgeous city of Bruges. It is just a 20 minute drive away and very easy to find paid parking near the city center. Take a few hours to meander around the cobblestone streets and gobble up some Belgian waffles and chocolates while you are there.
Where are their Holiday Parks located?
Sunparks has 4 locations within Belgium and Center Parcs Europe offers over 20 locations in several countries. Some of the locations are sustainable and great nature breaks.
Booking and Contact Info
Center Parcs France – Click here for the best holiday park deals in France
Center Parcs Belgium – Click here for the best holiday park deals in Belgium
Center Parcs Netherlands – Click here to view the latest luxury family holiday Netherlands deals.
Center Parcs Germany – Click here for the best holiday park deals in Germany
They do have several other holiday parks in the area, so do check out their site and see what works for you.
Disclaimer: We would like to thank The Center Parcs Europe and Sunparks for sponsoring a portion of our stay. All of the reviews, recommendations and opinions are our own.