A few weeks ago I wrote about the possible pitfalls of Center Parcs holidays and how we were preparing for our upcoming Center Parcs stay at Post Zelande in Holland. The tone of the post might have come across to some readers as pessimistic but to me it was a realistic view based on our experience at Het Meerdal in 2014. You might wonder why we decided to go back to Center Parcs at all. Well the answer to that is simple. We wanted a relaxing break with the children near the beach with not too long of a drive. At the moment, and most likely for some time to come, a relaxing break with the children for us translates as a holiday where the children have plenty of entertainment, are outdoors a lot, are generally happy and, by the end of the day, worn out. We were pretty sure that Center Parcs would tick all those boxes and we were prepared to take a risk on the standard of accommodation.
To be blunt, we loved Port Zelande. From the first moment as we walked from reception to our holiday home I was thrilled, as were the children. The houses, brick painted in pastel colours and with decorative shutters on the windows, and the port, chock-full of sail boats, practically shouted out “holidays” to us.
Our home for the week was a three story terraced house – town house style I suppose – with three bedrooms, a bathroom, a downstairs loo, kitchen-dining-living area, a patio with garden furniture and two balconies with sun loungers. We hadn’t booked the bed clothes package, opting to bring out own covers instead. Within an hour of arrival we had the beds made, clothes unpacked and the cases stowed away in the handy empty closet on the landing. Oh, and had coffee made too! The kitchen was so much better than in Het Meerdal. Equipped with a pristine gas hob, convection microwave, filter coffee machine, kettle and dishwasher as well as more than enough crockery, various types of glasses, mixing bowls, measuring jugs, pots and pans, ladels, whisks,…. You name it, it was there. I was over the moon.
We arrived on a wet Saturday. Luckily the following morning we woke to sunshine and realised what a glorious view we had from our bedroom on the top floor. With a balony of either side of the room, we could choose to watch the sun rise over the gable or see the port revealed from the first light of dawn.
Over the course of the week the weather was mixed. Being October we knew we wouldn’t get the weather for lounging on the balcony – not that the children would have allowed us the peace for that anyway. We did however have a couple of evenings where we could sit outside on the patio for a cuppa or an aperitif. The candles I brought with me – a self-catering staple of mine – and some of Autumn’s bounty made a pretty little arrangement for the wood-effect patio table. On the less pleasant evenings we lit a fire in the living room fireplace, lit a few candles on the coffee table and made the place cosy.
In fact we all felt at home quite quickly in our holiday home. The boys settled into a routine of post-activity, pre-dinner TV, watching a half-hour of cartoons. The fact they were in Dutch didn’t bother them in the slightest. The Bavarian and our black lab,wed stay in the hosue, generally went out for a walk around this time too. I got into a nice little habit of reading with a cuppa or crocheting and keeping an eye on what the boys were watching while dinner cooked.
All in all we were very happy with the accommodation. The ground floor could easily have become cramped if we didn’t put a bit of effort into where we stored things. The closet on the landing and the garage-like store room on the ground floor were ideal for bulky stuff like cases, fishing gear, scooters and the balance bike. The tiny entrance hall was adequate for our coats and shoes.
With great views to wake up to and a warm and welcoming spot to return to in the evenings, we were well set up to enjoy days out, activities on site, beach walks and visits to local towns. More on that soon in parts 2 and 3.