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Dutch resort is a hidden gem

Landal Waterparc Veluwemeer in Flavoland, Netherlands
Landal Waterparc Veluwemeer in Flavoland, Netherlands

It has been a feast followed by a famine. After a month-long honeymoon to North America in 2012, the arrival of our daughter and son led to us not even getting on a plane since flying home from Canada, let alone leaving the country (unless you consider four nights in Berwick a foreign trip). We agreed it was time to put this right.

After some research we came across the Landal chain of holiday villages, which are primarily located in the Netherlands and Belgium. Waterparc Veluwemeer is one of their newest parks, located in Flevoland, around an hour’s journey from Amsterdam.

Flevoland did not even exist until the 20th century, being formed by the reclamation of the Zuiderzee in the 1950s and 1960s. Compared to the likes of Amsterdam and The Hague, it is not considered one of the tourism hotspots of Holland, but as we were to discover, there was more than enough for a family to enjoy.

Despite some trepidation, the flight with KLM to Schiphol went very smoothly indeed. However, the car hire pick up was slightly more tricky. Firstly, the journey from arrivals to the “on airport” car hire collection point felt like we had walked as far as Belgium.

Secondly, we were upgraded to a higher category of car, but this meant I had to negotiate the busy motorways of Amsterdam in an unfamiliar automatic car, which was slightly hair-raising.

After those minor hiccups, it was lovely to be welcomed with chocolates and candy at the park. Our cottage had three bedrooms, which meant it was an ideal size for us, and was perfectly well equipped for a small family, with a kitchen, three bathrooms and our own covered veranda. I must be honest and say we did not make use of the sauna and sunbed which were also available in our accommodation.

The park is dissected by beautiful inland waterways, which some guests chose to go fishing on. One surprise of our visit was the variety of local birdlife, which was capped by the sight of a stork nearby to ourcottage.

For rainy days, there is a small soft play area and a good-sized swimming pool, complete with a smaller pool for babies and toddlers. A wide variety of bicycles were available for hire, and there were several activities per day organised at the Landal kids club which our daughter enjoyed taking part in.

As well as cottages, there are also apartments in the park, located around a marina a short distance from reception, though this area seemed a little quieter during our Easter visit. One advantage of the park’s central location in Holland is that a wide mix of attractions are within an hour’s drive.

The Harderwijk Dolfinarium is less than five miles away, and is Europe’s largest marine mammal park. We enjoyed our visit on a rainy day. However extensive roadworks nearby meant an extremely long walk with small children from the designated parking area to the attraction.

With two pre-school children, we soon discovered that less is more when it came to choosing places to visit. De Orchideeen Hoeve is located at the eastern end of Flevoland province. Although it resembles a large garden centre when you arrive, it was a perfectly- sized choice with beautiful flamingos, a butterfly house and the chance to feed some tropical birds, which was a highlight of the trip for our daughter. Along with this, there was a superb indoor jungle playground to keep kids entertained. The standard of playparks in Flevoland generally was a pleasant surprise.

For those visiting the area with older children, the huge Walibi theme park is located a short drive away. In addition, there are some large wildlife attractions located in the neighbouring Gelderland province, such as Apenheul and Burger’s Safari Park.

Unlike previous visits to Amsterdam, many restaurants and attractions did not have menus and guides available in English, usually only Dutch and German, which perhaps reflects the fact that this part of Holland is not so frequently visited by British tourists. This posed a few challenges when choosing meals for the family, however, as usual, all the staff we encountered spoke excellent English.

One of our favourite meals was at the Hansel and Gretel Pancakehouse. As well as the excellent food, the surroundings for kids were simply magical, with moving floors, an organ played by a witch and another huge play park. In addition, we discovered that our seven-month-old son loved the taste of their freshly baked pancakes, which kept him very happy indeed during our visit.

Our six-night stay in the Netherlands seemed to absolutely fly past. Although I had enjoyed several visits to the country, I have to confess I didn’t realise the wide mix of places to see outside of the major cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. We definitely don’t intend to leave it another five years before we get back on a plane for our next family holiday.

Landal Waterparc Veluwemeer, Leuvenumse Beek 1, 8256 TB Biddinghuizen The Netherlands

Call: +31-(0)321 328 455


A six-night stay in a six-person villa in April costs approximately £540. KLM flies direct to Amsterdam from both Aberdeen and Inverness.