Hassle-free hols

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A holiday abroad with the children: sounds complicated. Not so, says Neil Hudson, who sampled Eurocamp, Holland

CHOOSING a holiday which both parents and children can enjoy can sometimes be tricky, especially if you choose to go abroad.

Eurocamp offers the best of both worlds in that there’s something to suit both young and old. In terms of not having to plan ahead and organise absolutely everything, it’s about as hassle-free as it’s going to get.

Eurocamp offers a near-identical service to Keycamp (the two are branches of parent organisation Holidaybreak). There are dozens of locations throughout Europe, including France, Italy, Spain, German, Croatia and even some in the US.

We chose to spend a week at the Duinrell resort, Holland in October.

In terms of accommodation, there are a range of cabin, lodges and even bungalows with two or three bedrooms.

All come fully equipped with everything you might need for a short break and you are given a welcome pack containing essentials such as tea, coffee, sugar and washing up liquid.

We stayed in a three-bed mobile home – like a static caravan – on the sprawling Duinrell site. There was plenty of room to throw down our coats and bags. The main living area comprised a dining area complete with table and seating area, plus chairs, compact kitchen with just about everything you could want, including a cooker, sink, pots, pans, cups, glasses and cutlery.

Each cabin comes with its own private decking area and patch of lawn, where you will also find a barbecue and clothes line.

They are even centrally heated and there’s room enough for a decent shower, too.

In terms of accommodation, you get what you pay for. At the end of the day, when you come to somewhere like Eurocamp, you won’t be spending your days inside the cabin because the focus is all about the attractions around and about, and Duinrell is not lacking in that department.

The camp itself is a self-contained community and most of the workers were English students. I am given to understand that is the norm, so there’s no need to worry too much about the language barrier.

The centre itself is very child-friendly, with priority given to people on bicycles and pedal-powered go-karts, which seem to be everywhere and are available for hire for a very reasonable eight euros per day, or 30 euros for the whole week.

The go-karts are exceptional fun (for both children and adults) and make it easy to get around – you can even hire a trailer to clip on the back to put your shopping in.

Obviously, cycling is a big thing in Holland. Cyclists are given priority over cars and there are cycle lanes everywhere.

We cycled to the nearby town of Wassenaer, which was only about five minutes away, and to the beach (about half-an-hour away) and it was relaxing and enjoyable,. One thing we did have to get used to was the fact bicycles in Holland don’t have a conventional brake levers mounted on the handle-bars – instead, you have to pedal backwards to slow down.

Duinrell itself is like a mini-Disneyland in that it is a purpose-built theme park, designed for children.

There are slides, log-flumes, big wheels, rows of trampolines, dodgem-style boats, rollercoasters and merry-go-rounds but by far the stand-out attraction is the Tikibad waterpark, pictured above, which costs 3.50 euros entry but is truly amazing and is somewhere you can go back to again and again with the kids. It has wave-pools, plunge-pools, a river, bubble-pools, not to mention some of the biggest, fastest (and scariest) water slides going.

There are cafes around just about every corner, staff are friendly and accommodating.

Fun

At the centre of the park is a kind of one-stop covered shopping mall, complete with supermarket, restaurants, a pub, bowling alley, theatre and free wi-fi point.

If you’ve hired a bicycle or pedal-powered go-kart, cycling there and back with your provisions is actually quite a fun thing to do.

Of course, if you want to go further afield, Amsterdam is only an hour’s drive away but the centre is designed so you don’t have to.

There are a range of activities for children to try, including things like archery, tennis, football, squash, abseiling and others.

One word of advice, however. You may want to keep a close eye on your little ones in the unsupervised play-ground areas because even though they have a sandy-floor, some of the slides are precipitously high.

Overall, it’s a fun, hassle-free way to spend a week or two and your children will love it as they will be on the go all day long, which also means they should fall fast asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow – a hidden bonus for hard-worker parents, as you may get some precious time to yourselves... so long as you can stay awake, that is!

We travelled to the Netherlands via P&O ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, an overnight crossing and one that is highly recommended as it gives both you and the children a break and is just another part of the holiday to enjoy. Ferries are always fun places for children (and adults) to explore and once you have decamped with your overnight bags, there are plenty of play areas, amusement parks and bars and restaurants to enjoy.

P&O offer a daily service from Hull to Rotterdam, departing at 8.30pm, operating two of the world’s biggest cruise ferries, Pride of Rotterdam and Pride of Hull.

The P&O ferry service offers up to 546 passenger cabins, all with private facilities, and a choice of three restaurants, including fine dining in the waiter-service Brasserie. Onboard entertainment includes a casino, cinema and live cabaret shows.

FACTFILE

Eurocamp offers a selection of family camping holidays throughout Europe and the US; with a range of activities and age-specific kids’ clubs.

Accommodation includes from mobile homes, lodges, modern chalets, bungalows, and fully equipped ‘classic’ and ‘cafari’ tents.

Seven nights at Eurocamp’s Duinrell parc, Holland, staying in a two-bedroom Horizon mobile home with decking (sleeps seven, maximum four adults), costs £295 (accommodation only).

For more on Eurocamp, call 0844 406 0552 or visit www.eurocamp.co.uk

Trips on the P&O Hull-Rotterdam service start from £138 each way for a car with up to four passengers, including a standard cabin. Upgrades to the club cabin start from £45 each way. The crossing to Rotterdam takes 12 hours. Call 08716 64 64 64 or visit www.poferries.com for more information.

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