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We aren’t strangers to travel. However, after having kids, our trips have had to adjust and look a bit different in order to meet the demands of our little
terrorists kids. Whether it be finding kid friendly activities that keep them engaged (and skipping out on that museum) or rearranging our day so that we can ensure a nap, we now say there is Travel and there is Vacation. Travel can still feel busy, overwhelming (in a good/fun way), and exciting. Vacation is kicking up your heels, letting that sigh out that you didn’t know you’ve been holding in for ages, and relaxing.
Center Parcs Allgau Is a Vacation!
^Heading to Allgau Center Park? Pin It For Later!^
Our first introduction to Center Parcs Germany (Center Parks, Centre Parcs….Same. Same) was last year when we went with two other families. It is extremely rare that we go back to the same places we’ve already been to. After all, this world (and Germany!) has SO much to explore! But, there was just something about a long weekend where we didn’t have anything on the agenda, long days splashing together as a family at the pool, and adults being able to play board games long after the kids fell asleep that is REALLY appealing! So, back we went for another round!
So, here is my review after two stays at Centre Parcs Allgäu as well as everything you may want and need to know before booking, and staying, at the family resort. And no, neither of these were a sponsored or hosted trip, so hopefully you’ll see both the positives and the negatives I found and hope you find helpful for your trip planning.
If you are traveling to Center Parcs with a Baby, read all about what to expect and how to plan for that here.
Where Is Center Parcs Allgäu
The Allgäu Center Parc is basically it’ own little village, complete with several on site restaurants, it’s own grocery store, a backerei, and even a Starbucks! It is just on the outskirts of the town of Leutkirch Allgäu, but unlike a lot of the other Center Parcs locations, there isn’t a ton to do directly in town or very nearby. More on day trips below.
Allgäu is a region in South Central Germany known for it’s rolling hills that give way to the beautiful Bavarian Alps. The Center Parc is about 2 hours East of Munich.
Address: Allgäuallee 40, 88299 Leutkirch im Allgäu
Getting To the Allgäu Center Parc Resort
Technically, you can get to the town of Leutkirch im Allgäu by public transportation, but it ain’t easy or short.
The best way to get to the resort is by driving. However, once you arrive, you are only allowed to drive your car around the park to unload your belongings (as well as pack up for departure). After that, the resort is a car free zone and you will park in their provided lots for the remainder of the stay.
Booking Your Cottage
Despite living in Germany, I’ll be the first to admit that my German is NOT very good (hang heads in shame). But I found the website to book a bit of a runaround and sometimes hard to find exact information and details. The option to turn on English was only on some pages (and hard to find) so there were things that I couldn’t find ANYWHERE (and then had my German speaking friend double check because, let’s face it, I have a history of looking something right in the face and saying “Where is the…..”)
For example, from my previous stay, I knew we needed to bring some basics for the cottage (more on this below) but NOWHERE could I find a list of what exactly was included in the stay and what was necessary to bring. In fact, this is one of the biggest complaints on Trip Advisor. People show up and are shocked to find no hand soap (especially disappointing during Corona times) and only one roll of toilet paper per bathroom. Obviously, they want you to go buy it at their (overpriced) store, but I think it should be mentioned somewhere on the website regardless what to expect in your cottage.
Choose A Cottage
There are a lot of different apartment/cottage/ cabin options and most of the biggest differences are simply in size and amount of people each accommodates. However, there are some that are a bit more luxurious, like one that has a sauna in it! A SAUNA!!!!
You do have an option to pay a bit extra to choose exactly where you would like to stay in the park. One thing to know is that the resort is huge. The Market Dome is where almost all of the main activities and attractions are located (like the amazing Aqua Mundo pool). The cottages are then basically encircled around the Dome in layers. Therefore, if you are on one of the outer rings, it could take you a good 15 minutes (or longer, if your kids walk at a snail pace, like mine) just to get to and from the activities. So, some people like to pay around 40 Euros extra to choose a cabin that is closer. Personally, we don’t find that to be that big of a deal and hey, we are
cheap frugal so we’ll save the 40 Euro and walk or bike.
When To Book For Center Parc Deals
There are several theories to this. Some people say to book out as far in advance as you can. Unfortunately, when it comes to these kinds of trips, I am not a pre-planner, so I can’t vouch for if this is the best option or not.
Alternatively, I CAN say that waiting until the last minute (and being flexible) is a great way to save. Obviously, this can go either way and you can risk having apartments be completely booked out. However, we waited until about 2 weeks before we wanted to go and got €400 off our stay. If you an be REALLY flexible or REALLY last minute, you can even get bigger Center Parc last minute discounts. For example, the above image was for a search for just two days from now and it was over €2000 off!!!! This was for that fancy schmancy sauna cottage, but finding €500 or more off the more standard houses was totally possible.
If you book a holiday 3 times within 2 years, then you also become a “Center Parcs Friend.” There isn’t a discount, but you can get early check-in, a little “present” at arrival. and some gifts at the shop as well.
Packing For Center Parcs
By now, you have probably seen or read that the cottages are self catering. AirBnB was just becoming the next hot thing when we had our first son and, I tell ya, apartment style stays with families are one of the best evolutions to traveling with kids! We love the option of being able to eat out at the park once in a while or when on the go at the park, but REALLY appreciate being able to cook a meal to keep down on costs.
The cottages are strange in the sense that it seems like everything should be provided. But then you arrive and realize there is no way to wash dishes (or hands) because there is no dish or hand soap, or that there are no trash bags provided. On our first stay, we had to “upgrade” for the ben linens to be included (but this was included as part of our package our second time). So, it can be a bit confusing as to what exactly to pack and bring vs what is included.
Ther is a store on site for any last minute purchases or “oops, I forgot” items. While I wouldn’t say that it is outrageously priced, I would argue that it is expensive, comparatively. You are much better off going to the store locally and getting all your food and supplies and just bringing them with you rather than having to buy there.
What You Can Expect To Find:
- A fully stocked kitchen of cooking appliances.
- Every apartment comes with a toaster, plenty of pots and pans for cooking/baking, cups, plates, bowls, coffee pot, can opener, spatulas, pasta strainer, silverware, water boiler, refrigerator, and even a big measuring bowl, plus some more that I’m sure I forgot about!
- One toilet paper roll per bathroom
- One “rag” for wiping up and only 2 dishwasher tabs
- Table for eating
- Baby high chair
- Baby crib (our apartment had one on each floor)
- Baby gate for multi-level homes
- Drying clothes rack
- Outdoor patio with table/chairs
- BBQ grill (but no grate or charcoal provided)
What To Bring:
- Trash bags
- Hand towels
- Hand soap for each bathroom/ kitchen
- Dishwashing soap
- Dishwasher tabs
- Bed linens (possibly- check your package or “upgrade to have this included” which I highly recommend so that it’s one less thing for your to have to pack)
- Food, snacks, and beverages
Other Packing Essentials:
- Masks during Covid (all the indoor locations require a mask)
- Clothes and backups for entire stay (there are no washing machines, so either pack doubles or bring laundry soap and a line for a classic bathtub laundry day)
- Board games
- Toys for kids to play with
- Balls for kids to kick around
- Beach towels
- Kids flotation devices (arm wings, puddle jumpers, etc). Life vests are free to borrow at the pool
- The usual travel supplies (toiletries, medicine, clothes, underwear, socks, etc)
- Baby supplies if necessary (pacifier, diapers/wipes (these are EXPENSIVE on site!) A crib sheet is NOT provided. Read my Center Parcs Baby Guide Here
- Pair of walking shoes as well as sandals for the pool
- Baby carrier or stroller if applicable
- Pool toys
- Playground toys (like a shovel, etc)
- Coffee and filters (some apartments have a Dolce Nespresso machine as well, pods not included)
- Mosquito repellant during summer
- Tupperware for leftovers
- Electronics/ Chargers
Optional To Bring
- Bikes, laufrads, scooters, bike trailers
- HDMI cable to connect laptop to TV for movies
Here is a tour of our apartment at the Allgau Center Parc
Arrival At All Center Parcs
After you make your booking, you’ll need to fill out information for all the guests (names, birthdates) staying at the cottage, your license plate numbers, and some other general info. You’ll get a booking receipt that you can print out or have ready on your phone to scan once you arrive. Be sure to do all this! Otherwise, you may have to wait in a line to get into the park, and then have to go wait in line inside at the reception as well.
Note: I did all of this on the App. However, the friend that went with us wasn’t able to even get the App on her IPhone and my hubby said he couldn’t even find it in his US App store (I was able to get it in the German Android App store)
Whether you are going to the Allgäu Center Parcs or any others, check in is at 3pm. During non-covid times, you can actually arrive at 10am on the day of your check in and begin using all of the amenities (besides your cottage) immediately. This is a great way to squeeze in more time at the park, especially if you are just doing a weekend getaway, like we do.
Likewise, on the day of your departure, you just need to be out of your cottage by 10am but then you can have free roam of the park all day. This was fantastic for us, as we got in some more playground, and of course, pool time. The kids were exhausted and passed out in the car before even getting on the Autobahn!
Note: During Covid (at the time of our stay) guests were not allowed to come in and use the resort until exactly 3pm. Anyone arriving prior had to park and wait in the parking lots. Covid did NOT impact staying on departure day, you are allowed to stay on site after check out.
What is really nice is that besides at check in and check out times, the whole park is car free. It was so nice letting B run around with minimal fears of cars zooming around. You are allowed to drive to your cottage to unload all of your stuff (and if you are like me, you packed enough for an entire army!) but it is expected that you park your car in the provided lots when you are finished. Same with leaving.
The Allgäu Center Parc is actually quite new. The cottages are REALLY nice and modern. As stated above, each cabin has a fully stocked kitchen, which is a game changer on a long holiday! The first one we stayed at was a two bedroom and the second one we did was a 4 bedroom. Both were pretty much the same, except one was bigger (and had two levels).
There is a really nice seating area, which was great for game nights or when the kids needed some veg time watching a movie after a long day at the pool.
Outside each apartment is a (small) outdoor area. There really is no privacy between you and your neighbor though, so if you plan on being outside a lot, just be prepared to get to know them quite well!
If you are anything like me, you’ve already scoured the TripAdvisor reviews and you have probably read the outrage over the cleanliness at Allgäu’s cottages. Oddly, I didn’t have this problem on either stay, but there were too many negative reviews about this issue to ignore.
There are literally HUNDREDS of cottages on-site, and with a quick turnover, I can see how it would be tight, but that really isn’t an excuse. People complained about toilets visibly NOT wiped down (ew) or tables still clearly messy from previous stays. If that is what is visible, it makes you kinda wonder what the eye CAN’T see…..?
Our cottage both times at least appeared to be clean. Although I will admit, I didn’t go around looking for issues. I did notice that under the bed was quite dusty (when I did the final once over before leaving)
I’m not sure if this is really required, but each time we left, we made to sure to sweep really well and there is a bag to put all the linens in. We also took all the trash and recyclables to the sort area. Maybe with less “mess” inside the cleaners can focus on cleaning better?
You can read further reviews on Booking.Com as well
Activities at Allgäu
The highlight of just about any Center Parcs stay is going to be the pool. With Allgau being pretty new, the pool is in stellar condition and is reason enough to stay at the park.
My baby loved the kiddie pool. My 4 year old spent HOURS in the splash area (there are smaller slides perfect for the 8 and under crowd) with water sprayers, and more. The lazy river was a hit for all ages, as was the wave pool. Us adults couldn’t get enough of all of the really great water slides.
We found mornings really busy at the pool, but as the day went on, it would slow down around mid afternoon and well into the evening. If your kids can hang the whole day, it would be worth doing some of the other activities in the park for the morning, grab some lunch, and then do an evening pool session when it’s not as crowded.
I absolutely LOVED that you didn’t need to go far at all to get to a playground and there was one just around every corner. There is even a really fantastic indoor playzone which is fantastic for rainy days
There is a small animal area with sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, rabbits, and some calves and seriously the BIGGEST rooster I have ever seen! The kids had a great time hanging out around this area
There are a lot of add ons that you can pay for like ziplining and laser tag.
There is a (what looks like) reeaaallly nice spa. Unfortunately, I never took advantage of this because my youngest wasn’t old enough to be in the Kids Klub and well….remember, I said I was cheap! However, this is definitely something I have my eye on for future trips.
Other Paid Activities
To be honest, we don’t really ever do many of the paid activities (we did do the bowling once, which was worth it for 8 of us for 1 hour) because our kids were content just doing the pools, parks, and walking around. I could see doing one or two activities if we were staying an entire week vs just a weekend, but for our particular family and shorter stays, most of the paid activities weren’t necessary to keep us busy and having fun.
And for full disclosure, I am THAT mom. You know the one that sees the “safari” cars that you have to pay extra for and tells her kids that they can sit in them and “use their imagination.” Yup, THAT mom. In my defense, they had a blast pretending, it killed a good half an hour, and I didn’t have to shell out more money. I consider that a parenting win!
There is also mini golf course, climbing wall, bowling alley, trampoline jump, paddle boats on the pond, archery, bumper cars, and more!
Eating at The Resort
- Rocket’s (Fantastic burgers. Get the fries with the aioli sauce. YUM!)
- Sudstüble (classic Allgäu and regional food)
- Alpenblick (quick meals, pizzas, drinks)
- Market Restaraunt (all you can eat buffet)
- Pancakes (wait…I did NOT see this! A restaurant devoted entirely to pancakes!? How did I miss this???)
There are multiple restaurants on site. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised at just how delicious the food was (the Käsespätzle at the German restaurant was fantastic, the Quatro farmagi pizza from the take out was one of the best I’ve had, and even this Nebraskan gal could get on board with the burgers at Rocket’s.) We’ve been to resort style Familia Hotels in the past and the food has been lack luster to say the least (mass produced) but this was NOT the case at Center Parcs restaurants.
However, you will pay a pretty penny for the eating out. Not OUTRAGEOUS prices, but still more than just eating out at a typical German restaurant. A medium sized pizza was about €12. The burgers + fries+ drinks were close to €15. A schntizle with pommes was also close to €15 and the Käsespätzle was about €14.
Insider Tip: Order €40+ worth of take out and you get a free bottle of wine! I mean, is it the best wine I’ve had? No. Was it free and drinkable? You betcha!
Insider Tip: You can order from any of the restaurants and have them deliver it to your cottage
I felt like we had a perfect combo of eating out/ ordering out and cooking in. It was nice to order at a restaurant and not have to worry about cooking for our small army. On the other hand, it was great to be able to cook meals in our cottage and cut down on costs. Each trip we’ve done all breakfasts at the apartment, had some sandwiches on hand for quick lunches, and then split days of cooking for dinner/ eating out.
My biggest tip is to do some meal and food prepping before you even arrive. The last thing you want to be doing on a vacation is slaving over the stove for hours! On the other hand, you don’t just want frozen pizzas and quick pastas for all your meals, either!
I always make up some meals that can either be re-heated or just a few things done to finish it all up when I am there. This is especially handy because I didn’t want to bring any seasonings or oils. So, I did all the heavy lifting with my own ingredients at home first.
Here is some of the food that I have prepped before hand so that it was a cinch to get food on the table for my hungry minions:
- Baked and shredded chicken for white queso nachos (just bring chips and cheese to melt)
- Measured and baggied all the dry ingredients for pancakes ahead of time. Bring along some bacon fry to bake up.
- Baked a pan of enchiladas that just needed to be reheated at the cottage
- Made up a batch of chili ahead of time to quickly and easily assemble chili dogs
- Premade meatballs that could easily be plopped on top of spaghetti noodles made quickly there
- Bring a package of eggs, bread for toast, and yogurts for quick and healthy breakfasts
- Bake a batch of no bake cookies and rice krispies
Getting Around The Park
Not having cars in the park is actually really enjoyable. But, depending on where your cottage is located, you may be in for a trek to get to the main activities. Honestly, we didn’t mind the 10-15 walk each way. I mean, what else did we have going on!? However, next time we go, we’ll be bringing our bikes for sure.
Plenty of people brought along their own bikes and bike trailers to help them zip around the park faster. I will admit that there was a time or two that I realized I left something at the apartment and didn’t really care to make the walk back and forth, but with a bike, it would have been a cinch.
You can either bring your own, or there are bikes and trailers to rent on sight as well, which is a splurge, but a nice amenity to have.
Rent a Golf Cart
If you really want to get around fast, there are golf carts (E cars) to rent on sight as well. These definitely cost a pretty pretty, but if you plan on going back and forth a lot, it is something to consider.
Is Center Parcs Worth the Cost?
Our total cost for the accommodation from Friday through Monday trip was €1,046 for 4 adults, 3 children, 1 infant. That came to be a little over €500 per family and only €174 per family per day.
We have been on vacation where the cost of accommodation alone was that much with absolutely NO amenities. We’ve also been to Kinder Hotels that cost waaaaay more and still don’t have comparable pools or as many activities to do.
Also, Therme Erding in Munich is €40/Day per person alone (not including any accommodation!). And the Aqua Mundo is extremely comparable as far as how much to do at the pool and size, so that alone is an argument to make that Center Park was worth the cost.
Is €174 per day (or more if you don’t get a special or discount) on the more expensive side of travel than I prefer? Sure. But for everything you can do here, I would say it is worth the cost. Granted, that didn’t include the expensive restaurants or any other additional purchases that we made. But, if you cook at the apartment, bring your own bikes, don’t splurge on any extra costs, and don’t get suckered into having to pay for more toilet paper at the store, then you can work hard at keeping the costs as close to the base lodging price as possible!
Would We Go Again?
I know from research and friends who have been to other locations that all Germany Center Parcs are roughly the same, but knowing that we have really enjoyed Allgau so much, it’s a little tempting to want to return for the third time. However, I’ve got my eye on some of the other parks as well. I’m thinking of making a road trip to do some other sight seeing in other parts of Germany and ending with a great weekend at any of the other parks!
So, all that to say yes, I have no doubt we’ll be returning.
Day Trips or Excursions from Allgäu Center Park
To be honest, if I am paying a premium for the resort, I am not going to be going off sight for other activities (especially when there is more than enough to keep me busy there). However, I could see if I was staying for a week or so how doing some excursions would be a nice way to break up the week.
The Allgäu region of Germany is absolutely beautiful. Our friend even exclaimed in the car that he, “Saw the hills were truly alive.” While the hills are more rolling near the resort, just a short drive away and you can be in the mountains and living your best Julie Andrews moments yet.
The park itself has some added on excursions, such as different ski locations, a hot air balloon ride, paragliding in the Alps, and more. Alternatively, you can also head out for the day on your own.
Here are a few easy day trips or excursions from the resort:
Whether you are going to Neuschwanstein in the Winter or want to play Prince and Princess for the day, Neuschwanstein is one of the most impressive castles in Germany, arguably the world. Read my Complete Guide to Neuschwanstein here.
Time from Center Parcs: Approximately 1 Hour
Lake Konstance is a favorite holiday location for Germans. There are numerous towns to visit along the ginormous lake, beaches to swim at, paths to bike, and sweeping views of the Alps in the distance.
Time from Center Parcs: 30 min- 1 hour depending on which town you go to
Go Hiking Or Skiing
Oberstaufen is perfect for beginners and kids (or people like me who grew up on a flat prairie!). Approx 35 min drive
Obertsdorf is another great ski area for all age ranges, included big paths for children. Approx 1 hour drive
Both of these locations are fantastic options to go for some wonderful hikes in the summer time as well.
Ulm is a classic German town with half timbered buildings, a seriously impressive Gothic cathedral, and boasts itself as the birthplace of Einstein.
Time from Center Parcs: Approx 1 hour
Munich is one of my favorite Bavarian cities as it has so much to do! Stop into the famous Hofbrauhaus for a beer, walk the Altstadt, watch the Glockenspiel show, and more.
Time from Center Parcs: Approx 2 hours
Center Parcs FAQs
Does Centre Parcs Have Childcare?
Yes. In the UK, it is called Creche and in Germany it is the Kids Klub. However, both start at age 2. You need to make reservations and pay extra for this service.
Is There Babysitting at Center Parcs?
At some locations, babysitting is an option and is an added feature/ cost.