A Nostalgic Dream Comes True
Date: 4 December 2019
Remember the movie Dirty Dancing? Didn’t you love it? I remember loving the idea of this holiday resort and these perfect vacations with my family and, if I’m honest, meeting my handsome Johnny and swelling with pride as he fights for me, vowing that “Nobody puts Baby in the corner!”. Okay so that was probably a little cheesy, but in a good way. So when my husband (my real-life Johnny) suggested we book a weekend away in Holland and stay at Droomparken De Zanding in the town of Otterlo, my love of Dirty Dancing and sense of nostalgia were at an all-time high and I arrived with my luggage and some 1980s-inspired expectations. I was going to be seriously disappointed… But in an amazing way!
Nothing could have prepared me for the experience we would have at Droomparken De Zanding. When you drive into the park and enter the reception area, you’re greeted with the most picturesque space brimming with charm and warmth. Everyone you meet is happy, friendly and super helpful. It’s like you’ve stepped into a time and place that has escaped the coldness of the world outside and this whimsical world where everything is perfect, organised and inviting is beckoning you to come and stay and make some wonderful memories. I was overwhelmed with joy and basked in the feel-good ambience, loving every minute. As I looked around, I realised that every other visitor that walked through the door immediately felt the same. It’s as if we all parked our worries outside and entered a stress-free zone where a glorious fire and free coffee and tea and home-made cookies greet you and the staff offer big smiles that welcome you to the enchanting world that is Droomparken. As my husband checked us in, I wandered around and explored everything on offer, realising immediately that this might be the first time we were here, but it wouldn’t be our last. Off I went into the village shop, stocked full of everything you may need during your stay and a whole lot more. The smell of freshly baked bread fills the air, soft music plays in the background and the quaint scene that surrounds you is just right. I stopped to talk to other “shoppers” and was surprised at how young everyone was and how excited they seemed to be to spend a few days here. Some were owners and others, like us, simply here to enjoy a holiday renting one of the many homes available. But each and every one filled with anticipation and high expectations. I filled a basket with essentials and some quintessentially delicious Dutch goods and went off to find my husband. Keys in our hands, we got in our car and drove through the cute streets of the park on our way to what would be our home for the weekend.
When we parked up outside our unit, we were amazed at the tranquil and beautiful surroundings. Every home we had passed was occupied, lights on and fires burning and there was a perfect stillness in the air that makes you feel you are in the middle of nowhere when in fact you are right where you’re supposed to be. We unlocked the door and stepped inside and our love affair with everything in this place came full circle. Everywhere you look, the balance between practicality and design has been wonderfully realised. As we explored our two-bedroom home, we noticed and appreciated the attention to detail and the quality and function that was apparent in every corner. You are left neither needing nor wanting anything more. Everything has been thought of and provided for and the overall feeling is that home-away-from-home that we all love and look for when we’re on holiday.
We decided to have dinner at the park’s Italian restaurant, Sophia’s. Authentically and tastefully decorated, the restaurant exudes rustic Italian charm and you think to yourself, whatever the food tastes like, I’m just happy to be here. But neither the food nor the service let us down and we thoroughly enjoyed an evening eating the delicious Italian creations prepared so attentively, accompanied by wine and enhanced by the cosy atmosphere around you. It was a special night and our craving for nostalgia and charm was served in bucketloads.
The next day, we awoke from a peaceful and comfortable sleep, ready to explore the rest of the park. Driving along the winding roads, you will come across different styles and sizes of homes. All so unique and intentional in what they offer and true to the experience you hope to have. My personal favourites were the tiny homes, set in a small cluster, awash with stringed fairy lights and barrel-type hot tubs adding that bohemian touch to the charm of tiny living. We were given the keys to a couple of the tiny homes to explore and we were again, pleasantly surprised. Beautifully designed and decorated, this tiny home experience is one that is unique and truly memorable. As we walked around and fell in love with this celebration of community and oneness with nature, we decided to make plans to return for a second time but this time as residents of a tiny home.
Each park in the Droomparken family is unique and offers a distinct experience. Where we stayed, there is an indoor swimming pool and spa as well as a man-made beach and lake. There’s a children’s play area and numerous paths and trails to walk, hike or bike ride along. There’s a shuttle bus to transport you from your home to the park’s restaurants and common areas. For longer stays, there’s a dedicated laundry area with coin-operated washers and dryers. All in all, the park offers everything you and your family could ever need to enjoy a wonderfully different, wholesome and safe holiday. At the end of our stay, I couldn’t remember what my initial expectations had been, but I knew they had been surpassed in every way. As we drove out of the park on our way to the airport, my husband and I looked at each other and knew that a holiday at Droomparken De Zanding was one thing, but we wanted more… We wanted to buy into this dream park and own our very own Droomparken home!
By: Rita van Dijk