Vacation centers, also known as holiday and vacation villages, offer good value for travelers to Europe willing to be based away from major cities.
These complexes are in Scandinavia, West Germany, France, Holland, England and other countries in Western Europe. American travelers are discovering these centers, but they are still primarily used by Europeans.
The centers are usually self-contained resort complexes including apartments, chalets or bungalows. Some are virtual year-round villages with high-rise apartments, marinas, indoor and outdoor pools, a variety of restaurants and sports facilities. Playgrounds and counselors may be available for children.
Other centers are small, with only a snack bar, and only open during summer.
One major vacation village is Rhein Lahn, about 1 hours' drive from Frankfurt in West Germany. With 400 units ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments, it provides indoor and outdoor pools, jogging and bicycle trails, two restaurants and gymnastic facilities. Rates start at about $25 a night per room.