Our first American guests were Nana & Papaw all the way over to Berlin from the Midwest. We wanted to take a little break with them that would be awesome for the kids and not too expensive, so Andy found Tropical Islands. Only 60km south of Berlin is a GIGANTIC airship hanger that has been sealed up and transformed into a tropical paradise in the middle of Europe. We went for 2 nights and 3 days and had an outstanding time.
If you are interested, here is a link to an article with pictures of the whole place from a design perspective. I completely agree that the environmental impact of this place must be discussed, BUT frankly we had a great experience despite my green leanings.
We actually stayed in a room that was directly next to the smaller pool that was filled with bubbling jets, a grotto, and a “current pool” which I started calling the swirly whirly. Our little water monkeys were in HEAVEN and we had to force them out of the pool every couple of hours to eat at one of the 13 restaurants in the place. Our room was a tiny little cabin mostly filled with our bed and the travel bed they brought in for Mayzie. Here is a picture of our room from the outside:
There was a very lovely hammock chair on the porch for chilling and it was almost impossible to move me from it when I sat there with a fruity cocktail in one hand and my Kindle in the other.
Annika liked it too:
The only drawback to the room was that there was no private bathroom, so we had to walk about 50 meters to the closest toilet and 100 meters to the closest shower. I did not mind at all, especially as they provided two lovely plush
jackets robes for underway.
Another view from our room:
We had a couple of excellent dinners, and one of the kids’ dinners even came with a surprise blow-up whale for playing in the pool. The food was outstanding and very reminiscent of a cruise we took BK (before kids), though I tried not to eat too much since I was spending at least 75% of the daytime in my swimsuit. In addition to the swimming pool near our room, there was another ginormous pool with a kiddy play section attached where the girls could roam water-wing free.
Here is Mayzie sporting her water-wings:
There was also a really large playground area replete with loads of enclosed climbing spots, trampolines, bumper boats, and encircled by a track for battery-run slow-ish cars for the kids to drive. We did not check out the Sauna there, as clothing was not allowed and we were mainly there for the kids, but we did take a lovely stroll along the path though the rainforest area in the middle.
View from one of our dinner tables:
Towering over the pools on one side is a set of 3 giant water slides and 1 smaller one you can’t see until you get closer. The smaller 2 are only for going down on a tube and were pretty fast and fun. The middle yellow slide was windy and might have been fast if I could have figured out the special way that Andy had to lay with Annika on his belly so as to decrease the weight on the slide. He managed to go down it fast with her, and I managed to practically have to push us the entire way down it. Visible from almost anywhere inside the dome is the tallest blue slide, which is actually the tallest in Germany and only 1 meter shorter than the tallest in Europe. At 27 meters (88.5 feet) high, it is daunting just to look at across the dome, and climbing the stairs alone scared me. Annika went down that slide once with her dad, and it really scared her, so I was surprised when she told me she wanted to do it again with me.
When we reached the top of the stairs I noticed two things: First, the triangles that fortify the outer sections of the dome are bigger than I imagined. Up close I could tell that even if I stood on any of the corners, I could probably not reach my hands up and touch the other side at all. They were humongous. Second, I saw the sign informing us that you had to be 14 years old in order to ride the biggest water slide in Germany. Since she had already been down with her father, my knees were practically knocking from fear of the height, and going down the slide was the fastest way to get to the bottom, I got her on my lap and launched us down before my nerves could get the better of me. I was scared out of my mind and tried to hold my breath the entire 15 seconds it took to get to the bottom. When we got to the bottom I had scraped a part of my knee on some seem of the slide at some point and was bleeding down my leg and Annika was crying and had scratched her chin with her fingernail. Not my best parenting moment…obviously. She settled down rather quickly, and has reveled in both telling people that she went down the slide and how scary it was ever since.
One thing that must be said about this place is the interesting décor. The obvious thematic idea of tropical islands has been mixed with any and every cultural reference to and artifact from the tropics. There was an obvious nod to the South Asian tropics with Buddha statues, large gate replicas, and Koi pools. There were also central African, Caribbean, and South American elements thrown in randomly. Essentialism was most assuredly on display in their choices, and I’m not even touching the evening show that had scantily clad women shimmying to samba beats and loin clothed men beating drums. Cultural sensitivity was not their forte, though I’m pretty sure the American Burger stand in the concessions area was pretty much exactly the same as home.
Here are the girls running through one of the huge reproduced gates on their way to check out a Koi pool en route to breakfast:
All in all, we had a fantastic time and I would most assuredly recommend it to any families or anyone else who needs a visit. The cost was very reasonable, even including the food and all the amenities. I wish that I would have taken more pictures, but I was pretty wet and having such a good time most of the time that I didn’t want to get out of the pool to dry off and get out the camera. The two biggest differences that Andy and I decided about if this place was in the USA instead of Germany: 1. There would be more lifeguards. 2. It would be more expensive!
Someday we'll get a family photo where we're all looking and smiling at the same time.