Published on April 2nd, 2017 | by Brussels In View2
It’s snow wonder they’re having fun at Snowworld in the Netherlands
Brussels in View visits a superb ski centre just across the border
Fancy scaling the heights in the Low Countries? You can do just that with a visit to Snowworld, just over the Belgian/Dutch border.
This terrific indoor attraction offers something that simply cannot be found in Belgium – wide ski slopes, ski lifts and crisp, fresh snow.
It also has another unique appeal – the world’s largest covered ski slope.
If you’re looking for a short Spring break, you could combine it with a visit to TEFAF in Maastricht, widely regarded as the world’s pre-eminent fair of art and antiques. The 30th edition runs up until 19 March.
For anyone looking to brush up on their ski-ing (and snowboarding) skills, Snowworld is ideal, but also for families and complete novices looking for a gentle introduction to the sport.
Ski slopes are thin on the ground when it comes to Belgium, so ski enthusiasts here will no-doubt be delighted to
discover this place.
It’s actually more than just a ski centre as the site also comprises a 4-star, 100-room hotel, meeting rooms, plus fitness and wellness facilities and an enormous outdoor fun park to keep the kids entertained when they are all done on the slopes.
It makes for a great day out as it’s accessible from Brussels by car in under two hours.
Situated at Landgraaf, near Maastricht, the centre was the brainchild of Koos Hendriks who admits that when he first came up with the idea, “many people did not think it would work”.
How wrong they were.
Since it opened 20 years ago, it’s proved to be a big hit, not least with the many Belgians who have become regular visitors. Those who know Hendriks will not be too surprised by its enduring popularity for, as he says: “If I believe in something, no one can stop me.”
The slopes are great for real ski training or, alternatively, people who have not been near a ski suit for years.
To keep the snow in perfect condition, the temperature is maintained at a constant -5 degrees Celsius (don’t forget to take warm clothes!). Ski passes for up to eight hours are available and all equipment – even gloves (compulsory) – can be hired, although you can take you own.
There are actually two centres, one at Zoetermeer (with Europe’s steepest indoor slope) and another at nearby Landgraaf, both open all-year-round.
Landgraaf has five slopes with eight lifts, including a six-person chair lift. On the longest slope in the Netherlands, you can ski down a distance of some 400 metres.
For children and beginners, there are two manageable slopes, 60m and 50m long and both with a gentle gradient.
Prices are quite reasonable (slightly cheaper if you go after 6pm) and private lessons, for people of all ages, are
available costing €49.50 per hour.
Snowworld is also environmentally aware: it has a cooling unit which uses 30 per cent less electricity and 50 per cent less gas, LED lighting, and will soon have the largest solar roof in the Netherlands, with 5,000 solar panels. On sunny days it will be completely self-sufficient.
Having conquered the Low Countries, the innovative Hendriks wants to set up similar centres in Paris and Barcelona with the aim being the first to operate such a business on a European scale.
That’s for the future but, for now, try not to leave Landgraaf without experiencing the fine outdoor climbing park which, as well as being thrilling, also affords some great views across a wide area.
If you fancy scaling heights of another kind – culinary – while in the Low Countries then head for Restaurant La Source, a delightful restaurant just over the border at Lanaken in Limburg province and ideal after working up an appetite on those ski slopes.
It really does serve some of the finest food you could wish for – with superb service to match.
Set amid idyllic grounds, the creations are the work of its Dutch-born chef Ralf Berendsen and his hard-working team. The restaurant is recommended by the internationally renowned Ralais & Chateux, a byword for quality dining, and it’s easy to see why.
There are three set menus: ‘Gourmand’ (with seasonal dishes), ‘Signature’ and the ‘La Source’ lunch option, each coming with some quite delicious finger food and amuses. As each dish is individually priced it’s also possible to go a la carte.
The ‘Signature’ menu features many favourites Ralf has produced in the years he’s worked here, including
langoustines, turbot and Gillardeau oyster. Other mainstays of this menu include Anjou pigeon, foie gras and
truffle. Everything is given lovely presentation on the plate and introduced by the particularly attentive staff.
Wine pairing is available with diners given expert advice on which wine to pair with each course. Also try the homemade cocktails, made from freshly-squeezed fruit juice.
An affordable 3-course lunch is available Tuesday-Friday while the restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday.
It’s classy cuisine but the ambience remains relaxed and families are made to feel welcome (there’s a reasonably priced children’s menu).
It’s a wonderful dining experience, overlooking peaceful gardens and woodland. Perfect!