Germany 1996
Press trip to a huge holiday village on the Baltic coast

IT SEEMED like the crack of dawn as we crept past the smart apartment blocks with their gleaming ranks of Audis and BMWs. All the curtains were tightly drawn and the sound of snoring was unmistakable. Only three or four people in the bakery. No one at all in the post office. And not a single towel staking claim to the sun loungers in the Sub-Tropical Bathing Paradise.
But it wasn’t early at all – it was past 9am. And we were the only Brits present to enjoy the astounding spectacle of 4,000 German holidaymakers having a good lie-in. The early-rising army which takes over the Mediterranean every summer was giving itself a breather – and that’s a tribute to the relaxing qualities of Wiessenhauser Strand, Germany’s largest purpose-built holiday resort.
Tucked among the sand dunes of a sweeping bay on the unspoilt Baltic coast 85 miles north of Hamburg, it’s a favourite destination for families from all over this huge country, both east and west. Now the Germans are inviting a new British invasion to help them enjoy the resort’s endless opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, cycling, sport, wining, dining – or just plain sleeping in.
The sheer size, luxury and tasteful decor of Wiessenhauser Strand’s apartments take your breath away as soon as you walk in the door. There were five of us in a gleaming six-bed suite and it felt bigger than our house back home. You can cook up your own meals in the fully equipped kitchen, or dine out in one of the restaurants, bars or bistros.
Three visits to the Sub-Tropical Bathing Paradise – a linked series of pools, slides and tunnels set amid indoor palm trees – come free with your visit. And there are complimentary vouchers for many other activities, too.
The beach at Wiessenhauser Strand – the name means White House Beach – is a two-mile long arc of white sand with a small area set aside for nude bathing. You can hire a pedalo or sailboard, cast a fishing line from the long, elegant pier, or try out one of the delightful wicker beach chair-cum-huts that are unique to German beaches.
Venturing further afield, the ancient city of Lubeck is less than an hour’s drive away. Its spectacular churches and meandering canals give a real sense of German history. The best known shop in the city is filled with ornate sculptures made from marzipan. This sweet confection was invented in Lubeck during a 15th Century famine when grain supplies ran out and enterprising bakers made bread from a large stock of almonds in the city stores.
Another essential excursion is to Hansa Park, about 30 minutes’ drive from Wiessenhauser Strand. This is a theme park much like Alton Towers or Thorpe Park – but with delightful extras which give it a theatrical, almost vaudeville atmosphere. There’s troupe of comic high-divers, a high-tech magic display, a spectacular show with performing sea lions, and a death defying exhibition of precision motor-cycling by three riders who zoom around inside a globe of see-through mesh.
Even closer to home base is the miniature lake district of “Holstein Switzerland”, a tranquil area of beautiful scenery that forms one of Germany’s most important nature reserves.
British tourism is still in its infancy in this part of Germany, but most people speak some English and everyone we met was friendly and welcoming.
It can’t be too long before the word gets around – so get in now before the rush starts. Who knows, after a few good nights at the bar, maybe we can learn to sleep LATER than the Germans.
This article appeated in the Daily Mirror on April 5, 1997