Review: AquaPalace

Water world, Prague-style: a look at the new water park in Čestlice

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 02.06.2008 10:22:22 (updated on 02.06.2008) Reading time: 4 minutes

Written by Erin Slattery
for Expats.cz

If you, your children, or most of all, your inner child bolt for the pool at the first sign of summer, you´ll be happy to know that the water park has grown up and is now more than a few creaky slides. Billed as the largest water park in central Europe, the newly opened AquaPalace (located in Čestlice, 6 km south of Prague) sports saunas, a spa complex, and a fitness center—as well as nine water slides—making it an attractive destination for summer and beyond. Although still in the breaking-in stages and a slight challenge for visitors with limited Czech, AquaPalace delivers a range of imaginative water thrills, including ones you might have only dreamed about, as a kid.

Last week, I went with swimsuit and towel in hand, to review the complex. AquaPalace´s marketing executive, Zdeňka Švecová, showed me around before I dove into the water park. Basic admission to Vodní svět (“water world”), the water park, entitles you to two hours and is registered for each visitor on an electronic-chip wristband worn even in the pool. (See the end of the article for information on admission fees.) Everything in the park works on the “chip” system: by scanning the chip wristband at electronic terminals, you can locate, lock, and unlock your locker; check the time left in your account; and—of special interest (or fury) to parents—automatically charge items at the restaurants, cafes, and the Algida ice cream bar.

At the core of Vodní svět are:

· Relaxation Palace, with a lap pool at the center, plus “slow” and “fast” rivers, or swimming channels, looping around the perimeter. To my delight, when I slid into one of these channels, I discovered that one of the slow rivers leads directly to the fast river. It confirmed that the best feature, perhaps, of the water park is each section´s creative design and surprises. My first and lasting impression was of bouncing around in the imagination of designers and kids asked to create their dream water park.

· Treasure Palace, with a shipwreck, paddling pool, sea creature murals and sculptures, and a wave pool which generates 10 minutes of gentle waves every hour. The waves look more like a choppy day on the Vltava river than anything surfable—and kids over eight will probably abandon it quickly for the higher-octane Adventure Palace in the next room—but toddlers and parents looked happy. (The shallow kids´ pools are warmer than other parts of the park, whereas the swimming pool in the Relaxation Palace was suitably cooler for doing laps.)

FEATURED EMPLOYERS

· The outdoor zone: a “wild” river course like a rapids rafting run (without the raft), snaking around one side of the park. (Each palace and zone is linked to the one next to it: you reach the outdoor zone by swimming out of the Adventure Palace.) I thought it was relatively mild, but I noticed that there were lifeguards pacing those of us shooting around the course. (Lifeguards in orange shirts patrol the water park, and each “palace” has its own lifeguard station.)

· The daddy of them all: Adventure Palace and its colorful slides, with four innertube runs of varying thrill levels, a chute-style slide, a family slide for parents and toddlers, “kamikaze” slide, slippery slide, and a space “bowl” slide, which spins swimmers around in a big funnel, shoots them into the center, and drops them into a watery core. Judging from the shrieks, the space “bowl” and the toboggan runs were the most popular.

AquaPalace also has spa and sauna wings which broaden the center´s appeal beyond families with kids, to adults looking for an escape from work for the afternoon or evening. From Rassoul to Hammam spa treatments, and Roman-style saunas (complete with Corinthian columns) to a Finnish kollo log-house sauna, the array of choices is a bit bewildering. In fact, AquaPalace seems to have thought of everything except the possibility of visitors not fluent in Czech. However, Ms. Švecová noted that each manager speaks English, and most of the younger staff speak English and/or German. In addition to Czech, I heard Russian, Vietnamese, and (in one case) English, while in the park.

The bottom line: It´s worth a visit, and the rewards—feeling like a kid, or getting pampered for the day—are likely to outweigh logistical or linguistic hurdles you might meet during AquaPalace´s opening weeks.
  
Hours: Vodni svet (the water park), saunas, and the spa complex: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. Fitness center (opening June 1): 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Admission: Adults, 240 CZK; children 100-150 cm tall, 140 CZK; families (2 adults, 2 children), 620 CZK. Children under 100 cm tall enter free.

Drawbacks:
As of May 19, there were still no signs guiding visitors from the highway or from the bus stop. Orient yourself with the map on AquaPalace´s website (http://www.aquapalace.cz/en/en) before you go.

The main locker-room area, with its pass-through changing rooms leading to an inner core of lockers, is difficult to navigate, at first, and there are few signs in English although Ms. Švecová says AquaPalace is in the process of reevaluating the park´s signs and maps.

Tip: Admission fees are cheaper Monday through Friday than on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.

Getting there:
By car: From Prague, take the D1 highway south to Exit 6, Průhonice. Turn right at the bottom of the offramp. At the roundabout, continue straight through and turn immediately right. Parking is in a multi-level garage. (AquaPalace´s website has maps and directions in English: http://www.aquapalace.cz/en/informace.)

By Prague public transport (MHD): Take the Metro C line to Opatov. From Opatov, take bus 324, 325, 328, 363, or 385 to the Čestlice-Global stop. (Bus 328 from Opatov to Čestlice -Global is a 7-minute ride down the D1 highway; the other bus lines, which go through the village of Průhonice, take approximately 20 minutes.) Buy a 14 CZK transport ticket from the bus driver.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more