Center Parcs UK

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For Center Parcs in Europe, see Center Parcs.
Center Parcs UK
Industry Leisure
Founded July 1987[1]
Headquarters Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom
Number of locations
5 villages [2]
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Martin Dalby (chief executive)
Products Short breaks, family holidays, leisure activities
Owner Brookfield Asset Management
Parent Brookfield Properties Corporation
Website CenterParcs.co.uk

Center Parcs UK is a short-break holiday[3] company which operates five holiday villages in the United Kingdom, with each covering about 400 acres (1.6 km2) of woodland. The company's first village[2] opened at Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, in 1987 and its fifth, at Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire, opened in 2014.

A similar enterprise operates in continental Europe also under the name Center Parcs, however the two companies are separately owned. Center Parcs UK marked its 25th anniversary year in 2012.

History[edit]

Main article: Center Parcs

In 1968, Dutch entrepreneur Piet Derksen purchased woodland near Reuver so that staff and customers of his 17 store sporting goods chain could relax in small tents. The park, De Lommerbergen, was successful, with tents were quickly replaced by bungalows. In 1987, Center Parcs opened its first UK resort Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. This brought the company into the sights of expanding brewer Scottish and Newcastle, who subsequently bought the group.

During a move in 2001 to concentrate on their core brewing business, Scottish and Newcastle sold the UK side of Center Parcs to venture capitalists Mid Ocean. In 2003 S&N sold the mainland European sites to a joint venture of France-based Pierre & Vacances (P&V), who already owned the competing Gran Dorado Resorts, and German investment group DBCP. The two companies have since operated under the same brand, but ever since have been owned and operated by two separate and different companies.

In December 2003 Mid Ocean agreed to sell the UK resorts to Arbor Ltd for £285 million, a special vehicle set up to float Center Parcs UK on London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market. However, after flotation in May 2006 Center Parcs UK Group PLC was sold to Blackstone Group, and subsequently re-registered as a private company. Under a separate deal at the same time, Blackstone also bought the freehold of the European sites from P&V, which allowed them to rebrand all of the European sites as Center Parcs.

In June 2015, it was announced that Blackstone had agreed to sell the company to Canadian-based Brookfield Properties Corporation, for £2.4bn.[4]

Operations[edit]

The first Center Parcs holiday village in the United Kingdom was opened in July 1987. Located near Ollerton and Boughton in Nottinghamshire, it was named Sherwood Forest. Two years later a second village was added, at Elveden Forest, near Brandon, Suffolk.

Center Parcs is widely known for its Subtropical Swimming Paradise and features the iconic Tarzan call to signal the start of the waves crashing to wave pool.[5]

The third park opened in 1994, co-located on the site of Longleat Safari Park near Warminster, Wiltshire. This village has fewer lodges than Elveden Forest and Sherwood Forest due to the steep topography of the site.

In 1997, the Rank Organisation had opened a similar style holiday village near Penrith, Cumbria, under the name Oasis Lakeland Holiday Village. Bought by Center Parcs UK in 2001, the site was rebranded as Center Parcs Oasis Whinfell Forest.[6] The set up at Whinfell is slightly different in that the style of accommodation is more akin to two-storey Scandinavian-style lodges, the main centre of the village is under cover, and there is no country club like at Elveden Forest and Sherwood Forest. Center Parcs have updated many Whinfell Forest lodges, and added new lodges of an identical style at their other UK parks.

In April 2002, the central plaza and sports centre at Elveden Forest was destroyed by fire. One member of staff was treated for smoke inhalation, but there were no serious injuries. In the summer of 2003, after extensive re-building which saw the plaza replaced with a new open village square, Elveden Forest reopened. Whilst it was closed, the rest of the village was also improved including the refurbishment of the country club and the addition of a spa and new three- and four-bedroom lodges.

The chief executive, Martin Dalby, said that the company might add a fifth village. In December 2004, Center Parcs announced that it had identified a location at Woburn, Bedfordshire. Despite the land being designated as greenbelt, the company sought planning permission and had already completed the signing of a lease on the land from its owner, the Duke of Bedford. The project was expected to cost approximately £160 million, including the construction of accommodation, indoor and outdoor facilities, the swimming complex, restaurants and a spa. It was anticipated that, given planning permission, the project would take between three and four years to complete.[7] In July 2006, Bedfordshire District Council turned down Center Parcs' application for planning approval, leading the company to lodge an appeal against the decision later that year.[8] In September 2007 the council's decision was overturned by the government, and outline planning permission for the site was granted. In November 2010 Center Parcs gained full approval for the plans of the village including designs of facilities, restaurants, shops and accommodation[9] and in 2012 secured £250 million of investment to build the new resort, to be known as Woburn Forest. It is the smallest UK Center Parcs village and opened in spring 2014.

In a 2008 interview, Martin Dalby, the chief executive of Center Parcs UK, stated that the new village would be the last village the company constructed in the UK and that if a sixth village was considered it would probably be located in Ireland.

The sixth and final village was announced to the public in September 2015, County Longford Forest will be located in Ireland and is due to open its doors in 2019.

Resorts[edit]

Opened Resort Location Notes
1987 Sherwood Forest Ollerton and Boughton, Nottinghamshire
1989 Elveden Forest Brandon, Suffolk Closed from April 2002 to June 2003 for rebuilding after a fire
1994 Longleat Forest Warminster, Wiltshire
1997 Whinfell Forest Penrith, Cumbria Rebranded as a Center Parcs village in 2001, previously owned by Rank Group, previously called Oasis.
2014 Woburn Forest Warren Wood near Flitwick, Bedfordshire
2019 Longford Forest Ireland In September 2015, Center Parcs UK announced its intention to build a new site in County Longford, Ireland. It is expected to open in 2019.[10]

Facilities[edit]

Accommodation[edit]

Each village has a number of different lodge types that range from one- to four-bedroom accommodation - accommodating for up to 12 people - with some larger lodges including their own games room. Lodges are usually in small clusters and give a good degree of privacy, whilst allowing for self-catering and communal BBQ's. Elveden Forest has no one-bed lodges, but instead includes the Lakeside View Hotel.

In 2011, Center Parcs began refurbishing all of its lodges. The beds were all replaced and new interiors introduced to help brighten up interiors. A new style 'Woodland Lodge' replaced the previous basic lodges to become the entry-level standard accommodation. Executive lodges were also upgraded.

Activities[edit]

Guests are able to book and participate in a wide range of activities at the various villages.

Facility Usage
Arrivals lodge Each village has an arrivals lodge situated on the main drive at Sherwood Forest, Elveden Forest and Longleat Forest and slightly east of the village entrance at Whinfell Forest. Guests are directed here for check-in from 10 am on their arrival day.
Security lodge Each village has a security lodge staffed 24 hours a day. Security staff help with directing traffic to the arrivals lodge, identifying all visitors to the village, staff barriers, and assisting arrivals lodge staff on changeover days. They also staff the emergency phone number given to guests to call in the event of an emergency.
Subtropical Swimming Paradise The village swimming complex is known as the Subtropical Swimming Paradise and contains a wave pool, slides and shutes, wild river rapids, outdoor pools, a 'lazy river', flumes, a children's pool and food outlets.
Village Square/Plaza The main hub of restaurants and shops as well as other facilities such as guest services, and medical centre.
Sports Plaza/Jardin Des Sports Contains most of the indoor sports facilities such as squash courts, badminton courts, pool and snooker tables, gymnasium, table tennis tables, golf simulators, indoor wall-climbing and an aerobics studio. There is also a themed restaurant, a sportswear shop and a newsagent.
Boathouse For all water-based activities on the lake including canoeing, fishing, pedalos, windsurfing and raft-building.
Aqua Sana The village spa includes various themed rooms as well as a central pool with jacuzzis.
Activity Den The village crèche
Leisure Bowl and House of Games A ten-pin bowling alley and coin-operated arcade games.
Country Club Contains additional restaurant and leisure facilities at some villages.
Shops/Retail Including supermarket "ParcMarket", Newsagents "Refresh" and "ParcMarket Express", Toy shop "JustKids", Gift shop "The Store room", Sweet Shop "Treats", Clothing and shoes shop "Spirit", Sunglasses shop " Time for Shade", Sports and fashion shop " Sportique" and swimwear equipment shop "Aquatique".[11] All owned by Center Parcs.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Elena, Ragone Marriott. "Head of Digital and Media". Center Parcs. Center parcs. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Elena, Ragone Marriott. "Head of Digital and Media". Center Parcs. Center Parcs. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Elena, Ragone Marriott. "Head of Digital and Media". Center Parcs. Center Parcs. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  4. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32976212
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DySBZmoaRCc YouTube - Tarzan Sound at Centre Parcs - Wavepool
  6. ^ "Center Parcs Whinfell Forest £30 Million Invested And A New Name". Center Parcs Press Office. 2 January 2006. Archived from the original on 2011-10-09. Retrieved 30 December 2010. 
  7. ^ BBC article from September 2007 detailing the granting of planning permission
  8. ^ "Center Parcs Press Office - Center Parcs Lodges Appeal Against Warren Wood Planning Decision". Press.centerparcs.co.uk. 2006-09-05. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  9. ^ "Center Parcs Completes Planning Process For Fifth Site At Woburn". Center Parcs Press Office. 11 November 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "Center Parcs is Coming to Ireland". 
  11. ^ "Shopping - Center Parcs". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 

External links[edit]