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Center Parcs UK

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Center Parcs UK

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

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[4] 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.


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

Center Parcs is widely known for its Subtropical Swimming Paradise.

In 1994, Center Parcs opened its third UK village, called Longleat Forest near Warminster in Wiltshire. The village has fewer lodges than Elveden Forest and Sherwood Forest due to the steep topography of the site.

In 2001, Center Parcs took over a holiday park with a similar set-up near Penrith in Cumbria which had originally opened in 1997 under the name Oasis Lakeland Holiday Village. It was rebranded as Center Parcs Oasis Whinfell Forest but in 2006 the 'Oasis' was dropped from the name and it is now called Whinfell Forest.[5] The set up at Whinfell is slightly different in that the style of accommodation is more akin to 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.

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.

UK ownership

During a move in 2001 to concentrate on their core brewing business, Scottish & Newcastle sold the UK Center Parcs enterprise to venture capitalists. It was announced on 4 December 2003 that owners Mid Ocean would sell the UK resorts to Arbor for £285 million. Arbor was a company set up specifically to purchase Center Parcs and float it on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market.

In May 2006, Center Parcs UK Group plc was sold to American private investment company Blackstone Group. Subsequently, Center Parcs was delisted as a public limited company and re-registered as a private company, a subsidiary of Blackstone.

During the sale, the future growth of Center Parcs was hinted at by chief executive Martin Dalby. He said that the company may add a fifth village but was also looking towards organic growth through investment in new facilities at the existing villages. In late 2004 it was announced that a fifth village would be built on designated greenbelt in Bedfordshire. But following the sale to Blackstone, focus was shifted from growth to investment in the existing villages and plans for the Woburn village were put on hold.

European ownership

All the resorts in continental Europe are owned and operated by Dutch company Center Parcs Europe, which is itself owned by French holiday company Pierre et Vacances, which is a subsidiary of Blackstone. Center Parcs Europe and Center Parcs UK are, thus, separately owned, but do have the same parent company, Blackstone. an American investment company.


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
2014 Woburn Forest Warren Wood near Flitwick, Bedfordshire


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.
Timeout Clubhouse 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" and swimwear equipment shop "Aquatique".[6] All Owned by Center Parcs.


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

Indoor sports
Outdoor sports and activities
Fitness and exercise
Creative pursuits
Nature activities


Each village has a number of different lodge types that range from one- to four-bedroom accommodation. In 2011, Center Parcs began refurbishing all of its lodges. A new style 'Woodland Lodge' replaced the previous basic lodges and became the entry-level standard accommodation. Executive lodges were also upgraded. The lodges have gradually needed refurbishment and in time it will probably be the case that some might be replaced by newer designs.The constant use does have its effect on these lodges and in time they will probably wear out.The simple but practical design has proven to be very popular.Originally there was a radio for the kitchen and bathroom and the speaker has been retained in some lodges although there is no radio to connect it to.Also the fairlight in the kitchen area and bathroom is a feature that will probably be phased out in newer builds.The beds were all replaced and new interiors introduced to help brighten up some lodges,Some of the larger lodges have extra facilities like a shower room or games room.The comfort version is the simplest version but even so it allows for self-catering if so desired.The lodges are usually in small clusters and give a good degree of privacy.Some of the new lodges have facilities like games rooms and are more aimed at the larger parties of 8 people,where as in some of the European villages some villas will take up to 10/12 people.Elveden Forest has no 1 bed lodges but has The Lakeside View Hotel and this alas prevents being able to go self-catering but is close to the restaurants and activities,it also features a revolving restaurant.

Future expansion

In December 2004, Center Parcs announced that it had identified a location for its fifth site, at Warren Wood in 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.

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.[7] 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[8] and in 2012 secured £250 million of investment to built the new resort, to be known as Woburn Forest. It will be the smallest UK Center Parcs village and is due to open 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.[9]


  1. ^ Elena, Ragone Marriott. "Head of Digital and Media". Center Parcs. Center parcs. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  2. ^ 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. ^ Elena, Ragone Marriott. "Head of Digital and Media". Center Parcs. Center Parcs. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ "Shopping - Center Parks". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Name * (2006-09-05). "Center Parcs Press Office - Center Parcs Lodges Appeal Against Warren Wood Planning Decision". Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  8. ^ "Center Parcs Completes Planning Process For Fifth Site At Woburn". Center Parcs Press Office. 11 November 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2011. 
  9. ^ "Center Parcs plans expansion into Ireland". The Sunday Times. 5 May 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2011. 

External links

  • Center Parcs website
  • Aqua Sana, the self-contained spa at Center Parcs
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