Chances are that many of our readers will have had a Center Parc holiday. If so, you’ll have been in good company. It’s estimated that over 1.6 million people visit one of the five UK sites each year. The company’s growth in the UK has been nothing short of phenomenal, as has its occupancy rate which, at 97% is well above the industry average.
Giving people what they want is the holy grail of all marketers, but the Center Parc team seem to have really cracked it. Want to sleep in a tree house? No problem. Want to build a family den? Step right this way. Fancy a dip in a sub-tropical Swimming Paradise? Just get changed over there. The company lists over two hundred things to do on its website so giving their customers a wide range of choices is an easy tick in the box for them.
As is winning awards. The company has won numerous awards over the years including the prestigious Tommy’s award, where, for the fourteenth year in a row, they have been voted as the ‘Best Family Friendly UK Holiday Provider’.
Other awards, that are perhaps less well known – but no less important if you were trying to win – were the ‘Professional Beauty Residential Spa of the Year 2016’ award and the ‘Red Squirrel Survival Trust Award for the Moss Family’. (No we haven’t made this last one up, it’s listed on their website).
For many holiday makers one of the biggest draws is their locations. All five holiday sites are set in forests, in some cases covering up to 400 acres of natural woodland. Even the one located closest to London (an hour’s drive away) in Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire can boast 365 acres. The lodges, dotted around the forest have proved particularly successful as they give people ‘the space to relax’.
So we were intrigued to see that the company now intends to enter the Chinese market. It’s recently announced plans to open two holiday villages near Beijing and the south-eastern city of Fuzhou. But if you’re thinking of holidaying there instead of the UK, you might want to consider some of the changes they’ve made to adapt the parks to meet local tastes.
One thing you might notice is a lot more people staying at the park. That’s not surprising given China’s population of 1.371 billion but they’re going to squeeze 600 to 1000 holiday cottages and apartments on areas covering just 60-80 hectares. So not so much space to relax in. That accommodation will also be adapted to cater for all the one-child families travelling with grandparents.
Swimming instructors might see an opportunity to relocate there as the Chinese Parks will have to employ many more (apparently fewer people can swim in China), but tennis instructors need not apply (badminton is more popular than tennis).