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Dutch Center Parcs entrance.

Center Parcs is a European network of holiday villages incorporating a UK based company which runs holiday villages in Britain and a sister enterprise that operates in numerous locations in continental Europe.


A Dutch entrepreneur, Piet Derksen started a sporting goods store in 1953 at the Lijnbaanmarker in Rotterdammarker. Its name was 'Sporthuis Centrum', 'Sport House Centre'. It succeededs and Derksen expanded into 17 outfits across the Netherlands. He added camping articles to his range.

In 1968, Piet Derkensem purchased woodland near Reuvermarker so staff and customers could relax in small tents. The park, De Lommerbergen, was successful, the tents quickly replaced by bungalows.

There are now 20 resorts in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Germany and England.

Accommodation in Center Parcs is in villas or bungalows. These are clustered in a park and surrounded by trees and bushes. An exception is Park Zandvoort, set among sand dunes. Certain resorts also provide hotel rooms.

The facilities available at Center Parcs vary. All offer a swimming pool. A range of sporting activities is available, with restaurants, spa, saunas, and massage.


No two villages are identical. All have the basics. The dome arrived in 1980. The first village had features that have stayed popular like the swimming pool and shops and restaurants.

UK ownership

In 2001, Scottish and Newcastle sold the UK side of Center Parcs to venture capitalists. It was announced on 4 December 2003 that the owners, Mid Ocean, would sell the UK resorts to Arbor for £285 million. Arbor was set up 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 Blackstone Group, an American private investment company. Subsequently Center Parcs was re-registered as a private company, a subsidiary of Blackstone Group. The chief executive, Martin Dalby, said that the company might add a fifth village. Late in 2004 it was announced it would be built near Woburnmarker in Bedfordshire. Planning permission was iniially turned down but Center Parcs won on appeal.

Corporate Ownership

CenterParcs Europe is owned by a French company called Pierre et Vacances[43421]. Centerparcs Europe[43422] and Centerparcs UK share only history, name and logo.

In 2003 Scottish & Newcastle sold the European branch to a joint venture of Pierre et Vacances (P&V) and DBCP, a German investment group. This was given the name CenterParcs Europe (CPE). P&V owned Europe's largest (in terms of bed-count) bungalow-vacation-supplier, Gran Dorado Resorts, a Dutch former joint venture of Vendex[43423], Algemeen Burgerlijk Pensioenfonds, GAK and Philips Rentefonds. P&V brought Gran Dorado in the joint venture. CPE was based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and the Dutch and European Commercial Competition Authority [43424] did not approve of combining Gran Dorado and CenterParcs. The would almost control the European market. The authority demanded fewer beds. This resulted in sale of all but six Gran Dorado Resorts to Dutch Landal GreenParks[43425]. The remaining six parks were added to the CenterParcs. These were Loohorst (NL), Port Zelande (NL), Zandvoort (NL), Weerterbergen (NL), Hochsauerland (D) and Heilbachsee (D).

After the sale, the Gran Dorado flag flew at Gran Dorado Resorts until January 1, 2003. By this date, all sold parks were rebranded Landal and five of the six remaining parks were rebranded Sea Spirit from Center Parcs or Free Life from Center Parcs. All original Center Parcs resorts in the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Germany were sub-branded CP Original. The Weerterbergen-Resort was sold to Roompot[43426] in 2002 because of the cost of bringing it to standard be . From 1 January 2003, Gran Dorado Resorts-Brand was no longer used.

In 2003, Deutsche Bank Capital Partners (DBCP) was bought out of the joint venture by Pierre & Vacances. The French are now sole owners of Center Parcs Europe.

The sub-branding ended in 2006 with another rebranding. From 2006 season, all resorts were branded Center Parcs.In January 2009, Sunparks launched alongside Center Parcs in Europe.The sites improved and had the Sunparks brand applied. Sunparks is a low-cost version. A number of the former Gran Dorado resorts are now under this umbrella.

New UK site

In December 2004, Center Parcs identified a fifth UK site, at Warren Wood near Woburn, Bedfordshiremarker. It had signed a lease from its owner, the Duke of Bedford. The project was expected to cost £160 million, including construction of accommodation, indoor and outdoor facilities, swimming complex, restaurants and a spa. It isexpected to take three to four years to complete. Planning permission was granted on 5 September 2007 although the price has risen to £230 million. Construction was due to start in early 2009 and the village scheduled to open by the end of 2010. Due to objections by protestors, construction now not start until late 2010/early 2011.

All resorts

Center Parcs consists of the following 23 resorts.
Country Resort City / Village Region/County Year opened Added to portfolio
The Netherlands Het Meerdal America Limburgmarker 1971 -
The Netherlands De Huttenheugte Dalenmarker Drenthe 1972 -
The Netherlands De Eemhof Zeewoldemarker Flevoland 1980 -
The Netherlands De Kempervennen Westerhovenmarker North Brabantmarker 1983 -
The Netherlands Het Heijderbos Heijen Limburgmarker 1986 -
The Netherlands Park Loohorst America Limburgmarker 1980 2002
The Netherlands Port Zélande Ouddorp South Hollandmarker 1990 2002
The Netherlands Park Zandvoort Zandvoortmarker North Holland 1989 2002
Belgium Erperheide Peermarker Limburgmarker 1981 -
Belgium De Vossemeren Lommelmarker Limburgmarker 1987 -
Germany Park Heilbachsee Gunderathmarker Rhineland-Palatinatemarker 1979 2002
Germany Butjadinger Küste Tossensmarker Lower Saxonymarker 1992 2004
Germany Park Hochsauerland Medebachmarker North Rhine-Westphaliamarker 1994 2002
Germany Bispinger Heide Bispingenmarker Lower Saxonymarker 1995 -
France Les Bois-Francs Verneuil-sur-Avremarker Haute-Normandiemarker 1988 -
France Les Hauts de Bruyères Chaumont-sur-Tharonnemarker Centremarker 1993 -
France Le Lac d'Ailettemarker Chamouillemarker Picardy 2007 -
France Le Bois des Harcholins Bertramboismarker Lotharingen 2010 -
United Kingdom Sherwood Forestmarker Rufford Nottinghamshiremarker 1987 -
United Kingdom Elveden Forestmarker Brandonmarker Suffolk 1989 -
United Kingdom Longleat Forest Warminstermarker Wiltshiremarker 1994 -
United Kingdom Whinfell Forestmarker Penrithmarker Cumbriamarker 1997 2002
United Kingdom Warren Wood Woburnmarker Bedfordshire -
United States United States National Forest Texas

  • In case of the former Gran Dorado Resorts, the 2002 "Added to portfolio"-date refers to the year these resorts were brought into the joint venture, although they were not re-branded as Center Parcs until 2003.
Three former Center Parcs sites were sold,De Berkenhorst opened in 1975 and was sold in 1990.Het Vennenbos opened in 1970 and was sold in 1994 and De Lommerbergen opened in 1968 and was sold in 1996.These 3 were sold off because they could not be expanded.They are now part of the Landal greenparks operation,they still continue to be used and have had some refurbishment.


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