On 6th June, Center Parcs Woburn Forest celebrates a successful year since opening.
The newest village, in Bedfordshire, cost £250m and took two years to build, opening to guests just 12 months ago.
Woburn Forest’s proximity to London and the South East, as well as good transport links made this the ideal position for a new Center Parcs and the village has welcomed approximately 300,000 guests since opening day. With virtually every lodge full on every break since last summer, new activities are already being added and the first Winter Wonderland is already in the planning to take place from 6th November.
The village has become an important part of the community, with more than 90% of the 1,373 staff living within 15 miles of Woburn Forest (37% aged between 16-24), approximately 40 local businesses working with the village as suppliers and the uptake on guests using public transport and Woburn Forest’s shuttle service exceeding expectations.
Staff have been talking about their experience with Center Parcs:
Mark, Head Chef at Sports Café (from Marston Moretaine), said: "It’s been challenging but the support from around you within the business is amazing, we really are a good team. I actually worked during the opening weekend and helped with the launch events and that buzz we got, I’ll never forget it!"
Megan, Subtropical Swimming Paradise Assistant Manager (from Shefford), said: "I really wanted a job that gave me the chance to progress and develop and this job has done more than that. The 6th June 2014 was really the beginning for us but from the first break we knew the Subtropical Swimming Paradise really is so special. There are 99 people working in our team and it’s been an amazing journey so far, everyone puts in 110% and the feedback has been very good."
Center Parcs has been committed to protecting and enhancing the woodland since the very beginning. A team of rangers have been working hard creating habitats to attract native wildlife. As a result, already, two rare bat species have been spotted, two bird species of conservation concern have been reported and the butterfly community and the amphibian population have been seen in healthy numbers.
Woburn Forest has been very well received by guests - 94% of those who visited in the last year rated their experience as excellent or good. As well as the reception by guests, Woburn Forest has been recognised on an industry level too. Woburn Forest was awarded the internationally-renowned MIPIM Award in 2015 for the Best Hotel and Tourism Project. Aqua Sana Woburn Forest has also scooped a Good Spa Guide Award and received Highly Commended in the World Spa and Wellness Awards in 2015.
Wayne Matton, Woburn Forest General Manager, said: “What an amazing journey it’s been! I remember the 6th June last year was a beautiful sunny day and the village was gleaming. When the families started arriving, the village really came to life and even now I look around and can’t quite believe it! I am so proud of the team and what we have achieved.”
Whilst the forest and facilities provide a beautiful setting for families to spend time together, it’s the people that are the real story. With an occupancy rate of 95% in its first year, the new Center Parcs has really shown it’s a strong team with lots to be excited about.
Notes to Editors
- Center Parcs has five Villages across the UK; Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Elveden Forest in Suffolk, Longleat Forest in Wiltshire, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria and Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire which opened to guests on 6 June 2014
- As the leader in the UK short break holiday market, Center Parcs regularly achieves average annual occupancy in excess of 97%
- Center Parcs offers weekend, (Friday to Monday) or midweek (Monday to Friday) breaks and welcomes over 1.7 million guests each year, with 96% of guests expressing an intention to return
- The Center Parcs concept is to provide a range of high quality accommodation, shops, restaurants and exceptional leisure facilities, carefully nestled amongst 400 acres of protected forest environment
- This concept originated in Holland in 1967, with the first UK Center Parcs opening in 1987. Center Parcs is now a separate entity in the UK, owned by The Blackstone Group
- Center Parcs has been awarded the following accolades since 2008: the Green Business Award for Biodiversity Protection, Visit Britain 5 Star Rating, Hospitality Assured, Biodiversity Benchmark - Land Management, Carbon Trust Standard, Good Spa Guide Award, ISO14001, Investors in People
- Center Parcs has recently been announced ‘Best Family Holiday Provider’ in the Tommy’s Awards for the eleventh year in a row