Center Parcs’ Elveden resort targets £20m investment to attract “3G” families and other new holidaymakers
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A holiday resort on the Norfolk/Suffolk border has invested £20m as it seeks to attract a wider range of guests – and cater to a growing number of '3G' holidaymakers.
Facilities and accommodation have been upgraded at Center Parcs Elveden Forest over the past year to satisfy the increasing number of extended family parties, often comprising three generations.
The resort near Brandon is targeting its investment to broaden the appeal of its recreational and catering facilities for such customers, with two family restaurants refurbished, expansions to its popular climbing wall and its Action Challenge activities, and a revamped bowling alley.
'We increasingly see not just families coming on holiday but coming with grandparents and extended family,' said Elveden general manager James Barrett.
Center Parcs' Sherwood Forest village has recently launched six-bedroom lodges for bigger family groups – something which Mr Barrett said could be considered at the East Anglian resort if the trend continued.
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Adults and couples have not been forgotten in the investment programme: the new one-bedroom Breckland Apartments opened in November 2016; high-rise, high-adrenalin activity The Drop launched in January; and adult quad bike safaris are set to start in August.
Center Parcs invested £95m in its five UK parks in the year to April 2017, with a further £80m planned for 2017/18.
Elveden Forest, which employs 1,700 staff at its 450-acre site, was Center Parcs' highest-earning holiday village in the year to April 20 2017, contributing £92m to the group's £440.3m turnover.
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Mr Barrett said: 'We have to upgrade to meet our guests' needs. Because we are not resting on our laurels, that is why so many guests are coming back.'
Lowestoft-based Hoseasons' parent company Wyndham Vacation Rentals UK announced earlier this year that it would be opening two forest holiday resorts in the UK, under the brand Landal GreenParks.
Anthony Reilly, Hoseasons director of marketing and sales, said the company was also making efforts to broaden its appeal.
'Our focus on targeting groups, couples and the LGBT market now means that for the first time ever we now take more groups and couples on holiday than we do families,' he said.
Elveden Forests' facilities revamp
Leisure and catering facilities were upgraded alongside accommodation at Elveden Forest holiday village in 2016 as part of a £20m investment by its parent group.
The introduction of new activity The Drop in January, further extensions to Action Challenge, and new adult quad bike safaris set to launch this August are offering more adrenalin-fuelled fun for the village's guests – who could number more than 4,500 once its new waterfront accommodation development is complete.
Around 90% of guests currently use its swimming pool, with myriad other sports and leisure facilities from badminton to archery in its grounds.
A number of the village's 14 bars and restaurants have also enjoyed a revamp. Its own-brand restaurant Huck's reopened in April after a renovation and the Sports Cafe has been transformed into a family restaurant, featuring a television screen the size of 16 60-inch TVs.
Next spring will see the unveiling of the latest addition to Elveden Forests' accommodation offering.
It comprises a 51-bedroom hotel, nine three-bedroom executive lodges, and three waterside lodges which will be built over the holiday village's lake. Construction is expected to be completed in March 2018 with the new accommodation opening to its first customers in April.
The new developments will bring the resort's total number of accommodation units to over 900.
It follows two new accommodation openings last year – five luxury treehouses in June and 48 Breckland Apartments in November – and full refurbishment of 250 of its existing lodges.
Mr Barrett said concepts for the new waterside development represented a shift to more contemporary design, hinted at in the Breckland Apartments.
'It is right that we continue to look at our accommodation concepts and review what our guests are looking for.'