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New Center Parcs boss shares plans for £10m investment

PUBLISHED: 08:14 12 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:01 08 October 2018

Elveden Center Parcs General Manager, Nicky Richardson. Picture: Ian Burt

Elveden Center Parcs General Manager, Nicky Richardson. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

The new boss of a major East Anglian holiday resort has revealed its £10m investment plan for the next year.

The new waterside lodges at the Center Parcs resort in Elveden. Picture: Ian BurtThe new waterside lodges at the Center Parcs resort in Elveden. Picture: Ian Burt

Following a significant cash injection for its accommodation offering in the past two years, Center Parcs Elveden Forest is planning to invest in its back office operations and infrastructure.

New general manager Nicky Richardson, who joins the Suffolk resort following four years in charge of Center Parcs’ Longleat village, said the money was part of an £80m investment being made by the holiday giant across its five UK locations.

At Elveden, cash has been earmarked for maintenance work on the pool and its facilities, which are used by around 90% of guests during their stay, and a rolling programme of accommodation improvements on its existing lodges.

“The guests have seen a lot of our recent investment in terms of the new accommodation, there has been a lot of obvious work and this year it is going to be on back-office things,” Ms Richardson said.

“Much of it will be unseen, but they are tasks which need to be done.”

This year has seen the first lakeside accommodation at Elveden Forest – three waterside lodges, 51 apartments and three executive lodges – open to guests, following strong interest since booking opened last autumn.

Ms Richardson said the new options were proving popular with “loyal” guests – the park holds a guest return rate of 60% to 65% – as well as new visitors.

After taking up her post in April, Ms Richardson says she is taking time to get to know the park and its 1,805 staff before finalising new ideas for further development – which she said are “relished” by Center Parcs’ head office.

“Things cannot change quickly but you can push ideas, so I do not feel limited,” she said.

“I need to see the village through a full season. Even the changes through the spring have made it feel so different.

“I felt lucky to have come in as the new accommodation was launched. It is such a great thing to have done to refresh the village.”

Elveden Forest performed well financially in 2016/17 – it was the biggest earner in Center Parcs’ UK estate, contributing more than £92m to the group’s turnover of £440.3m.

Waterside development

This year has already seen the realisation of a major investment at Center Parcs Elveden Forest.

Three waterside lodges and 51 waterside apartments have opened to guests in the past couple of months – with the new accommodation almost fully booked for the summer.

Their construction was part of a £20m capital investment at the resort by Center Parcs in 2016/17 and follows the opening of 48 Breckland Apartments last autumn.

The waterside lodges, each sleeping up to six people and equipped with a hot tub, sit on the edge of the holiday village’s lake, which 90% of guests spend time on or near.

The lakeside development, which also includes three executive lodges, brings the number of accommodation units at the park to 905 and increases its guest capacity to between 4,200 and 4,500.

General manager Nicky Richardson said the waterside accommodation takes the guests’ “connection to nature to a new level”.

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