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Center Parcs to open European-style vacation villages in China

By Bo Leung in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-05-22 23:59

Holiday resorts operator Center Parcs is targeting China's growing middle class by opening two European-style holiday villages.

According to the Financial Times newspaper, the holiday operator will open two resorts, near Beijing and in the southeastern city of Fuzhou. It plans to open the facilities by 2020, as part of a joint venture with the Chinese acquisitive conglomerate HNA Group, which is part owner of Hainan Airlines.

Emmanuel Brusq, chief executive of the Chinese subsidiary of France's Pierre et Vacances Center Parcs Group, said the resorts will be aimed at the country's "middle and upper-middle classes".

Brusq told the FT that the potential for growth in China is "huge".

"We can bring the people a natural environment they have forgotten because they live in the city. This is exactly what happened in Europe 20 years ago," he said.

Pierre et Vacances, France's largest vacation real estate company, has around 300 sites in Europe. Center Parcs, a family-oriented holiday camp in forest settings, is the company's most famous leisure resort brand.

Holidaymakers can take part in a range of sporting activities, including swimming and rock-climbing, and there are also shops, pools, and restaurants.

China's version of the resort will be denser than European equivalents because of the high cost of land and will host around 3,000 cottages or apartments.

Cars will be banned from the sites and, while the resorts will resemble European villages, they will be adapted to suit local tastes, with such things as accommodation aimed at one-child families that are traveling with grandparents.

Pierre et Vacances added that the parks will have many more restaurant options, to provide choice to Chinese consumers who prefer dining out to self-catering.

In 2015, HNA bought a 10 percent stake in Pierre et Vacances. In 2016, the two companies announced a joint venture to build three holiday sites in China with an area of more than 300 hectares.

The projects will be 60 percent owned by HNA Group and 40 percent owned by Pierre et Vacances Center Parcs.

The companies said that the resorts will meet demand from Chinese families for a holiday that combines proximity to large cities with short stays, outdoor experiences and leisure and sports activities for both adults and children.

In 2014, HNA Tourism had total assets valued at about 17 billion euros ($19 billion) and an annual turnover of more than 5 billion euros.

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