Center Parcs is a European network of holiday villages, founded in the Netherlands in 1968. It is operated by two separate companies: Center Parcs Europe N. V. a Dutch company, operated by Pierre & Vacances on mainland European sites owned by Blackstone Group. Dutch entrepreneur, Piet Derksen, started a sporting goods shop in 1953 at Rotterdam, its name was'Sporthuis Centrum','Sport House Centre'. It succeeded and Derksen expanded into 17 outlets across the Netherlands, added camping articles to the range. In 1968, Derksen purchased woodland near Reuver; the park, De Lommerbergen, was successful, the tents were replaced by bungalows. In 1987, Center Parcs opened its first UK resort at Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire; this brought the company into the sights of expanding brewer Scottish and Newcastle, which bought the group. In 2001, Scottish and Newcastle sold the UK side of Center Parcs to venture capitalists Mid Ocean. In December 2003 they agreed to sell the UK resorts to Arbor for £285 million, a special vehicle set up to float Center Parcs UK on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market.
However, after flotation in May 2006, Center Parcs UK Group PLC was sold to Blackstone Group, was re-registered as a private company. The chief executive, Martin Dalby, said. Late in 2004 it was announced. Planning permission was turned down but Center Parcs won on appeal. Whinfell Forest was built and operated by the Rank Organisation, as the sole competition to Center Parcs in the UK. However, after a short period of a few years, Oasis, as Rank had named it, was sold to Center Parcs. Whinfell Forest is not of the same build type as the traditional Center Parcs. Whinfell Forest lodges are two storey and many are set in clusters, rather than off-set terraces; this means. Center Parcs have updated many Whinfell Forest lodges and continue to add new lodges of an identical style to new lodges at their other UK parks, so now there are many villas at Whinfell Forest the same style as in Sherwood Forest, Elveden Forest or Longleat Forest. All activities, at all parks, except swimming and playgrounds, are charged, per use, ranging from £5 to £80 per person.
In July 2016, planning permission was granted by An Bord Pleanála for the first Center Parcs resort anywhere in Ireland, north or south. The 395-acre resort will be constructed in Newcastle Wood, a forest near Ballymahon, County Longford, within the Republic of Ireland; the resort will be called'Longford Forest' and will open in 2019. Center Parcs CEO, Martin Dalby, told a Nottingham Partners event in February 2018 they were looking for another site in the UK. In 2003, Scottish & Newcastle sold the Continental European sites to a joint venture of Pierre & Vacances and DBCP, a German investment group; this was given the name Center Parcs Europe. P&V owned Europe's largest bungalow-vacation-supplier, Gran Dorado Resorts, a Dutch former joint venture of Vendex, Algemeen Burgerlijk Pensioenfonds, GAK and Philips Rentefonds. P&V brought Gran Dorado in the joint venture; as CPE was based in Rotterdam, the Dutch and European Commercial Competition Authority did not approve of combining Gran Dorado and Center Parcs, as it would control the European market.
After agreeing to a reduction in beds owned, CPE sold all but six Gran Dorado Resorts to Dutch Landal GreenParks. The remaining six parks were added to CenterParcs: Loohorst, Port Zelande, Weerterbergen and Heilbachsee. After the sale, five of the six remaining Gran Dorado Resorts parks were rebranded Sea Spirit from Center Parcs or Free Life from Center Parcs; the Weerterbergen-Resort was sold to Roompot because of the cost of bringing it to standard. All original Center Parcs resorts in the Netherlands, France and Germany were sub-branded CP Original. Having completed the integration and rebranding exercise, Pierre & Vacances bought DBCP out of the partnership. In 2006, after Blackstone Group bought Center Parcs UK plc, Pierre & Vacances agreed a deal to sell all of the freeholds on the CPE sites, in returning for a recurring operational lease on the sites; this hence allowed a further rebranding exercise, with all resorts branded Center Parcs. In January 2009, Sunparks launched as a low-cost brand.
Many of the former Gran Dorado resorts were rebranded in this exercise, but the sub brand was dropped in 2011 and the parks were rebranded to Center Parcs. There are now 26 resorts in the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. Most villages are different, but some villages such as Bispinger Heide in Germany and Domaine Les Bois Francs in France share the same Village Plaza design, they have the same styled Sports Plaza. Accommodation is in bungalows, clustered in a park and surrounded by trees and bushes. An exception is Park Zandvoort, set among sand dunes. Certain resorts provide hotel rooms; the first village had features that have stayed popular like the swimming pool and restaurants. The first dome arrived in 1980, named Subtropical Swimming Paradise in UK resorts and Aqua Mundo in European resorts. A range of sporting activities is available, with restaurants, spas and massage. In 2009 Center Parcs Europe divided its parks into two brands: "Center Parcs", which includes the 5-star parks, "Sunparks", which includes the 3- or 4-star parks.
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The Netherlands is a country located in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian. The six largest cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Tilburg. Amsterdam is the country's capital, while The Hague holds the seat of the States General and Supreme Court; the Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, the largest in any country outside Asia. The country is a founding member of the EU, Eurozone, G10, NATO, OECD and WTO, as well as a part of the Schengen Area and the trilateral Benelux Union.
It hosts several intergovernmental organisations and international courts, many of which are centered in The Hague, dubbed'the world's legal capital'. Netherlands means'lower countries' in reference to its low elevation and flat topography, with only about 50% of its land exceeding 1 metre above sea level, nearly 17% falling below sea level. Most of the areas below sea level, known as polders, are the result of land reclamation that began in the 16th century. With a population of 17.30 million people, all living within a total area of 41,500 square kilometres —of which the land area is 33,700 square kilometres —the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It is the world's second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products, owing to its fertile soil, mild climate, intensive agriculture; the Netherlands was the third country in the world to have representative government, it has been a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a unitary structure since 1848.
The country has a tradition of pillarisation and a long record of social tolerance, having legalised abortion and human euthanasia, along with maintaining a progressive drug policy. The Netherlands abolished the death penalty in 1870, allowed women's suffrage in 1917, became the world's first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001, its mixed-market advanced economy had the thirteenth-highest per capita income globally. The Netherlands ranks among the highest in international indexes of press freedom, economic freedom, human development, quality of life, as well as happiness; the Netherlands' turbulent history and shifts of power resulted in exceptionally many and varying names in different languages. There is diversity within languages; this holds for English, where Dutch is the adjective form and the misnomer Holland a synonym for the country "Netherlands". Dutch comes from Theodiscus and in the past centuries, the hub of Dutch culture is found in its most populous region, home to the capital city of Amsterdam.
Referring to the Netherlands as Holland in the English language is similar to calling the United Kingdom "Britain" by people outside the UK. The term is so pervasive among potential investors and tourists, that the Dutch government's international websites for tourism and trade are "holland.com" and "hollandtradeandinvest.com". The region of Holland consists of North and South Holland, two of the nation's twelve provinces a single province, earlier still, the County of Holland, a remnant of the dissolved Frisian Kingdom. Following the decline of the Duchy of Brabant and the County of Flanders, Holland became the most economically and politically important county in the Low Countries region; the emphasis on Holland during the formation of the Dutch Republic, the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Dutch Wars in the 16th, 17th and 18th century, made Holland serve as a pars pro toto for the entire country, now considered either incorrect, informal, or, depending on context, opprobrious. Nonetheless, Holland is used in reference to the Netherlands national football team.
The region called the Low Countries and the Country of the Netherlands. Place names with Neder, Nieder and Nedre and Bas or Inferior are in use in places all over Europe, they are sometimes used in a deictic relation to a higher ground that consecutively is indicated as Upper, Oben, Superior or Haut. In the case of the Low Countries / Netherlands the geographical location of the lower region has been more or less downstream and near the sea; the geographical location of the upper region, changed tremendously over time, depending on the location of the economic and military power governing the Low Countries area. The Romans made a distinction between the Roman provinces of downstream Germania Inferior and upstream Germania Superior; the designation'Low' to refer to the region returns again in the 10th century Duchy of Lower Lorraine, that covered much of the Low Countries. But this time the corresponding Upper region is Upper Lorraine, in nowadays Northern France; the Dukes of Burgundy, who ruled the Low Countries in the 15th century, used the term les pays de par deçà for the Low Countries as opposed to les pays de par delà for their original
Rotterdam is the second-largest city and a municipality of the Netherlands. It is located in the province of South Holland, at the mouth of the Nieuwe Maas channel leading into the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta at the North Sea, its history goes back to 1270, when a dam was constructed in the Rotte, after which people settled around it for safety. In 1340, Rotterdam was granted city rights by the Count of Holland. A major logistic and economic centre, Rotterdam is Europe's largest port, it has a population of 633,471. Rotterdam is known for its Erasmus University, its riverside setting, lively cultural life and maritime heritage; the near-complete destruction of the city centre in the World War II Rotterdam Blitz has resulted in a varied architectural landscape, including sky-scrapers designed by renowned architects such as Rem Koolhaas, Piet Blom and Ben van Berkel. The Rhine and Scheldt give waterway access into the heart of Western Europe, including the industrialized Ruhr; the extensive distribution system including rail and waterways have earned Rotterdam the nicknames "Gateway to Europe" and "Gateway to the World".
The settlement at the lower end of the fen stream Rotte dates from at least 900 CE. Around 1150, large floods in the area ended development, leading to the construction of protective dikes and dams, including Schielands Hoge Zeedijk along the northern banks of the present-day Nieuwe Maas. A dam on the Rotte was located at the present-day Hoogstraat. On 7 July 1340, Count Willem IV of Holland granted city rights to Rotterdam, whose population was only a few thousand. Around the year 1350, a shipping canal, the Rotterdamse Schie was completed, which provided Rotterdam access to the larger towns in the north, allowing it to become a local trans-shipment centre between the Netherlands and Germany, to urbanize; the port of Rotterdam grew but into a port of importance, becoming the seat of one of the six "chambers" of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the Dutch East India Company. The greatest spurt of growth, both in port activity and population, followed the completion of the Nieuwe Waterweg in 1872.
The city and harbor started to expand on the south bank of the river. The Witte Huis or White House skyscraper, inspired by American office buildings and built in 1898 in the French Château-style, is evidence of Rotterdam's rapid growth and success; when completed, it was the tallest office building in Europe, with a height of 45 m. During World War I the city was the world's largest spy centre because of Dutch neutrality and its strategic location in between Great-Britain and German-occupied Belgium. Many spies who were arrested and executed in Britain were led by German secret agents operating from Rotterdam. MI6 had its main European office on de Boompjes. From there the British occupied Belgium. During World War I, an average of 25,000 Belgian refugees lived in the city, as well as hundreds of German deserters and escaped Allied prisoners of war. During World War II, the German army invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940. Adolf Hitler had hoped to conquer the country in just one day, but his forces met unexpectedly fierce resistance.
The Dutch army was forced to capitulate on 15 May 1940, following the bombing of Rotterdam on 14 May and the threat of bombing of other Dutch cities. The heart of Rotterdam was completely destroyed by the Luftwaffe; some 80,000 civilians were made homeless and 900 were killed. The City Hall survived the bombing. Ossip Zadkine attempted to capture the event with his statue De Verwoeste Stad; the statue stands near the Leuvehaven, not far from the Erasmusbrug in the centre of the city, on the north shore of the river Nieuwe Maas. Rotterdam was rebuilt from the 1950s through to the 1970s, it remained quite windy and open until the city councils from the 1980s on began developing an active architectural policy. Daring and new styles of apartments, office buildings and recreation facilities resulted in a more'livable' city centre with a new skyline. In the 1990s, the Kop van Zuid was built on the south bank of the river as a new business centre. Rotterdam was voted 2015 European City of the Year by the Academy of Urbanism.
A Guardian profile of Rem Koolhaas begins "If you put the last 50 years of architecture in a blender, spat it out in building-sized chunks across the skyline, you would end up with something that looked a bit like Rotterdam."'Rotterdam' is divided into a northern and a southern part by the river Nieuwe Maas, connected by: the Beneluxtunnel. The former railway lift bridge De Hef is preserved as a monument in lifted position between the Noordereiland and the south of Rotterdam; the city centre is located on the northern bank of the Nieuwe Maas, although recent urban development has extended the centre to parts of southern Rotterdam known as De Kop van Zuid. From its inland core, Rotterdam reaches the North Sea by a swathe of predominantly harbour area. Built behind di