To some, Center Parcs offers a nightmare image of forced jollity at a water-themed prison camp. Now David Miliband has urged holidaymakers to cast off their snobbery, following a life-changing experience at the holiday village. While David Cameron enjoyed luxury in Tuscany and Mr Miliband's brother Ed took a family trip to Devon, the former foreign secretary has hailed the delights of the Pont Royal Center Parcs resort in Provence.
Writing a post entitled Holiday Harmony, Mr Miliband castigates sophisticates who scoffed at their destination. "The week in Provence got all the usual approval," he wrote. "But when we said we were having a week at Center Parcs, we got a few raised eyebrows. One person said they had heard it described as an open prison."
He added: "The boys had a really good time. They thought the swimming – sliding down chutes really – was ace. The cottage was fine (never had three showers in a two-bedroom house before)." A week at a four-person villa at the Pont Royal resort costs upwards of £770.
Founded by the Dutch entrepreneur Piet Derksen in 1968, Center Parcs arrived in Britain in 1987 with its 400-acre Sherwood Forest resort. The company has sought to create "executive villas" in a bid to attract a more upmarket crowd to its network of 26 resorts.