Being Modern: Center Parcs

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The Independent Travel

Center parcs is an indubitably modern part of our domestic travel industry. We know that because of the way it's spelt. Center, as if it's American. And Parcs, as if it's French. Because nothing says modern like trying to make people feel like they fit in. Only Center Parcs is neither American nor French. It's Dutch. Perhaps Piet Derksen, the man who came up with the idea in 1968, was just a poor speller. We'll never know. Probably. And it DOESN'T MATTER!

Because who cares how you spell the thing (except when you want to type it into Google to book a holiday, of course – then you'd better get it right or you'll get one of those sarky "Did you mean Center Parcs" messages above every link you could ever want anyway)... hmm, that was a long parenthesis. So, to start again, who cares how you spell the thing when there's so much fun to be had!! That's right, it's exclamation marks ahoy – and why not when there's falconry, archery, Rollerblading, cycling, yoga, Laser Clay Shooting (what's that, you say? Not sure, say we – but it sounds good), go-karting, woodland walks, abseiling, flu-flu golf (refer back to the Laser Clay comment), and not just lawn bowling but boules, too, so you can pretend you're in a darling, rural village in the South of France rather than Penrith or Rufford in Nottinghamshire (rather more prettily renamed Sherwood Forest by the good folks at CP). Well, good gosh!

It's a long way from the knobbly-knee contests of British holiday camps of yore, isn't it? As long as you pay extra for all those extras, anyway. Because if you don't, you'll be restricted to sleeping, swimming in an indoors subtropical paradise, and the kids' playground, which isn't the best place for adults to hang out (especially if they don't have kids).

Truth be told, since 1987 when the brand made its UK debut, Center Parcs and its snuggly, picturesque villages have offered a much-needed alternative to camping in the cold for those who want to pretend they're a bit outdoorsy. As for those domes: a part of our cultural landscape. Just... if you do go, shell out for an activity or two.