US private equity firm Blackstone has agreed new long-term leases with the operators of seven Center Parcs Europe holiday resorts – possibly preparing the portfolio for sale.
Blackstone will invest €200m in upgrading the sites in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The operator, Center Parcs, is part of the Pierre & Vacances group, headquartered in Paris.
The leases each still had three to four years to run, and have now been extended by an additional 15 years with increased rent. The FT reports that this move will add to the saleability of the properties.
Blackstone acquired the resorts in 2006 for a reported €630m, worth £434m at the time. The group also bought Center Parcs UK in the same year – which is a separate business. That was sold to Canadian group Brookfield in 2015.
The €200m investments will go towards renovating cottages and hotel rooms – as well as upgrading the sites’ water parks, bowling alleys, animal farms and playgrounds.
Digital bracelets will also be introduced for access to different areas.
Pierre & Vacances strategic priorities: innovations, environment, authenticity
The Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs Group aims to increase its offer of innovative and differentiating services with its Ambition 2022 strategic plan. As part of the plan, the group recently announced the creation of an Innovation division.
The division will undertake innovative tests to disrupt existing models using the ecosystem of start-up companies.
Four priorities for 2019 are seniors, millennials, personalised offers and customer experiences.
Pierre & Vacances also announced the acquisition of French start-up company RendezvousCheznous.com. The website acts as a marketplace between holidaymakers and local hosts for authentic holiday experiences.
It is part of a plan by the company to enhance its offer with immersive holiday experiences and experiential travel. The medium-term objective is to become a leader in the experiential holiday sector.
Pierre & Vacances is also committed to the environment. 53 of its sites carry a Green Key label, which illustrates commitment to respect local issues and environment.