In that time we’ve had a jazz band, live broadcasts to national and local news, press coverage, photographers and, of course, hundreds of new and excited guests.
Since my last post I’ve been making my way around the Village, talking the people who’ve brought the vision to life. As I walked from the Plaza to the Waterfront, I came across a team of bright-eyed and friendly people, the Woburn Forest Memory Makers. Inspired by the London Olympics Games in 2012, the team dressed in black told me they’re ‘walking information points’, who are dotted around the Village to assist guests in anything they need, whether they’re lost and need directions, or need to know how to book an activity.”
Tucking in to Woburn Forest
As I got to the Pancake House I chatted to a couple sat by the lake, tucking into a delicious stack. My tastebuds are tingling with envy just thinking about it! Mr and Mrs Galvin are first-time guests at Center Parcs. “We’ve never been before but we’re thinking of coming at Christmas, and getting a few Lodges for us and our family, so we thought we’d see what it’s all about first! So far we’re enjoying it, we’re over the moon.”
As I head back towards the Village Square, I notice a sudden flurry of Housekeeping staff dashing in and out of vans, hopping off their cycles with a rag in one hand and a copy of our on-Village magazine, Uncovered, in another. It suddenly dawns on me – it’s 2.30pm, in half an hour these Lodges will be full of guests settling into their new home!
I chat to a couple of the Housekeeping team doing their final checks, Marion and Christine. Marion informs me there’s something a little bit spooky going on with today’s date: “We both started in November, I started working on November 11, which is Remembrance Day, and here we are on the first day, June 6 which is D Day. How weird is that!”
“I stayed at Longleat Forest when my son was very little and it was very memorable. I still remember it now. It’s just so family focused and you have great flexibility” – Marion Fenton
Christine adds: “It’s nice to finally see the Village come into its own. We’ve been here from the beginning it’s been quite something to see it all come to fruition and get that Center Parcs feeling.” But, for guests, what exactly is that ‘feeling’?
Marion helps to explain: “I stayed at Longleat Forest when my son was very little and it was very memorable. I still remember it now. It’s just so family focused and you have great flexibility; you can go out to eat, but you don’t have to. And now with the housekeeping staff in place, if you’re staying in a Lodge that receives a daily maid service you don’t have to lift a finger, we’ll make your bed, we’ll put on your dishwasher, and we’ll tidy for you. It’s a real holiday away from it all.”
For any avid followers of the Center Parcs Blog, you may recognise the next person I introduce: his name is Ross Airson. He was my star interviewee in a blog post on how Woburn Forest is helping to decrease youth unemployment in the local area. We now know that 40% of all 1,500 employees hired are aged 16-25. I wanted to catch up with Ross, aged 19, to see how his team and he were getting on in their new roles. “It’s been good fun. Everyone is really happy and smiling knowing that the Village is open now; that was the last piece of the puzzle.
“The training we had was great; since speaking with you we visited Sherwood and Elveden Forest to job shadow the Cycle Centre team there, which helped us massively to give us a better understanding of how to talk to guests, and to see how their operations work.
“If I could work 12 hours a day, seven days a week I’d be in my element. I love to work and I love to meet new people” – Ross Airson
“Now everyone is settling in, people are comfortable in their roles. I’m spending time with guests, interacting with them and helping them with their cycles, measuring them and giving them their bike. If I could work 12 hours a day, seven days a week I’d be over the moon, in my element. I love to work and I love to meet new people.”