Towards the end of 2010, Disney announced a new project that they had been working on for some time, since 2003 to be exact. But, this time they would not be going it alone. Instead, they were teaming up with the leisure company Pierre et Vacances. Pierre et Vacances are the owners of apartment style accommodation in many European countries as well as being the owner of Centre Parcs Europe. It is the latter company (although not named as Centre Parcs) that will be coming to Disneyland Paris, slated to open in 2015. Why is Disney seeking such help on this project? Philippe Gas, C.E.O of Euro Disney said, “The idea is to invent tomorrow’s family tourism on the basis of a concept for a unique sustainable resort.” Just the sort of thing Pierre et Vacances having been developing for years. The long-term vision for the project is for it to take over a large area of land that could reach up to 500 hectares. Why are they being so vague about the size? It could take nearly 20 years for them to finish.
The Villages Nature site is located 6 Km south of Disneyland Paris, north of the Brie Forest (in French: Brie Boisée), in Seine-et-Marne. The site will be easily accessible from the major road network and close enough for those day trips to the parks. The Phase 1 plan does call for improved road networks between the site and Disneyland Paris including access by cars (although only to the village’s car park and not on site), and through regular shuttles to the parks.
The resort will allow visitors to live “with a single planet” during their stay and over 90% of Villages Nature’s surface area will be made up of green spaces. Built up areas will not exceed 10% and will provide new experiences centred around water, gardens, footpaths, horse-back riding trails, an organic farm and exploration trails, as well as culinary events and festivals. The entire resort will be developed around Europe’s largest water park and its 3,500 square meter geothermal lagoon. This is designed to become the icon of the Village.
In Centre Parcs throughout Europe, the indoor water park has always been at the heart of its operations. Many of the subtropical swimming locations include indoor dining facilities as well as slides, lazy rivers and wave machines. According to the official press release: “Part of the lagoon will be sheltered by architectural works which, once again, will have neither true facades nor any real roof! Glass will be omnipresent, just as nature will, and what could best be described as a truncated pyramid (evocative of Mayan pyramids) will take on the aspect of a volcano emerging from a vast expanse of water. Space use will be unusual: upon/within this transparent hill, both the inside and the outside will be places to discover and to enjoy walks, games and well-being. As the major icon of the Villages Nature project, this lagoon, the only one of its kind in the world, will be set at the crossroads of all sightlines in the resort and will be visible from all points.”
Accommodation will be a key feature of the new resort. Each location will be in keeping with the resorts environmental theme. The first phase of Villages Nature will include the construction of 1730 lodging units, either apartments or cottages, and measuring between 32 m2 and 85 m2, located within three villages: two villages around the lake and one village in the forest. Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities are also planned, for a total 70 000 m2 area.
But, what are the main priorities behind getting such a venture going? It will be the largest single vacation resort Pierre et Vacances have built and with Disney expertise in large-scale projects, it will bring an exciting prospect for 2015. So, what are the plans for next steps on the project?
The big question is: Is this the kind of place you would see yourself staying in on a visit to Disneyland Paris? According to a study “conducted from 2004 to 2006 it shows European consumers have a marked interest for a concept combining relaxation, leisure and nature. Villages Nature will appeal to a large audience, ranging from young couples to families with children to senior citizens. During the first phase, key markets for Villages Nature will be France, and occasionally other European countries. In the later phases, a gradual extension to other European countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom will be considered.” Your thoughts?