Gérard Brémond, President Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs Group
“The challenge in the years to come will be the renovation of existing residences”

3 min reading time

Published on 09/05/10 - Updated on 17/03/22

HTR :Do you still see opportunities in the most developed tourist areas?G. B. :The possibilities are rare in the most attractive tourist areas. Either because they are already developed or because they are protected, and rightly so. Nonetheless, there are still opportunities for buying residences from institutional investors. We buy 2 to 4 residences each year, of which we have the management for some, in order to structurally regroup the original apartments, for example by transforming the studios into 2 rooms, the 3 rooms into 4 rooms. Then, these apartments are sold to private owners. Nonetheless, this kind of residence is increasingly rarely in the hands of a single owner: the majority are in co-ownership.HTR :Thus the opportunities are rare. But what about the existing supply? How does it adapt to new customer expectations? G. B. : The real challenge lies incontestably in the rehabilitation of existing residences. Mobilizing owners who have been there for 9, 18 or even 27 years will be the challenge in the years to come. It is a painstaking job consisting in convincing them of the potential valorization of their assets, which we demonstrate with model apartments. These approaches offer satisfying results since the complete renovation rate is 85%. Alongside the owners who pay the renovation costs, we equip the residences – swimming pool, wellness areas – which helps guarantee high occupancy while extending the tourist season.HTR :Alongside this long and arduous job, what are the main axes of your group’s development?G. B. : Most of our development is concentrated on Center Parcs, which are destinations in and of their own and offer a pleasure guarantee under all climatic conditions. Our new park that just opened in Moselle posted an OR of 85% in its first months. This success is thanks to a clientele of local families. After the Ailette in the Aisne and the Trois Forêts in the Lorraine, we are developing a fifth Center Parcs in Roybon, near Grenoble. This includes 1,000 cottages for a total investment of 300 million euros. A sixth is under study in Western France, between the Vienne and the Maine & Loire areas. A decision regarding the final location should be announced in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, two Center Parcs will open in Germany.HTR :When will your long awaited Village Nature, in partnership with Disney, take shape?G. B. :This is one of biggest projects of Pierre & Vacances in the years to come with 15,000 beds on 550 hectares. The project is in the finalization process and an announcement should be made in the coming weeks. Village Nature will have the best in sustainable development, in terms of both outfitting and operations. HTR :Pierre & Vacances has another project that is important to you, the extension of the Avoriaz resort. What stage is that at?G. B. : The first part of this new neighbourhood should be complete at the end of 2011. This extension corresponds to our goal to expand our range to the brands MGM and Pierre & Vacances Premium all in one area for Pierre & Vacances and Maeva. Demand will be stimulated by new equipment, starting with the Aquariaz, inspired by the Aquadome that has made Center Parcs famous. Clientele will be able enjoy some exoticism up in the snowy mountains!HTR : Going outside France has become one of your group’s growth vectors. Why?G. B. : The tourism residence is a French specialty, a practically inexistent concept elsewhere with exception to urban residences in the United States. In Spain and Italy the dominant model is rental location. Competition is weak and it could be interesting to export this specificity abroad. It may also make it possible to introduce new clientele to this concept, particularly Northern Europeans. And this could have a snowball effect and reinforce occupancy in France.HTR :What are the most promising destinations for Pierre & Vacances? G. B. :Southern Europe and medium-haul destinations such as Morocco and Tunisia. Spain is the destination our clients desire most. We are very busy there because the real estate crisis created opportunities with 250,000 apartments that were built but not sold. Banks finding themselves with these assets solicit us to transform these secondary residences into tourism residences. They give us with the management, while hoping to resell these lots when the market takes off again. We grew from 2,000 to 3,000 apartments and are completing our network on the territory with a goal for 5,000 apartments in the long run.

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