Costing £250m to develop, Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire is employing 1,200 staff and is expected to host around 350,000 guests each year. It incorporates Center Parcs' largest sub-tropical swimming centre, along with an Aqua Sana spa, 625 lodges, a 75-bedroom hotel, six spa suites and a host of restaurants, shops and leisure activities.
Planning permission was eventually granted for Woburn Forest in 2007 after Mid Bedfordshire District Council originally turned down its application on grounds of not going far enough in mitigating damage to the local environment.
Martin Dalby, chief executive of Center Parcs, said: "After years of hard work, dedication and passion, we're thrilled to be welcoming our first guests to Woburn Forest today and strongly believe the new village has all the ingredients for a very special family break."
Blackstone, the asset management owners of Center Parcs has invested £100m in the project, while the remaining £150m cost was financed from Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Center Parcs was acquired by Blackstone in 2006, since when it has invested £300m in upgrading the accommodation, restaurants and retail outlets across the existing four villages, including the replacement of every bed and the purchase of more than 1,000 bikes.