Is Center Parcs closing for Queen’s funeral? Decision to shut reversed - why UK sites were set to close
Center Parcs was set to close all five UK locations for 24 hours over the Queen’s funeral.
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Center Parcs has reversed a decision that left holidaymakers furious, after initially ordering all visitors to leave its sites for 24 hours during the Queen’s funeral.
The company was inundated with complaints after it revealed its five parks will close from 10am on Monday 19 September.
Guests partway through seven-day holidays – which generally cost more than £1,000 for a family-of-four at this time of year – were facing the option to spend the night elsewhere or go home early.
After receiving complaints, Center Parcs has offered to allow guests on “longer duration breaks” to remain on site on Monday.
Center Parcs said in a statement it made the original decision “as a mark of respect and to allow as many of our colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment”.
It added: “We hope our guests will understand our decision to support our Queen on her final journey.
“All guests impacted by the closure will receive an email today explaining the options available.”
Customers who wanted to cancel their holidays were offered a full refund, with partial refunds for those whose breaks will be shorter than booked.
Many affected people expressed their fury on Center Parcs’ Facebook page.
Tracy Groome, 58, a consultant who lives near Manchester, has a seven-night booking at Center Parcs Elveden Forest, Suffolk, in a party of nine including her husband and their children’s families.
The trip – due to begin on Friday – cost more than £2,500, and was booked in August 2021.
She said: "I got an email this morning from Centre Parcs saying that they have decided to close for the day.
“And I must admit, when I started reading it, I thought they meant the bars and restaurants, which I could see even though it would be disappointing.
"But when I read on they were saying you have to leave the village at 10am on the Monday morning and you won't be allowed back into the village - accommodation or any of the facilities until Tuesday morning.
"It just seems like madness.
“I don't know where Centre Parcs is expecting us to go for the 24 hours that they're closing, especially at three days notice.”
Tracy explained that it would take three-and-a-half hours to get home, saying: “We’re not going to travel that.”
She said Center Parcs offered to let her group end their booking on Monday or start their holiday on Tuesday, however that would leave them staying three nights instead of seven.
“They’ve offered discounts or to refund some of the money but it’s not going to come close to covering the cost of hotel rooms for the night - especially when we have dogs,” Tracy added.
"It seems bizarre to me that they can't allow visitors already in the park to stay on the park - even if they closed all the facilities on the day.
"There are other people also posted on Facebook who have children, or who are autistic where the disruption would just be horrendous for them. And others who were taking disabled adults - where are they supposed to stay?”
Tracy revealed she had actually watched Princess Diana’s funeral at Center Parcs.
“I was thinking gosh, it feels really strange that will now be watching the Queen's funeral there,” she said.
“But we won’t, and we won't get to see the funeral because we'll be stuck in cars with children and dogs.”
Why has Center Parcs reversed the decision?
Following the criticism, the holiday company has since provided customers with further guidence.
A spokesman for Center Parcs said: “Like many businesses we have taken the decision to close all our UK villages on Monday 19th September. This decision was taken as a mark of respect and to allow as many of our colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment.
“We have contacted all the guests due to arrive on Monday 19th September and offered them a number of different options. Our villages will be open to welcome guests on Tuesday 20th September.”
“The vast majority of our guests are either due to arrive or depart on Monday 19th September. We have however, reviewed our position regarding the very small number of guests who are not due to depart on Monday and we will be allowing them to stay on our villages rather than having to leave and return on Tuesday.
“The villages will still remain closed on Monday and we will be offering a discount for the lack of facilities available on that day.”
In the follow -up email sent to customers Center Parcs said: “Lots of guests have communicated with us today to tell us that they’re upset by this decision, particularly those guests on longer breaks.
“We recognise that leaving the village for one night and returning is extremely inconvenient.
“On reflection and having listened we have made the decision to allow guests on longer duration breaks to remain on village on Monday September 19.”
Center Parcs’ five UK sites are: Elveden Forest, Suffolk; Longleat Forest, Wiltshire; Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire; Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire; and Whinfell Forest, Cumbria.
Mourning guidance from the Cabinet Office states: “Depending on the nature and location of their business and the tone of planned events, some businesses may wish to consider closing or postponing events, especially on the day of the state funeral, however this is at the discretion of individual businesses.”