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Center Parcs U-turns over plans to kick out guests for Queen’s funeral

Written by: Emma Lunn
The holiday firm faced a customer backlash and social media pile-on yesterday after announcing it would close on Monday 19 September.

Center Parcs told guests they would have to leave their cabins by 10am on 19 September and not return until 10am on 20 September, so that Center Parcs staff could watch the Queen’s funeral.

The holiday firm, owned by Canadian investment firm Brookfield Property Partners, later backtracked and said it wouldn’t kick customers out of their chalets on Monday. However, facilities such as swimming pools and restaurants would remain closed.

The company emailed affected customers on Tuesday and also explained its decision on Twitter. @CenterParcsUK Tweeted: “Following the announcement of the date of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, we have made the decision to close all our UK villages on Monday 19 September at 10am as a mark of respect and to allow as many of our colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment.

“Guests who were due to arrive on Monday 19 September should not travel, we will reopen on Tuesday 20 September to welcome guests. All impacted guests will receive an email from us today.”

Center Parcs guests can book three-night stays starting on Fridays, four-night stays starting on Mondays, or seven-night holidays beginning either Monday or Friday.

Panic Monday

The decision to close next Monday meant that guests in the middle of a week-long holiday starting this Friday would have to spend Monday night elsewhere. These guests were offered a 17% refund. Many took to Twitter to complain that they couldn’t simply drive home or find alternative accommodation for the night.

There was also the option for holidaymakers with a week’s stay booked to reduce it to just a weekend and get a refund for the Monday to Friday part of their trip.

Those who had booked a four-day break starting on Monday were offered a 30% discount and told to arrive on Tuesday instead. Many of these guests complained they had booked and paid for travel for a Monday arrival.

Those booked for a three-night break beginning on Friday were told they would need to leave the park by 10am on Monday, when usually they would be allowed to use the facilities for the rest of the day.

All guests were offered a full refund if they wanted to cancel their breaks.

The company said in a statement it had made the decision “as a mark of respect and to allow as many of our colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment”.

Center Parcs runs five holiday villages in England: Elveden Forest in Suffolk, Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire and Longleat Forest in Wiltshire.

The sites are normally open on Bank Holidays, with customers paying inflated prices for a Bank Holiday stay.

Center of attention

Angry customers took to social media to criticise the decision, stating that it was unreasonable and unpractical. Many complained of long call waiting times to speak to Center Parcs.

The outcry prompted Center Parcs to backdown and allow customers to remain in their accommodation on Monday night.

It said: “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.”

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