Center Parcs to reopen – but don’t pack your swimsuit yet

Longford Park to reopen in phases from July 13th, with no pools until at least July 27th

Center Parcs has announced it will reopen its Longford Forest holiday village from July 13th, but without its swimming pools and spas.

The 400ac woodland resort, which first opened in July 2019, has been shut since March 13th as a result of Covid-19 restrictions. "Although it was disappointing to have to close our forest resort within nine months of opening in Ireland, it was the right thing to do to keep our guests and staff safe," its chief executive, Martin Dalby, said this week.

Longford Forest will reopen in phases, with reduced guest numbers on each staggered break; the first runs from July 13th to 17th. Social-distancing protocols will be in place, and check-in and check-out times have been changed to allow for extra cleaning. Customers will now be asked to arrive no earlier than 2pm, for access to their lodges by 4pm, and to vacate their accommodation by 9am, to leave the village by noon.

The company says the €233 million resort’s 1,000 employees, most of whom have received the Government’s Covid-19 wage subsidy, are returning to work for training in new safety procedures.

Although the centre’s restaurants will be open, they will seat fewer people, to ensure social distancing, so takeaway and delivery options will also be available. Only contactless payments will be accepted in the resort. For many families the highlight of a stay is the indoor water park, but this, along with the spa, will remain closed until at least July 27th. The company says it is “continuing to take advice and work on how we can open”.

Dalby said: “We know that the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is one of the biggest things our guests are looking forward to experiencing... but [it] has many different elements, including flumes, rapids and numerous changing rooms. We are working through what new capacities we will need to apply and how best to do that.”

People with existing bookings from July 20th who choose not to take their holiday can reschedule or cancel with a refund, the company says.

Meanwhile, Fáilte Ireland will this weekend launch a €2.5 million marketing campaign to encourage Irish people to holiday at home this summer. Using the slogan "Ireland, make a break for it", the organisation is hoping to boost domestic tourism once hotels and holiday accommodation reopen on Monday, June 29th, following the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Fáilte Ireland’s most recent research found 16 per cent of Irish people have booked a holiday for this summer. Although more than 70 per cent would consider a domestic holiday, only 57 per cent say they intend to do so. The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation has predicted a 70 per cent fall in revenue from overseas tourists this year, so, in the absence of international visitors, capacity remains high across accommodation providers.