Center Parcs backtracks after asking guests to leave sites for Queen's funeral

Holiday makers enjoy the swimming facilities at Center Parcs on the Longleat Estate. Credit: PA

Center Parcs has reversed its decision to close its UK sites for 24 hours on Monday to mark the Queen's funeral after facing accusations of "ruining people's holidays".

The holiday operator earlier announced that the guests at its five UK parks would have to leave the sites by 10am on Monday, even if they were in the middle of the stay.

Guests were left in confusion after Centre Parcs said they would have to return to resume their holiday on Tuesday, 20 September.

Following the announcement the company was inundated with complaints.

Tracy Groome, 58, a consultant who lives near Manchester, had 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.

Ms Groome said earlier she had been looking forward to watching the funeral during her stay before the closure was announced.

“Thanks to Center Parcs, we won’t even get to see it because we will be trying to entertain two children and two dogs.

“I’m very sure it would not be what the Queen or the royal family wants.

“I’m sure they will not want everybody who was due to go to Center Parc on a holiday to have their holiday spoiled, and for them to have this stress of trying to organise something different.

“Goodness only knows where we are supposed to go."

“We are three and a half hours away from home, so it’s simply not possible to come home and go back again the next day.”

The group will be refunded approximately £400, but said they do not think that will cover the cost of replacement hotel rooms.

Center Parcs has since retracted its earlier decision. On Tuesday evening, it said guests already at the sites will be able to remain on-site on Monday.

"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 company said in an updated statement.

Center Parcs offers guests a range of different activities including a forest rope course. Credit: Center Parcs

"The villages will still remain closed on Monday and we will be offering a discount for the lack of facilities available on that day."

However guests that were due to arrive on Monday, 19 September, will still not be able to arrive on site until Tuesday.

Guests will be forced to delay their holidays by a day at short notice.

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Center Parcs said in a statement that it 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”.

The holiday company's five UK sites are: Elveden Forest, Suffolk; Longleat Forest, Wiltshire; Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire; Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire; and Whinfell Forest, Cumbria.

Holidays at the villages start on Fridays or Mondays and last three, four or seven nights.

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.”

A spokesman for Butlin’s said its holiday resorts will remain open on Monday, with new arrivals asked to arrive from 3pm, two hours later than normal.

This will “allow our team time to watch the funeral and pay their respects”, he added.