Center Parcs has backtracked after facing accusations it was “ruining people’s holidays” by announcing it would close its UK sites for 24 hours from Monday morning to mark the Queen’s funeral.
Earlier on Tuesday, the holiday company announced that guests at its five UK parks would have to leave by 10am on Monday, even if they are halfway through their stay, and would not be able to return until the same time on Tuesday morning.
The company 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 a part of this historic moment.” He added: “We hope our guests will understand our decision to support our Queen on her final journey.”
The decision meant visitors who were in the middle of their holiday on Monday would have to spend the night elsewhere or go home early. Center Parcs told holidaymakers on social media that while they would have to leave the park overnight, they could leave their belongings in their accommodation.
But on Tuesday afternoon, after an outcry on social media and widespread negative press coverage, the company said it had “reviewed our position regarding the very small number of guests who will not be departing on Monday and we will allow them to stay in our villages instead of having to leave and come back on Tuesday.”
It said there would be no facilities available at its holiday villages on Monday and it would offer a discount to customers to reflect that.
The company is still asking people who were due to arrive on Monday to delay their arrival until the following day.
Center Parcs, which is owned by Canadian investment firm Brookfield Property Partners, said the “vast majority” of visitors were scheduled to arrive or depart on Monday.
Customers had expressed their anger at the company’s initial decision on social media.
One of those affected tweeted: “You have ruined our family holiday that we have been saving and looking forward to for months! There is no recognition of the wider impact on your customers. Our lost holidays booked out of work, extra travel expenses.”
Another customer tweeted: “What do you suggest we do on Monday as we have nowhere to go and it’s too far to drive home and then back the next day?”
A third called it “an absolutely shocking decision”, adding that they were “travelling from the other side of the country” and would now have to “try and find alternative accommodation at this last stage”.
Some customers complained that their travel costs would not be refunded if they had to cancel, while others said there were waiting times of up to an hour to get through to Center Parcs’ customer service team on the phone.
Center Parcs said all customers affected by its decision will receive an email on Tuesday explaining the options available to them, including refunds and cancellations.