The Daily Telegraph

Center Parcs ditches funeral day closure plan after guests’ outrage

- By Gurpreet Narwan CONSUMER AFFAIRS EDITOR and Hannah Boland

‘We will allow the small number of guests who are not due to leave on Monday to stay on in our villages’

CENTER PARCS has scrapped its plan to ask guests to leave on the day of Queen Elizabeth II’S funeral “as a mark of respect”.

The company was inundated with complaints after revealing that five of its parks would close for 24 hours from 10am on Monday to allow staff “to support our Queen on her final journey”.

It said guests would be forced to spend the night elsewhere or go home early. Customers reacted furiously, with one writing in response on Facebook: “We were five related families getting together for our annual family holiday, with two small children and two dogs, three hours from home! Where the hell are we supposed to go for one night?!”

Now Center Parcs has reversed its decision, saying that guests will no longer be ejected on Monday.

A spokesman said last night: “The vast majority of our guests are either due to arrive or depart on Monday, Sept 19. 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 in our villages rather than having to leave and return on Tuesday.

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

The company said guests due to arrive on Monday had been told and would be able to check-in on Tuesday.

Center Parcs has five UK sites: Elveden Forest, Suffolk; Longleat Forest, Wiltshire; Sherwood Forest, Nottingham­shire; Woburn Forest, Bedfordshi­re; and Whinfell Forest, Cumbria.

In its initial statement, the company said it would offer full and partial refunds to affected customers but many responded negatively to the news.

One customer replied on Twitter, saying: “Genuinely thought the email was a joke. We’ve just lost so much time and money on this, coming from all corners of the country – surely this needs a rethink?”

Businesses up and down the country have announced plans to close or scale back their operations on Monday.

However, restaurant chain Hawksmoor, which runs steakhouse­s in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, lashed out at pressure to close on the day of the funeral. It said it was planning to keep all its sites open for the funeral, aside from its restaurant in Guildhall.

Writing on Twitter, Hawksmoor said: “If you want to shut, so you/your staff/ customers can grieve or take part in an important national moment, then you should. Just try not to make it sound like you are ‘showing respect for the Queen’ and implying that those doing differentl­y are not.”

A host of businesses unveiled plans to close, including larger Sainsbury’s and Tesco shops and department stores John Lewis and Harrods.

Cineworld, Odeon and Showcase said they would close their cinemas on September 19 as a mark of respect, as did The Light. Curzon and Arc have chosen to screen the funeral for free.

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