Queen’s funeral: Center Parcs ‘thanks’ guests after trying to ban them

Center Parcs ‘thanks’ guests they tried to BAN: Bosses send families letter of gratitude for ‘helping create unique opportunity’ for staff to have the day off for the Queen (after huge backlash over plans to turf them out for the day)

  • Company thanks guests for ‘helping us create the unique opportunity’ for staff 
  • It follows row over whether visitors would be kicked off its parks during funeral 
  • Firm tells visitors that they are able to ‘arrange food delivery from the local area’
  • Note also advises guests they are ‘welcome to walk or cycle around the village’
  • The Queen’s funeral: All the latest Royal Family news and coverage

Center Parcs has thanked guests for ‘helping us create the unique opportunity’ for staff to have the day off for the Queen‘s funeral after a furious row over whether visitors would be kicked off its holiday parks.

A letter delivered to those staying at the Sherwood Forest site said its restaurants would be closed but residents could ‘arrange food delivery from the local area’.

The note also said that anyone residing there was ‘welcome to walk or cycle around the village or leave the village to explore the local area should you wish to do so’. 

Guests were told in the note sent to lodges yesterday: ‘Thank you again for helping us create the unique opportunity for our team to be part of this historic event.’

Reacting to the letter sent yesterday, visitor David Tomlinson from Solihull posted it on Twitter and said: ‘Thank you for the letter delivered to our lodge this morning.

‘I assume the thank you for ‘helping us create the unique opportunity’ is meant to be sarcasm, because if not for the media backlash you’d be still be expecting us to vacate the park for one day. 

‘I still note that like in the original emails and social media posts you still haven’t said sorry. After the stress you put so many of your customers through, is that really so much to ask?’

Others shared memes joking that snipers were watching out for anyone attempting to leave their lodges, and that people were trapped in a cage or trying to escape. 

It comes amid a farcical situation at the holiday park operator over whether it would open on the day of the Queen’s funeral which took multiple twists last week, and led to accusations that it was forcing guests to stay inside lodges in a ‘hostage situation’.

The Nottinghamshire-based firm had initially been set to order holidaymakers to depart from its five UK parks by 10am today in plans to shut for 24 hours.

A letter delivered by Center Parcs to those staying at its Sherwood Forest site said its restaurants would be closed but residents could 'arrange food delivery from the local area'

A letter delivered by Center Parcs to those staying at its Sherwood Forest site said its restaurants would be closed but residents could ‘arrange food delivery from the local area’

Guests part-way through seven-day holidays – which usually cost more than £1,000 for a family-of-four at this time of year – faced the prospect of being forced to spend the night elsewhere or go home early.

Those due to arrive today for shorter stays were asked to begin their breaks a day later. 

Shops shut their doors for Queen’s funeral 

Supermarkets, fashion stores and cinemas were among firms closing today for the Queen’s funeral.

It was announced last week that the day of the funeral would also be a public bank holiday. As a result, a raft of Britain’s biggest retailers said they would shut their stores so workers can pay tribute to the late monarch.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Lidl and Aldi were among those closing their supermarket stores for the day. 

Tesco said it will open its Express convenience stores from 5pm, while a small number of convenience stores in London and Windsor remained open.

Other retailers including Sainsbury’s also said convenience stores and petrol stations will open from 5pm.

Asda said it will shut its stores for the funeral, but all its supermarkets will open from 5pm, with staff working this evening to receive double pay.

Other high street retailers, such as Marks & Spencer and Primark, also said they would shut for the day.

Cinema chains such as Cineworld and Odeon also announced plans to keep their venues shut.

A number of pub groups such as Stonegate and Premier Inn owner Whitbread said they will have venues open during the day. 

JD Wetherspoon said central London, railway station and airport pubs will open from 8am today, while the majority of its pubs will only open from about 1pm, after the funeral takes place.

But following pressure from angry customers it performed the embarrassing U-turn.

Center Parcs said it had ‘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 in our villages rather than having to leave and return on Tuesday.’

It also then appeared to perform a further U-turn, telling guests on Twitter that they would be allowed to stay on its parks but must ‘remain in their lodges’.

This announcement saw further criticism levelled at the short-breaks company, with one social media user accusing it of creating a ‘hostage situation’.

But the firm later clarified that visitors would be allowed to leave accommodation, but facilities, including pools, restaurants, and leisure activities, will be closed.

The latest instalment of the PR meltdown last week emerged via the company’s Twitter feed, which carried a series of conflicting exchanges with customers.

One guest called Kim contacted the company referring to a tweet she had seen suggesting Center Parcs was ‘going to kick a family with two small babies [sic] out of their park on Monday 19th’.

She added: ‘As a mum with a three-month-old I’d be absolutely traumatised, I know it’s history but surely you can do something else!’

In an initial response, Center Parcs said: ‘Hi Kim – we recognise leaving the village for one night is an inconvenience, we have listened and made the decision to allow guests to remain [in the] village on Monday, however, the village will still be closed, so guests will need to remain in their lodges.’

The same response was sent to other customers complaining about the situation. 

In a clarification on Twitter, Center Parcs then said: ‘You will be allowed to walk around the village, but the facilities will be closed.’

Center Parcs has offered a 17 per cent refund to affected visitors. In a statement, the firm said the decision to close parks was ‘a mark of respect’.

It added: ‘We have contacted all the guests due to arrive on Monday September 19 and offered them a number of different options. The vast majority of our guests are… due to arrive or depart on Monday September 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 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.’

Downing Street had indicated that it was up to individual businesses how they approach the bank holiday.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the day of the funeral would operate as ‘a standard bank holiday’.

‘Obviously individual businesses will need to make the decisions about what’s right for them and discuss with their employees but there is obviously no one-size-fits-all approach.’

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