FAMILIES are celebrating after holiday firm Center Parcs axed Covid restrictions on its pools – meaning guests can turn up and swim whenever they want.
The popular holiday firm had restricted guests’ access to the Subtropical Swimming Paradises in each of its five UK resorts due to fears of the virus spreading.
Customers staying for three nights were allowed three three-hour time slots, four-night guests could have four slots and week-long stayers had seven.
It was widely considered a pain because an entire party of guests had to be booked onto the same sessions, and were advised to arrive at a set time.
But today thousands of summer visitors were emailed to say the rules were being relaxed and that existing pool bookings were being cancelled.
“The great news is that you can now turn up and swim whenever you like,” the message said.
“We know that the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is a popular feature of a Center Parcs break and we will still need to manage the number of guests visiting at any one time.
“The number of guests visiting the pool will be closely monitored and naturally some times of the day/evening will be busier than others, Saturday and Tuesday mornings are typically busy times.
“Please note that it may be necessary when our pools have reached capacity for us to control guest entry.”
“We will be closely monitoring guest views, feedback and capacity levels in the coming weeks and carefully considering the future for entry to our pools.”
The change – which comes in on July 11 – was greeted with widespread joy by lovers of the Subtropical Swimming Paradises, which are famously heated to 29.5C all year round.
Jean Webster tweeted: “I’m glad the restrictions have been lifted, it just wasn’t the same. “Thank you Center Parcs.”
Bekki Bacon, from Wiltshire, added: “On our recent trip to #longleat we found it so busy on the Sunday afternoon slot it seemed busier using booked slots than in pre Covid times so this is good news for most. Hopefully the housekeeping will make a return now too.”
But the change hasn’t been universally popular.
A more disgruntled customer said: “I have to say that is a real shame you have removed restrictions right as another Covid peak has started.
“It was a much improved experience using the pool with less people.”
And Adrienne Doyle also expressed concerns, adding: “Booked activities around swimming slots so if we get turned away we can’t make up those swimming times, not impressed. How can we complain about this change in policy?”
Center Parcs posted record earnings of almost £120m in its latest financial results for the 24 weeks ended October 7 – the most profitable half-year in its history in spite of pandemic-related operating constraints.
It operates five UK sites, including Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire (the first to open in 1987), Elveden Forest in Suffolk, Longleat Forest in Wiltshire, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria and Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire.
The firm plans to develop a sixth UK park near Crawley in West Sussex for up to £400million, although environmentalists have protested amid fears it will damage the countryside.