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holi-yay Center Parcs Ireland planning €85m expansion with new treehouse lodges

Construction work would create 300 jobs, with a further 250 new positions at Center Parcs once building is complete

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Center Parcs Longford Forest has been back open since last week.

Center Parcs Longford Forest has been back open since last week.

The swimming pool is open, but availability is limited due to restrictions.

The swimming pool is open, but availability is limited due to restrictions.

Center Parcs Longford Forest

Center Parcs Longford Forest

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Center Parcs Longford Forest has been back open since last week.

Center Parcs Longford Forest will apply for planning permission for an €85m expansion including 200 new lodges, it has announced.

The proposed expansion will include four “luxury treehouses” and further development of its existing pool, spa and activities, all within the existing 400-acre site boundary.

Despite the pandemic, 1,000 jobs have been retained at the resort, CEO Martin Dalby said, customer experience was positive, and a decision has been made to expand.

"Now is the right time to invest even further,” Mr Dalby added, with “much of the accommodation stock booked out" for summer and beyond in Ireland.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the announcement was “fantastic news” for Longford and for the midlands, describing Center Parcs as “a really valued employer in the area”.

The planning application will be submitted to Longford County Council this year.

Mr Dalby said he expects a six- to 12-month period of consideration to follow and, if successful, construction will start in 2023.

The build would take “months”, he added, and the site would remain open throughout. "Guests will not feel any disruption,” he said.

Construction will create 300 jobs, Center Parcs says, and the expansion could create 250 new full-time posts on-resort. “We intend to use Irish contractors where possible,” Mr Dalby added.

Center Parcs Longford Forest is now in its second week of reopening after lockdown, with a new inflatable aquapark offering on the lake and its Subtropical Swimming Paradise set to open this Friday, June 18.

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The swimming pool is open, but availability is limited due to restrictions.

The swimming pool is open, but availability is limited due to restrictions.

The swimming pool is open, but availability is limited due to restrictions.

Lodges are heavily booked, based on a website search this morning, with a three-bed woodland lodge starting from €1,149 for three nights this weekend.

It’s not quite business as usual, however – the village is now cashless, social distancing is in place, and bookings with more than one household in a single lodge are not permitted, according to its website.

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The pool must be booked in advance, and sessions are limited to one two-hour slot per two-night break, two per three or four-night break, or four per seven-night break.

Restaurant bookings are limited to six people per table.

Its two-storey treehouses are billed as Center Parcs’ “most luxurious accommodation”, sleeping up to eight people with games den, outdoor hot tubs, private parking and a dedicated host for guests.

And there are prices to match - four-night, midweek stays at the treehouses at UK’s Whinfell Forest resort range from £2,399 to £5,249 next spring, for example.

Center Parcs opened in Ireland two years ago this summer, and currently has 466 lodges and 30 apartments, with capacity for up to 2,500 guests.

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