Center Parcs: This is what Longford's €100m resort could look like
Forest magic in the Midlands
These photos show what a Center Parcs resort in Longford could look like, subject to planning permission.
A €100m forest resort is set for the Midlands in one of the biggest-ever tourism investments in the region.
Center Parcs has agreed to purchase a 375-acre site from Coillte near Ballymahon, Co. Longford, near the River Inny.
But what will the finished 'Newland Wood' resort look like?
And what experiences would it offer for visitors?
In essence, Center Parcs resorts are Dutch-style forest holiday villages.
The firm has five UK resorts - including Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, Lonleat Forest in Wiltshire, Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire and Elveden Forest in Suffolk - and British staycationers love them.
The idea is that guests pay a basic fee for accommodation - usually a short weekend or midweek break - and then book activities online ahead of their visit.
The choice of activities is vast - ranging from kayaking and raft-building to high ropes courses, bike hire, paintball, archery, adventure golf, tennis and more.
Action stations at Center Parcs
Children's play areas are free to guests, as are the resort 'beaches' and what Center Parcs calls "the jewel in our crown", the Subtropical Swimming Paradise set at the heart of the complex.
'Paradise' in this case includes waterslides, flumes (see photo above), rapids and whirlpools in water heated to 29.5-degrees year-round.
Taken together, the facilities have proven a winner with Britons - with occupancy rates of up to 97pc reported - figures that would trump even hotels in tourist hotspots like Killarney if they could be replicated in Longford.
Restaurants at the resorts range from Italian and American eateries to Starbucks and takeaway food that can be delivered to lodge doors.
Resorts also have their own supermarkets - 'ParcMarket' stocks over 2,500 products - as well as retail opportunities ranging from swimwear and designer brands to homeware and kids' toys.
Evening entertainment includes tribute bands and pantomimes, and rainy days (no strangers to the Midlands, of course) are catered for with exercise and fitness classes, bowling, arts and crafts, indoor climbing walls and other activities.
An Aqua Sana Spa
An on-site Aqua Sana spa provides "over 15 experience rooms, an outdoor pool and a wide range of treatments, as well as delicious Mediterranean cuisine", according to the resort website.
And the price?
Going to press, a three-night weekend for a family of four sharing a two-bed lodge at Whinfell Forest resort was quoted at £439/€603 in June.
Prices vary according to the standard of lodge - 'Exclusive Lodges' (pictured below) featuring their own hot tubs, saunas and sleeping up to eight people, for example, were quoting at £1,699/€2,335 for a similar period.
Center Parcs - An Exclusive Lodge
Obviously, it remains to be seen what shape the finished resort takes at Longford's Newcastle Wood, which is set to open in 2019, subject to planning permission.
The Irish resort will reportedly look to include some 500 lodges and villas, however, including a swimming pool complex, spa, restaurants and bars in what would be a spectacular tourism coup for the county.
For more information, see centerparcs.co.uk.
NB: This story has been updated to reflect developments.