Center Parcs' first Irish resort is all set for a mid-summer opening, reports Pól Ó Conghaile
Center Parcs Longford has taken over 4,000 bookings to date, and its opening date has been revealed: Monday, July 29 of this year.
The much-anticipated date was announced today, with bookings now available online (centerparcs.ie) from €299 for short breaks in a two-bedroom lodge.
Rates skyrocket from there, however - with the same, two-bed Woodland Lodge priced from €759 for three and four day breaks during school holidays.
With less than 50 days to go, the final touches are being put to the €233 million forest resort - one of Ireland's biggest-ever tourism developments.
Once complete, the resort will cater for up to 2,500 guests in some 466 lodges and 30 apartments, providing around 1,000 permanent jobs - many on minimum wage.
Similar to its flagship UK properties, Longford Forest will be anchored by a 3,500m2 'Subtropical Swimming Paradise' heated to 29.5 degrees. The year-round facility is free to guests, and is billed as "Ireland's largest waterpark".
Since construction began in 2016, excitement has been building.
Fans of the UK resorts love their car-free campus vibe, range of activities, slick and comfy lodges, well-trained staff and immaculately maintained layouts.
Critics bemoan relatively high prices, food that many consider bland and generic, and the fact that many of the 100+ activities are expensive extras.
Aerial tree trekking costs from €26 per person, for example, while bike hire is €35/€25.50pp, and indoor roller skating will set you back €9.50pp.
With 21 hot, cold, herbal and meditative experiences, the in-resort Aqua Sana Spa is being touted as "the perfect spa experience", though it too comes at a price.
Three-hour spa sessions start from €37pp, while you'll need to set aside €57 for the luxury of a 25-minute massage.
Woodland, Executive and Exclusive are the three lodge types on offer, with breaks bookable from Friday to Monday, Monday to Friday, or full weeks.
So far, over 4,000 bookings have been taken for the Ballymahon resort - a figure Center Parcs says is "very much" in line with expectations.