Center Parcs first started here in the UK in 1987 where it now has five pricey, upmarket woodland resorts with subtropical bathing centres.
In June 2015 the UK firm was acquired by Canadian equity firm Brookfield Asset Management in a deal worth about £2.4 billion. Now it has a 395-acre woodland resort, of 466 holiday lodges, near Ballymahon in Longford to add to that portfolio.
The £203million development will start taking bookings later this year ahead of its actual opening next year. At the end of last year the developers secured financing of €144 million from Barclays, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland.
The construction of the complex – currently underway by companies like John Sisk & Son and Limerick’s Roadbridge – is expected to entail 750 jobs and in completion it is expected to create 1,000 jobs when it is open for business.
Center Parcs chief executive Martin Dalby said at the official sod turning ceremony by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last year that the holiday village will add £28m a year to the Irish economy: “We have always said this project would have a transformative effect on the midlands region and we have already seen signs of the positive economic impact Center Parcs is bringing to the area.”
Mr Varadkar said the project can “unlock the potential of rural Ireland” and represents a significant vote of confidence in Ireland by a UK firm against a backdrop of Brexit.
“We live in a time of extraordinary change and undoubtedly there are challenges ahead, not least from Brexit, so it is essential we continue to focus on competitiveness and value for money as well ensuring the free movement of people between North and South and between Britain and Ireland continues unabated. “This exciting development by Center Parcs represents a significant investment in the Irish economy, and especially in tourism.
“The €200 million (£175m) investment is almost certainly the biggest in the region’s history.”