Lisburn’s new-look Leisure Pool was thrown into the deep end over Easter as overflowing demand saw some eager customers queue for up to an hour and a half.
In what has been hailed a ringing endorsement of the now defunct Lisburn City Council’s spend on the recently re-opened facility, and a testament to its popularity, visitors- a significant majority reportedly from outside the Lisburn area - arrived in waves.
An upsurge in online booking saw those Leisure Pool sessions repeatedly sold out, with on-spec arrivals queueing on a first-come, first-served basis. On Easter Tuesday the public was advised online that the waiting time stood at some 90 minutes.
The seasonal deluge was not unexpected and Lagan Valley Leisureplex repeatedly advised via Facebook that many sessions were likely to sell out during the week - meaning waiting time for some customers - and indeed all sessions might sell out.
Alderman Paul Porter, chairman of Leisure Services with both the new Lisburn and Castlereagh authority and its Lisburn City predecessor, said his daughter queued for an hour to use the Leisure Pool and considered it well worth the wait.
“There was a huge demand, and we expected that,” he said. “I’ve been saying for some time we’d see this when this place went live.
“I know of no other place like this on the island of Ireland, and then there’s all the other wonderful facilities there, and what we’ve done with them, a whole package that we are very proud of.
“It’s an amazing attraction. It has been very popular and there has been very positive feedback.”
Online comments included some concerns from customers who, absent an email confirmation, were unsure of their bookings in light of the huge demand, but it appears all were valid.
Mr Porter said that if there were any lessons in terms of managing demand they would be learned. “What with the weather the way it was, people came in their droves,” he added. “Yes, there was queueing, but then again there always has been; it’s a popular facility, with people coming from far and wide, and the significant increase in the number of people booking online is also welcome.”
The Leisureplex, he said, was one of a number of jewels in Lisburn’s crown, all of which he hoped would bring even more people into the city over the summer.
“I drove past Wallace Park several times over the holiday period, for instance, and the crowds there were amazing,” he said. “People are showing with their feet the value of our investments.”