General Hotel Discussion

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dave, 12th Jan 2014.

  1. Islander

    Islander TowersStreet Member

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    If you're looking for a corporate venue for your conference, considering a theme park setting is your first mistake...
     
  2. venny

    venny TowersStreet Member

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    There has been a perpetual erosion of the service and value of the hotels. We used to stay 3-4 times a year. We now stay never.

    Some examples:

    - entertainment quality has severely reduced.
    - room cleanliness has gone downhill
    - food quality and choice has been reduced. No themed menus, food is borderline acceptable on a good day.
    - Breakfast is an abomination. You prebook and yet the queue to enter is now bigger than ever. How did they manage the queue better when people didn’t prebook.
    - coffee used to be drinkable, in a cafetière and served to the table
    - the selection of breakfast items is the absolute minimum they can get away with. Far reduced from years past.
    - water park entry used to be included and exclusive for hotel guests.
    - as others have said, the freebies in the room use to be a nice extra. Of course, now gone.
    - bar “service” is woeful. The waiters used to provide table service, you now have a 30 minute single file queue.
    - There actually used to be a proper wine list.
    - ERT cut in half
    - Fasttrack cut altogether
    - Vouchers cut
    - Bellmen cut
    - and on and on...
     
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  3. siralgenon

    siralgenon TowersStreet Member

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    There used to be a 7 piece live-band on the ship for most nights, now you're lucky if you have one person singing to a CD.
     
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  4. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I agree with most of these, the breakfast selection is the biggest problem I think I've found, they have just one flavour of low quality jam and very little fruit out (just watermelon and orange segments) when I was last there. They really need to improve the selection even if not the quality. In good news though the Nescafe machines are gone, the coffee in 2019 was better (and its the same bean to cup machines on-park too now). When the selection and quality is better at a Premier Inn it doesn't make ATH feel like a quality product.
    The bar is just weird, why do people form that queue, its never really been obvious that it should be a single file queue but people just do it? I've never known it to offer waited service in the last 20 years though?

    I've heard even worse horror stories of breakfast booking issues back in the 90s when it used to be a thing to meet in the atrium at 9am and the hotel staff led people into the park via the woodland walk. I've heard several people couldn't get breakfast before then and felt like they missed out, so I think they just can't cope if everyone wants an early breakfast, not sure why they didn't build enough capacity for the entire hotel to eat before 9am, knowing most people will be going into the park.

    The porters/bellmen are some of the best staff at ATH though, Mick welcomed us warmly last visit and looked after our luggage promptly. That they will take luggage to the room as soon as its available is one of the best little extras where ATH actually gives better service than Disney.

    Really? I've always known it to be just a couple of singers, plus the pirate for the kids earlier in the evening. I do remember there was a great caberet style entertainer in a shiny jacket back in the 2000s. I cannot remember their name.
    Actually when thinking about it I do remember seeing guitars and similar at one point. I was thinking orchestra not band when reading when your comment!
     
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  5. AT86

    AT86 TowersStreet Member

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    Dickie Hart?
     
  6. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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  7. siralgenon

    siralgenon TowersStreet Member

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    Yes there used to be fully themed shows throughout the year with projections on the walls and ceilings, three singers, a live band and detailed costumes. It was a reason to stay at the hotels alone. @James will remember the good times :tearsofjoy:





    They were all through the year but Scarefest ones are easier to find.
     
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  8. jmc

    jmc TowersStreet Member

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    The last time I stayed at the hotel I ordered a ‘cocktail’ at the bar, for the barman to brazenly pour it entirely from a pre packaged pouch and charge something like £8 for the privilege.

    Certainly no desire to go back at all.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
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  9. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I think the recent singers have been almost as good and I don't think having a live band adds a huge amount but it does show how the quality of the product has declined. In my mind though it has always just been three singers on the ship, I think i just blocked the live band members from memory!
    It does feel like since they have opened more hotels, the entertainment budget has stayed the same but been stretched further to cover more venues, therefore the scope of the ATH show has been reduced and the simplest thing to do to start with is to remove the live band. Would be nice if they did just work on the lighting a bit more again though so it is more like a thought out show rather than a random selection of songs.
     
  10. djtruefitt

    djtruefitt TS Site Team Team Member

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    I usually find it depends what techie is on in ATH as to how the lighting show is, there are one or two great ones who will make the lights go with the show and songs. Yet other ones who will simply leave the lights on the same programme for the whole show.

    As for the recent singers, I find most of them are fine, and you do usually get two or even three singers most nights, I’ve even been in closed season and seen three singers when the hotels are dead.
     
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  11. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    I remember when ATH used to have table service for the drinks and you didnt even need to get up to go to the bar. As for the band and the entertainment, Alton have a bit of a problem here. While yes the entertainment in the past was excellent, they also started getting a lot of complaints about noise from the rooms closest to the atrium.
     
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  12. James

    James TS Founding Member

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    Entertainment in ATH has reduced a lot over the years. In the 90s there was 'The Magic Makers', Alton Towers answer to the Red Coats. They would do a mini disco with kids, arts and crafts around the ship and do their own show with singing and dancing. In later years you had Dickie Hart and Tanya Hyde, more of a cabaret and drag act. Tanya was the manageress of the Alton Towers Hotel and usually started off the night stumbling down the stairs falling on to a poor soul at the bottom of the stairs (usually an attractive man). Then you had Pirate Bill the children's entertainer who was there for an eternity, I felt his act got a bit dated in the later years before he retired but he was brilliant, very friendly person.

    There were a few different forms of entertainment thrown in-between these, my memory gets a bit more vague as the years go on. In the 90s there was a heavy focus on characters and them having links to the hotel, whether it was the hotel manageress, or the hotel gardener, the magic makers that 'make' the Alton Towers Magic...

    In more recent years as @siralgenon has pointed out the hotel had a full piece band which really added a great atmosphere. The hotel never had lighting rigs and these appeared around the time entertainment stepped up a notch with the band, which added a lot more of an atmosphere.

    The singers these days are by no means appalling, however there has been a huge drop in what the hotel offers in terms of entertainment. Much like the theme park it was at the forefront in the 90s, not so much now.

    They've experimented with a band performing in the Conference Centre in the past and I think that was a good way forward for alleviating the noise complaints in ATH. I'm surprised they haven't given that another go in more recent years given we now have the Enchanted Village, as it could suit as a good central base for entertainment in the evenings. All they need to do is advertise heavily throughout the accommodation. This idea would of course be best for school holidays and peak periods only.

    ---

    The single file queue for Dragon Bar is always odd. I've never found service great/quick, even in the glory days. I wonder whether people perceive the service as worse due to the removal of table service.

    Table service disappeared around the early 2000s. My most recent memory of it existing was in 2004/05. Having drinks (and snacks!) brought to the table was great and it's a huge shame this service no longer exists.

    I think the breakfast setup as works now is OK. It's usually peak time around 8-8:30 where you have to queue. I always go the minute it opens, no queue and the majority of the time staff leave you to sit where you please. While breakfast has improved slowly in recent years (2019 was mildly better) I do miss how much better it was. Many moons ago breakfast would change every single year, one year you would get fresh ground coffee or a pot of tea brought to your table, one year you would get a platter of hot pastries and bakes, and one year they brought all hot food on a stand (sausages, egg, bacon, mushrooms and beans) and you wouldn't need to leave the table at all. That last one season!
     
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  13. TheBolt

    TheBolt TowersStreet Member

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    I always wonder if they could invest in better doors for the rooms, which offered decent sound proofing from the corridor noise?
    Joining the two main hotel's with the corridor made the rooms on that route particularly noisy.
     
  14. djtruefitt

    djtruefitt TS Site Team Team Member

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    I hunk the main issue with the hotels now, is they keep adding more and more rooms, but we’ve not gained any new entertainment or food outlets. Certainly not enough for all the guests if the hotels are full. The original plans to expend the enchanted village (before the sheds came) was to extend the crooked spoon, add some food vans, and also a entertainment area behind the crooked spoon, which would have been great.

    Of course the cheaper option was the sheds and tipi, which is just awful. Boiling when it’s hot and freezing when cold. Serving bottle beer or cans of coke in plastic glasses, at premium prices.
     
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  15. RoyJess

    RoyJess TowersStreet Member

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    I don't think the problem is the doors, (which should be fire proof so would be solid) it's the walls, they are thin stud walls
     
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  16. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I think its only the sheds that were added without additional restaurant provision (although I think the crooked spoon isn't big enough for all the lodges). Of course if they were proper camping, could bring your own stove and cook dinner.
    If they added another outlet to give the sheds a proper restaurant/bar plus additional toilets, it would help a lot.
     
  17. djtruefitt

    djtruefitt TS Site Team Team Member

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    I think the issue is the crooked spoon isn’t really big enough for all the lodges, and then you have the issues with people just wanting a pint. The hotel bars have always been an issue when it’s busy, now you have the lodges and the sheds all trying to get in the bars, plus many CBeebies hotel guests who also use the other hotels rather than their own.
     
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  18. Ben

    Ben TS Founding Member

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    Its one of the few times when I've seen Merlin / Towers have people desperate to spend money and just go "meh".

    I know the Tent was trialled at the sheds, but you can get more substantial ones (see Thors Tipi bars that hit winter and summer markets in cities). An outdoor or remote bottle / spirits bar is easy to set up, fridges and glasses not much more.

    To give some credit the resort have tried things in the past such as Emperors (I think) next the Dragon Bar as premium dining venue, the Conference Centre was used one summer for a bar and pizzas - but was just an odd place I think, Margs has tried a buffet / set meal / pizza variant.

    Essentially though they desperately need more permanent, fixed dining venues. Maybe if we ever get a proper 'village' area there might be some external brands. come in, thinking TGI Fridays, Nandos, Wagamama. Places that are family friendly. Pay rent to towers for the buildings and give Towers an easy option out of the mess they are currently in with consistently expanding rooms but not food offerings.
     
  19. Kraken27

    Kraken27 TowersStreet Member

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    The "external brands" are highly unlikely to happen. Towers have gone full-circle on this, even before Merlin came onto the scene.

    Pre-1998 at Towers, all the catering was operated in-house. Complaints about poor quality & high prices were commonplace. So in 1998, Towers / Tussauds bought in the "brand partners" - namely McDonalds, KFC & Pizza Hut. Whilst this food may have not been to every guests liking, it was the same as they could get on the high street & the prices were broadly in line with outside the park. This deal ran for 10years.

    After 10yrs, Towers / Tussauds / whoever was in charge wanted to crank the rents on the units up through the roof for a new deal. All 3 brand partners walked away & Karali - a Burger King franchisee - was willing to pay the inflated rent to take on the burger & fries side of the catering - their food prices to guests reflected this. Towers / Tussauds / whoever provided the fried chicken & pizza / pasta option.

    When the Burger King deal with Karali expired, Karali walked away. Merlin now had complete control of the on-park catering offer - with the exception of Eastern Express at Towers (how this survived is beyond me - I dread to think what rent they are paying on the unit).

    So now Merlin have pretty much complete control of all the catering in the parks & hotels, economies of scale were sought. The food offer on-park & in the hotels became more and more similar, the quality started to fall - quite dramatically in places - whilst the prices remained high.

    Towers / Merlin could go down the route of bringing in new franchise partners using a third party such as SSP (given todays announcements from SSP re: job losses, they would doubtless welcome the business). Center Parcs use SSP to run some of the food & beverage units - and I can tell you the standard of service the SSP units at Center Parcs offer falls well short of the mark. Just read TripAdvisor reviews of Center Parcs villages - where one or more food & bev units are getting pretty much constant poor reviews, it's a safe bet it's a SSP one.

    Having said the above, the lack of bar facilities for the on-site overnight guests to get a drink in a timely manner beggars belief. The profit margin on alcohol sales is pretty high & Merlin are normally only too happy to empty a guests waller / purse as much as possible. They are missing a huge trick here.
     
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  20. Alsty

    Alsty TowersStreet Member

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    The irony is that the food was probably better under the franchisees than it is under Merlin, and that's not saying much when you think where a McDonalds sits in the culinary spectrum.

    In terms of resort restaurants, I think Secret Garden is perhaps the outlier. Everything else is mediocre at best.
     
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