The harsh truth...

Discussion in 'Your Alton Towers Trip Reports and Plans' started by LiamT, 20th Mar 2017.

  1. LiamT

    LiamT TowersStreet Member

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    Hi all,

    I don't post here often but when I stayed in the Alton Towers Hotel recently, it got me thinking and I need to share my experience with you all.

    I've been a ride enthusiast since 2010, but visiting Alton Towers since birth! I've never got the opportunity to stay in the Alton Towers Hotel till last week, but I wish I had stayed sooner.

    The term 'cash cow park*' is used a lot to describe Chessington but I feel Alton Towers is the true cash cow, upon arriving at the hotel, it was dead (admittedly we did stay out of season but that was the only time you can get a reasonable priced room!).

    We booked the standard explorer room, but I was interested to see if we could upgrade to the moon voyager room, just because I've heard that the explorer rooms are stale and dated. 'Yes of course sir, that'll be an additional £50!' £50? Interesting as when I looked online, the price difference was only £20, I declined and left it at that!

    Once being refused our keys till 3pm (in a empty hotel) we made our way to the waterpark through the abandoned splash landings... depressing to say least, all this while we saw the construction site of ANOTHER hotel.

    Once we finished with the waterpark, all other attractions were closed so I had a walk around the closed enchanted village... another depressing site. We got to finally be allowed into the room. Yes it was dated and we only had two plugs, but you had an decent amount of extras provided in the room.

    Time for dinner, which we was pushed to book a time for at reception. Being one of three tables in the entire secret garden restaurant, I'd expect service to be quicker but alas, all the staff seemed new. Our food tasted great but certainly not worth the price, even with MAP discount I still felt like I needed to sell a kidney.

    Now one kidney less, we watched the entertainment, the singer was fantastic with crowd (me and two other people) but I enjoyed myself. After she had finished and spoke to us... there was nothing left to do, so I guess it's an early 9pm bedtime!...
    In the morning, I was awoken by the sound of lovely construction vehicles, went down for breakfast but not before housekeeping were banging down your door, almost waiting for you to leave!
    Breakfast was great, quiet and full English so I can't complain, once back in the room we had housekeeping knocking on the door again, kicking us out.

    They were almost escorting this woman from her room, for a hotel that prides itself on being 'premium' I'd expect not to be kicked out the door one hour before check out!

    And that was it, we had a drink outside the construction sit... sorry garden and home we went.

    Alas I felt disappointed and I don't know if that is because I work in hotels (I'm currently writing this post at work during the night shift - don't tell my boss!) or because I realized that Alton Towers isn't the magically place I thought it was, and the hotels are truly just cash first, guest second.

    Thank you for taking your time to read this.

    Liam T

    *cash cow park - a park which sole purpose is to bring revenue in.
     
    Posted 20th Mar 2017
    #1
  2. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    Some of which I totally can relate to, and it is a shame the place has got to be like this when they seem hell bent on building more and more accommodation, yet unable to fill it. I cant say I have ever seen housekeeping act like that, and usually having "do not disturb" on the door tends to do the trick, but totally agree that 10am check out is just ridiculous. I cant think of any other hotels which have such an early check out. Your bog standard travel lodge I believe is 12pm. Anyway, if they were keen to force someone out of their room at 9am, then I would expect the room occupant to have kicked up a fuss.

    Also with the room upgrades, this is also sad because once upon a time you could wangle yourself a cheap or sometimes, even a free upgrade if the hotel was quiet. Seems to be no longer the case.

    Must be difficult working there at the moment as an employee when the place feels so.... ummm..... flat.... wonder if its always like this closed season or if its like it particularly this year.
     
    Posted 21st Mar 2017
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  3. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Do not stay at the Alton Towers Resort until after the new hotel is open/Splash is back.

    It is depressing.

    Just visit for the day, instead.
     
    Posted 5th Apr 2017
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  4. Jordan

    Jordan TS Contributor

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    There are very few hotels in the world where, if you turned up to their restaurant and it was completely empty, they would still tell you they were fully booked and turn you away.

    Alas, that was what happened to us at the Alton Towers Hotel on Sunday night.

    Merlin ought to contract out the management to a decent hotel operator (like the original Chessington hotel) and be done with it. The guest experience would be substantially better as a result.
     
    Jonathan and Rob like this.
    Posted 7th Apr 2017
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  5. Poopoohead

    Poopoohead TowersStreet Member

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    Happened to me before that, flambos literally 1/4 full but apparently fully booked with no possibility of a table
     
    Posted 14th Apr 2017
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  6. bluesonichd

    bluesonichd TowersStreet Member

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    Re restaurant booking : When you go at say 7pm it may look empty but they have all tables booked for 8pm so it's fully booked. Unless you want them to kick you out when the next bookings arrive.
    The restaurant have no idea how long you are going to take eating your dinner and occupying the table.
     
    Posted 14th Apr 2017
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  7. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    The colloquial term is "business".
     
    AndrewH likes this.
    Posted 14th Apr 2017
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  8. DiogoJ42

    DiogoJ42 TowersStreet Member

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    I've had times when we have booked a table... that day... only to turn up and find the restaurant closed.
     
    Jonathan likes this.
    Posted 15th Apr 2017
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  9. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    We were (5 of us) turned away at the till of Coffee Lounge yesterday at 5.04pm.

    There were still lots of people about, and they could have made some extra £.

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
     
    Posted 15th Apr 2017
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  10. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    Perhaps Merlin aren't solely about money then...
     
  11. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Stop twisting the argument.

    You know exactly what point my post was trying to make.

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
     
    b2311e, MattyH, Bert2theSpark and 2 others like this.
  12. themeparkfan

    themeparkfan TowersStreet Member

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    Good point I've said this about thousand times but I'll say it again. You have thousands of people ready for tea after a busy day of fun and what would a businessman do? I know send them on their way to spend money elsewhere! ! What a wasted opportunity. If explorers or woodcutters opened an hour after ride close they would make another few thousand quid to improve turnover. But I guess merlin are too busy dreaming up their next hotel

    Sent from my SM-J320FN using Tapatalk
     
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  13. DiogoJ42

    DiogoJ42 TowersStreet Member

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    If there was a Merlin anthem, it would be this:


    (complete with Illuminati symbolism)
     
    MattyH likes this.
  14. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    The problem Merlin have is they fixate on operating budget and this reduces profit as guests can't give away their money, lower budgets is in theory lower risk. To compensate for the lower take per head this causes they then have to dramatically overprice the products they do sell.

    Sensible budget setting is key part of running a business but appearances suggest Merlin take it to the extreme and if I was a shareholder I would be worried that profit margins are suffering for it. It's the same situation as having a closed hotel, budgets are lower so risk is theoretically reduced but income is also decreased.

    Doesn't to me seem a healthy business model but it's often something a company does if they are thinking of either selling off assetts or increasing the proportion of public shares.
     
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  15. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I know you have raised some points about the age of the original rooms at the ATH (22 years ago I don't think we needed as many plug sockets!) but I am also wondering what your expectations were? You went outside of the theme park season, so you knew the theme park is closed and the waterpark will be on short hours. Everything that should have been open was open and that is why I wouldn't bother staying overnight when there theme park is closed, there isn't anything else to do.

    I get that there was a lot of service issues such as the slow service in an empty restaurant and housekeeping coming too early but in terms of having nothing to do, that is part of the issue of going outside of theme park season.

    Although I do think the water park should be open to 9pm Saturdays and school holidays so people can go in after the theme park closes.

    I stayed at the ATH for the first time in years last year, on the Sunday following fireworks, we checked in at 8:30am, had a great day on park, got back to the hotel at 9:30, a drink with entertainment in the bar until 10:45pm then bedtime. In the morning, breakfast (and I agree that there was too many housekeepers about before 10am) and then we did Extraordinary Golf as the park was then closed on the Monday. Had a great stay and only issue we had was similar one to you of not enough plug sockets. Oh and a wait at the bar due to a barrel needing changing.
     
  16. Tim

    Tim TowersStreet Member

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    The trouble with this situation is that the park only closes at 9pm for about a fortnight each year. Most days everything is closed by 5, so you'd expect the Hotels to offer something that can keep you amused for the missing hours. Having the water park open would be the obviouce example.

    You've gone from one extreme to another by comparing a closed season visit to a 9pm close.
     
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  17. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    Yes I know. But I did say that the water park should be open to 9pm on Saturdays and school holidays during the theme park season to give guests something to do in the evening. Or even just making last admission to extraordinary golf 8pm instead of the current one hour after park close which means it can even be hard to get last rides in at the park and get to golf before it closes. As long as it is daylight until 9pm it only costs them one member of staff to keep golf open later!

    But in general during theme park season you should be on park to at least 5pm, so dinner at 6:30 and bar entertainment 8-10pm, yes it's not loads going on but it's ok. Whereas when the park is closed and water park closes at 4pm then it isn't possible to fill all the evening and I would say it's not worth staying overnight just for the water park.
     
  18. belongstothesmiler

    belongstothesmiler TowersStreet Member

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    Although AT hotel doesn't offer much even in the main season, it still has a lot to offer compared to other hotels in the area. We stayed two nights last year in the b and b just outside the AT gates and found ourselves back at the room by 5.30/6 with nothing to do/ no where within walking distance. So we drove back into AT and ate at the rollercoaster restaurant and then went and had a drink in the AT hotel before driving back to the hotel even then it was only just 9.30pm and ended up sat in the room watching tv. The second night we ate in the pizza place at splash landings and did a similar thing (hung around the hotel) as at least there is something going on. What i'm trying to say is within the area it does have the best offering particularly for families with kids. When I visited during scarefest we stayed at the premier inn uttoxeter but due to late opening we didn't get back to hotel till almost 10pm via McDonalds. So merlin probably see that if they open late less people will stay on site as there would be no need for entertainment etc. as people would be about ready for bed by the time the park closed.
     
    Posted 1st May 2017
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  19. themeparkfan

    themeparkfan TowersStreet Member

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    OK we stayed at holiday Inn express at Stoke £60 for 4 including breakfast talked to lots of MAP guys at breakfast this morning lots of potential money going elsewhere hope merlin shareholders are happy with this? ?

    Sent from my SM-J320FN using Tapatalk
     
    e4kenndr likes this.
    Posted 1st May 2017
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  20. bluesonichd

    bluesonichd TowersStreet Member

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    maybe they are only staying there due to ATH and EV being totally booked out all this weekend ? that will make the shareholders happy :)
     
    Posted 1st May 2017
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