The Hotels: A deep-seated culture of mediocrity

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AstroDan, 26th Sep 2021.

  1. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    The Hotels: A deep-seated culture of mediocrity

    You know, there are times when you front up in your life and deal with deep-seated issues, which have become part of the very fabric of your everyday existence. Whether it’s a bad habit over many years of too much slouching on a sofa, McDonald’s more than you really should or just a couple of glasses of wine every night after work. It’s only after these things have been going on for a while that you might start to think - you know what - this can’t go on and has to change.

    Looking at the resort accommodation at Alton Towers - with exception to CBeebies Land Hotel of which I have no experience whatsoever - I feel now is the time for a root and branch overhaul of everything that they ostensibly are. And what they see as their goals for the future.

    It’s no secret that the short break/hotel/hospitality market in the UK has been dramatically affected by the staycation boom and by the difficulties around recruitment caused by a multitude of issues - but in truth, many of the observations of the hotels have been slowly bubbling since before Covid-19 was even born. And, as the theme park starts to really look at itself as a ‘destination day out’ with a lively line-up of seasonal events making up for the stunted level of Capital Expenditure in new rides and attractions, the hotels seem to be struggling by - and even if there’s been some improvement since earlier this year in service, the actual picture of what they are doing is still down on the past and down on where it ought to be. To be blunt - this is a pretty harsh account of what it has become but nonetheless is meant with the absolute best of intentions.

    Details big and small - the hotels have been systematically ‘downgraded’ at nearly every level over the past few years. Let’s dig in a little.

    Breakfast is a prime example of where it’s all going horribly wrong. Forget the staffing situation, guests at Alton Towers are probably paying more for their B&B at Splash Landings (or other) than they have for any other hotel during the year. Therefore, to arrive at the breakfast venue at your allotted time to be met with a 20 minute queue, a restaurant full of tables that haven’t been cleared, a young member of staff on the entrance being subjected to abuse from Karens just isn’t what you want to see to get your ‘magical day’ off to the best start. Then, even when you do enter - the broken coffee machines, lack of available cups and glasses, messy serving areas, general sense of ‘get this sustenance down me as soon as is humanely possible and get me out of here’.... It’s hardly worthy of the £2-300 per room, per night that many guests are paying and certainly not worthy of the grand name of Alton Towers. Furthermore, the plastic wrapped croissants and pain au chocolats adds to the woe, wondering how Merlin’s corporate responsibility can possibly hit any sort of target when the wrappings are all wholly non-recyclable. The cardboard boxes strewn behind the buffet counter with the next 100 packed pastries not a good look as you ask exactly how fresh these products really are.

    A pre-packed pastry straight out of the box on offer at Flambo's for breakfast - don't expect this packaging to recycle either!
    [​IMG]

    It would be fair to say that the quality of the food provided at breakfast has declined in recent years - probably in the name of ‘the group’ as they seek to lower costs by ordering from a common supplier, leaving Alton exposed to the very mediocre quality that gets shipped their way from wherever it comes. Sure, not all food and beverage at the hotel is poor. Secret Garden still offers some well crafted dishes at appropriate prices. Yet, somehow, in the past few years, the box-like Crooked Spoon restaurant has actually overtaken Secret Garden prices - with the steak there now several pounds dearer in what was originally designed as a Woodcutters+ restaurant. It certainly doesn’t have that premium feel unlike the original restaurant in Alton Towers Hotel.

    The Secret Garden restaurant serves this dish - whilst small, this level of quality is more like it and suggests care at every level. Talent is out there, it's just caged far too often.
    [​IMG]

    Bar service has also taken a significant nose dive whilst prices have risen sharply in the past few years. Some beers are now well over £6 per pint and cocktails upwards of £9. All OK if the product served matches the price paid but, as has become commonplace now, they just aren’t. Ordering a Gin Bramble at Ma Garritas bar quickly became a blunder when I saw what was served. Crushed Ice? Blackberries? Mint sprigs? Forget it all. A complete lack of staff training and lack of a brand standard that one of the major chain hotels would have (such as Marriott/IHG/Hilton) because, well, it would seem Merlin just don’t have the expertise. You only have to look at how the staffing quality/training has downgraded down at Chessington since IHG left. OK - the beers themselves at the hotels are largely fine for what they are, and the wines are the wines (current shortages in wine selection is forgivable due to the nationwide delivery problems) but even then it’s usually all very safe and down the middle.

    This Gin Bramble 'cocktail' looks more like a Ribena. No finesse. No care. No nothing. £9. See what Google Images thinks a Bramble should look like.
    [​IMG]

    Another thorn in the side is the hours of operation. Steadily, over the past 5-10 years, we’ve seen bar service hours eroded significantly. Dragon Bar was always a casualty of its location too close to bedrooms, and therefore has always closed by 11.30pm but, with the room rates paid, bar staff always pointed the stragglers to Splash Landings, where drinks would flow until 1am or even later at times- serving right through until there were just a small handful of people left ensuring that everyone had the experience that they wanted. But not anymore. First it was 12.30am. Then a couple of years ago it was midnight. And now? Last orders called at 11pm with the bar still quite full and, as a consequence, a huge queue forming as guests clamoured for drinks before getting back to their bedrooms as the fun was curtailed. With the rates charge, Alton Towers should be offering a late bar on site without any question whatsoever. Even the ‘all night pizza menu’ which was quite literally that, was unavailable beyond 11.15pm this weekend as the chef had gone and the ovens were off. A real regression and not something you would get at an equivalent hotel in a town or city near you.

    Call last orders at 11pm - and this is what you get - queue! These people weren't ready to go to bed.[​IMG]

    And it’s not only that. The general tolerance and culture around the hotels now allows for problems to persist longer than they should. A cracked, broken, wobbly toilet seat in Splash Landings toilets? Check. Broken room fan? Check. Damp problems on the ground floor of Splash Landings? Check. Broken effects here and there? Check. The fountain outside Splash Landings needing a clean because it’s covered in muck? Check. With such a litany of matters arising, you’d half expect the staff to be miserable but, somehow, a beacon of hope is that you’ll never come across a rude member of staff. It’s not finding a smile that is the difficulty, it’s just the deep-rooted culture that sits beneath everything the hotels are and everything they do.

    This cracked, broken, wobbly toilet seat should have been spotted by cleaners immediately, the cubicle closed while the problem rectified.
    [​IMG]

    You may also be looking for evidence of blatant ‘making the experience worse’. Well, there’s a few. High quality Borders biscuits in the bedrooms? Sorry - they went a couple of years ago and now all you’ll get is the cheapest-on-the-market Coronet custard creams. Branded Splash Landings soaps and shower gels? Not any more. Seeing staff on their phones whilst on the job? Par for the course now. Live band for entertainment? No. Just replaced with basic singers who, whilst well intentioned by themselves, is hardly the quality you’d expect given the venue you’re at.

    All of this stuff really comes down to the fact that the leadership hasn’t insisted on a level being met at hotels over a long, long time. Five years. Maybe even getting on for ten years now, Too often, even if some good experiences can be found here and there, standards are not met and, given the prices paid, the hotels are now more often than not, an experience that is inadequate for the behemoth that the resort is within the tourist industry in this country. These are resort theme park hotels. To compare with many other resorts would be an insult to those resorts yet prices at Alton are equal to or in many cases higher. This season more than ever. Without a root and branch re-assessment of the hotels performance, offering and raison d'être, the Alton Towers Hotel and Splash Landings hotel will just sink in to the background and probably sit at a mediocre level on review sites until the end of time. Getting away with it because ‘the kids like it’ isn’t enough to wash. The resort hotels should be consistently better but as it stands, your money is taken and the care for what you get at the end is simply missing.

    Coronavirus hasn’t helped any of this, but it’s not an excuse they can rely on for long - and it certainly wasn’t an excuse before it happened. Serious questions should be asked by management at all levels - right up to the top. Because although some questions are no doubt asked, the answers simply aren't forthcoming.

    The biggest insult I can throw at the hotels right now?

    I don't stay there because it's magical or because the service is exceptional. I stay there because it's convenient.
     
    Last edited: 26th Sep 2021
    Jonathan, djtruefitt, Cheese and 26 others like this.
    Posted 26th Sep 2021
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  2. AT86

    AT86 TowersStreet Member

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    I want to stay onsite, and would happily pay premium rates to do so. However I haven’t done since 2018 when our visit was tainted by poor food service at both dinner and breakfast. It left a sour taste (literally and figuratively) and I haven’t been inclined to stay over onsite since.

    I did submit a complaint following that visit and received a copy and paste reply stating how staff are fully trained to deliver excellent service. Sure.

    Shame to see things don’t appear to have changed - it feels like the staff are just dropped in the deep end with little or no training and that this is acceptable to the company.

    We recently stayed in the local area and enjoyed that experience far more than our last onsite stay.
     
    Last edited: 26th Sep 2021
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    Posted 26th Sep 2021
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  3. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    Great article and spot on. I last stayed at the resort hotels about 3 years ago and vowed not to return. Poor service, lack of facilities in the room, poor cleaning, dirty towels and mattress - all for all at least 4 times the price of a premier inn down the road.

    It really saddens me because a stay in ATH was so exciting, even for an adult. The hotels have a certain vibe about them even now but for me that more vanishes once I get in the room, go for my evening meal, watch the “entertainment” , get woken at 5am by the noise in the corridors and enjoy my morning queue at breakfast.

    I have a much better experience at the B&B down the road which currently costs a third of one night in any of the resort hotels (except the sheds).

    Years ago staying the hotels was really special. The perks you got, the entertainment, the food, the service, it was a premier fun experience of which I didn’t mind paying a bit extra for.

    It’s not anymore, it’s now a budget experience at a premier price. I would even dispute the budget experience actually given premier inn and travel lodge nearby provide better rooms.

    Makes me so sad because going to the hotels was always the highlight of any visit to Alton towers. I have so so many good memories there since my first visit when ATH opened.

    I’m not alone sadly, if you read the reviews of the hotels on Tripadvisor over the past few years they are shocking. Even Alton have stopped replying to them like they used to. For the prices being paid people could have stayed in a Hilton for which they would get a decent service and experience, but lately it seems Merlin don’t care about the guest experience.

    Unfortunately this will only bite them in years to come as people turn their backs and take their money elsewhere. I appreciate businesses need to recuperate their losses through the pandemic and the theme park side of things has been brilliant this year - but the hotels leave a lot to be desired.

    Splash landings should be your equivalent of a premier inn, enchanted village like a decent high end Centre Parks and ATH like a Sofitel or Hilton - in terms of star ratings, service, professionalism, formality, rooms, amenities and service for the price paid. At the moment they are more like Fawlty Towers.
     
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  4. Craig

    Craig TS Administrator Team Member

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    Completely and 100% agree with everything said here, Covid has only accelerated what was already a sustained and extremely noticeable decline in quality over the years.

    To me a hotel offering bed and breakfast for all should have their morning offering as something to leave a lasting positive impression on guests. That was the case many years ago. The food was relatively decent quality and really enjoyable.

    Now, what we have now is the race to the bottom of absolutely terrible tasteless food. Bacon which is the cheapest of cheap, lumped into an unrecognisable mess into a cast iron pot. Sausages which are perhaps some of the absolute worst I think I’ve ever tasted - just grey “matter”, I’m not sure they would even allowed to legally be referred to as sausages. Scrambled egg with zero seasoning, mushrooms which seem to be boiled in water with no butter. Beans which are cheap and watery as hell and bread which is the lowest possible quality they could obtain from the caterers.

    This is a set of hotels which are on many nights costing more than some of the high end places in the UK’s big cities. Prices have risen astronomically, yet the quality of the breakfast offering has been stomped into the ground. A decent breakfast can be done for a decent price. Look at Farmhouse Inns and Premier Inns who both offer unlimited breakfasts, even Toby Carvery! They all offer breakfasts which whilst not the top quality, they are at least edible and much, much better presented. There’s now so much more accommodation at the resort, they should be increasing quality of breakfasts not reducing it as the higher number of guests give them the opportunity to benefit from buying at greater scale. They’re completely capable of good, well presented food as demonstrated by Dan’s SGR photo, so to have such awful breakfasts is inexcusable and nothing short of blatant profiteering.

    The bar situation is just as bad. They may blame Covid staffing levels, but the point is there were still staff around after last orders had been called. There’s a core night team who should be more than capable of serving drinks overnight. I’m not talking about blasting music out until the early hours, but some people like to relax with a few drinks, especially if the park has been open late and you’ve gone for a meal afterwards. There’s currently barely any opportunity to sit back and relax if you have one of those late dinner sittings.

    It’s a vicious circle that the resort side of things has gotten into, because it’s not Covid that’s the root cause of their staffing problems, it’s the behaviour of upper management. They’ve let standards and their offering fall so much which results in a shed load of complaints. Instead of addressing them, they leave the staff to deal with a tirade of negative guest comments. The established staff end up leaving as a result of listening to this endless feedback which is landing into a black hole of nothing. As a result, you end up with more and more inexperienced staff coming in to replace them. Honestly, I feel for anyone working on the resort side of things at the moment. It must be absolutely soul destroying to see and hear the same comments week in and week out without a single thing done to address it.
     
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  5. Kraken27

    Kraken27 TowersStreet Member

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    An absolutely 100% spot-on resume of the Alton Towers Hotels / the "problems" caused by Merlins' dominance in the UK Theme Park Hotel market.

    Just look at the likes of Europa Park or PhantasiaLand to see what can be done - 4* Superior Hotels that actually achieve and maintain this standard. I've been in the buffet restaurant at Hotel Colosseo at Europa Park having an evening meal and a certain Roland Mack was present in the restaurant checking that standards were being maintained. Would you ever see the likes of Nick Varney paying a visit to the Secret Garden restaurant at ATH to check on standards? Err no.

    Thinking back to 1998 I seem to recall that the cardboard ride photo holder for Oblivion had a motto on it along the lines of "pride comes before a fall". Well unless Merlin up their game on the hotels front it won't be long before guests really start to see the product offer for what it is and vote with their feet - especially when international travel opens up further as we hopefully emerge from Covid-19.
     
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  6. Craig

    Craig TS Administrator Team Member

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    Yup, there’s only so long you can have such a massive decline in standards. Sure, you’ll probably still fill the hotels in peak periods as there’s plenty of people who will visit regardless. But in off peak periods when a) you’re relying on regular visitors and b) the issues are much more glaring as you’re spending much more time at the hotels, who’s going to bother visiting? I certainly wouldn’t go shouting about my recent stays there, and in fact actively encouraged people to stay elsewhere if they’re not bothered about having a drink on resort. Because ultimately, that’s now the only reason I stay at the hotels. And yes, I know I could walk to a B+B, but I spend 3 hours getting to the park, so during events having the convenience of an onsite room with friends is my main concern. That said, I’ve already substantially reduced the number of times I stay on resort, and that’s only increasing as the years go on. It’s sad that each stay consists of us joking about the terrible aspects of the place instead of commenting on anything positive going on.

    The short-termism of simply wringing as much money as possible out of guests with zero increase in the quality of the offering needs to stop, and the place needs to start thinking longer term. Encourage guests to return, and in turn make sure they tell their friends and family (and TripAdvisor) about it in the process.
     
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    Posted 26th Sep 2021
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  7. Alsty

    Alsty TowersStreet Member

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    Standards have deteriorated across all the Merlin parks and hotels, it's not specifically Alton Towers.

    I've often wondered whether the managers are oblivious to the problems, whether they know about them but choose not to do anything, or whether they know and want to fix them but lack the ability and support from others in the organisation to get them resolved. Maybe it's a mix of all three.

    Ultimately it's for management to set and uphold the brand standards. The fact the problems exist so widely suggests to me that the management at the most senior levels is weak and ineffective, and this filters down through the organisation. Good leadership has to come from the top.
     
    Posted 26th Sep 2021
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  8. pluk

    pluk TowersStreet Member

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    I've not stayed in the hotels for years. Since then they've managed to make the bars and bar service even worse than they were then? Holy hell. Actually impressive if they've managed to get lower.
     
    Posted 26th Sep 2021
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  9. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    2021 has been the worst service standard at the hotels ever whilst being the most expensive.

    Sent from my SM-G991B using Tapatalk
     
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  10. JAperson

    JAperson TowersStreet Member

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    As much as I have never stayed in the hotels I do find it strange that Merlin, who've been so big on investments in the accommodation department, don't focus more on the general customer experience. I would have assumed that the hotels were incredibly well run and cared for. They've been the focus of Merlin's strategy for years so I naturally assumed they were the best part of the resort. Reading this thread has obviously opened my eyes. I hope a complete revamp is on the way as it seems most of these issues' are just lots of relatively minor issues' which probably just require a better manager and some more cash from Merlin (unlikely I know).
     
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  11. Kraken27

    Kraken27 TowersStreet Member

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    Just take a look at the TripAdvisor reviews for the Alton Towers Hotel... there is a VERY common theme that seems to run through most of the reviews.
     
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  12. Rose Of Dawn

    Rose Of Dawn TowersStreet Member

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    Last time I stayed at the hotels was for opening 2019. The early closure of all the bars is probably the defining memory of that trip (“All that she wants/is another beverage/after 11!”). Whilst I understand they'll go for the Covid excuse, I’m honestly surprised this hasn’t become enough of a problem with groups of young people for the resort to take notice. I somehow doubt those in their early twenties are toddling off straight to sleep, to have fantabulous dreams of their day at Alton Towers Resort™. And all that potential lost revenue is bout to keep some of the higher ups up all night, too!

    The prices keep rising as the experience keep getting worse. There’s no point even comparing the resort offerings to the likes of Phantasialand, Europa-Park or even Walt Disney World - because Alton Towers can be more expensive than all three. I’ve seen plenty of times where it’s cheaper to stay at Krønasår than it is to stay in the Stargazing Pods. And two nights at Splash Landings is more expensive than WDW’s All-Star Resorts. I struggle to think of any theme park resort in the world where the cost-to-quality ratio is so bad.
     
  13. Danny

    Danny Gugu Rides’ Number 1 Fan

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    In previous years, retreating from the park at the end of the day to return to the hotel bars never felt like a terrible trade off. This weekend however has particularly highlighted how utterly soulless the resort experience has become, particularly with so much energy in the Oktoberfest event.

    Everything that Dan has highlighted has been quite rightly nailed on the head.

    In addition, however, are the abandoned rope courses, the drab, miserable mini golf with theming falling apart and fading, as well as the overgrowing grass which makes the Stargazing Pods look as if they have been dumped and left to rot in a random field; not at the UK's leading theme park resort.

    The magic may very well feel as if it has crept back into the theme park somewhat this year, but boarding the grotty, screeching monorail trains which horrendously grind their way back to the hotels with views obscured by the grimy, obstructive windows, only to arrive back at an uninspired, uncharacteristic and unappealing resort area, is a dismal way to end the day.
     
  14. jmc

    jmc TowersStreet Member

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    I haven’t stayed in the hotels for a number of years. There was once a time when I saw it as a premium experience, but over time it is clear this has slowly but surely been eroded in all but price.

    There is evidence of cost cutting everywhere; little touches that used to really add to the experience nowhere to be seen any longer. Constant reminders that everything comes at an additional cost, to the point of stickers slapped on bedroom furniture.

    Unfortunately where improvements have been attempted it feels like another victim of the resorts usual approach - fiddle around with and botch what is already there instead of starting from scratch.

    I think the nail in the coffin for me was turning on the very outdated TV to be greeted by a Tesco start up screen (what the hell? Had no idea that was even a thing).
     
    Last edited: 27th Sep 2021
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  15. WillPS

    WillPS TowersStreet Member

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    I've never stayed at the hotels. I always wanted to but by the time I had the money to do it, the experience was clearly in decline.

    For what it's worth, almost every hotel I have stayed at since the pandemic has been worse in almost every way than it was before. The one exception is The Big Blue which for me was the same as before, more or less.

    Everything mentioned here keeps me from even considering Merlin hotels, as things stand. The problem is people keep paying.
     
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  16. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    I've not got much else to add other that what has been said. This was my first time staying over since at the end of the 2019 season and things have gone downhill since then, which is quite something. My main gripes are the breakfast and the evening bar service.

    Breakfast is DIRE. Every item on the hot buffet breakfast is the cheapest and pooresty quality version of that item they can get their hands on. I am not sure the sausages have any meat in them, and they have no flavour. The scrambled egg looked, to be frank, utterly disgusting. It was some egg sitting in what looked like a bowl of water. I did not have any. To only have pastries in packaging that cannot be recyled is simply unacceptable. And the less said about the coffee the better, just bang average and the machine put too much in meaning my cup was overflowing.

    The only good thing about breakfast is that there was a decent banana.

    As for the bar offering/service, this is somethig that has got worse year on year. Gone are the days where you would get nice cocktails crafted by the staff with a night then went on until 2am if you so desired. For Ma Garritas to call last orders at 11pm on a Saturday night, when it was pretty busy, is not only terrible service but it does not make any business sense. I didn't even bother to look at what cocktails were available and stuck to vodka, lemon and limes.

    I must say though, the staff behind the bar were lovely and doing a good job in what were somewhat challenging circumstances.

    I remember back in the early 2010s there was a hotel director who seemed to take pride in the quality of service being provided. I spoke with him on a couple of occasions, and where there were complaints to be made he ensured resolutions would be found. Now all Merlin seem to care about is filling as many hotel rooms with as many people as they can, seeing the cash roll in and not caring about the experience being provided. And because of the location of Alton Towers, alternative accommodation is limited and more awkward to get to than it would be in say a place like Rust. They know they can get away with it, but it is not a good look.
     
  17. venny

    venny TowersStreet Member

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    I feel like I’ve said this a few times, but we used to average about 7-10 nights staying at the resort every year, split between summer, Scarefest and cheap winter weekends. The standards have declined so dramatically over the years, that we now haven’t stayed on site since 2017. We now stay in a B&B in the village.

    When I compare our past stay to some of our first in the mid-2000s, there is an embarrassing amount of decline. Or indeed some stuff which has just not been updated (see some of the room decor). Here are some examples which come to mind:

    - cocktails used to be crafted carefully and themed to the resort. Now you’re lucky to get some vodka added to a premix.

    - water park admission used to be included.

    - the original paintwork in Splash Landings used to be detailed and textured. The repaints are lazy, blocky colours which cheapens the aesthetic.

    - meals used to be top quality in Secret Garden, a real treat. I know standards have picked up a little from their worst, but it now feels like pot luck to eat in there.

    - along with an hour’s ERT, you’d also benefit from free Fastpass.

    - branded toiletries and gifts in the room have all disappeared. Splash used to give you an inflatable drinks holder and wind up swimming penguins, plus a drawstring bag.

    - the less said about the breakfast the better. Remember when you’d be given a cafeterie of coffee on your table? Compare that to the undrinkable coffee now provided.

    - there used to be a full entertainment programme offered in the hotels.

    - table service for your drinks was standard, rather than a 20 minute queue at an understaffed bar.

    And all these issues were from well before Covid. I darent think how a mid-Covid ATH operates.
     
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  18. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    Ahh yes the £9 cocktails!! I last ordered one on my visit 3 years ago. No one knew how to make it. In the end one someone who was either maintenance or security in a scruffy Alton towers fleece came over and said he knew how to make it.

    Put it in a bog standard glass as apparently they didn’t have any cocktail glasses, no trim around the edges or anything to make it special, and quite frankly it didn’t taste special either - but hey it was £9. It was a joke to be honest and I think the staff knew it.

    And as for the breakfast sausages - I think that was a huge reason for me not returning. I don’t think they contain any meat!
     
  19. Craig

    Craig TS Administrator Team Member

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    The problem is that whilst accommodation was a focus for Merlin, that focus was purely a numbers game. When they were a public company, the obsession was with achieving a number of beds at each resort. It didn’t matter on the quality of said beds (hence the Stargazing Pods) as long as that number was achieved. As a result we’ve been left with too many beds without the development of supporting facilities required to deal with those numbers.

    We’ve seen some positives in recent years, with the likes of the moon voyager rooms which are a significant improvement on the tired styling of the old ones. But, that’s introduced even higher prices whilst every other part of the hotel has languished.
    • The atrium area in ATH has had barely any work done to it. We still have (usually) only one bar open, despite there being a significantly higher number of guests heading over there. That’s thanks to Stargazing Pods and the fact that the Enchanted Village has no drinks only option in Crooked Spoon. Again, a massive oversight.
    • The Spa is now a shadow (quite literally) of its former self. Way too dark following the addition of CBeebie’s Hotel, and left with zero investment.

    I will say that SGR is by far my favourite place to eat on resort now. I’ve not had a bad meal in there for some considerable time now, and where there are minor issues they’re solved really quickly with no fussed. The menu is a little light on options in my opinion, and some of the prices are silly (£4 for a sauce?!), but overall it’s one of the few areas of the resort that’s been really good as of late.

    Absolute agree on this. They have had the option for app orders and still have the QR codes on the tables, yet as soon as Covid restrictions have allowed it’s been offline.

    That’s one thing I will disagree on. There’s now just too many people on resort to be able to offer waterpark admission as standard, so I’m fine with it being a paid option. Whilst a waterpark expansion would be lovely, when we were chatting about this over breakfast we’d doubt planning permission would be granted for anything substantial these days as the place is so visible from outside the park as it is. As you said though, the block colours replacing the lovely textured paintwork, especially in the waterpark is very noticeable and a massive downgrade.
     
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  20. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I complained to Wayne Burton, head of customer experience (there used to be a card in the room with his email) back in 2018 about the Nescafe coffee machines at breakfast, much of the rest of it was at least OK. He responded that the machines were being replaced with bean-to-cup, which they were in the park as well for the 2019 season.
    The pastries were at least baked from frozen back then, rather than the defrost and serve cold in Dan's picture above. But many other areas just weren't great even back in 2019, there wasn't really any fruit selection i think it was tinned grapefruit and something else. Jam portions were cheap Brakes own brand and that was it, no Nutella or anything, just cheap jam and cheap marmalade. The Premier Inn breakfast was far far better.

    Edit to add:

    Found my 2018 email to Wayne.

    "There was a card in the hotel room asking for feedback, please can I give feedback on the quality of food at Alton Towers.

    I can sum this up by simply stating that Premier Inn serves a better breakfast than Alton Towers. The first thing that leaves a bad impression is the quality of coffee, the Nescafé syrup coffee is bitter and nasty. Could you not get some bean-to-cup machines instead? The hot breakfast is just okay, but the bacon could be better cooked and only having fried eggs feels a bit limited. I was quite excited when I discovered pancakes were available (on the “children’s” counter) but they were dry and stale on the edges after sitting under the hot lamp all morning, also only strawberry or chocolate ice cream style syrup was provided, no proper pancake syrup (or even just golden syrup). For fruit there was orange (with the skin on), tinned grapefruit and watermelon (with the skin on) not really a full offering to make a decent bowlful of fruit salad. Also needs to be eaten with fingers as the skins are on. The pastry selection was also a bit limited and starting to get dry under the hot lamps.

    Please can you try and improve the ingredients quality and offer a breakfast that matches the grand status of the Alton Towers Hotel. Switching to Costa coffee would be a great first start at meeting the same standard as a Premier Inn.

    Also the ingredient quality at Rollercoaster Restaurant has gone down hill since opening. The onion rings were a cheap frozen style not whole rings of onion that I would expect at a premium restaurant. Wetherspoons serve better. The burger as well just didn’t seem as good as previous visits, but the prices have gone up."

    He responded stating they are moving to bean-to-cup coffee for 2019 and that other comments will be passed to Executive Chef, but obviously the breakfast quality has got even worse not better.
     
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