The Hotels: A deep-seated culture of mediocrity

GaryH

TS Member
Agree totally with @Poisson Doesn’t have to be a big space but just somewhere adults could escape the mayhem! There are plenty of adults only groups going to the hotels to justify it.
 

s_g_k

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Oblivion
If I had actually stayed at ATH on my last visit, I’d rather have sat in my room drinking wine from a shop than experience the ATH bar again.

What an absolute shower.

It was like a cross between a Butlins kids takeover and the worst kind of all inclusive hotel you could find. The behaviour of some people was absolutely vile and the place was a complete dump.

£315 per night? No chance.

For comparison, the Chained Oak B&B is £220 a night cheaper than this. Trust me, if you have any dignity, stay there. You’ll also get a good cooked breakfast that you can actually eat as opposed to ATH’s offering which more resembles those toy food items that toddlers play with.

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s_g_k

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Oblivion
Just look at the those benefits they list as well.

Quirky rooms - knackered old bunk beds more like
Free WiFi - erm, everyone does this
Interactive TV - what is this, the 90s?
Complimentary toiletries - thanks, but even Travelodge and Ibis budget etc do this.
Hairdryer - see above
Tea and coffee making facilities - thanks for the kettle.
 

jmc

TS Member
Just look at the those benefits they list as well.

Quirky rooms - knackered old bunk beds more like
Free WiFi - erm, everyone does this
Interactive TV - what is this, the 90s?
Complimentary toiletries - thanks, but even Travelodge and Ibis budget etc do this.
Hairdryer - see above
Tea and coffee making facilities - thanks for the kettle.

And just to quickly summarise what you could have had a few years ago:-

- Early Ride Time
- Complimentary Fastrack (equivalent of which you would pay £35+ pp for now?)
- Branded bags to carry around the park, colouring books etc
- Hidden compartments for children to find in the room, stuffed with Cadburys chocolate
- Premium dining experience (at a cost) back when SG was definitely ‘premium’


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GaryH

TS Member
Totally agree with the above posts. Staying in the hotels was an unique experience with lots of benefits

Premium dining in secret garden with staff dressed as gardeners and Angus steak burgers on offer

Table service at the bars - yes, the bars, both of them in ATH

Exclusive use of the pool/ water park

Early ride time of 1 hour at the start of the day

Woodland walk direct into the park

Great evening entertainment with singers and a decent band and prior to that comedians

Teddies and colour changing kettles in the room. Molton brown toiletries in ATH when it opened

No large single sex groups ie no stag or hen parties

Back pack full of colouring books, pens, activity pads and a book full of discount vouchers to use in the park

A decent breakfast and high quality service throughout the hotels

Good housekeeping with clean well equipped rooms.

A decent around the world buffet in Splash when it opened


I used to LOVE staying in the hotels it was so magical. I didn’t mind paying a bit more to get all the perks and know I was staying somewhere special. I see no benefit now to staying in the hotels over staying in the excellent Chained Oak just down the road. Nothing for me justifies the price of the hotels anymore not even the convenience of staying on site. It’s so sad.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
While the hotels are an overpriced dive, I for one am extremely happy free fastrack is not being dished out to the detriment of every other paying guest.

I broadly agree but I think there also could be a middle ground to give something that feels like a benefit when actually it won’t affect other guests significantly. Offering free fastrack in place of ERT occasionally is okay too.
For example during Scarefest and Fireworks when there was no ERT it used to be free fast track for hotel guests before 12noon. Or another year you’d get one fast track on Nemesis, Duel, Air and Mine Train. The only one that actually had a detrimental effect on was mine train, the others didn’t get significant main queues.
But yes when ERT is operating there shouldn’t be a need to give fast track as well.

When we stayed at Phantasialand in 2019 we got ERT in the evening or Taron and Raik plus one fast track on one of four rides (we used it on Maus au Chocolat). That seemed reasonable to offer a benefit while also keeping it fairly limited.
 

GaryH

TS Member
I think even just bringing back the little book of vouchers would be something! £1 of pizza pasta (per person), extra goes on one of the "win a husky" games, discount on a hot drink.... small little things which just gives hotel guests a little benefit of staying in the hotels and would still benefit towers as it would encourage people to use them and buy the products.
 

Kraken27

TS Member
The problem with the hotels / accommodation at Towers is that Merlin are going for the absolute cheapest options on running costs, whilst removing many of the benefits you used to get when staying on-site, whilst still charging very premium prices. I appreciate there are staffing challenges in the leisure & hospitality sectors at present & Towers location does not help on this front. But this is no excuse for the cutbacks on benefits for on-site guests - or the woeful food & beverage offering [especially the breakfasts] in the hotels.

Other theme park operators - particularly overseas & I'm thinking of Europa Park & PhantasiaLand in particular (so as to rule out the Disney & Universal offerings) have proved you can run quality hotel operations, with excellent quality food & beverage for similar prices / less than what Towers are charging for their accommodation. Many of the hotels at these two parks are 4-Star / 4-Star Superior rated. I don't believe either Europa Park or PhantasiaLand are owned by large corporations who brag about "being second only to Disney" either.

The huge problem we have in the UK is that Merlin own the three main theme parks. As such they have no real competition, so there is no incentive to up standards - as long as the punters continue to come, stay over & spend money. I would argue the hotels at Blackpool Pleasure Beach are better then the Towers ones.

The German market is admittedly very different - the customers expect high standards for a reasonable price & will complain if they don't get it. On a previous trip to Europa Park, Roland Mack was walking round the restaurant in Hotel Colosseo in the evening sampling buffet food and generally making sure standards were being maintained. An on-park manager who used to work at Europa Park also told me "our customers expect to get 8-10 rides, even on a busy day - if they don't, they will complain and get a refund on their admission". Due to the location of Europa Park, there are only about 3 weeks in the season when it's not public / school holidays in either regions of Germany, Switzerland or France - so most days are busy days. (Sorry, veered off the hotels a bit there, but it shows that with the right will / management / budgets in place, you can deliver).

It's often been commented on here about how rubbish the breakfasts are at Towers hotels - Premier Inn can manage to deliver a decent breakfast, so it is possible.

Finally, put the clock back to the late 1980's when a certain Disney Corporation were looking for a location for their European park. A UK site near the M42 around Birmingham bidded. Had Disney chosen that site, would Alton Towers still exist as it does now (in terms of both hotel offering & park operations)? Of course it wouldn't - it would probably have closed years ago.
 

AT86

TS Member
All this talk of declining standards/perks and increased costs got me thinking, hopefully this is of some interest, apologies if not.

I don’t know about you but I have all manner of theme park related paperwork from years gone by and I have managed to find a booking confirmation from a hotel stay my family had at Splash Landings in 2003 on a fireworks weekend.

I thought it would be interesting to price up the closest equivalent stay in 2022 to see what the price difference is 19 years later.

The 2003 stay was Fri-Sun over fireworks weekend for 3 adults 1 child in a Beachcomber room in Splash including 3 days park tickets and unlimited Waterpark access (that’s how it worked in those days, everything was just included in the rate). Realistically we would have gone to the park 2 days and spent a few hours in the Waterpark on arrival day, since it was open until 10pm back then.

The perks also included breakfast, one hour of ERT on Air and Nemesis, priority access once per day to RMT, Black Hole, Duel and Corkscrew, priority seating at shows, a discount booklet on merchandise and games and a kids activity pack for the room. Total cost £620.

First things first of course, this was expensive! Towers has never been cheap but that is 19 years ago. Running it through the Bank of England inflation calculator that is £915 in today’s money.

Fast forward to 2022 and the current price for the same room in Splash, on fireworks weekend with 2 day park tickets and one day Waterpark is *drum roll* …£851.

The fact that in real terms a trip in 2022 is cheaper than 2003 actually surprised me. Of course we need to factor in that ERT is gone, no priority access, breakfast is awful, no kids packs, no discounts etc etc (although you do get golf now).

Any one else surprised like I was?

Also, would you be happy for the price to increase slightly if some of those perks were to come back? It seems people were prepared to pay more 19 years ago (relatively speaking) than we are paying today. So would that work in 2022?
 

evilcod

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Pirates of the Caribbean - Paris
First things first of course, this was expensive! Towers has never been cheap but that is 19 years ago. Running it through the Bank of England inflation calculator that is £915 in today’s money.

Fast forward to 2022 and the current price for the same room in Splash, on fireworks weekend with 2 day park tickets and one day Waterpark is *drum roll* …£851.

To make it fair surely you need to include the 3rd park day (most people who only have 1 visit a year will use it) and probably Fastrack Bronze at £30 a person (closest they now do to the RMT, Black Hole, Duel and Corkscrew priority)
 

AstroDan

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
Totally agree with the above posts. Staying in the hotels was an unique experience with lots of benefits

Premium dining in secret garden with staff dressed as gardeners and Angus steak burgers on offer

Table service at the bars - yes, the bars, both of them in ATH

Exclusive use of the pool/ water park

Early ride time of 1 hour at the start of the day

Woodland walk direct into the park

Great evening entertainment with singers and a decent band and prior to that comedians

Teddies and colour changing kettles in the room. Molton brown toiletries in ATH when it opened

No large single sex groups ie no stag or hen parties

Back pack full of colouring books, pens, activity pads and a book full of discount vouchers to use in the park

A decent breakfast and high quality service throughout the hotels

Good housekeeping with clean well equipped rooms.

A decent around the world buffet in Splash when it opened


I used to LOVE staying in the hotels it was so magical. I didn’t mind paying a bit more to get all the perks and know I was staying somewhere special. I see no benefit now to staying in the hotels over staying in the excellent Chained Oak just down the road. Nothing for me justifies the price of the hotels anymore not even the convenience of staying on site. It’s so sad.
Depressing.

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Poisson

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Giant Squid
The frustration also stems from it clearly not being rocket science to run an acceptable (Premier Inn style) hotel. Travelodge can get a bit...interesting but Premier Inns, Holiday Inns and Village Hotels all seem to offer a consistent standard whereas Towers cannot?
 

s_g_k

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Oblivion
The frustration also stems from it clearly not being rocket science to run an acceptable (Premier Inn style) hotel. Travelodge can get a bit...interesting but Premier Inns, Holiday Inns and Village Hotels all seem to offer a consistent standard whereas Towers cannot?
If Premier Inn announced an ATR takeover I think we’d all breathe a sigh of relief. On the booking page they could also have extra add ons such as discounted one shot fast tracks (availability within reason) and pay in advance discounted pizza pasta etc)which would boost sales.
 

GaryH

TS Member
I seriously pity anyone booked into the stargazing sheds over the next few days, particularly Tuesday evening where it’s expected to reach 35 degrees during the day.

It will be like those hot tin enclosures they put POWs in during the war as torture.
 

venny

TS Member
The hotel rooms aren’t much cooler. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the vinyls start to melt off the walls in the Splash Landings bathrooms.
 

djtruefitt

TS Team
The hotel rooms aren’t much cooler. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the vinyls start to melt off the walls in the Splash Landings bathrooms.
For the price they charge there really is no excuse for all the rooms to have decent air con. You go in the cheapest of cheap Travelodge and they have decent air con. You stay in towers and they give you a fan in the corner of the room.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
For the price they charge there really is no excuse for all the rooms to have decent air con. You go in the cheapest of cheap Travelodge and they have decent air con. You stay in towers and they give you a fan in the corner of the room.

There are plenty of Travelodges and Premier Inns of a similar age to Alton Towers hotel which don't have aircon.
My parents stayed in a Premier Inn near us last year without it.
It just wasn't standard 25-30 years ago.

I do think now the hotel is coming up to 30 years old it should be refurbished with aircon in all rooms.
Also when Splash was built 20 years ago it probably should have had it from day one.
 

Islander

TS Member
Not that this is any excuse whatsoever, but to retrofit air con into the hotels won't be a cheap or easy job at all, as the space/routes for all the equipment and coolant piping simply won't exist. Would need some crafty engineering to achieve.
 
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