The Hotels: A deep-seated culture of mediocrity

Ian

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Dizz, Bobby’s Yarn Land 🧶
Towers have all on getting basic turnstyle and hand scanning working for park tickets and annual passes on some days. Let’s not try and add room keys into the mix!

Disney invested quite literally hundreds of millions of dollars into developing their integrated ticketing system and MagicBands, and it too still has blips from time to time. I think it’s unlikely we’ll see such a system at Towers any time soon. Mobile room keys, ala Marriott and many other big chains would be nice, but again I wouldn’t expect to see it arriving for a good few years yet.

But I’m straying off topic now!
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Why Towers still haven't gone to room cards with your tickets on too, or even digital wristbands (Disney style), seems like a much better system and means guests are unlikely to loose them as they need them to get in the park.

Yeah Disney have had a custom system for the last 20+ years that allowed room keys to be used as park tickets.
I don't think any other park chain has bothered doing this?

Does Universal Studios or Europa Park allow tickets to be added to room key cards?

I know Universal does allow charging to the room account within the theme park but thats at a resort where you are more likely to spend a whole week. Most people don't spend more than two nights at AT and now with many people using cards or Apple Pay and similar in the park I don't think there is much needs for room charging anymore.
Also of course most theme park tickets are now e-tickets.
 

venny

TS Member
PA do it, as too do Universal and Disney had tickets on room keys (Key to the World) before the arrival of Magicbands. Not sure on day tickets, but EP place your AP into their system to recognise you have a hotel booking and thus grant access via the hotel entrance.

The one issue I see with the combined system is that everyone in the party would require their own key card to get them into the park.
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
There are many more pressing issues the AT accommodation need to tackle first before spending time and money solving the non-issue that is not being able to access the park with your hotel key card. I don't think anyone who's paid hundreds for a sub standard hotel room, queued half hour for a pint and then just had an awful breakfast turns up at the gate and thinks "you know what would make this place better? If only I could use my room key to get in rather than have to reach for my phone or a piece of paper instead."
 

Islander

TS Member
...unless as AT86 mentioned you’re staying in the pods where you have the physical one that must be returned (still such a mistake to do that instead of key card locks!).
Even that though, I've never yet stayed in a hotel anywhere (chain or otherwise), with physical keys as opposed to keycards, where you're expected to pay a deposit for the key...
 

jon81uk

TS Member
PA do it, as too do Universal and Disney had tickets on room keys (Key to the World) before the arrival of Magicbands. Not sure on day tickets, but EP place your AP into their system to recognise you have a hotel booking and thus grant access via the hotel entrance.

The one issue I see with the combined system is that everyone in the party would require their own key card to get them into the park.

I haven't stayed at Universal (my first time staying there instead of WDW is this September!), but I'm under the impression the room key and tickets are seperate cards, partly because the hotels are operated by Loews.
I bought the tickets from FloridaTix anyway and not a package so I don't expect them to be linked this trip for me, but do they actually link them?

Disney of course with the new system just adds everything to the online profile so any card, phone or band linked to the profile works.
Whereas the old magnetic stripe key to the world needed the tickets added as part of the package at your resort.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
We stayed on Resort again on Sunday & Monday.

We didn’t get upgraded this time, so we were in an Explorer Room with a single bed and double bed. To be honest, this worked fine for me; I find a single bed more comfortable than a bunk bed, personally, and the bed I slept in was fine and comfortable; I had no trouble going to sleep.

The room was nice and clean, and it felt a bit newer and more up to date than I remember the Explorer Rooms being; have they been updated? The room’s paintwork and curtains looked new, the bathroom looked new and like it had been updated to mildly match the Moon Voyager Rooms in styling, and the plug sockets in the room had USB ports, which I definitely don’t remember being there before.

In terms of our evening meal; my mum did not want to pay for the Rollercoaster Restaurant again (she described our last experience as “disappointing relative to the price”), and her and my dad weren’t overly enamoured by any of the other restaurant options either, so we decided to try something a bit different… we ordered room service. And I’ve got to say, this worked really well, and my parents seemed to agree. The prices were lower than they were in the hotel restaurants, and the food still seemed really nice! We ordered pizzas that we ate in our room, and these worked very well for us; they tasted nice, they were reasonably priced, I sat writing my trip report while eating, and my parents sat watching the Commonwealth Games. My mum and dad said ordering was very easy (there was just a QR code you had to scan somewhere). So all of us were seemingly pretty happy with the arrangement; I’d definitely recommend this option if you want something marginally cheaper than what the hotel restaurants offer.

Let’s get on to breakfast, then. This proved somewhat less satisfying for our group.

My breakfast was perfectly OK; my pancakes were nice, although I was somewhat disappointed in the lack of fruit options (although that’s probably a bit unfair of me, as that’s simply down to the fact I don’t eat grapefruit or watermelon). I do usually like fruit with my breakfast in a hotel, and while most hotels I’ve been to go for a fruit salad type thing with apples, grapes, strawberries etc, and there’s quite a wide selection, Alton Towers only had big chunks of grapefruit and watermelon on offer. I would have personally appreciated some apples or grapes or something else as well as those. As I said above, though, that’s probably more my fault for the fact I don’t eat grapefruit or watermelon than anything wrong with Towers’ selection. So I guess I can’t really complain.

My parents seemed underwhelmed. My mum was disappointed that she couldn’t get scrambled eggs, and they both expressed discontent at the lack of choice on offer. They also both started fondly reminiscing about both Premier Inn breakfast and the breakfast on offer at Hotel Castillo Alcazar at Europa Park (I didn’t bring this into the conversation, I should add… my parents just mentioned this spontaneously). They both described Alton Towers’ as “the worst hotel breakfast [they’ve] ever had”…

So all in all, then, our experience this time was mixed. I overall thought it was perfectly nice, and the room itself and the room service worked very well, but breakfast didn’t seem to work quite as well for our group, even if I personally found it OK. My parents have assured me that we’re stopping in the Premier Inn Uttoxeter next time we go to Alton Towers for 2 days.
 

Matt.GC

TS Member
Why on earth would not liking grapefruit or watermelon be your "fault"? The hotel breakfasts are awful, that's not your "fault" it's theirs. Apple's, bananas and berries are pretty standard breakfast staples in most places I've stayed.
 
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jon81uk

TS Member
I think describing that as a mixed review when "the worst hotel breakfast they've ever had" is mentioned is generous.

The fruit selection is definitely bad and you can complain! Even just offering tinned fruit in addition to the fresh melon would help.

I agree with your parents, staying at the Premier Inn (or the Chained Oak if you want to walk to the park) is the better option now.
 

AT86

TS Member
Here is a picture of breakfast at Legoland Windsor from a recent trip advisor review. I believe this is from the Castle Hotel restaurant.

4FF3EC6D-493D-45B2-8CA8-168FC6B16E53.jpeg

Clearly it is possible to get what looks to be a significantly better breakfast than is served at Alton Towers from elsewhere in the Merlin chain, both in quality of ingredients and presentation.

It suggests that this is not some sort of Merlin problem that is forcing Towers to only order the lowest level of quality.

It can be done. They should be ashamed of the state of breakfast at Alton Towers.

Link to the review for completeness:
Check out this review of Legoland Windsor Resort Hotel on Tripadvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowU...Windsor_and_Maidenhead_Berkshire_England.html
 

Ian

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Dizz, Bobby’s Yarn Land 🧶
It suggests that this is not some sort of Merlin problem that is forcing Towers to only order the lowest level of quality.

Potentially, although don’t forget, given the current ownership and setup of Merlin with Kirkbi/LEGO it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that there’s a vested interest in keeping the LEGO parks held in a higher regard. I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t slightly more priority in their favour when it comes to budgeting vs. the RTPs in the group.

Wholeheartedly agree though. Obviously, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, but presentationally this is more what you expect for the money.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Here is a picture of breakfast at Legoland Windsor from a recent trip advisor review. I believe this is from the Castle Hotel restaurant.

4FF3EC6D-493D-45B2-8CA8-168FC6B16E53.jpeg

Clearly it is possible to get what looks to be a significantly better breakfast than is served at Alton Towers from elsewhere in the Merlin chain, both in quality of ingredients and presentation.

It suggests that this is not some sort of Merlin problem that is forcing Towers to only order the lowest level of quality.

It can be done. They should be ashamed of the state of breakfast at Alton Towers.

Link to the review for completeness:
Check out this review of Legoland Windsor Resort Hotel on Tripadvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowU...Windsor_and_Maidenhead_Berkshire_England.html

Looking at the way that is plated I assume it is a la carte rather than a buffet which probably means they are focusing on quality, whereas AT with the buffet are trying for quantity, when actually many people would rather have a smaller amount of more food.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Potentially, although don’t forget, given the current ownership and setup of Merlin with Kirkbi/LEGO it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that there’s a vested interest in keeping the LEGO parks held in a higher regard. I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t slightly more priority in their favour when it comes to budgeting vs. the RTPs in the group.

Wholeheartedly agree though. Obviously, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, but presentationally this is more what you expect for the money.

I think that was the case even before Merlin went back into private ownership, they care more about the Lego parks because they need to keep the license. Same reason CBeebies land is often better presented than the rest of the park.
 

Islander

TS Member
Don't forget the other big difference when comparing a breakfast (or other F&B) at Towers with Legoland: Legoland is now run entirely by Aramark, whereas Towers is not.

Towers' time is coming though, Aramark will take over... maybe with that looming over them, the Merlin team at Towers are somewhat disenfranchised?
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Towers' time is coming though, Aramark will take over... maybe with that looming over them, the Merlin team at Towers are somewhat disenfranchised?
The breakfast buffet at AT has been rubbish for years though, I complained about it in 2018 and this thread has been going for almost a year.
So the poor quality ingredients is ingrained into the service there for years and years.

The Bricks restaurant at Legoland seems to have stopped the buffet for covid and not brought it back.
But reviews of dinner are bad https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaur...-Windsor_Windsor_and_Maidenhead_Berkshir.html
The main complaint seems to be that £25.99 per adult for a three course meal is expensive! I thought it sounds reasonable value, especially compared to Secret Garden.
 

MaxPower

TS Member
It'll be interesting to see how the hotels (and the park for that matter) manage the upcoming surge in energy costs given the already extortionate prices they're charging and overall sub-par quality provided.

I don't see how they can realistically charge any more or make any further cuts given how bad things are already.
 
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