Trip Report Weekend 13/14/15 July 2018

Discussion in 'Your Alton Towers Trip Reports and Plans' started by GaryH, 16th Jul 2018.

  1. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    Friday 13th

    Unlucky for some, and with the yellow warnings for thunderstorms for the afternoon, it certainly seemed to be unlucky for us. Fortunately, these didn't materialise until late evening. Anyway, we had booked 2 nights in the Enchanted Village, myself, partner and her 5 year old. For me this was a whole new experience as I have never been to Alton with a child before, and was about to experience the place from a family perspective for a change.

    We arrived at 1 and walked over the Enchanted Village reception. Inside were two very young staff members behind the counter chatting amongst themselves. We waited, and waited, and waited and eventually the lad decided to say hello to us with little warmth. We felt we had interrupted their conversation. Anyway, signed the room key and told to go back at 3.

    Our package included 2 days waterpark and adventure golf tickets so we opted to do the waterpark and made our way through ATH to Splash Landings. The little one was in awe at the sight of the waterpark. Changing rooms were stupidly busy, and to be quite frank, they stunk. Even the little one commented how they smelt like wee. The floors inside were extremely slippery as well. Difficult one I guess trying to keep the place and floors clean with so many people going back and forth.

    Anyway spent the afternoon in the waterpark. Was quite busy, with 30 minute queues for the master blaster. Outdoor area was open and we spent some time out there, and going down the slides. Not sure why but the outdoor slides are extremely slow this year.

    After changing back we headed to get our room key. Had to queue for a while given the amount of people checking in and were finally given our key. This was after we had to secure a £50 deposit on a credit card however. Not had to do this before in any of the Alton hotels, and in other hotels, usually its a swipe of a credit card but I was told this was new policy.

    The room we were given was a nice spot, furthest away from ATH and quiet. Great for the little one to play outside with children his age while we sat on the outside seats. In terms of the room itself, this wasn't so great. I asked before we checked in if the rooms had fans in them and was told they all did in the children's bedroom. Guess what - no fan in ours. I popped back to the reception to ask , and a girl in a black jacket said they are extremely limited and not guaranteed. So - despite being told this earlier..... no fan. Thank god I had a small one in the car we could use. Next up we found the kettle to be defective, and the extractor fan in the bathroom did not work. Called reception on the phone to ask if these could be addressed.

    Checking the rest of the room, the dust everywhere was incredible. I don't think the bed underneath has ever been cleaned, the corners of the room were thick with dust, while surprisingly, I found the bed to have no mattress protector. Basically its a very thin bed sheet and then the bed itself. Needless to say, some of the marks on the bed looked suspicious, including what looked like dried blood spots in places. I noticed these as the bedding wasnt put on the bed properly, the duvet was hanging out of the sheet while the bed sheets themselves were not tucked under the bed so were basically loose.

    In the bathroom the age of the rooms is showing with all the screw covers missing off the screws and dirt on the walls, including paint missing were stickers once were placed. Amazingly, new for 2018 is a sticker on the side of the wardrobe telling you what you will be charged should anything be taken from the rooms. A mug is £10, hair drier £25, TV £500. Ok maybe people take these, but, it doesn't half put a "budget" feeling on your accommodation.

    45 minutes had passed and still no kettle so I went back up to reception. They called housekeeping and a lady arrived shortly afterwards with a new kettle. She was extremely friendly, unlike reception staff/ Having a chat with her she told me that they only have 8 fans to share between all the lodges. She said they all had a fan when they opened, but due to breakages over the years and them not being replaced, they only have the 8. I was shocked by this, surely Merlin and all their profits can stick a fan in each room??

    Dinner was in the RCR. Welcome was good in here as were the staff. The little one loved the novelty of the food being delivered by the tracks and all the lights. Unfortunately during ordering our tablet crashed so we were told to order again. Needless to say, our food came down in duplicate! This was actually a godsend, as I ordered the curry, and the amount of rice and the size of the naan bread was obviously a children's portion, so I dipped into the extra helping. We didn't get charged for this thankfully. Food quality was ok.

    For the evening we went to Splash landings and watched the various kids shows. We just about managed to get a chair as the place was packed (this was 7pm). Shows were ok but the evening singer was very karaoke. Most people winced during some of the high notes! Anyway, the little one seemed to enjoy the dancing with the other kids despite our ear drums being put through the test. The entertainments team did their best however.

    Getting back to the lodge in the evening we found that maintenance had been in to fit a new extractor fan to the bathroom, which was great given the heat and steam wouldnt go into the room (with no fan). However, they didnt move the bathmat off the floor or a towel, which was black with dirt. We put these and another dirty towel in the bathtub in the morning to be replaced (as it says on the bathroom door).

    Saturday 14

    Up early and into the Crooked Spoon, which, was chaos. The noise!!!!! It was rammed, with hardly any space to move between the tables. Breakfast was ok but the quality of the sausages is something else. I did actually wonder if they were vegetarian as they didn't seem to contain any meat from what i could gather, just rusk. The little one who loves sausages couldn't eat them. Staff in here were good but obviously struggling from the crowds and noise. We didn't stay long!

    Over to the monorail and thankfully no queue at 8:50. The monorail was open and running so we got into the park easily. Park was letting everyone in at 9.10 and we headed straight over to CBeebies. First ride was the Go Jetters which to be fair, they opened early as quite a few little uns were queuing. Next up we thought of going to Octonaughts roller coaster. Disappointment however to find it didn't open until 10 so we waited a while to get on.

    Managed to get 2 goes on this which he loved. No one manning the photo point however and he wanted a picture. So no ride photo on this one. Next we headed to the very sad and quiet Cloud Cuckoo Land where he enjoyed the Driving School. I was amazed how deserted this area of the park was. Only a few families there and the whole place felt, well, depressing. No stores or shops open, nothing. He also had a few goes on the Frog Hopper, with the remains of the Twirling Toadstool next to it.

    It was now about 11:30 and the sky ride was testing, so we opted to walk over to Battle Galleons area and have a go on the water guns. There are only around 3 or 4 free guns now around the outside, most replaced with the pay version. And no surprise, most of the free guns don't work. So, £3 later and one happy wet 5 year old we made our way to get a hot dog at £5 each. I opted to get quarter pounder from Burger Kitchen up by the Sea Life center. After a lengthy wait I got a mildly lukewarm burger, so lukewarm even the cheese on top hadn't melted. No relish inside, so I went to the condiments area by the hot dog stall to get a squirt of ketchup. It was poor to say the least.

    While sat in the area by Wickerman having a bite to eat, all we heard were the voices of people complaining about how many rides were closed and how people were going to get refunds. Wickerman I believe was down all day. We popped in the SeaLife centre which was just too busy and too hot. We got out as quick as we can. We though we would cool down on the rapids so went to join the queue.

    45 minute queue said the chap at the entrance and it will get longer....... so we opted to go and queue anyway. 50 minutes later we got on. However, to my annoyance and that of most of the crowd around me, most boats only had 2 people in them, and there was definitely less boats in circulation, with the turntable being devoid of any boats on some occasions. The ride itself was a boring and dull as sitting on a bus, needless to say we didnt even get splashed by the time we got off.

    Final ride we chose to do was Duel, which had a 10 minute queue (you know its a busy day when Duel has a queue!). Was ok and the little one enjoyed it, but for me I was quite surprised at the amount of light in certain areas of the building, including one section when light from the extractor fan above just lights up the entire area.

    Decided by now given the huge queues that we would call it a day and head back to the lodge for a rest (it was 2.30). Stopped off in Towers Trading where he bought some Lego with his pocket money. Waited at the counter to pay, 2 young girls on the counter, not even an acknowledgement of us waiting whilst they chatted, in the end we actually had to say "hello, is anyone ready to serve us" before we got any service. My partner who has only been once before commented "what is it with this place today (and yesterday), the customer service seems to be totally absent".

    We got back to the lodge to find the floor hadn't been cleaned, still thick of dust and grass bits from us being in there the day before. Also, the dirty damp towels we had placed into the bath tub to be replaced had been folded up and put back into the pile of towels, maybe in the hope we wouldn't notice.

    I phoned reception but no answer to had to walk up again. Was told we would get some clean towels, which we did....... 1hr 15mins later. For the evening meal we went to the Secret Garden. Staff were excellent and to be fair, so was the food. I had the Pork balls with noodles, soy, prawn crackers and it was one of the very best meals I have had in that place for a long time. Was excellent.

    We headed after this to Adventure Golf to use up our free vouchers. This was very busy with queues on most holes. Parts are now looking extremely tired, and I feel it would also be of use to sweep the greens during the day, or leave brushes next to the holes as bark and debris from the trees around some holes really does get in the way.

    Entertainment in ATH didn't seem very child orientated so we headed back to the Splash for a while, played in the arcades before heading back to the lodge.

    Sunday 15th

    Another early start for our last day and back in to the chaos of the Crooked Spoon. Checked out from our room and got the monorail into the park (no queue). Our 2 day tickets didnt work on the 2nd day so a bit of confusion, but this was addressed by a happy chap on the gate once we found out the correct person to speak to. Again, we got in early but this time headed straight to Cloud Cuckoo land (as he loved the driving school). Was even quieter than yesterday but the plan was do this first then head to RMT as we didnt get around to doing that yesterday due to the queues.

    We left CCL at 10:15 to make our way to RMT. We got there after a 20 min walk to find the queue was back to the bridge over Rapids. Ride didnt open until 11, as did the rapids. Rapids queue was back to the game kiosks in the area. I said I would go buy a drink from the RMT shop as the little one was thirsty and we were standing in the sun. No shop open. Everything was closed with the shutters down so he had to wait.

    By 10:50 the queue for RMT was down Gloomy Wood, and the Rapids queue was approaching the bridge over the rapids. Sheer madness. Kids crying, people fed up, and they opened at 11am on the dot. This angered me so much. We had wasted so much time having to get here early to get any chance of getting on the ride, and with this much demand for the ride, just open the bloody thing earlier. I hope the staggered openings are scrapped next year, they are nothing but a pain in the you know what.

    20 minute queue for RMT once it opened, and then a 30 minute queue for the rapids afterwards (again, with its shoddy loading). Finished off with another go on Duel before heading to the car to get our swimwear. We opted to stop in Flambos to get the little one some food before going into the waterpark.

    Thankfully, his meal was cheap and we opted not to eat (£13.95 per adult was too expensive given the quality of food on offer). This was the correct choice as the little bits we did sample were disgusting. Tasteless pizza where the dough had not been cooked enough, rock hard garlic bread. He enjoyed the chips but that was about it. Such a shame given it used to be a great place to eat years back.

    Waterpark next and surprise, our 2 day tickets didn't work, so had to resolve that. The waterpark was RAMMED, incredibly busy, with 45 minute queues for the rings so we didn't bother with that. Outdoor slides had queues, hot pools were packed, it was just crazy. The little one occupied himself with a beach ball in the main pool for a while, before going to play with the various water cannons, and water features, most of which were not working or extremely poor. One cannon had the water pipe hanging out underneath it loose, which was there on the Friday as well.

    We left around 4pm, shattered, but the little one had a good time. To be fair, despite the problems we also had a good time, BUT, I did feel it was a lot more stressful than it needed to be and had we paid full price for the hotel and tickets, I would feel a lot more disappointed the various aspects of our stay. If I had to sum it up :

    Positives:

    + all the children's rides were working
    + location of the lodge was lovely
    + Secret Garden meal and staff
    + No queues for monorail or park entrance
    + RCR food and staff

    Negatives:

    - cleanliness of the lodge and time taken to resolve a problem
    - staff attitudes in EV reception, Towers Trading, and Splash bar
    - singer in Splash could not sing
    - queue for Congo River Rapids due to poor loading
    - STAGGERED OPENINGS!
    - tree top quest closed


    Thinking of if I would go back as a family unit again, then yes probably I would but I wouldnt stay in the resort hotels again, and nor would I visit in July. What I saw this weekend was a resort struggling to cope with the demand, needing more staff, more rides, a bigger waterpark, and more entertainment areas with seating.

    If they go ahead and build these extra accommodation sheds - that god help the place as I dont think the existing hotels will cope, and to some extent, neither can the theme park. To me, I felt like it a place barely coping and providing a half assed product at the moment.
     
    b2311e, Rojo, skyscraper and 11 others like this.
    Posted 16th Jul 2018
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  2. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Brilliant review. Just a real shame that the park cannot cope at all. The lodges are quite nice but I agree that cleanliness is an issue, cleaning must be a bear minimum sweep around the room.

    :)
     
    Posted 16th Jul 2018
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  3. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    Indeed. I dont think the rooms have seen a vacuum cleaner. I accept some dust is normal, as is bits of grass blown in given where the lodges are placed, but this just wasnt cleaned. The fact the towels were not changed either really did make me question as to what exactly the did do when they came to the room. The shower gels were not replaced, so I can only assume they made the bed and thats it.
     
    Posted 16th Jul 2018
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  4. AT86

    AT86 TowersStreet Member

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    Interesting read, thanks.

    Regarding the light levels in Duel - I believe that vents in the ceiling are opened in hot weather as part of the design of the building so this may explain why it was lighter than usual. I know I have certainly had rides over the years where the vents are open and it makes a big difference.

    Regarding the fans in the rooms - I am not surprised (saddened but not surprised) a few years ago we were staying in ATH and the pillows were awful - we called and asked for more pillows. Half an hour later someone turned up with one pillow and said ‘sorry that’s all we can find. We don’t have enough to go around’. This was an off peak date and the hotel was far from full. The mind boggles.
     
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    Posted 16th Jul 2018
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  5. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    I think the hotels dont have enough extra items by the sounds of it. The housekeeper said the kettle took a while as she had to try and find us one.

    Fans should be in every lodge in EV. The manager I spoke to told me that they have fans in Splash landings hotel rooms as "its a tropical hotel". Honest, that's what I was told. Maybe there is a small microclimate over Splash Landings hotel which gives it different weather to the rest of the resort??

    Anyway, EV has a tiny 30cm x 30cm window in the childs sleep area which lets in no air. It does let in flies and wasps. You cant sleep with the door wide open, so in effect you are in an oven. In Splash and ATH you can have the window open to get some air. A free standing fan is about £20 quid, surely they can get some new ones for the rooms!
     
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    Posted 16th Jul 2018
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  6. IanSR

    IanSR TowersStreet Member

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    Alton sacked all their in house cleaners last year and employed zero hour agency staff as an alternative iirc, zero hours in-house staff don't care so much, but agency are even worse, you'll barely get the same person twice so they don't even attempt to do the job.
     
    Poopoohead likes this.
    Posted 16th Jul 2018
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  7. AT86

    AT86 TowersStreet Member

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    They didn’t sack the staff, they were no longer employed by Merlin and had their contracts changed over to the outsourcing company who also do the housekeeping for other Merlin run hotels such as Chessington. Even when these staff were employed by Merlin they were on zero hours contracts and had been for a number of years.

    The change over didn’t go down well with the staff concerned as their benefits such as free tickets etc were reduced as they no longer worked for Merlin. Rumour has it that things were actually changed back a few months later and they are once again employed by Merlin directly. Still with zero hours, still with not enough staff to clean the rooms to a good standard and still with low morale in the team.
     
    Posted 16th Jul 2018
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  8. IanSR

    IanSR TowersStreet Member

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    Yeah in the real world we call that being sacked, call it outsourcing, transference or whatever you want, but at the end of the day Merlin terminated their employment, aka sacked them.

    Edit: didn't know Merlin had re-employed them, is that confirmed?
    I hate zero hours contracts, what was wrong with flexitime contracts?
     
    DiogoJ42 likes this.
    Posted 16th Jul 2018
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  9. Poopoohead

    Poopoohead TowersStreet Member

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    The room I had in ATH for Santa’s sleep over was an absolute disgrace, very much like Gary’s experience dust everywhere and utterly filthy. Ended up getting refunded
     
    Posted 16th Jul 2018
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  10. IDB

    IDB TowersStreet Member

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    Have you forwarded this review to Alton Towers themselves?

    I fired off an email of complaint after my last visit. They replied with a pretty much stock email, but offered a handful of fast passes for my next visit.

    As we do plan to visit again later in the year with free Sun tickets they will come in handy. But apart from the car parking fee no other money will leave my wallet on that visit.
     
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  11. Alsty

    Alsty TowersStreet Member

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    I wonder if BBC Watchdog would be interested in picking up a story like this, especially the cleanliness and standards in the hotels? Perhaps some publicity would shame Merlin into getting their head out the sand.
     
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  12. GaryH

    GaryH TowersStreet Member

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    For the first time in visiting the park for 25 years, yes, I have sent a letter of complaint to them.
     
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  13. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    The only thing that seems to bother them is those precious KPIs. So if you're not happy, make sure you use one of the touch screen feedback points as they feed directly in to the pretty spreadsheets and charts (assuming they don't fiddle with the final data of course).

    :)
     

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