Alton Towers plans third hotel in expansion bid
Wednesday, May 06, 2009, .
ALTON Towers is considering building a third hotel as part of a multi-million pound, 10-year plan to consolidate the resort's position as the country's number one theme park.
Parent company Merlin Entertainments is to outline the proposals to the district council within the next two months.
The blueprint will include a substantial investment in new rides, infrastructure and heritage features, as well as the provision of further on-site accommodation.
The resort is currently responsible for 2,900 jobs – and £38 million of income – in the local economy.
A third hotel would provide a major jobs boost for the area.
Alton Towers took on 240 staff to run Splash Landings when that hotel opened in 2003.
At present, a total of 1,594 guests can be accommodated on-site every night, in the 13-year-old 175-room Alton Towers Hotel and at Splash Landings itself, which has 216-rooms and also features an indoor water park.
Alton Towers' corporate communications manager Liz Greenwood said: "We have conducted a very detailed economic impact survey which looks at how our business affects those around us and the wider district and county.
"Over the next 10 years, many millions of pounds will be invested in the resort – on its infrastructure, rides, attractions, heritage, the house and peripheral activities, as well as further accommodation."
Ms Greenwood added: "Ten per cent of our total guests spend the night with us, which means there is a huge marketing opportunity for local accommodation providers to tap into.
"During the winter months we deal with conference and trade bookings, meaning both hotels are currently fully booked all year round, not only when the resort is open.
"We are trying to reposition ourselves from a teenage market to cater for families.
"In trying to encourage families to stay for longer, there is a need to provide further accommodation of some kind."
Ms Greenwood said the resort would seek to do more than just erect "world class" roller-coasters – such as the Corkscrew's replacement for 2010, "Secret Weapon Six" – to entice thrill-seekers from all over the UK.
She said: "In 2008, we worked extremely hard to attract families and we were very successful – growing in this sector from 35 per cent to 50 per cent of our total volume.
"Now, 75 per cent of our rides and attractions are suitable for children under 10."
Alton Towers attracted around 2.5 million visitors last year – accounting for approximately half of all visitor trips to the Moorlands – and it is hoped that it will be able to repeat its success this season.
Ms Greenwood said: "It is quite difficult to make a judgement yet but early indications are good and we are cautiously optimistic.
"With the credit crunch, we believe more British people are staying in the UK and visiting attractions which offer value for money, for which Alton Towers has a very good reputation and also offers a fantastic experience.
"And even though we don't pro-actively market ourselves abroad, the relative strength of the euro against the pound may mean more European visitors are coming to the area as a whole."
Liz Bradley, owner of Chained Oak bed and breakfast, in Farley Lane, Alton, reckoned that her appeal to a different clientele would mean an additional hotel would not cause too much disruption.
She said: "We get a lot of passing trade and if Alton Towers can keep encouraging customers to the Staffordshire Moorlands, we should be OK.
"But I'm afraid a further hotel could really have an impact on bed and breakfasts further outside the village."
The chairman of Alton Parish Council, Tony Moult, said he remained cautious on how any future development would effect smaller businesses.
He said: "I don't think those running bed and breakfasts would be too happy with the idea of competition from a third hotel.
"There is a lot of room for investment Alton Towers could make in the village, such as pedestrian crossings, which I hope can be included in their 10-year plan."
taken from: http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/ne ... ticle.html