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Merlin themed accommodation strategy delivers growth

Merlin Entertainments has had a record breaking year for its themed accommodation openings.

Alton Towers stargazing pods

644 rooms opened at LEGOLAND hotels in 2018. Merlin is now ready to open the Alton Towers Stargazing Pods and the Gardaland Magic Hotel.

The company – the world’s second biggest attractions operator after Disney – has also announced a record-breaking 2018 for accommodation, with the opening of 644 new rooms.

Accommodation income for 2018 grew by 28 percent, representing 21 percent of the combined revenue of LEGOLAND Parks and Resort Theme Parks, an increase from 17 percent in 2017.

Merlin plans to open a further 372 rooms in 2019. The Group’s strategy is to add themed accommodation to theme parks to create “fully-fledged resorts” which will be able to tap into the popularity of short breaks.

Themed accommodation

The four-star Gardaland Magic Hotel is set to open in May and will have 128 large rooms, with one of three themes – Enchanted Forest, Magic Ice Castle and Great Wizard.

Alton Towers’ Stargazing Pods will provide an affordable glamping experience for guests, opening in mid-April. Each pod sleeps four, with heating, power, Wi-Fi, and early access to the park.

On the record accommodation openings, Merlin’s Chief Strategy Officer, Justin Platt, commented: “We are very pleased to see further delivery on our accommodation strategy this year which extends a day-long park experience into an immersive family short break.

“Our short break positioning is proving successful as we continue to invest in creating world-class themed accommodation, incorporating some of the best-loved family brands including the Gruffalo, CBeebies, Peppa Pig and, of course, LEGO .

“Merlin has now opened a total of more than 4,100 themed rooms across its estate, and we anticipate opening a further 372 rooms in 2019, including the fully-themed 4-star Gardaland Magic Hotel and innovative Stargazing Pods at Alton Towers.”

Accommodation strategy

As part of its accommodation strategy, one of six growth drivers, Merlin hopes to meet the demand for short breaks by providing themed, on-site accommodation.

The company plans to turn its theme parks into resorts and destinations, with a range of options and prices, from premium hotels to glamping.

Accommodation extends the amount of time visitors spend at an attraction, increases the park catchment area, improves guest satisfaction and increases pre-booking.

Merlin’s accommodation revenue has doubled over the past five years.

LEGOLAND themed hotel room

The 644 rooms opened in 2018 are comprised of:

  • 252 room hotel at LEGOLAND Japan
  • 250 room LEGOLAND California Castle Hotel
  • 142 room Pirate Island Hotel at LEGOLAND Deutschland

Art hotels

Elsewhere, plans for Meow Wolf Phoenix, a hotel, immersive art exhibition and music venue in the Roosevelt Row Arts District, have been announced.

According to Meow Wolf: “Our hotel and interactive arts venue will redefine and reinvigorate the hospitality experience.”

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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