21 May 2018 Attractions Management Handbook
 

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Attractions Management Handbook - Power Nap

Feature

Power Nap


Innovatively themed on-site accommodation can boost consumer spend at an attraction by extending visitor dwell time within a highly branded and immersive environment. Helen Patenall summarises some of the most inventive overnight options

Helen Patenall, Attractions Management Handbook
Fairytale lodges at Alton Tower’s Enchanted Village
The Dubai Parks & Resorts project being built in the MENA region will feature a Polynesian-themed family

Visiting an attraction for the day is often exhilarating but exhausting. High-octane rides will get your pulse going, spectacular shows will bowl you over and wall-to-wall themed zones will sustain the all-encompassing buzz. But the sheer size and magnitude of the park, the constant queuing and the ever-pervasive stimulation can get a little wearying, especially for children.

So how can attractions boost the amount of time that visitors spend at their park, the amount they consume and the amount that they buy – to maximise their profits – while ensuring that guests go home feeling happy and fulfilled, spreading the good word to their friends and family, and inspired to return?

On-site accommodation is one solution. Offering guests the opportunity to prolong their visit by staying at an accessible inner-circle hotel, self-catering villa or even campsite provides a refuge where they can re-energise – feeling refreshed for another exciting day at the park.

Inventively themed accommodation takes this one step further by promoting the attraction’s brand. Combining themed accommodation with ‘experience dining’ venues, which can charge a premium quite simply because the restaurant is themed, adds even more value to the sleepover guest’s visit, while simultaneously enticing walk-in day trippers to dine.

Themed marketing potential can also be capitalised on by offering associated after-hours paid activities and next-day early bird access promotions.

By lengthening a visitor’s stay and creating more opportunities for further spend, an operator will generate more income from selling merchandise and food and beverage offerings. The guest will go home having experienced a uniquely compelling and unforgettable trip where they felt fully immersed within an all-encompassing magical environment. Quite simply, it’s a winning combination.

Destination hotels that incorporate a theme/brand are also more likely to be recognised regionally and globally, boosting their potential to target a wider segment of visitors – beyond the current predominance for leisure guests and families.

For example, the ever-growing MICE group (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) can off-set the negative impact of seasonality – when schools are in, MICE are out. World-renowned attractions in the USA and Europe, such as Europa-Park, have long capitalised on this opportunity to maximise on their visitor attendances during the “low holiday season” and offer superb conference facilities and corporate packages.

However, operators working in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have not fully grasped this potential, partly because these regions are yet to develop a large-scale enough attraction to entice a long visitor stay. But this is changing – and fast. The sheer number of attractions under construction in MENA, like Legoland Dubai, Motiongate Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai, is opening up opportunities for operators to capitalise on their brands by launching themed accommodation and dining at these parks. It’ll be interesting to see whether the “theme, sleep and dine” option is an all-round global winner.

Legoland Hotels

Windsor, UK and Florida, USA
Opened: Spring 2015

The Lego Friends product range launched in 2012 has become such a hit that the brand has now been incorporated into two Legoland Resorts – in the UK and USA.

“The new LEGO® Friends rooms at the Windsor Resort bring a fourth theme to the 150-room hotel, joining the existing Kingdom, Pirate and Adventure rooms. From the bright wall graphics to the Lego models of the Friends’ favourite pets, the ten new rooms are pure Heartlake City,” says PR executive Lauren Beaty.

The Legoland Windsor Resort Hotel backs onto the theme park and has provided guests with on-site accommodation since its construction in 2012. Launched in March, the new Friends rooms are a welcomed update to the existing branded offering. In May, a new Heartlake City zone and a Heartlake City Express train also opened at the theme park.

Across the Atlantic, a completely new Legoland Hotel opened this Spring at the Legoland Florida Resort. Offering visitors the option of four themed bedrooms (Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure or Friends), the offering is fully themed, complete with a children’s “check-in desk” and a castle play area in the lobby. Its location, just 130 kid steps from the park’s entrance, makes it ideal for early morning access.

Adrian Jones, general manager of Legoland Florida, says: “The hotel is a fully immersive experience, with a number of exclusive features unique to Legoland Florida. We’re excited to welcome families to stay and play with us for the first time.”

 



Lego Friends-themed bedrooms are available at the Legoland Windsor and Florida Hotels
 


Lego Friends-themed bedrooms are available at the Legoland Windsor and Florida Hotels
 
Puy du Fou Hotels

Les Epesses, France
Opened: 2007-2014

The world-renowned Puy du Fou theme park destination is all about immersing the guest within an engaging historical environment hosted by real actors and animals. The concept has been so well received that new parks are being rolled out in the Crimea, Russia and the UK.

By offering unique historically themed accommodation, the park’s president, Nicolas De Villiers, has capitalised on Puy du Fou’s reputation for successfully engaging all the senses. Speaking exclusively to Attractions Management, he reveals that “Puy du Fou’s themed hotels get the success because they are the prolongation of the travel in history that we offer to our guests. When you stay at Puy du Fou you can choose the historical age that you prefer to sleep in”.

The historical ages on offer stretch from the Roman Empire through to the Renaissance. In 2007, the 100-family room Gallo Roma Villa opened to lengthen the visitor stay within the splendour of Ancient Rome. Hotel Le Logis de Lescure was hot on its heels when it opened in 2009, with a selection of charming 18th century-styled rooms. Just one year on, Clovis Island offered guests something entirely different. Located within a natural setting and surrounded by water, thatch-roofed lakeside stilt houses take visitors back to the 5th century Merovingian period. Last year saw the fourth themed accommodation offering, with The Field of the Cloth of Gold – a field full of flamboyant lodges that replicate the splendour of royal residences during the Renaissance. Overnight guests can enjoy Discovery Workshops, like Journey to the Heart of Falconry and Marc Veyrat’s Aromatic Journey.

 



Hotel Le Logis de Lescure offers charming 18th century-styled suites for the overnight enjoyment of staying guests
Henn-na Hotel

Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki, Japan
Opened: 17 July 2015

Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Nagasaki has opened a new hotel themed with a unique twist – it’s staffed almost entirely by robots known as actoids! In line with the hotel’s name, Henn-na Hotel – meaning ‘Evolve’ – and its slogan, ‘A Commitment for Evolution’, the 72-bedroom hotel will further “evolve with cutting-edge technology”, says a spokesperson for Huis Ten Bosch. 

The ‘actoids’ blink, ‘breath’, make eye contact, respond to body language, and speak fluent Chinese, Japanese, Korean.

And as if that’s not enough, they also provide a porter service, room cleaning and front desk management.

This futuristic hotel also has face-recognition technology, so guests can enter their room without the use of a key (although guests who would rather not use this technology will be presented with non-contact IC card keys, by an actoid no doubt). All room facilities can be operated from a touch tablet terminal, while radiation panels detect body heat to monitor and adjust room temperatures.

“We will make the most efficient hotel in the world,” says company president Hideo Sawada. “In the future, we would like to have more than 90 percent of hotel services operated by robots.” According to the website, “Everything will be available to guests on a self-service basis throughout their stay. This will alleviate congestion at the reception desk, thereby relieving stress caused by waiting in line.”

 



The futuristic ‘Evolve’ Hotel incorporates cutting-edge technology
 


‘Actoid’ robot staff operate many services
 
Enchanted Village

Alton Towers, UK
Opened: 18 April 2015

Alton Towers is looking to become the leading destination in the UK’s short break market – something Merlin Entertainments’ officials think can be achieved with the debut of its new Enchanted Village accommodation.

Made up of 120 fairytale lodges and five luxury tree houses, the Enchanted Village offers an alternate style of accommodation to Alton Towers’ existing hotels. The semi-detached lodges sleep up to five guests and sit in clusters of eight around a shared play area, while the luxury treehouses sleep up to eight and offer a private spa pool on an outside deck overlooking the forest. Keeping in line with the theme, the Enchanted Village offers a village store, as well as a themed restaurant called the Crooked Spoon.

“The long-term strategy of Alton Towers is to become the UK’s number one short-break destination,” says Katherine Duckworth, head of marketing at Alton Towers, speaking exclusively to Attractions Management.

“At the moment we’ve got two hotels and by building lodges it causes consumers to think about you in a different way. When they are thinking about taking a short break alongside some of our competitors, Alton Towers is somewhere you would think of taking a short break and not somewhere you would think of visiting for just today.

“The existing hotels are uniquely themed but are purely hotels. This is a different experience, this is an outdoor living experience if you like. Checking in and staying in a lodge for a couple of nights is targeting a different consumer group.”

During the day, guests can explore the Enchanted Village and surrounding area on the Mushroom Trail – an immersive hunt for the fable folk and fairy helpers. Duckworth explains: “The creative story that goes behind the Enchanted Village is that it is a land full of forest spirits and fables that live amongst the trees and that they are working tirelessly to keep all the lodges in the village neat and tidy.”

If that isn’t excitement enough, guests can negotiate obstacles at a great height before returning to the ground via a zip wire at the Enchanted Forest Treetop Quest.

 



Alton Tower’s could become the UK’s leading short-break destination
Toy Story Hotel & Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

Shanghai Disney Resort, Pudong New District, Shanghai, China
Opening: Q4 2015

Disney Resort’s first foray into mainland China might not offer guests the opportunity to go “To Infinity... and Beyond!”, but it does “Reach for the Sky!” with its choice of not one, but two Disney-themed hotels, conveniently located next to the theme park, where “friends and families can escape together to a whole new world of fantasy, imagination, creativity and adventure”.

According to Disney, the 800-bedroom Toy Story Hotel will “immerse guests in a world inspired by the toys from the Disney Pixar series of Toy Story animated films”, with an exterior designed to resemble the clouds-n-sky bedroom wallpaper of film character Andy and a courtyard showcasing characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear. It will offer a “playful experience”.

The 420-bedroom Shanghai Disneyland Hotel has been more ‘elegantly’ designed – inspired by the Art Nouveau period with just a touch of Disney magic – vivid bronze statues of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in the porte cochere and images of Disney-animated classics such as The Little Mermaid. Even the hotel’s central fountain with its large glass peony blossom – the traditional flower of China –­ will incorporate classic Disney fairies.

Both hotels follow through with the Disney-themed concept at their restaurants. Guests can either dine with Disney characters at the buffet-style Lumière’s Kitchen or even enjoy a fine dining experience and theme park views at the Aurora Restaurant. Toy Story Hotel’s dining option at Sunnyside Café is adorned with... you guessed it, Toy Story characters, as well as kites inspired by a city in Shandong Province famous for traditional kite craftsmanship for a local touch.

Hotel guests are further immersed in the world of Disney with character-themed room keys, toiletries and stationary. Disney merchandise can even be bought at the hotel gift shops. Facilities like the Mickey Mouse Playhouse, Hakuna Matata Oasis, King Triton Pool and Family Activity Centers, which offer educationally inspired activities, crafts, games and story readings with a Disney-Pixar twist, further steep guests in this make-believe world.

The US$5.5bn (€4.8bn, £3.6bn) Shanghai Disney Resort – a joint venture between Walt Disney Company and Shanghai Shendi Group – will feature a Magic Kingdom-style theme park; a Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure attraction; a retail, dining and entertainment venue; and a large green space reaffirming its focus on sustainability and nature. Although classic Disney storytelling and characters will be out and about, authentic cultural touches and themes have also been carefully tailored to suit Chinese visitors.

According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, “We just topped off our signature Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and we’re nearing completion on iconic features throughout the park, including the largest castle we’ve ever built. We’re getting ready to start casting hundreds of performers. It’s thrilling to see Shanghai Disney Resort rapidly coming to life.”

 



Toy Story Hotel will offer guests a “playful experience” during their stay at the new Shanghai Disney Resort
Hotel Bell Rock

Europa-Park, Germany
Opened: 2012

Last year, more than five million visitors came to Germany’s biggest theme park to enjoy more than 100 attractions and shows. Five luxury themed hotels and a Michelin-star restaurant has transformed it into an ideal short-break destination.

Back in 1995, owners the Mack family decided to capitalise on Europa-Park’s success by opening El Andaluz – the first hotel to be located in a German theme park. During its first year of operation, the occupancy rate at the Spanish-villa themed hotel reached 87 per cent.

Building on this success, quite literally, brought about the park’s second hotel in 1999 with Castillo Alcazar, which replicates a Spanish castle. A fine move, as the combined hotel occupancy rate in 2000 hit a spectacular 97.7 per cent.

Next came the Roman-Italian styled Colosseo hotel, with its 95 per cent occupancy rate during its first year, and in 2007 Santa Isabel came onto the scene in the style of a Portuguese monastery.

Themed on New England, Hotel Bell Rock was built in 2012. Along with its gourmet restaurant, Ammolite, it represents the biggest investment in the history of Europa-Park – and one that has paid dividends. Ammolite is the world’s only restaurant in a theme park that has been awarded two Michelin stars!

 



Bell Rock is the fifth and most luxurious hotel at the German theme park
Ferrari Land Hotel

PortAventura, Tarragona, Spain
Opening: 2017

PortAventura Entertainment successfully clinched the deal for Europe’s first Ferrari-branded five-star hotel and theme park. The new €100m (£71m, US112$m) Ferrari Land themed area opening at the PortAventura destination resort near Barcelona will showcase a premium 250-bedroom Ferrari-themed hotel.

Details of the hotel are still under wraps, but the 75,000sq m (807,000sq ft) theme park will offer restaurants, large simulation areas for car racing, and retail. There will be several high-octane rides, including a 112m (367ft)-tall vertical accelerator which promises to give passengers an F1 experience as they accelerate from 0-180 km/h (111.8 mph) in just five seconds.

“After the successful experience of the Abu Dhabi Ferrari World we have received numerous requests to launch new Ferrari theme parks, said Andrea Perrone, MD of Ferrari Brand. “After a thorough selection process, we have selected a solid project backed by skilled and experienced people and the opportunity to bring the Ferrari allure in Spain where there are a lot of supporters and fans, including a lot of tourists attracted also by the PortAventura destination resort.”

The forthcoming Ferrari Land Hotel is not the only themed accommodation option on offer at PortAventura. In preparation for the Ferrari Land theme park launch and to celebrate PortAventura’s 20th anniversary, €10m (£7.5m, US$11.3m) has been invested to enhance the theme park’s visibility and reputation as a destination resort for families. 

“The development of PortAventura Resort’s hotel range is part of our strategy to strengthen our international standing. The resort aims to become one of Europe’s best family leisure destinations,” says Sergio Feder, president of the executive committee at PortAventura. 

In April, a brand new luxury option called Hotel Mansión de Lucy opened. It features 28 bedrooms, two suites and a spa, all themed to reflect an elegant 19th century Victorian mansion. This was followed in June by an extension to the park’s existing Hotel Gold River. The new 78-bedroom Callaghan annexe is named after a girl called Lucy Callaghan who embarked on a journey to Santa Fe in search of a more prosperous life and struck gold! The settlement near the mine grew to become a flourishing city called Sullivan, and thus the new building’s décor replicates the golden era of an 1800 Wild West mining town.

 



PortAventura will showcase Europe’s first Ferrari-branded premium hotel
Adventure City

6th of October City, Giza, Egypt
Opening: TBC

A US$1.1bn (£738m, €1bn) Adventure City mega-leisure resort under development at a satellite town called 6th of October City in Giza near Cairo has grasped the trend for themed accommodation quite literally by the horns.

It’s still early days, but the masterplan reveals a safari park, a theme park and a film studio, with visitor accommodation being offered at The Safari Hotel and The Cave Hotel, in addition to a campsite.

Activities on offer at the African-themed Safari Hotel will include game drives and camel safaris, whereas The Cave Hotel will offer water-themed activities based around an artificial lake. Campsite guests will be able to access all these facilities. All three offerings will cater for corporate functions and conferences.  

The brainchild of Dr Tariq Bahgat, chair of Egypt-based company 300 Years History, has been working closely with consortium partner and leisure developer Chipperfield for some time on the project, which has now been submitted to the Egyptian Housing Ministry for approval.

John Chipperfield explains that “Back in 2009 [Bahgat] contacted me to go to Egypt and look in to what it would take to get the project started and since then it has progressed significantly. 6th of October City is an area of new development which is expanding at a huge rate.”

Work on the development could start within 18 months of the proposal gaining approval, as the architects have already been chosen, although remain unnamed.

“The government is keen to have projects of this kind in Egypt now because of all the problems that occurred in the wake of the Egyptian revolution in 2011. Now things are getting back on track, I’m confident the project will be completed,” adds John Chipperfield.

Canada’s Maple Leaf is developing the hotels, while Pinfari Coasters will make bespoke rides for the theme park.

 



The Cave Hotel at the proposed Adventure City theme park near Cairo will be built around an artificial lake where guests can enjoy water-themed activities
 


The Cave Hotel at the proposed Adventure City theme park near Cairo will be built around an artificial lake where guests can enjoy water-themed activities
 
 


The Cave Hotel at the proposed Adventure City theme park near Cairo will be built around an artificial lake where guests can enjoy water-themed activities
 
 


The Cave Hotel at the proposed Adventure City theme park near Cairo will be built around an artificial lake where guests can enjoy water-themed activities
 
 


The Cave Hotel at the proposed Adventure City theme park near Cairo will be built around an artificial lake where guests can enjoy water-themed activities
 

Originally published in Attractions Handbook 2015 issue 1

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