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Record-breaking year for Merlin accommodation with the opening of 644 new rooms in 2018

Alton Towers Stargazing Pods due to open in April and Gardaland Magic Hotel in May 
Strategy to turn parks into fully-fledged resorts and benefit from the popularity of short breaks

28 February 2019: Merlin Entertainments (“Merlin” or “the company”), a global leader in location-based entertainment, reveals its latest accommodation, the Alton Towers Stargazing Pods and the Gardaland Magic Hotel.  These new openings demonstrate the breadth of Merlin’s accommodation strategy, with a range of options targeting different price points, from premium hotels to glamping.

The four-star Gardaland Magic Hotel, which is set to open in May, will comprise 128 large rooms themed after three different and evocative settings: Enchanted Forest, Magic Ice Castle and Great Wizard. Opening in mid-April, the Alton Towers Stargazing Pods will provide an affordable glamping experience, each pod sleeping four, with heating, power, WiFi and early access to the park.

The company opened a total of 644 new accommodation rooms in 2018 and is targeting a further 372 rooms in 2019. Accommodation revenue for the year ended 29 December 2018 grew by 28% on a constant currency basis to represent 21% of the combined revenue of LEGOLAND Parks and Resort Theme Parks, an increase from 17% in 2017.

The company’s accommodation strategy is one of six growth drivers and results from the growth in popularity of short breaks which, in addition to fuelling international travel, has increased at twice the rate of longer holidays in the UK over the past 20 years – rising from 2.8 million short breaks in 1996 to 7.4 million in 2016¹. Merlin is increasingly well-positioned to meet this demand through the growing offer of themed, on-site accommodation and ‘second gate’ attractions, turning its theme parks into resorts and exciting short-break destinations.

Expanding Merlin’s accommodation offering extends the amount of time visitors spend at an attraction, increases the park catchment area, improves guest satisfaction and increases pre-booking. It also reduces volatility and seasonality, as well as allowing for operational efficiencies. The relatively lower cost to the guest of ‘staycations’ has historically provided balance to Merlin’s portfolio during more challenging economic conditions.

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.

Justin Platt Commenting on the record accommodation openings, Merlin’s Chief Strategy Officer,

Over the past five years, accommodation revenue has doubled as Merlin has invested across its estate.

The 644 rooms opened in 2018 comprised:

  • 252 room hotel at LEGOLAND Japan, developing the park into a resort
  • 250 room LEGOLAND California Castle Hotel, doubling the capacity of on-site accommodation
  • 142 room Pirate Island Hotel at LEGOLAND Deutschland, complementing the existing 319 rooms.

[1] Office of National Statistics