2003 has seen Alton Towers invest over £30 million into a new water themed hotel to accompany the existing popular hotel which opened in 1996. The new hotel includes around 200 bedrooms, a conference centre and water park.

Use the buttons on the right to navigate around this extensive construction archive, also covering the hotel’s first few weeks of opening.

The Concept

Alton Towers’ head of projects Philip Baker explained: “We always wanted to build a second hotel because the first was so successful, but customers always want to see something unexpected. So we’ve come up with something to create that wow factor, where children look upon this enormous paradise found through a window and push their noses up against the glass to get a better look.”

Almost 700,000 people have stayed at the original £20 million hotel since it opened in 1996 and the hotel is at full capacity during the season – although this is a fraction of the 12 million people who have been to the park over the same period.

Ideas for the second hotel to capture the market first emerged in 1997 and were steadily worked up into detailed proposals by Tussauds Group’s in-house design team. Part of the brand process includes creating a story in which to embed the various features. Whereas the first hotel featured the eclectic travels of a mythical Sir Algernon – including novel features such as singing lifts – the second is based around a paradise location.

Mr Baker said: “The story is that it is an island which is sinking and visitors have to keep pumping to keep it afloat. But as people succeed, this tipping bucket will pour four tonnes of water on them. It’s a cycle.”

Cariba Creek is centred around a huge twisting water slide, exclusive to hotel guests this 37,000 sq ft water park features water slides, jets and even the UK’s longest MasterBlaster : A water roller coaster, which shoots riders around the tubes, sometimes up hill with the help of jets of water. Cariba Creek is themed around a tropical paradise and accessible directly from both hotels.

The development also includes a conference centre for up to 400 people, combined with restaurants and shops. The investment is part of an ongoing development strategy to capture a greater share of the short breaks market, which is worth £3.6 billion a year.

The Conference Centre has been designed to meet the high specifications that today’s event organisers demand. Fully air conditioned and featuring a state of the art lighting rig in the main suite. The suite is highly versatile and can be divided into three sections if required, each seating 200 theatre style.

The eight syndicate rooms located on the first floor offer additional breakout facilities, each room seats 15 for a boardroom meeting or 40 for a theatre style presentation. Within the conference centre there is a fully equipped Business Centre, offering access to fax, photocopying and internet points.