TRAVEL: Alton Towers’ new accommodation is truly enchanting for families of all ages
And this fascination is certainly reflected in the latest place to stay at the Staffordshire attraction – the Enchanted Village.
A refreshing alternative to hotels, the Enchanted Village offers families a bit of space to breathe after a long day hitting the rides.
With woodland lodges which would look quite at home in Tolkien’s The Hobbit and green open areas complete with children’s play equipment and wooden toadstools, it seems a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the theme park.
However, although the Enchanted Village seems like it is in another world, it is actually pretty convenient for the park, just a short stroll to the monorail which takes visitors right to the gates.
Each pointy-roofed, round-windowed lodge is accommodation for two families – and each has its own wooden verandah where parents can sit and relax while their children play outside.
Despite the name lodge, the accommodation is more akin to a hotel room than a self-catering cottage.
But the pleasure comes in the details from the rustic décor to the tiny little fairy door and window which the fable folk – the mysterious and seldom-seen inhabitants of the Enchanted Village – are said to use to keep the lodges clean and tidy.
As well as an ensuite bathroom, there is a room for the children, which is separated from the main bedroom by a curtain. With a magical treehouse mural on the wall and a fun woodland picnic design on the floor, the room was a massive hit with my children – aged six and three.
At the Enchanted Village, the focus is on the fantastical – elves, fawns, gnomes and fairies would be just as at home here as common or garden humans.
And if you get peckish, food is on offer at the Crooked Spoon – a fairytale tavern with a sense of fun and a warm atmosphere.
While the 120 woodland lodges comfortably sleep five people from £125 a night, larger groups or those with a bigger budget can stay in one of five luxury treehouses.
Costing from £600 a night, the treehouses are by no means a budget option but they come with four bedrooms, self-catering facilities, a 50-inch plasma television and games console as well as outdoor decking complete with hot tub.
The new additions to Alton Towers are part of a determined bid to reinvent the attraction as a short-break destination for families rather than simply a theme park.
There are still plenty of white knuckle rides to tempt the adrenalin junkies but now there is also a lot for the little ones too.
CBeebies Land, which opened last year, is aimed at pre-schoolers and has a new ride for 2015 – a gentle first rollercoaster based on the under-the-sea adventures of the Octonauts.
Elsewhere in the park, there is a 4D cinema experience based on the Ice Age film and, hidden among the pirate-themed Mutiny Bay, is a treasure in the form of Sharkbait Reef, a Sea Life centre, which includes the UK’s first tropical interactive pool where shrimps will clean your fingers and give you a manicure if you are brave enough to dip your hands in the water.