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Thomas Mack Europa-Pa Q Lines


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With over 4,500 beds, Europa-Park Erlebnis Resort is the largest hotel complex in Germany, boasting industry-leading occupancy rates. The appeal, surely, lies in the theming and attention to detail of the five 4-star and ‘4-star superior’ properties within walking distance of the park gates. The younger son of Europa-Park managing director Roland Mack and wife Marianne, 31-year- old Thomas Mack oversees all the Europa- Park hotels, in-park/event catering and marketing. A graduate of the Swiss Management School, he boasts experience outside the family business ranging from Gardaland in Italy and Busch Gardens Williamsburg in the USA to Le Meurice hotel in Paris and the South African Seidelberg winery.


Following the opening this summer of the New England-themed Hotel Bell Rock, Thomas explains why foregoing a major new ride in the mid-1990s in favour of Europa-Park’s first hotel was the right decision. He also reveals how, after being spurned by the major hotel groups in the early days, they are all now knocking at the door – but won’t be let in.


Why did you decide to add Hotel Andaluz in 1995, and what were other European parks doing at the time? Disneyland Paris opened in 1992, but after that we were probably one of the first parks in Europe to add a hotel. We realised that Europa-Park was too big to do in one day. We asked different hotel companies to invest but none of them believed in the potential, so we built our own hotel. We hired a hotel director, service people and a chef, but we were really quite new in this business; my father is an engineer, he did not know anything about hotels. Only two years later we had to make the hotel bigger by adding another building. Now of course everyone wants to build hotels here, but we don’t need them anymore!


What was the bigger priority back then, a new ride or a hotel?


There were many discussions about that. Back in the mid-90s we had to decide whether to build a ride or a hotel, and I think the hotel was the right decision. We always reinvest the money from the hotels back into park, and now our strategy is that when we build a hotel we also try and install a ride, like we did this year with [wooden coaster] Wodan and Bell Rock. I think although the hotels are beautiful, people come to Europa-Park first because of the rides, so you need one to feed the other.


Does a new hotel boost park attendance? I would say yes, because before we built the first hotel we had about the same number of guests as Phantasialand or Heide Park, but after Hotel Andaluz opened we could really see attendance going in a different direction. Now about 30% of our guests stay at the hotels.


Thomas Mack at Hotel Bell Rock


Why did you aim for a 4-star/4-star superior rating at each of the hotels? We thought quite hard about it. We didn’t want to have any conflict with the bed and breakfast guesthouses in the city of Rust, so it was kind of an agreement that we would do 4-star and the city would offer more low budget beds. Generally the people that stay at our hotels tend to be higher spending guests – especially the Swiss! – but we also offer have the Camp Resort, which has been a great success too.


What was the thinking behind the New England theming of Hotel Bell Rock? It’s based around European history, the Europeans who sailed to America. However, it is not pure European theming like our other hotels. We always wanted to build a maritime hotel, and we always wanted to build a lighthouse. We could have stayed in Europe, but we already have Spanish, Portuguese and Italian-themed hotels, so we thought of going to somewhere else; we settled on New England. It needs some explanation, but I think it fits perfectly into the European theming – a step into beautiful new world. And the lighthouse is based on a lighthouse in Scotland!


RIGHT: The lighthouse of Hotel Bell Rock can be seen beyond the Wodan wooden coaster – both new for 2012


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How difficult was it to persuade corporate clients to stay at the hotels when the park is not open? It was hard. We still have to fight sometimes to change people’s mindset, and that’s why we changed our name to Europa-Park Erlebnis Resort; Erlebnis means “adventure”. We wanted people to understand that there is not only the park, there is also the conference facilities, the dinner shows, wellness facilities, a 400 square-metre gym and much more. We can offer everything all the other hotels offer, but then we have all the entertainment. It took some time, but now our ‘Confertainment’ programme has become a very successful part of the business.


OCTOBER 2012


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