Legoland Hotel debuts in U.S.

Three million Lego bricks. That’s not what it took to build the first Legoland Hotel, which opened Friday in Carlsbad, Calif. It’s the number of bricks composing the 3,500-plus Lego models inside the three-story, 250-room hotel that’s Legoland California Resort’s newest addition.

Why this is important? Because the hotel’s target guest ranges in age from 2 to 12.

“In the parks, we call children the heroes,” Peter Ronchetti, general manager of Legoland California Resort, told Yahoo! Travel. “Parents will find that in Legoland Hotel, as well. All of the design, finishing touches and play areas are designed around children, making it the most child-friendly environment in a hotel. Ultimately, children come first.”

Legoland Hotel General Manager Frank Idris told Yahoo! Travel he noticed this aspect of the hotel during his interview process. “When I looked at the original story book for the hotel, I was blown away with how much theming was generated for the property,” says the former operations director of JW Marriott Las Vegas. “There’s nothing like it in the country.”

Indeed, the Carlsbad property is the first Legoland Hotel to open in North America. With the success of its predecessors, located on Legoland sites in Windsor, England, and Billund, Denmark, Legoland parent company Merlin Entertainments has had a Legoland Hotel in mind for the United States for some time.

“When I came to Legoland California Resort in 2009, due to the recession, there was a hotel surplus capacity in North County, San Diego,” recalls Ronchetti. “It wasn’t the time to rush in, but we kept planning towards the end of the recession. We’re opening just as the economy is freeing up somewhat, and we’re already getting a strong level of demand for our rooms.”

Merlin Entertainments won’t say how much Legoland Hotel cost to build. What is mentioned, though, are current rack rates – $149 in low season, $209 in high season. A recent special rate of $159 has already sold out through fall.

As appealing as rates may be to adults, Legoland Hotel’s themed rooms – Pirate, Kingdom and Adventure – are to kids. Of the hotel’s 250 rooms, 24 are suites with king beds. Additionally, there are basic themed rooms and 51 Premium Themed rooms with additional in-room Lego models and themed wallpaper. All guest accommodations have separate sleeping areas for up to three children with bunk and trundle beds. Additionally, there are two flatscreen televisions (three in suites) and free WiFi.

Beyond the hotel’s thousands of Lego models, many animated and interactive, there are other attractions to discover, including a Castle Play area, family swimming pool, fitness center and event/party space. Food and beverages can be purchased at various venues on site, including Bricks Family Restaurant, Mini’s Lounge and Skyline Café.

Perhaps most appealing is the hotel’s proximity to Legoland Resort California, just outside its front door. “It provides comfort and ease after a day in the park,” says Idris. Another perk: hotel guests have exclusive access to the park and rides an hour before it opens to the public.

As for future Legoland Hotels, talks are already under way, with various locations under consideration. “This is a really good formula,” says Ronchetti.