Butlins, Butlins, Butlins – a great time by the sea!
I used to read positive holiday reviews in paper and think “they must be positive as the reviewer got a cheap deal to go there”. Then last year Hannah got appointed as a Butlins Ambassador, and once I’d stopped cracking lame jokes (are they going to give us red Ferrero Rocher? Where are the Butlins Consulates etc etc) we chose Butlins Bognor Regis as our review destination.
And now we’ve just come back, I realise that, for a reviewer to give a positive review, the holiday has to be good enough to overcome the natural English traits of negativity and criticism.
And Butlins was good. Really good. Our kids didn’t want to come home.
Accommodation first. We stayed at the Wave hotel, and it was everything you could wish for in family accommodation: clean, modern, spacious and indestructible. We’d not stayed in a hotel as a family before and the children were very excited. We had two interconnecting rooms with us and the older boys in one, granny and the younger children in the other. All the children fizzed with excitement over their ship-style cabins with the bunk beds, and we loved the size of the room and our comfortable kingsize. But let’s not forget the elephant in the room:
We all laughed. Yes, yes lots of hotels do towel animals but the Butlins masterstroke was to provide an instruction booklet on how to make the elephant. It’s a step up from the towel roast chicken my mum showed us how to make in Minehead one evening.
We had a slightly unfortunate test of the accommodation – our daughter came down with Tonsilitis, so she stayed in bed for much of the last two days. There are a lot worse places to be ill – I pointed out to her if she were ill at home she wouldn’t have a TV on the wall and a view of the sea out of the window. We took it in turns to look after her, and I have to admit I rather enjoyed my stints of sitting on the balcony reading the paper in between administering antibiotics.
On to the food. We had a half board package in The Deck restaurant, which was a breakfast and dinner buffet with the option to swap the dinner buffet for vouchers to use in other Butlins restaurants. We didn’t have a bad meal the whole time we were there, and even the standard of the breakfast buffet was excellent. I travel all over the country on business, and have used a lot of Full English and Continental breakfast buffets, but never one that included pancakes, kippers, made-to-order omelettes and porridge. The temptation was to eat too much, and of course we succumbed to this, particularly on the first morning. But with a long enough holiday I think we could manage to get back to normal eating levels.
We were keen to see what Butlins provided for the children, as when we’ve stayed at Butlins Minehead it’s been as part of Spring Harvest, with its own children’s programme. The first thing Butlins provided for our children was a dedicated Games Port containing Playstations, Wiis and other consoles. Telling an eight or ten year old that they can play whatever they want, including Minecraft, is a holiday winner. Our older boys spent at least an hour there each day , and the younger ones joined in from time to time.
Then there were the live shows. We watched a full pantomime on the first night that was as good as the one we see in Epsom every year.. We saw the Skyline Gang show, the Mike the Knight show, the Thomas the Tank Engine show and the Puppet show – all the children liked them, even the older boys. If you’ve been nervous to take your children to the theatre, the great advantage of the Butlins shows is that the seating is informal, cabaret style. No one minds if you get up and walk about half way through.
The Red Coats do their job of keeping the children amused really well. Each live show had lots of the big kids in their smart red blazers acting as the audience stokers: dancing at the front, shouting ‘he’s behind you’, clapping along – what an exhausting job!
We spent most of our time on site, but went to Fishbourne Roman Palace on the second day and Littlehampton beach on the way home. Hannah’s spoken about that, but the surprise for me was how little we went off site – there was enough to keep everyone amused for much of the time.
The swimming pool (Splash World) is well equipped, warm and with good slides. Minehead Butlins has bigger slides ,but not all of our children can go on them, and Bognor had a family slide that even the four year old could go down. He did. Again. And Again. And Again. He was delighted.
All-in-all, a great holiday and we would recommend Butlins Bognor to anyone with children. We brought granny along, and even she enjoyed it!
We were invited to stay on a 4 night break at Butlins Bognor Regis as part of our role as Butlins Ambassadors. All opinions are our own.