Forget Kiss me quick hats and men sat in deck chairs wearing knotted handkerchiefs, Butlins has hit the 21st century and it means business !
I have not been to Butlins since the Duran Duran days and I was expecting a grand Donkey derby, sack races and fancy dress costumes, but how wrong was I !. We were invited to stay at The Wave hotel in Bognor regis and in return I would write an honest, no holds barred review on both the hotel, resort and premium dining.
Check in was super simple, and we were presented with some Papa Johns vouchers as we had arrived too late for the restaurant, but this was music to my kids ears, as they are true pizza fends !
We jumped into a Jaws themed lift which amused the kids immensely, and we arrived at our interconnecting rooms in no time. In Arins words the blue neon lights in the Bunk beds were “Well Funky!” and my Daughter Emma bagged the twin beds and dressing table as her own. My partner Stewart and I were so disappointed to be in the room on our own, with a big double bed, huge balcony and door which we could close to separate us from the tweens and teen ( YIPPEE !!). With Free WIFI, TV’s at the end of every bed, charging ports for devices and decent hot drinks facilities, I could of quite happily camped out in the room.
Rumbling bellies got us back on our feet, sowe headed out for a scout around and a pizza feast. The vouchers entitles you to £15.50 for adults and £7.50 for children, so we had a huge amount to spend at Papa Johns. Now for my children, this was Christmas, birthdays and summer holidays rolled into one, so We let them have full reins on what they ordered. Drinks are also included in the vouchers, yet we still couldn’t spend it all and we all had the full on pizza sweats afterwards, but with happy, tired and full children, that wanted to chill out for the rest of the night, this was a parents ideal evening !!
The next morning, we dragged the kids out of bed, sorry I mean the kids dragged us out of bed and we headed off for Breakfast at The Deck. We had a really warm and friendly greeting from Tony and we were looked after really well, I am a ambassador for good customer service, and I feel really strongly about it, why pay shed loads for something and get a good product, but receive crappy customer service which can then turn the whole experience sour. Thankfully, everyone that we came into contact were fabtastic and we couldn’t fault them. With endless tea and coffee, pancakes, hot breakfast and even freshly made BLT in front of you, we all enjoyed our first breakfast at the resort. A pot of fresh coffee on the table would of been fab in all honesty, but that was my only negative comment.
A top tip for anyone going to Butlins is to download the Butlins App, as this will show you what is on, times and if you need to book in advance. I only found this out after having a chat to the concierge at the Hotel, so we sent the kids off for half an hour to The Games port ( which is 50 shades of fab BTW !!) while we sat down in the Soho café and planned our day. The Games port is a teenage/tween hot spot as it contains computers for Mindcraft and Friv games, Xbox, Wii, Play stations……you name it, they have it. This is a fantastic spot to leave the kids, when you need a ten minute caffeine fix or a child free moment ! The only downside is the Games Port shuts at 6pm, which is the ideal time to send the kids to entertain themselves while you get ready for the evening. However, this is genius idea to keep the older children content and occupied.
The Soho Café, was a pleasant surprise. When you are in resort, Butlins really have the monopoly to charge what they like as it is not really east to nip out and grab a high street priced coffee or snack, but rather than charge extortionate tourist prices, Butlins have generously kept them at the high street price, which is both attractive and pleasing to us the customer !
Anyway, we had a good look through the days events and most of the planned events are aimed towards the younger audience , as you have activities such as Dino babies, Messy time etc. Most activities for the older child such as Archery, target shooting or Go karts, come at a price. However, there is the Flexi pass which you can buy online before you arrive in resort and this will entitle you to three activities. There is a good choice of activities and my gang chose Archery, Bungee trampoline and the zip wire. This pass is not a bad price at £10 and for the more adventurous child, you can purchase the Adrenaline pass for £17 which lets you go on the Climbing wall, High Ropes and Free fall.
After the first activity, we decided to have a treat and we popped ( sprinted actually !) to the Ice cream parlour. There is an obscene amount of ice cream there and after drooling for several minutes we decided on Ice cream topped waffles which was sooooo naughty but oh so very nice !
A word of advice though folks, the Peanutulla Ice cream is not advisable for the dieter with rubbish willpower, as it is seriously Good !
The boys then joined in with a two hour football session, The Coach even kept the parents amused with his quick response banter, joking and no messing from the children !
He had the children in stitches, made them jog around the main Big top and thankfully tired them out ! The boys thoroughly enjoyed the session, even Arin who is a rugby boy signed up for the following day !
The call of the Fairground beckoned and we headed over with me lagging behind, I think I am the only Trolley Dolly in the world to suffer from motion sickness, and even watching a ride can make my tummy turn. However, I soldiered on and the kids had a blast. There was no queue’s, no drunken louts walking around and no soggy, muddy floor which usually comes hand in hand with a visiting fairground. Best of all it was totally free, which is often a real downside of visiting a fair with the children, £2.50 a ride soon adds up when you have three children to folk out for, so this was a big bonus !
The afternoon was a whirlwind of activates from Zip wires to Ninebots to trampolines and a thoroughly exhausting but fun day was had by all. We headed off to Deck Restaurant to have some Dinner and there was generally something to please all of our family. Stewart had the Lamb Jalfrezi, the boys ordered cheese burgers and had them cooked fresh in front of them at the Burger bar, Emma had some fresh spaghetti carbonara with extra bacon cooked at the Pasta station and I had the Roast Turkey with Cranberry sauce which was almost as nice as my own roast !
There were hot desserts and several cakes on offer but we were down with the kids, and all had ice cream at the ice cream station. We were all extremely full afterwards and rolled back to our rooms to get ready for the evenings entertainment.
The Weekend entertainment was plentiful and varied, a great line up for the younger child with loads of shows to get them entertained from puppet shows to story times. For the older child it is much more limited and while my daughter was happy to stay in the room and go on Snapchat, the boys wanted to watch the Beat Street show which was really professional and the Magician, who not only had you on the edge of your seat while juggling knifes also had you scratching your head with his tricks ! Even Stewart who knows everything , asked me how he made the pretty assistant disappear ( Ha Ha !!).
Sunday morning included a visit to Splash world, which was really good. As a hotel guest, you can visit the pool an hour before other Butlins guests, which is nice as it is a little bit quieter. One of the slides gave me a huge wedgy, much to the kids delight, and I fear I will be walking like John Wayne for a couple of days, the poor young lifeguard didn’t know where to look , bless him !
Unfortunately, we had to leave around four PM to get back to Wales as we had work commitments and this would mean us missing dinner at the Deck Restaurant , but thankfully the Flexibility of the dine around Vouchers gave us the opportunity to book into one of several restaurants before the Deck Opened. We decided on giving Turners Restaurant a go and I am sooooooooo pleased that we did. Turners is headed by The Celebrity Chef Brian Turner and he has put a twist on the regular British Dishes.
With a nice variation on the children’s menu, the sprogoons chose Macaroni cheese to start followed by Ham, egg and chips for Emma and Arin and Buttermilk crumb coated chicken for Ioan, and all was really enjoyed. Stewart ordered the Fillet Steak and I ordered the Lamb neck, with seasonal veg and creamed potato.
Now, My Stewart is a steak connoisseur and he likes a good slab of red meat. He still talks about the best steak he has ever eaten in Brazil ( yawn, yawn) and nothing has ever come close until Chef Turners steak was placed in front of him ! Who would of EVER though that My Stewart would have the Best Steak of his life at Butlins, Not me that’s for sure. I had to endure a three hour car ride home, of Stewart banging on about a good steak, and he is not a foodie !. This is a man who doesn’t care if you put a Turkey Burger or a Michelin starred bit of grub in front of him !!!! He was impressed.
I really hope this has opened your eyes to the dramatic change in Butlins, it is not the poor mans holiday anymore, but now a family holiday with a whole lot of funk, fun and class !
It even teaches you magic tricks to take away ! Arin was taught how to make things levitate, tonight he is going to practise levitating his dirty clothes off his bedroom floor into the wash basket !
Hope that you enjoyed My Honest Review.
Check out My Forking Travels to Mevagissey, Cornwall !