Friday, 6 June 2014

Why Butlin's makes sense to our family of five

Last week we were fortunate enough to be invited back to Butlin's as part of their Ambassadors programme.

More fortunate because we were an Ambassador in 2013. Being an Ambassador means we get to experience five days at a Butlin's resort.
For us, this year we chose Minehead.
I am pretty sure I can see Minehead from our house- albeit the Bristol Channel means we have to take the longer route.

Why did we choose Minehead rather than Bognor Regis?
Minehead is more realistic for our family, if Butlin's is to be believed, that all of their resorts are of equal quality, why would a longer distance matter? Especially when travelling with three young children.
Whilst Minehead does not have the amazing hotels which Bognor Regis offers, financially we will not be staying in hotels that often-we wanted to review a holiday that would be realistic for our family in future years.

And so, three children, aged 5, 3 and 3.
A Silver Bungalow with Premium Dining.
For half term week.
Honestly, I was dreading it.
This is our first experience of holidaying in half term- knowing that now Seren is in compulsory education that this would offer a realistic view for the future.
And given my only other experience of child focused attractions in school holidays, I was not hopeful.

And I'll admit, when we got there, I instantly missed all the things I loved about Bognor Regis.
Because, of course, the layout is slightly different, because the sea does have a habit of determining layout.

Within a day, all thoughts of Bognor were memories.
The children and Mr J have left their hearts in Minehead.
And to be perfectly honest, whilst it was a nice busy, I didn't have any feelings of impatience.
We didn't queue long for the children's rides or fairground, the children made lots of friends at softplay, we got to see the Pavillion shows, and the children enjoyed the 2p machines.
I didn't have any feelings whatsoever of being stressed and the children enjoyed everything.
The weather was miserable.
But it really didn't reduce our enjoyment.
Because here's the thing.
At Butlin's all the entertainment is free, the majority of the activities are free, the fairground is free.
It rains, so you watch Mike the Knight, Fireman Sam, or Angelina Ballerina.
You enjoy coffee whilst your little ones enjoy soft play.
You wear them out at the Little Stars indoor fairground.
You burn even more energy at Splash Waterworld.

And when the weather is good,
You enjoy the outdoor fairground.
You make the most of all the parks dotted around.
You can even cross the road to the beach.

I did describe Minehead as more focused on the self-catering audience.
We enjoyed premium dining at Minehead, which allowed us to eat at The Deck and The Yacht Club.
Unlike Bognor Regis we weren't able to make an exchange for vouchers to eat at the other restaurants dotted around the resort.
I missed this, with the knowledge that your meals are paid for, there is definitely no temptation to eat in other places.
And whilst I am not 100%, it did seem like the Skyline Pavilion had more eateries to cater for those self-catering.
Admittedly we had no complaints whatsoever about The Deck or The Yacht Club, especially for young children, who don't have the best restaurant behaviour and can sometimes be fussy. Buffet style eating is absolutely perfect.
And whilst we made the most of our dining plan, and only needed a teeny top up at lunch.
We did make an exception and tried out the ice-cream parlour.
Oh, yes, how we loved 'Scoop'.
It was fantastic!

The break would have cost £1,318.
Oh my!
Our accommodation was £1,024. £256 a night. £51 per person.
If we try and stay in any hotel, we have to book two rooms- a budget of £128 per room. And that seems reasonable- we could probably come in under that budget in most places outside London.
Butlin's does have the benefit of three bedrooms, a lounge and kitchen.
Plus we then had all our entertainment included, access to Splash WaterWorld and the fairground.
I wonder how you'd cost the swimming, the entertainment, the soft play, and the fairground/
Oh, and we had the double buggy which neatly fitted in our bungalow- which few hotel rooms can manage.

Our food plan was costed at £294.
£24 per adult per day, and for our under 5's it's £6 per child (for 6-14 year olds it's £12).
That's breakfast and dinner.
And I would say it's three courses... but if you've met Mr J you know how he loves his eight course meals (he calls it tapas...).
We couldn't eat out for that.
And whilst we could probably eat in.... I really begrudge cooking and washing dishes on holiday.
And, given you eat minimally at lunch as a result...
It definitely offers value for money.
So, of course, they'll be more posts about our break over the next week or so...
And, of course, Mr J is frantically trying to book a break at Minehead over the summer holidays for him, his mum and Seren.
And, completely stereotyping, if he thinks it's value for money, and he's from Yorkshire...
... There's no arguing!

Disclosure: As Butlin's Ambassadors we received a five day break in a Silver Bungalow with a Premium Dining Plan for the purposes of this review. All views and opinions contained are our own.


  1. I'm glad you had a good time and it was better than expected. It is great that all the entertainment is free, must make things so much easier x

  2. Looks like you've had a great time. We are yet to experience school holiday holidays and I too am dreading it

  3. I'm pleased to hear you survived your first school holidays trip, sound like it wasn't too traumatic for you all. Butlins always seems to have something on for everyone, so no matter the weather there is something to do.

  4. Oh that sounds like a great break - I like the way you took everything into account and I love the fact that there seems to be enough indoor entertainment to keep everyone happy when the weather is not too good,

  5. I like the idea of an all under one roof, you've yet to try it though!

  6. i do apologsie Debbie i read this on my phone a few days ago and didnt pop over to comment on my laptop!!
    we stayed at Minehead last year and we loved it and really liked the layout actually. Having just been to Bognor i would say that i preferred the accomodation slightly more this year, but everything else was as good. we were also lucky to go during school time so less busy
    great review and i had no ideas MInehead also had a helter skelter now x

  7. We were Ambassadors last year and did Bognor and it was fab. Butlins comes in to its own when the weather is bad

  8. It's always nice when you have a nice holiday despite the weather. Sounds like Minehead was a lot of fun

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