Tag Archives: Butlins

Butlins – A Great British Family Holiday

A few weeks before leaving the UK I had a very special farewell holiday with my family at Butlins Minehead Resort courtesy of Butlins Ambassador Programme. It didn’t quite begin as planned but once we arrived and the sun came out we had a great time.

Our party included myself and my 3 children (aged 8, 3 and 1), my brother, his partner and their twins (aged 1) and my dad, stepmum and one of her grandchildren (aged 7).

Our gold apartments were almost identical to the one we stayed in during our Christmas break , so I won’t repeat myself.  I would however highlight a few things if you are taking toddlers.  Firstly the doors are very heavy and sprung , my youngest children managed to avoid trapping limbs but I didn’t feel very relaxed.  My crawling nephew who is into everything managed to pull a heater off the wall, knock the television over and get into every cupboard in the kitchen, so needless to say they didn’t spend a lot of time in the apartment. That said, with the true Butlin’s spirit at heart,  you will get the most out of your break by getting out and out enjoying what it has to offer. My dad stayed in a silver apartment and was more than satisfied with the size and comfort.

The whole party were very impressed with the quality and choice of food, a difficult task to provide something to suit everyone in such a large party.


We were so lucky to have a day of glorious sunshine that we could spend in the outdoor pool, this was suitable for all ages and they all had a great time. The indoor pool was even more fun for the older children, though I didn’t get  a chance to go on the slides this time as I had to stay in the shallow pool with the little ones.  Getting 4 under 5’s ready for a swim was a bit of a military operation but they loved every minute.

Fairground Rides

bob the builders yardThe outdoor fairground was perfect for the 2 older children and the indoor playground in Bob the Builder’s yard was enjoyed as much by the younger ones.  The twins were a little young so went for a walk instead but my 1 year old had a wonderful time . We spent a good few hours there, there were hardly any queues and as it was undercover it would have been fun in any weather.


Primarily the shows that we watched were in the Skyline Pavilion . This was an easy place to head to each evening. The children were happy watching shows, running around on the amusements or playing in the softplay and we could get a drink from the bar.  My 3 year old was so excited when she met characters from the Skyline Gang. My youngest 2 avoided getting lost by wearing a wristband with my phone number on it provided by the red coats,  a great idea for peace of mind in a busy venue. Our favourite show was ‘I Can Cook’.  Katie was brilliant with the children and really energetic and engaging.  There was lots of audience participation (arrive early for a good seat if your children would like to get up on stage) and we all got to taste the produce at the end.  My 3 year old was excited to meet Katie and wanted to ask her if she could come to our house to cook with her.


In some ways it is difficult in a mixed aged party to get too involved in activities.  Many would have been suitable for the under 5’s or for the older ones but not all together.  The idea of this holiday was a final farewell before we head off to the states so we didn’t really want to split up.

There were quite a lot of paid activities, we chose a few , the children had donkey rides, my eldest climbed the climbing wall and the older girls went to the cinema with their nanny.  We felt the cinema was a little expensive, costing around the £20 mark for 3 children and an adult. The cinema was almost empty and may have been busier if it had cost a few pounds each.

Billy Bear

butlinsThe highlight of the holiday for the littlest ones was meeting Billy Bear everyday at mealtimes. My one year old now calls all teddy bears Billy Bear.

With 4 children under 5 it wasn’t always the most relaxing holiday in the world, but the perfect way to involve all the family and say goodbye to the UK.

Thank you so much to everyone who made our year as a Butlin’s ambassador a wonderful experience and all the best to the current group of ambassadors.  Perhaps we could bring Butlins to the US?  Somehow I don’t think the Americans would get it.

This review is based on a term time 4 night break during June in a gold apartment with premium dining.

Our Little Adventure

Monday didn’t quite turn out as planned.

The plan was a 4 night break at Butlins Bognor Regis Resort’s Shoreline Hotel with all my family as part of the Butlins Ambassador Programme.

We headed off at lunchtime, kids fed, dvd playing and on time. I happened to check Facebook before I left and Butlins had posted that there were floods in the Bogner Regis area and delays on the roads.  My dad re-set the sat nav to avoid the worst of the traffic and off we went.

We may have ended up  stuck in thisbignor regis butlins floods but 90 minutes later I glanced at my phone and spotted a direct message on Twitter from @Katiebutlins who saved the day. She was asking me to call urgently because they knew we were en route to Bognor and there were flooding problems.  I made the call.  I was told to turn around because the police had shut the road into the resort and there was no way in.  Guests with bookings were being given the option to return tomorrow or have their booking honoured at a later date.  I was advised that the best option was not to return tomorrow as the resort was like a swamp and that they were trying to get accommodation at Minehead instead.

A short while later our booking at Minehead was confirmed, with a complimentary upgrade for my dad.  We turned around headed past my home town and further west to Minehead. I wouldn’t have wanted to work for Butlins on Monday, having to deal with lots of disappointed holiday makers, but I think everyone understood that even Butlins can’t control the elements.

We arrived in Minehead just in time to drop our bags and get to dinner 5 minutes before they stopped serving.  When we explained what had happened the staff went out of their way to help, ensuring that our party with 4 children under 5 were fed and watered.

I am so grateful for the swift response to the weather conditions and for finding us an alternative resort.  I know as Butlins Parent Ambassadors it would be accepted that we would be looked after, but from the comments on the Butlins Facebook page it appears everyone was pleased with the way things were dealt with.

Today Bognor Regis resort is back open and guests are arriving. Though I was looking forward to my stay in the Shoreline Hotel, we have the added bonus today that it has been a sunny day and we even made it into the outdoor pool.paddling pool  Something we hadn’t bargained for based on the forecast for Bognor Regis. Sometimes fate smiles down on you after all.

Goodbye UK – Parties and Holidays

union flagI had a great response to my request for ideas for my British themed goodbye party yesterday.  Thanks to everyone who shared ideas, the party was a resounding success and stress free.  Using some of the ideas from the last post and some of her own, my 8 year old took control of the children’s party. She set up a stall painting faces and nails which kept a crowd of girls occupied for many hours.  A friend even spotted he’d had his name painted on his leg and in a haze of cocktails hadn’t noticed!

british face paintWe set up colouring sheets of Union flags and blank bunting inside (due to the wind) and my daughter decided to make this a competition.

Next, the races – sack races were really popular and prizes given out for the winners.sack race I hear egg and spoon races were abandoned because it became too difficult to control.

We had meant to set up biscuit decorating but I forgot and spotted the biscuits in the kitchen at the end of the night.  We’ll have to save that for another day.

The beautiful and unexpected weather made it the perfect British Garden Party, with good friends and neighbours and a few lethal cocktails.  We even had an appearance from my husband from the other side of the world thanks to Video Kinect.

To continue the British theme we are heading off for a great British holiday at Butlins this week.  Thanks to the Butlins parent ambassador programme we are heading to Bognor Regis for a 5 day break with my brother and his family.  My dad and step-mum are joining us for a true family farewell.  I believe the forecast is rain, so we will be sent off in true British fashion.

Butlins Minehead Resort

In my previous post I reviewed Christmas at Butlins.  Our wonderful family break at Butlins involved lots of activities that were not unique to Christmas.  Here I will explain what made Butlins such a great family holiday.

Climbing the Walls at Butlins

On our recent visit to Butlins Minehead Resort, climbing seemed to be a recurrent theme.

My eldest daughter went on the zip wire and climbed the climbing wall with her dad. She had been very excited about climbing the climbing wall since she had seen it in the brochure. This was a real challenge but the instructors were excellent and with a bit of help from dad she made it to the top. The climbing wall, rope course and zip wire incur an additional charge but worth it for adventurous kids.

Not to be outdone by her sister my 3 year old climbed the tree climb.  She had been asking to have a go throughout the whole break and we finally relented.  The children have 3 attempts at reaching the top and ringing the bell and the fastest time of the day wins a cuddly parrot.  My eldest reached the top all 3 times.  We were howevever, disappointed that it didn’t appear that her time was being recorded anywhere. I didn’t think my 3 year old would get very far but I think you’ll agree that she did brilliantly.

In fact I think if she hadn’t have looked down she would have made it to the top.

Butlin’s climbing wall is suitable for children and adults aged 8+, the tree climb located in the Skyline Pavilion is suitable for any age.

Christmas at Butlins

butlins christmas

This Christmas we decided to take a break from our traditional way of doing things.  We visited Butlins Minehead Resort courtesy of the Butlins Mums Ambassador Programme. We usually spend Christmas at home, but I can thoroughly recommend a Christmas Butlins break for taking the hassle out of Christmas and spending quality time with your family. We did many things on the break that are not unique to Christmas, these will feature in a later post.  This is our diary of the special things that are available on a Christmas Butlins break.

23rd December

We checked in at our Gold apartment and were immediately greeted by some lovely added touches.  The dining table was laid with a Christmas cloth, wine glasses, crackers and a bottle of bubbly and when the children checked out their bedrooms they found a lovely little gift each on their bed.

(Not pictured on a Butlins bed)

We then headed to the Yacht Club for dinner.  The children were given Christmas cookies on arrival while we were allocated our table (guests keep the same table for the duration of their break). The dining experience was a real highlight of the break.  Not only did I not have to cook but the quality, quantity and choice of food was excellent.  Food and drink were on a self-serve basis and the children enjoyed coming to make their own choice of food and using the machines to get drinks. The meals ranged from 3 -5 courses and included a bottle wine . Our meet and greet host Mark also deserves a special mention for his exuberance and energy and for going out of his way to make sure we were happy. The children loved his illuminated tickling stick.

Christmas Eve

Butlins had a special visit from 2 of Santa’s reindeer and we visited them in the morning.


The girls and I spent the afternoon in the Skyline Pavilion. We watched the puppet show and danced with Angelina Ballerina but the highlight  was Bjorn the Polar Bear. This amazing animatronic polar bear was so responsive and lifelike that the children were captivated.

One girl was chosen to be the first to interact with Bjorn and when she called his name he turned and walked towards her.  All the children had a chance to hold their hand out for Bjorn to move towards them to be stroked and as a finale he rose onto his hind legs when the audience clapped and made a noise like a seal.

The snow globe looked like great fun with its simulated snowstorm, character photo shoots  were scheduled here during the day. Unfortunately, by the time we considered going in (on Tuesday) it had lost some of its juice and the snow wasn’t falling and blowing properly so we decided to give it a miss. Next time I’ll make sure we get in early.

During the afternoon the housekeeping staff visited with a bag each containing a carrot for the reindeer and a mince pie for Father Christmas.

The girls filled out their letters to Santa included in the welcome pack. We intended to post them on our way to Father Christmas but by this point the post box had closed and we were too late.  I believe had we been on time the girls would have received a personalised letter from Father Christmas.

We had a pre-booked time slot to visit Father Christmas in his Enchanted Forest. The children loved being met by the Gingerbread Man and a fairy as we entered the  Forest and each had a good quality gift from Father Christmas (this incurred no extra charge).

On the way to dinner we caught the end of the firework display and my 3 year old who is afraid of fireworks was very brave.

After dinner  we headed to Reds for a few drinks, and to catch the Take That tribute band.  This was followed by an Adele tribute and Beatles tribute, but these were a little late for our kids.

When back in the apartment the girls hung their stockings on the tree ( we took a small table top Christmas tree with us) and put out the carrots and mince pies along with Santa’s magic key (Butlins apartments don’t have chimneys).

All of the Butlins staff went out of their way to help during our stay, this included the security man who helped carry presents to our chalet at 4am. As a minor suggestion if you are considering a Christmas break at Butlins, leave some of the presents at home. The time and space it took to load, unload and unwrap all the presents was a little overwhelming!

Christmas Day

The girls woke up very excited that Father Christmas had visited Butlins. Remarkably, we managed to get the girls to breakfast before opening any presents. On opening the door they found this note from the man himself.

The morning was taken up opening presents and we headed for Christmas dinner during the mid afternoon. Today the little table in the entrance was laden with chocolates, fruit and nuts and a glass of Bucks Fizz for the grown ups.  Our places were adorned with crackers, chocolates, a box of party poppers, rocket balloons and streamers, a bottle of fizz (yay!) and a little wrapped present for the baby.  We unwrapped it to find a Billy Bear bowl – very useful as I had been feeding her snacks from a china bowl in the apartment up until this point.

christmas dinner

The meet and greet staff soon arrived with children’s crackers and Billy Bear cups for each of the children. A traditional 5 course Christmas Dinner left us all suitably satisfied, before heading back to the apartment for my Christmas Dr Who fix.

In addition to regular Christmas television, the Butlins television channel showed the Redcoats favourite Christmas movies, this helped to keep the children amused.

Boxing Day

Today was our pre-booked time slot for the pantomime Aladdin. This was great fun and the girls really enjoyed it. It wasn’t too long and included plenty of catchy songs.

We spent the afternoon at the funfair before coming into the warm for coffee and hot chocolate while the girls enjoyed softplay.


For the evening entertainment we made our way to Reds for a Robbie Williams and Girls Aloud tribute and a bit of a boogie. The girls had made friends with some of the children we met at the restaurant and stayed up late dancing and playing with them.

27th December

Time to check out and say goodbye.  I can highly recommend a Christmas break at Butlins. It was great to focus on the children at Christmas rather than visiting and entertaining. I would love to do it again with a large family gathering …. I wonder if I can persuade my family to book for next year?

  • This Christmas break was in Gold Standard accommodation with the Premium Dining package (Dinner, Bed and Breakfast) at Minehead Resort.
  • At the time of visiting my children were aged 7,3 and 1.

Butlins and Happiness – New Online Resource for Families

Ahead of the Government publishing its own report on the state of the nation’s happiness next year, family holiday firm Butlins has launched its own barometer of harmony at home with a study of more than 3000 parents and children.

And while the majority of families in the UK describe themselves as happy and not allowing economic gloom to get in the way of their fun, both parents and kids just wish they could spend more time together. Parents say the need to work longer hours is getting in the way but children would rather forgo extra pocket money to get an extra hour with mum and dad. Interestingly the survey found that the biggest barrier to children’s happiness is spending enough time with their parents.  This reflects my daughter’s comments in a piece of work she wrote about herself.  When asked what made her happy, she wrote

Spending time on my own with mum or dad.

Parents admit that on average they spend just 68 minutes a day with their children, adding up to just 44 weeks in total before a child reaches adulthood.

This doesn’t reflect my own family situation, as a stay at home mum I probably spend too much time with my children for my own sanity.  My husband on the other hand works long hours and at some considerable distance from home so our time as a whole family is very precious.

Now Butlins has appointed its first Director of Happiness to help families overcome obstacles to “together time”. ‘Director of Happiness’ for Butlins, now that has to be added to my list of dream jobs.  Mark Hunter – one of the UK’s only Positive Psychologists – will advise the company on initiatives to help add extra sparkle to family life, starting with a new online resource for parents.

I checked out the happiness resource.  It is made up of 3 main sections:

  1. Financial tips from Family Budgeting Expert – Dan Plant
  2. Tips on looking great  in less time from Beauty and Make Up Expert Sarah Jaggar
  3. My personal favourite – tips from Life Coach Emma Ranson Bellamy  on balancing work and family time

The Key is about spending quality time as a family and Emma has some useful tools to help you reflect on the quality of your family time and some suggestions to make it more fulfilling below are a small sample.

  • Gain perspective: Make a list of the things that are important to you – everything from your children or partner to your car or phone. Then next to each thing write M for material or R for relationship. Then consider losing something from each list; how do you feel? Would losing things from the M list be a real inconvenience? But what about list R? How does losing these things feel? Make a plan to invest your best self in the relationships that are important to you.
  • Make a time capsule: Create a memory record for all the family to treasure in years to come. Your capsule might include family pictures and introductions to you all –  perhaps filmed and saved onto a CD; a newspaper from the day you put your treasure together; biographies of each family member with inside information on your favourite hobbies and TV programmes.

Agree to open it up at regular intervals, i.e. every 7 years and then add to it. This could become your own family tradition for years to come which grows into a unique and very modern family tree.

  • Reflect and wind down: At the end of each day find a moment to re-connect with each other. It might be finding out what your child did in one of their lessons or planning an evening out with your husband or partner.
  • Make a wish list: At the start of a new school term, get together as a family and make a list of things you all want to do. Good planning means that anything is possible!

A Happy Days game providing you  with the chance to win a Butlins break is also featured.