Last week, after months of anticipation, it was finally time for us to head off on our holiday to Butlins Minehead.
We were chosen as Butlins Ambassadors back in 2016 and this trip had been arranged as part of our role, so it was something we had all been looking forward to for a long time - especially as our previous trip in May last year had been such a highlight for all of us!
Unfortunately, it seems that fate was working against us and we encountered a couple of obstacles to our trip - firstly car troubles meant that we arrived a day late, and then we were all struck down one by one with the dreaded sickness bug (not something we picked up at Butlins as family members were all ill with it before we traveled!) so sadly the week wasn't quite what we had hoped for and we ended up only having one full day where everybody was well enough to go out and enjoy what Butlins had to offer, which was a real shame.
However, the beauty of a Butlins break is that there is just SO MUCH to do that even with only one day to take it all in, you can squeeze in so much! So here are our thoughts on our Butlins trip:
Butlins run a number of different breaks with something to suit every possible taste, We visited during their Just For Tots week which is just perfect for our boys who are aged between 4 and 1.
Most of the entertainment takes place in the Skyline Pavillion - a huge indoor space which features a stage for regular performances, as well as a variety of food outlets and shops to keep you going for the day. Just outside the Skyline Pavillion you'll find the outdoor fairground with its array of seaside classic rides from Helter Skelters and Boat Swings to Waltzers and Dodgems, and through another exit you'll find the Little Stars Fairground which is an all-weather indoor fair especially for little ones with rides such as teacups, slides and bouncy castles for them to enjoy. There is also a small soft play area here, and an arts & crafts studio where activities such as Play Doh Sessions are regularly held.
There is always so much going on during the Just For Tots weeks that our only struggle is deciding what to do first and fitting it all in! We have never found ourselves struggling for things to do as you are honestly so very spoiled for choice. You receive a Whats On guide when you check in (and can pick up more at any time from the information desk in the Skyline Pavillion) which I like to go through each evening with the kids to pick out the activities we want to do for the next day...I also highly recommend downloading the free Butlins App as this also features a schedule of the days activities and entertainment, and is so handy for when you're on the go!
Butlins Minehead has a fantastic swimming pool, Splash Waterworld, which unfortunately we couldn't use this time due to illness but we have used it previously and would highly recommend it - there is lots to keep little ones entertained, and the changing rooms are spacious and clean too.
We were also unable to make use of the kids sports activities this time, but when we visit Tyne usually really looks forward to the Tots Football sessions which are all included in the cost of your holiday.
Highlights of our trip this year for Tyne (aged 4) were meeting the characters and watching live shows, he absolutely loved getting to see The Mr Men perform and meeting them after, and he also took a real interest in Butlins own Skyline Gang this year too.
The Skyline Gang perform a number of different shows throughout the week, which is great as there is always something new to watch - our favourite was the Pirate adventures show! Even Noah (aged 2) took a real shine to them this year.
You'll often see the Skyline Gang walking around the Skyline Pavillion in between performances and what really impressed me was how great they were at interacting with the children, even remembering their names from previous days...despite the fact there were hundreds of children visiting that week!
During our visit, we were also able to see Cbeebies Mr Maker performing his live show which was really good fun - I hadn't expected much from it but it was actually really entertaining, even Jon & I were laughing along, and who knew Mr Maker could rap?!
Sailor (aged 1) was absolutely delighted to see the Teletubbies stage show, he seemed to love their singing and dancing as he clapped along with them. For Noah (aged 2) the highlight was certainly the Little Tikes towns - there are two Little Tikes play areas set up during Just For Tots weeks, one is a road area set up with lots of Little Tikes vehicles for the children to ride around and pretend to fill up with petrol at the Little Tikes pumps, and another is an area full of Little Tikes play houses and slides located just outside the main restaurant.
Another favourite Butlins activity for us is to hire a family bike and take a ride around the resort - I have such fond memories of doing this when I was a child with my own family, and it's just so lovely to recreate those memories with my own children - you can hire family bikes from the Butlins Hire Shop just outside the Skyline Pavillion for £9.50 per half hour, and I would definitely recommend it - it's such a giggle!
When visiting Butlins, you have the option of adding a Butlins dining package which allows you to eat breakfast and dinner in their buffet restaurants each day.
We dined each day in The Deck, which is their premium dining restaurant - breakfast and dinner are both served buffet style and I have to admit, as a very fussy eater this was something that really worried me as I just wasn't sure that I'd enjoy the experience but I really had nothing to worry about. The standard of cleanliness in the restaurant was exceptionally high, with staff working hard to ensure that tables were cleaned straight away - there was a fantastic choice of food available for both meat eaters and vegetarians, and even those with food allergies were taken care of by the head chef himself.
There is a children's buffet served at a lower level for little ones to be able to help themselves, offering the usual favourites such as chicken nuggets and smiley faces as well as more healthy options such as vegetables and chicken breast, etc. They even have a selection of Ella's Kitchen pouches available for weaning babies too, which is great as it can be so difficult dining out during that stage.
If you prefer not to go for Butlins dining package, then don't worry - there are still plenty of food outlets around the resort to keep you satisfied. We tried out the new Ludo Italian restaurant for lunch one day and were really impressed, the food quality was great and the price was very reasonable too - we managed to feed the whole family for just £20!
Before experiencing Butlins first hand, I have to admit - I had pre-judged it a little, assuming that it would be made up of run down old chalets with grotty bathrooms and dirty old carpets - so imagine my surprise when I was greeted with their stunning West Lakes Village Lakeside Chalets.
The run down holiday parks of the 70s are long gone, and in their place these new state of the art chalets are no less than you'd expect to find in a high end holiday resort - spacious, airy and tastefully decorated, they really are the perfect base from which to explore all of the fun and adventures that Butlins has to offer.
Our chalet was located right on the lake, and the children just loved being able to sit outside on the warm sunny days and look at the ducks swimming past. The chalet slept 6 people with 3 separate bedrooms, a large living and dining area with dining table, a kitchen with all the mod cons you would expect including a microwave and dishwasher, and a lovely bathroom with good sized bath as well as an en-suite shower room in the main bedroom which was really handy for showering at night without waking the little ones.
I really can't recommend Butlins highly enough for a traditional British seaside family holiday - the entertainment is second to none, there is always so much to do, and the food and accommodation during our visits have been faultless - for us Butlins is a place where family memories are made, and really...what more could you ask for?
To find out more about Butlins, please visit www.butlins.com
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