A holiday can be hard to get if you’re a parent. Even if you get away with the kids how much of a break do YOU really get? I’ve just been to Butlins with the family, as part of a group of British Mummy Bloggers who were asked to check out the new Ocean Hotel. And it was a good break. I’d even go as far as to say I got a bit of a rest. And, we’re going back next February half term: you can’t get a better endorsement than that.
But down to the detail. We stayed in the new Ocean Hotel, the second hotel to be built on the Bognor Regis site. I enjoyed this because it was a smart new hotel which still was well set up for families. The rooms were great, with a main room and adjoining twin for the kids. The lack of door to the kids room was a slight disadvantage as it meant we all had to creep round when the younger two were asleep. But after a day on my feet going round the Butlins site an early night ws quite welcome. And, we all slept really well, which is often unusual on a family holiday when the change in routine disturbs the kids.
As a family, we had a great time. D, 7, loved it all and would have quite happily stayed there for a few more weeks. She started off asking if we could come again, and ended up demanding that we live at Butlins. J, 3, made the most of all the toddler activities, from Bob the Builder shows to mini fairground rides. His favourite feature, though, was the ‘disco lifts’ in the new hotel where he could strut his funky stuff whenever we needed to go back to the room. K, 5 months, found the main activity centre, the Skyline Pavilion, a bit too much. In fact, we all needed to retreat to the relative calm of the hotal at least once during the day for an hour of relaxation.
Access about the site was generally good. Dh uses a wheelchair, so together with a Phil and Ted’s buggy plus the three kids we need somewhere with easy access to have a good break. The two places that let the rest of the site down were the mini golf and Splash Waterworld. The mini golf is beautifully designed on a seaside theme, but is totaly inaccessible to the many wheelchair users visiting the site. The designer has randomly sprinkled large rope-bound bollards over the course, narrowing access. The course goes through a ‘lighthouse’ which was too narrow for the buggy. Splash Waterworld only appeared to have two changing rooms that were wheelchair accessible, which was totaly inadequate for the number of people using it. Dh gave up waiting and went to wait outside with K while the kids and I squeezed into one of the regular changing rooms. Aside from access, Splash Waterworld was the one part of the site that I felt let the whole experience down. In contrast to the rest of the site which was incredibly clean, the pool area was dirty. I know it was mid-August, but the changing cubicles had deep ingrained dirt in the corners as well as the day-to-day build up of old plasters.
Moving on from those specific criticisms, I’d still recommend Butlins as a great place for an easy family holiday. With the new hotel, you can book yourself a couple of hours in a small spa, knowing that there is plenty for the kids to do.
Costs: A four-night midweek break at the new Ocean Hotel for a family of four in a Mariner room costs from £366 b & b, up to £800 in peak season. I was pleasently surprised that this isn’t much more than the self catering accommodation. Many activities are incuded: if you have older kids watch out as there are plenty of things they can pester you to pay for as well. If you are near to a Butlins, a day pass costs from £15 a day for adults, and from £7.50 for children aged 2-17.
To find out more, call 0845 070 4734 or visit www.butlins.com