Friday, 25 March 2016

Butlins Bognor Regis - The Good and The Bad! - an honest review

Isabelle turned 2 on St Patricks day and to celebrate we had a weekend at Butlins Bognor Regis. I have been to Butlins before, when Oliver was 23 months old but it was Michael and Isabelle's first time - it was also Isabelle's first time away from home making it our first little family getaway together.

It's super easy to book a Butlins stay online - they've always got brilliant offers on especially just after Christmas! It's ideal that you can choose exactly what you need whether it's a hotel, room or apartment. You've got the option of self catering in an apartment which is what we needed because of Isabelle having so many allergies she can't eat out but they also offer a great value catering package too which we would of had if Isabelle could of eaten any of it! On resort you'll also find other places to eat including a pub, burger king, turners restaurant and papa johns pizza - there's a spar too, if you're self catering but it's obviously going to be a little more expensive so remember that there's a Tesco and a Sainsburys just 5 minutes away if you run out of anything and need to quickly pop there - unless it's super busy in the car park and you've got a good space then don't move the car! Good spaces in the car park are currently like gold dust as they're having some work done and seems to be less spaces than usual.
We booked to stay in one of their new Seaside Apartments, they are really nice inside! For some reason I assumed that they were closer to the entrance then they actually were - the map I originally looked at was very misleading and actually our apartment was right at the back which meant lots of walking with a toddler which can make a 5 minute walk into a 20 minute walk....or just pick her up and ignore the screaming I guess?!
When we got into the apartment one of the first things Isabelle done was found a screw and started playing with it! Because we were busy bringing bags in we hadn't noticed but luckily Oliver had and very quickly took it off her. No one seemed that interested when I reported the fact my daughter had found a screw in the kitchen ! What if she had of hurt herself?

Seaside apartments are either 2 or 3 bedroom, some of them have balconies or patios - ours did not but in the weather we had it would of been to cold to have of used one any way so didn't bother us at all. Seaside inspired interiors with a magnetic pin the tail on the donkey game in the kitchen area. There was a microwave and in the fridge it did have a mini freezer section - despite butlins on twitter telling me that they did not! Corner sofa was nice! Kitchen was so new that the oven smelt when we first used it! The shower was amazing and I wish I had that shower at home.... towels and housekeeping included - the housekeeper was my best friend. I had no idea she was going to wash up the bowls from our breakfast! (We had rushed about as we didn't want to miss Oliver's swimming lesson we had booked him onto - more about that in a minute) The children's bedroom was big enough to have the travel cot in also, the cloud night light was super cute! I want one at home and there's a Bognor regis cushion on the sofa that had an ice cream on that I really want.

In the main bedroom you'll find a double bed, bedside tables with lights each side of the bed with switches so you don't need to struggle into bed in the dark. There was a mirror with a stool - I used this as my make up area and a hairdryer is included too. In the hallway there is a full length mirror which the children loved. The apartment has blinds but they are all very safe with cords attached to wall and higher up.
The heating was incredible - it was only a matter of minutes and it was warm, also each room had its one radiator dial so you could warm one and not the other if you wanted to. I'd live there for the shower and the heating. There's a heated towel rail too in the bathroom.

One thing I think needs adding is a broom - yes you get housekeeping but one day she didn't hover because Isabelle was having her nap when she came to do it... trouble of taking a toddler who still needs a day time nap!

Skyline pavilion is easy to find - it's the big tent looking thing! There's loads of entrances around. It's where lots of activities happen and also has the entrance to centre stage the home of the evening entertainment.

Beach house is where we went to do some activities with some of the red coats, Oliver got to make a tapestry keyring. which in all honestly could have been more exciting! And if it was described properly we wouldn't of bothered going.
Reds is the home of the redcoats in the evening, we watched buffalo billy there and it was great! Oliver didn't move from his seat the entire time... Isabelle however wanted to run around but with the help of bubbles and food we managed to keep her interested for long enough. Afterwards there was some dancing with the red coats - the songs are still in my head!

Centre Stage is where you'll find more evening entertainment, we watched Aladin Rocks and also Horrible Histories here over the weekend. It's lovely and warm in there, there's obviously a bar should you want one. There's a few stands selling food including popcorn and hotdogs, there's a shop selling the famous bubble guns, as well as lots of flashy things and tubs of popcorn or candyfloss! In the corner there is a little arcade area which if allowed, Oliver would of spent all of his money in. Oh the tantrums over these places are so annoying.
Mini Golf, this was fun! Michael gets really competitive whilst playing this. He had Isabelle on his team - haha! Silly choice because she just runs away or hits the golf ball in the wrong direction where as my little team mate turned out to be better than expected! The course was long enough for us any longer the children would have lost interest in it. It took Michael a while to complete the last one and it didn't take Oliver very long at all. It was £2.50 per person to play but we played in teams taking it in turns so only paid for two.

Splash waterworld... firstly, I feel it opens too late... 10am?! What about an early morning swim, even 9am would be better wouldn't it? Children wake up early! They're at their best in the morning so it makes sense to get up and out early as possible really doesnt it? As well as this, I feel it closes too early too at 5pm. It really limits your time to go swimming and fit in the other activities too. The pool itself looked clean, changing room, shower area and also toilets. It's so warm when you're in the water but when you come out - it's cold. so so cold. It's as if there's no heating at all in the changing area.

On the Saturday, I booked Oliver onto a swimming lesson which cost £5 for 30 minutes. He can't swim properly yet so any bit of help he can get I think is a really good idea. I was so amazed when I realised that Oliver was the only one in the swimming lesson - no one else had signed up for it meaning that he had 30 minutes all to himself with not one but two swimming instructors! Amazing. He loved it and they said he did really well. If you're going - look into this!!! it's fun too.

Isabelle seemed to stay to the side of the pool but did have fun in her own little way. There's a little climbing frame in the pool with various slides and water features for the little ones. Oliver loved going down the big white slide however did manage to cut his toe somehow. Michael realised that it hurt his back going down there so probably better designed for kids over the big kids.

Beach is literally next to Butlins which is great, it's a shingle beach so we collected some pebbles to bring home to paint them. Oliver also collected some sharks egg which he thought was really cool. We're ambassadors for Sea Life Birmingham now so we are very into Sea Life and enjoyed looking for sealife around the rocks and in sea water puddles. It was so cold on the beach but if it wasn't we would of spent longer there. It was great to show Isabelle the sea for the first time.

Gold reception was very easy to find being close to the car park, it was very quick to check in and everything was explained to us.

Guest services is the place you'll go with any of your questions. We were welcomed with a big smile on the occasions we needed to pop in there.

Leisure hub is next to guest services and it's where you can book on to activities such as archery or swimming lessons. I was disappointed that Oliver was too young for archery.

Fairground is really good, small but big enough to keep little ones attention for long enough. However again, I'm not impressed with the opening times as this closes daily at 4pm which in my opinion is silly!

Football had such a lot of potential but turned out to be just between 5 and 10 minutes of Oliver playing football.... a lot of time was spent sitting on the side waiting to play. He was however excited to get a certificate and medal for taking part.

Butlins Store I was actually really impressed with, unlike other gift shops we have been into this store had loads of items for great prices - Oliver got a pencil case and notepad with dude on for under £6 for both. Isabelle got some very cute Bonnie Bear sunglasses for £4.99 which I know she will get loads of wear out of. She also got a little Bonnie notepad for £1.99. They sell teddies, cups, clothes, pens, lollies and hats to name a few things.
Tots funfair is inside the skyline pavilion and is great for little ones. There is an aeroplane, cup and saucer ride and a bug car thing! There's also another car on a track which according to Daddy Isabelle was very keen on. She was terrified of the plane... probably because we didn't tell her that actually it went up and down! oops. Luckily Oliver was sat next to her and so sweetly, put his little arm around her whilst she screamed.
Due to the weather not being that great, we only played in one of the outdoors play areas once. It was however good, it had a sandpit, playhouses as well as climbing frames and in warmer weather I could see it keeping both children entertained for a good amount of time. It was just too cold unfortunately - which isn't Butlin's fault!

Skyline gang is one thing that Oliver was very taken with! They are a group of fantastic performers. Oliver's favourite was Dude. The children seemed to be absolutely amazed by this gang... I was also sat on the floor ready to sing along.

Angelina Ballerina Isabelle was very impressed with the greatest dancer in mouseland show. She was up and dancing saying ballet.
Fireman sam we missed this one but he is there and it looks great.
Michael had Isabelle to watch Bob the builder while I went somewhere with Oliver, Bob's changed hasn't he?! Looks younger. Can he tell me how to do that in 20 years time?!
Billy and Bonnie bear... taught Isabelle to say Billy... on repeat! They are a pair of lovable bears.

The evening shows were actually really really good, definitely worth going to see. We got to see three; Buffalo billy, Aladin rocks and Horrible histories.

So much we didn't see including shops outside, bars, pub, restaurants and hotels.

My top 5 Butlins tips would be:
  1. take a highlighter! So when you get your whats on guide you can highlight bits you want to do.
  2. don't stress about missing a show you really wanted to see - it may be repeated.
  3. if letting the toddler have a daytime nap means you can go to the evening entertainment then do it! totally worth it.
  4. buy the children a bubble gun. It's about £6 and it will be worth it as it'll keep them quiet!
  5. have a towel at the side of the pool for little ones as changing room so cold.
 My 5 negative points about Butlins are:
  1. You can't go swimming before 10am
  2. Swimming changing area is too cold.
  3. Fairground closes at 4pm.
  4. You can't go swimming after 5pm.
  5. ok I can't think of a fifth right now!
What I will say is that if you need a relaxing break - butlins probably isn't going to give you that unless your children are older than mine but the children really do love it!

Mary-Kate, x

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