Wednesday, March 9, 2022

7 reasons why you should reconsider Butlin’s

 Say the word ‘Butlin’s’ to people of different ages and you’ll likely get very different responses. Older generations may talk nostalgically of cheery holidays in the gloomy post-war pre-package era, while to younger people it might conjure up images of cheesy entertainment, courtesy of the ubiquitous Redcoats, and stodgy British foods. However, whisper it, Butlin’s is reinventing itself.

It has kept some of the things that make it such a quintessentially British holiday experience: the chalets, the fairground, the entertainment (including, I was very pleased to note on a recent stay, a modern take on the classic British wrestling of the 1980s) and, yes, those Redcoats.

But it’s also offering very different holiday experiences for varying budgets. Here are seven things that might change your preconceptions about Butlin’s in 2017.

1. There are some very swanky new places to stay

Butlin's Minehead chalets

Butlin’s Bognor was the first camp to get more modern accommodation when the Shoreline Hotel opened in 2005. It’s since been joined by both the Ocean and Wave hotels, and the newest additions are the West Lake chalets in Minehead (pictured above) and the Seaside Apartments in Skegness. All of these are bright, spacious and a million miles away from squeaky camp beds and a sink in the corner.

2. There’s so much more food to choose from

While you’ve been able to self-cater for many years, nowadays you can also choose to eat in a range of on-camp restaurants or fast food joints, including one in Bognor created by noted chef Brian Turner. Or you can buy a meal plan and have breakfast and dinner taken care of for you.

While you’re not going to be dining on Michelin-starred cuisine, if you like favourites such as roasts, pasta, curry, burgers and stir fry you’ll be well catered for. The puddings are also pleasingly nostalgic, with British classics including Angel Delight and sponge pudding.

3. The indoor water parks have something for everyone

Butlin's Splashworld

Whether you prefer to float down a lazy river or speed down a slide, Butlin’s Splash indoor water parks have something for everyone. And you can have fun whatever the weather.

4. The fairgrounds are like working museums of British holidays past

Butlin's fairground

From the classic carousel to the whirl of the Waltzer to the swooping paratroopers (which give a great view of the nearby coast from on high), the fairgrounds at the resorts are as nostalgic as the rock ‘n’ roll hits playing in the background. It’s not Alton Towers but it’s still a lot of fun.

5. Kids can learn as well as play

Knobbly knees contests and donkey rides are a thing of the past. Now kids can learn about everything from space travel (in a rocket building class in association with the National Space Centre) to chemistry (through making a bath bomb) to drumming.

6. You can see the stars of stage and screen

Depending when you go, you can catch live entertainment from the likes of Britain’s Got Talent-winning dance troupe Diversity, toddler faves the Teletubbies and kids’ TV stars Sam and Mark plus a host of other theatre and live shows. There’s also a silent cinema in school holidays showing family favourite films.

Butlin’s also now runs music weekends out of main holiday season where you can hit the floor to everyone from the rock ‘n’ rollers of the 60s to the DJs who grace the decks of Ibiza in the summer months. In other words, festivals with no tents and some home comforts.

7. There are loads of other great things to do close by

All three resorts – Bognor, Minehead and Skegness – are right on the coast so you can step outside and enjoy the great British seaside.

Bognor’s seafront offers a traditional pier and is a short drive from the beauty of the South Downs National Park. Historic Arundel Castle and the Arundel Wetland Centre, home to dozens of rare species of birds and the endangered water vole, are a short drive away.

Meanwhile, Minehead’s resort is a short walk from the start of the South West Coast Path and is close to the terminus of the West Somerset Railway, the longest heritage railway in England. You’ll see the steam trains puffing along behind the resort.

Skegness has an aquarium and a seal sanctuary close to the Butlin’s resort. The wild coastline of the Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve is three miles south and is home to a variety of rare birds.

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