Some of the recent photos and posts from the latest Butlins Ambassadors made me so envious, I became a little bit obsessed with the idea of going to Butlins too. So when I got promoted at work, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to book us a break there.
I booked the new hotel, The Wave, as it looked fantastic and this was supposed to be a treat after all! Bunny was most excited by the idea of having her very own TV and DVD player on her bed and I liked the fact that I wouldn’t have to endure yet more repeats of Scooby Doo as there was a door to their “den”!
We set off early on Friday morning and dropped the dog off for her own mini holiday at a friend’s house. And then we were on our way. The journey went smoothly, but the final stretch, through what felt like a roundabout every half mile took a lot longer than I’d expected as there was heavy traffic being Friday lunchtime.
On arrival though, the smiles and greeting by the car park security guard reminded us of the excitement ahead. The queue to check-in was a little slow, but I knew to expect it, so wasn’t too fussed. After a quick lunch at the onsite pub, we followed advice given by others, and grabbed our swim things to test out Splashworld for a family swim. Bunny loved being in the water and probably would have stayed all day if we’d let her but we knew there was too much else to enjoy! I took her on one of the slides and then had a go on a flume but didn’t get to try out the MasterBlaster although it looked awesome!
Once we’d got our room key and taken our luggage up, we headed out to explore. The Skyline Pavilion seemed full of wonder for little people, with puppet shows, mini fairground rides, a softplay area and even stage shows with some of their favourite children’s TV characters.
Around the outside of the Pavilion were eating places offering all types of food. We’d opted for the Premium Dining plan which meant we could eat in The Deck restaurant – an all you can eat, buffet style option for the hotel guests. The food was fine – not gourmet but still tasty; there was plenty of choice and I never saw it run out. It was great for the girls as if they didn’t want one thing, we could just go and get something else. Although, the claim that the children’s menu was approved by Annabel Karmel seemed a little dubious as the offering tended to be sausages, chicken nuggets, chips or mash and baked beans. There were pasta and meatballs, but as my two aren’t too keen on meat (even the processed variety) there wasn’t much choice for them in the dedicated children’s food area. The adult options were fine though with a choice of pasta and sauces freshly cooked to order and vegetarian dishes and salads. The ice cream factory option was unsurprisingly a big hit for pudding though! And it was great to see fresh juice and cold water available for drinks rather than fizzy options.
On Friday evening, we watched the Scooby Doo Live show in the Centre Stage theatre which is seated cabaret style on a first come basis. Both of the girls ran to the front to join the other children sitting on the dance floor by the stage to watch and loved every minute. We queued at the end to get their photo taken with the stars of the show (sadly minus Shaggy for some reason) but our own photos didn’t come out very well and we lost the ticket for the official one unfortunately.
After a bad night’s sleep by all (nothing to do with the accommodation and more to do with over-excited and over-tired children) we got up fairly early to enjoy a large breakfast at The Deck before cramming as much as we could into our day. And wow! We really packed it in! We did fairground rides, we did softplay, we watched Mike the Knight, we tried out the play area, we watched a Punch & Judy show and then the highlight of the day: joining the rest of our hotel at an exclusive matinee performance of the Dick & Dom Show. Although Bunny didn’t like it for some reason – referring to it as “those stupid men”. Funny child!
On Sunday, we had an early start with an hotel exclusive swim followed by a performance of the Snow White pantomime.
Then it was time for more fairground rides, a show by Titan the Robot, more softplay, and a spin on a family bike kart.
We even ate delicious ice creams from the onsite ice cream parlour, Scoop.
And later on, we had a wonderful, fun dinner at the new American-themed restaurant, The Diner.
We ended our trip with a comedy/magic show that Bunny loved so much she wouldn’t let us leave at the interval as I’d planned. We finally arrived home at 1am with two sleeping children but two buzzing mums.
Butlins far exceeded my expectations and was incredible value for money with outstanding customer service from absolutely everyone we encountered. Even my wife (who normally avoids going away) woke up the next morning and said she was feeling sad to be home from it and really wanted to go again. Which is high praise indeed! I’m definitely going back as a good friend is having her hen weekend there next March over the 80s music weekend (and it just happens to be my 40th birthday that month too! Yay double celebration!). And yet, that won’t be enough. The girls are desperate to go again so watch this space. As Titan the robot said “We’ll be back!”.
Disclaimer: We paid for everything on our trip and I’ve received nothing for this review, but had such a wonderful time I wanted to share it with others who may be wondering if it really is as good as the Ambassadors make out: yes it is!