Rather excitingly we were recently invited along to Butlins on behalf of Channel Mum to go and record and capture our time on their 4 day Just For Tots Break in Bognor Regis. Adam and I hadn't been to Butlins since we were young and never as parents ourselves, but after receiving a run down of all that Butlins have to offer in the way of activities and entertainment for children under five we were super excited to take our boys.
ARRIVAL / ACCOMMODATION
We arrived at Butlins in just under two and half hours and was so excited to see our hotel as we pulled up in the car park. I think we stayed in a chalet the time that Adam and I came when we were young, but I love that Butlins now has hotels and that they're all new and totally modern.
We were staying at the Ocean Hotel and we arrived pretty much around 3pm, which is when check-in starts, so as expected it was quite busy. Although, if you want to, you are actually allowed to arrive from 1pm to get your bearings and familiarise yourself with the hotel. One thing that initially struck me on arrival was despite the fact that it was busy and families were queueing for the lifts and then to check-in, the reception staff were really calm and polite, taking their time to explain everything about the break and the hotel to each family. I liked that, because it felt like they weren't trying to rush anyone along just because it was busier time for them.
The room itself was fantastic, it was large enough for us all, modern and really clean. Our main room had a little living area next to the bed, where the boys could play on the floor with their toys and where there was a sofa and a chair to relax on. We had requested a travel cot which was there set up for us when we arrived and there was a kettle with tea making facilities, a fridge and a safe. In our bathroom there was a great shower over the bath, which was perfect for us, as the boys have baths and Adam and I both prefer to shower.
We had our own balcony looking out over the fairground and the Skyline pavilion one way and then and we could see the sea the other way. It was such a lovely view to have and it really made our room feel extra special for us.
Ethan had his own room which was super cool with special lighting and two single beds in and a television (so he loved watching a bit of kids TV in bed just before going to sleep!).
And credit to the ladies who cleaned our room - their towel art making skills were just brilliant and had us in stitches! I'm sure they based these off of Adam and I. ;)
Butlin's offer dining plans to suit everyone. We were on the Premium Dining Plan which meant we could go and dine at a choice of different restaurants. We actually loved our hotels restaurant so much that we were very happy eating there. As vegetarians we hadn't expected as much choice as there was for us, we were absolutely spoilt. Of course, there were tons of meat dishes too, but also so many good vegetarian dishes. We are used to maybe having one or two options when we are away, which are usually a tomato pasta or something a little bland, but we had far more options and everything we tried was utterly delicious. Plus it was a buffet so we could eat as much as we liked and the food changed every night. At breakfast the chef would even make us up vegetarian sausages if we wanted them. We were seriously impressed with the food!
On some of the dining plans you can exchange your hotel evening meals for Dine-Around vouchers which can be used in a selection of some of the other family restaurants, like Papa Johns and The Deck. Ella's Kitchen pouches are available for the little ones which I though was such a lovely touch and Ethan loved the unlimited ice-cream factory and all of the yummy desserts on offer. Asides from the treats there were lots of healthy options for everyone to choose from and always lots of fruit out and water available. Ethan's apple-mad at the moment and would always grab one every morning along with a bowl of different cereal everyday.
WHAT'S ON / THINGS TO DO AND SEE
There is so much to do and see at Butlin's! You literally can never be bored. The fairground is brilliant for the children (and the adults!) and was never busy enough that you had to queue for more than five minutes. I don't know if it was because it is a quieter time of year for Butlin's, but the queues went down so fast, which was brilliant.
Ethan just absolutely had the best time running from ride to ride and spending as much time as he liked in the indoor soft play, he was of course elated to find the plane ride inside the Skyline Pavilion. I love how friendly the staff were, they would interact with the kids whilst they were on the rides and the kids would be in hysterics, which would then make all of the parents watching laugh too.
Whilst the fairground rides and rides inside were included as part of the holiday, there were some things that you had to pay a little bit of money for like the Go-Karts, which you would expect to pay for anyway, they were £5 to go on and so worth it as Adam was so happy to be able to take Ethan on them and they had the best time.
Ethan having fun on the outdoor trampolines. The man kept them open a little while past the time they were meant to have closed as not to disappoint any of the children who had wanted a go, which was so lovely of him.
There were different shows and activities for the children on all day long. The live character shows included Mike The Knight, Thomas and Friends, Fireman Sam and many more, all included in the break. If you wanted to, you could pay a little extra to see shows like Playdough Live, Dino Babies in 3D and Giggle Planet 3D, we saw all of these and really liked them especially Dino Babies as Ethan is dinosaur-mad at the moment.
There were arts and crafts on a lot of the time, with different classes for different age groups. There were sessions and classes to get active in too like Mini Bow, Balanceability where the little ones could learn to safely use a balance bike and get an award at the end and one of our favourite sessions, Soccer Tots, where the children were taught to learn ball control techniques and other football skills.
Ethan balancing on a ball at Soccer Tots!
My little soccer tot having such a great time.
The tots football coaching is so worth popping along too, the guys running this session were incredible with not only the children, but the adults too, we were all getting involved and having such a fun time. So many people were shaking hands with the guys afterwards thanking them for such a great session.
A few minutes walk from Butlins is the beach which is stunning. I, like a lot of people, adore being at the beach next to the sea so I just had to visit, even if it was for a few minutes as everyone was feeling a little poorly by that point. It was lovely as it was totally empty when I got there and the sun was just starting to set. I would have loved to stay longer and had taken Ethan, but that's something for us to look forward to next time we go.
We left Butlin's seriously impressed, it exceeded our expectations in so many ways. We were unlucky in that we spent a lot of our trip poorly and in our room, but yet you wouldn't know that because of how much we managed to pack in to the time that we were OK, if we had have been well the entire time I wouldn't have enough room in one blog post to share everything we had of done I'm sure!
And that's what I liked initially when I heard about the Just For Tots breaks at Butlins - they target families with children under five, so you know that when you're there, you're not going to be the only family who's child may not want to sit still at dinner or who may throw a toddler meltdown. And you know that you're somewhere that the whole holiday package has been tailored to your whole families needs. I feel like Butlin's have got so much right, they really seem to understand families with young children and have managed to crate a fun, enjoyable holiday that doesn't feel stressful. From the super-friendly, accommodating staff who go out of their ways to interact with the children and the adults, to the incredible well thought out early dining options and range of food available to suit all diets, to the packed non-stop activity and entertainment schedule that allows you to stop and then pick up straight where you left off to suit your family. It's all been thought of.
If I was too really dig and find some things that we weren't totally satisfied with I would say it wasn't always easy to get the kids close to the front to see the shows that were on on the stages during the day and evening, but this could maybe be more likely to us needing to arrive earlier than we did. I also found the queue for buying a toy for Ethan at the evening entertainment one night to be incredibly long, we queued for around 20 minutes as it was very busy. But really that is it! We would totally consider going back to Butlin's in the future, I'm a summer-loving type of girl so Id love to visit again when it's warmer and maybe when Logan is 3, as even though there was lots for him to do I feel like Ethan an incredible amount out of it, so I know that taking them at 3 and 5 would just be even more amazing!
A huge thank you to Butlin's for inviting us and to Channel Mum for letting us go on their behalf. We seriously loved it! To find out more about the Butlin's Just For Tots breaks please visit https://www.butlins.com/just-for-tots. :)
A VIDEO FROM OUR TRIP:
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