Friday, 4 October 2013

Butlins Bognor Regis - The Resort


Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, what to do at Butlins Bornor Regis






































As you know (you must have seen the big red badge on my blog's right hand side bar!), we've been chosen to be one of Butlins Ambassadors for 2013-2014! We couldn't contain our excitement and have been waiting eagerly for the day to book our first holiday break at Butlins! The lovely lady at Butlins has granted our wish to visit Bognor Regis during the August bank holiday weekend (we didn't expect the bank holiday Friday traffic to be that bad though!) for our 4 days 3 nights break. Abby was so excited she's been talking about it every day!

Although it's the resort that's furthest away from us, we heard that it's the most suitable one for family with younger children to visit. However, this doesn't stop teenagers at Butlins Bognor Regis to enjoy themselves as well as there is so much for them to do too. Really! There is so much to do there that I've been having trouble putting this post together even after I've decided to split it into 3 separate posts (The Resort, Wave Hotel and Food), and that's why the whole month's delay!















Our holiday break involves the following:

Who: A family of 4 with 2 young children - 5 years old Abby and 2 years old Clay
When: August bank holiday weekend break from Friday to Monday
Where: Butlins Bognor Regis Resort
Accommodation: The Wave Hotel Dolphin Room (with balcony facing the sea)
Food: Premium Dining - breakfast and dinner buffets included
Schedule: We are late diners (1pm lunch, 4pm snack time, 7pm dinner time)
Extra: Summer holiday Circus booked
Weather: Mix of rainy days and sunny/ hot days


Before visiting Butlins

As it was our first time visiting Butlins, we had no idea what to expect even with all the information in front of us. We arrived without much preparation, and felt a bit lost as we had no idea where to begin! It was more relaxing without a schedule though as we didn't have to worry about missing anything (apart from the pre-booked Circus). But you might want to know the following beforehand:

- Fridays and Mondays are Butlins' check-in and -out days, so they are quieter than usual (the best time to go on rides)

- If you want to make the most of your holiday break, it is best if you go through the resort map and entertainment schedule (pull out planner) before arrival and plan ahead

- Shows showing in The Discovery Studio requires pre-booking to guarantee a space (we almost missed Mike the Night!)

- Do consider your meal times as it might affect your show time.
Some shows require queuing, so you might need to arrive half an hour before the show starts (or buy a B-line pass to jump queues), and don't forget to include walking distance, which can be up to 10 minutes depending on where you are coming from and where you are going to

- To visit another restaurant using your Premium Dining voucher, you'll need to ask your hotel receptionist for the voucher the day before, and book a table at the desired restaurant

- There are things you can pre-hire from The Hire Shop (page 2 of document) before your arrival, which requires a refundable deposit. Do check what is included with your accommodation and what's not. You can hire DVDs and games through hotel receptions for a refundable deposit as well

- Rooms that comes with their own TV and DVD player doesn't come with headphones. We didn't have Apple phones that you can use with the TV but we plucked in our laptop using our HDMI cable


Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Skyline Pavillion

























Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Skyline Pavillion
Big indoor soft play. There is a smaller section for toddlers
at the back of the big one

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Skyline Pavillion
2 of the 4 free rides

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Skyline Pavillion
Billies' Buddies play centre for under 4s

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Skyline Pavillion
Arcade rides and games

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Skyline Pavillion
Proper Bowling Isle

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Skyline Pavillion
Story time with Bonnie Bear






































































































Inside The Skyline Pavillion

We have spent most of our time inside the Skyline Pavillion, as most of the things to do for younger children are in there (and because of the 2 rainy days as well). The Skyline Pavillion is fairly big, but as long as we told Abby where to find us, it was quite safe for her to roam around near the front entrance (where the free rides and big soft play are). And there are all those friendly staff nearby to help if needed as well.

One thing I noticed on the first day was that the staff really interacts with the children. You don't normally see staff at funfair rides giving the children hi-fives and make them giggle, but at Butlins they do! I was getting all ready for the kids to look at the camera but all they did was looking and waving at the staff!

We've spent a fair bit of time (and money!) at the arcades as Abby was eyeing at the soft plush toys! The kids really wanted a Minion (there was these really massive ones as well in one of the £1 per game machine), but they were really hard to catch. At the end hubby managed to grab a Hello Kitty plush, which is also Abby's favourite. As Clay was fascinated by the racing car games, it was quite safe to let him sit there while we worked on the toys.

I was quite surprised to see a proper bowling area inside the arcade, with proper shoes and massive bowling balls. Abby was a bit disappointed as she wanted to play the kiddy one. Luckily on our 3rd day we managed to find the kiddy bowling isle in the arcade located outside the Skyline Pavillion, near the Fairground.



Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Skyline Pavillion entertainments



























Entertainment Shows

Abby was completely distracted by the arcades, and wasn't too fussed with the shows, but Clay really enjoyed the singing, dancing and funny stories, especially with his favourite characters Fireman Sam and Mike the Knight (some shows varies each season). I also think that the shows were really entertaining and you can tell that the staffs were really putting 100% effort into performing.

The easiest place to watch shows is at the Skyline Pavillion, as most family will be there already, and there is no need to queue up for the show either. Shows like Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Disco for Tots, etc are shown here as well as the Skyline Gang's performances. Shows showing in The Discovery Studio such as Mike the Night requires advance booking, however. We didn't realise that but the staff at the door were kind and told us to wait for availability. At the end as it was so popular they opened the overflow areas as well so most of the walk in family managed to get a seat.

There are a few other theatres as well that requires queuing up in advance to go in. The recommended queuing time is half an hour before the show starts, or you can buy a B-line pass to jump the queues. It is especially handy if you find that you have a tight schedule or have children who aren't keen in queuing.

Some people might consider that, if you go to Butlins but not watching the shows, it's a waste of money. I think that as long as you enjoyed your holiday, the kids had fun doing what they wanted to do (there is so much of other things to do!), even if some shows (very good shows though!) were missed, Butlins is still a great resort for family breaks.


Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins outdoor play

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins outdoor play

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins outdoor play

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins outdoor play

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins outdoor play




































Outdoor Play

There are of course plenty to do outside the Skyline Pavillion as well. We had one and a half day of rain during our break, but luckily the weather cleared up and we managed to fully enjoy what Butlins had to offer for outdoor play!

As you may know, the beach in the region are made of stone, not sand. However, at Butlins Bognor Regis, children can still enjoy playing with sand at a little enclosed area for young children next to the Shoreline Hotel. It's nice to bring young children there to play with sand and swings. They also have a fascinating water pump, that pumps out water from somewhere that goes into the buckets, and children can use the water to make their sand creations! It just happen that Abby and Clay each won a mini bucket set from the dart throwing game (we tried to win a Minion, and we were missing just that one point! Argh!), which was perfect to use there!


Abby recently learned how to  cheat  play mini golf with her dad, so the Adventure Golf wasn't to miss when the sun was shining! It's a 9 hole mini golf with a queue during the hot sunny day. It was hilarious watching the kids (and not just ours!) doing all sorts to get the golf balls into the hole, especially for the last hole where they literally drag and push the ball up with the club onto a steep slope to get to it! I found the 7th (I think) hole really interesting as it goes through the mini windmill!

A tip for family with strollers or prams, the golf course is one way and there is no other exit in between the start and exit point. I pushed our MacLaren stroller in and couldn't go back as there was a lot of people behind us. It fitted through the whole golf course no problem apart from the mini windmill where I had to lift the stroller up to get it through, so it's probably best to leave any prams/ stroller outside the golf course (the exit is next to the entrance).


There is also the Fairground of course, with rides for older kids. There are also funfair games such as Hook a Duck, throwing darts and balls, an arcade nearby, a fairly big Go Kart area and you can also play Bumper Car. Everyone was amused when they heard the staff telling them not to bump into other cars and only drive clockwise, but most people did listen to the rules and hubby and Abby had a fairly smooth ride.


I think the most enjoyable outdoor play Abby had was her first time being in a WaterWalker. Same as outside, it cost £5 a go, but was really worth it. It was quite funny watching the younger kids trying to balance themselves without falling over! Abby did a few somersaults and after a few minutes she was knackered (hurray!). I'm really impressed with the staff who looked after the WaterWalker, as the girls had to pull the balls up onto the landing area, which was really hard, and one of them was almost rolled over by one of the ball with a girl inside! The constant pumping and draining air, pushing the ball out and dragging them back in is like working out at the gym!


Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins for teens

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins for teens
















For the Older Kids

When we first arrived Butlins Bognor Regis, most of the things I saw were meant for younger children, and I did wonder whether there were enough for older children and teenagers to do. Although I haven't investigated each entertainment further, there are actually quite a lot of things for them to do.

Inside the Skyline Pavillion is The Zone, and if I'm not wrong, it's a gaming zone where older kids compete against each other at video games. There is also a very spacious Games Port inside the Wave Hotel where kids can play all sorts of console games. Don't forget the DS games they can rent through hotel receptions and their personal TV as well inside the hotel rooms!

The Arcade, Bowling, outdoor Fairground rides, Go-Kart, Bumper Car, Splash Waterworld etc are all suitable for them to play as well. Then there is a lot of courses they can take part in (through the Leisure Hub) including football coaching, archery, driving school, and the Aerial Adventure (now that is something!), giving them plenty of activities to do.

While we were there, we saw lots of families that have a mixture of older and younger children, and as far as I can tell, none of the kids were unhappy, so they must be enjoying themselves in their own way!


Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins Splash WaterWorld

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins Splash WaterWorld
Stock photo from Butlins




































Splash WaterWorld

This was one of the things we did prepare ourselves for- the Splash WaterWorld! I was gutted that I couldn't go into the pool because everything seemed so fun and even I wanted to play! It did give me a good chance to observe from above in the balcony area though, which you can enter through the stairs on the side of the building.

Note:

- There used to be a cafe in the balcony area, which is not in use anymore. There are vending machines, chairs and tables in the balcony area, and food from outside the Splash WaterWorld are welcome.

- Like all the other pool area in the UK, filming and taking pictures are forbidden. I hope that the above picture that I took is fine as I'd like to give you an idea of what it's like on the balcony area.

- Swimming is allowed only in the Wave pool when the wave machine isn't running or about to start. You will be advised by the life guards when it's about to start, and a long sharp loud beep (you won't miss it) will also tell you when the wave machine starts/ stops. Other areas are unsuitable/ unsafe for swimming as they are either too shallow or busy with kids splashing about.

-Pool temperature on the day we visited was at 30 degree Celsius


The Splash WaterWorld exits straight into the Skyline Pavillion's Arcade, which is very handy to slowly cool yourself down without being thrown straight into the cold (depending on the weather of course). Like other pools, you can more or less get everything you need for swimming from the reception area, so even if you forgot something like swimming nappies, there is no need to panic.

The wave pool itself is fascinating enough, but of course with young children, they'd prefer to stay in the more kiddy friendly pools. Abby was more interested in the Dolphin slide than anything else and hardly venture further, while Clay was getting adventurous and started paddling away from the safety of his daddy's arms.

There is also a big sprinkler area, bubble pool, a massive 4 lane slide for older kids and adults, a bubble boat ride and a tunnel slide that goes all around the Splash WaterWorld. I also saw a giant funnel where people dropped in (I'm guessing from the tunnel slide but I could be wrong) and went around it before popping out from the bottom, it was hilarious to watch!

We would have loved to visit again but the kids wanted to do something else ("Mummy let's try to get that minion again from the machine!"). It's definitely a place I'd keep going back to for the longer breaks at Butlins!


Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins Circus

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins clowns
















Additional Entertainments

As mentioned before, Butlins do seasonal shows on top of their regular ones, and this Summer they have popped up a Circus tent near the Fairground, which was the only show we actually booked for. As we eat quite late as mentioned at the beginning of this post, hubby and Clay ended up missing the show (with young children, we have learned to be flexible with our schedules).

The Circus was a bit shorter than I expected, (but for £5 per person it was about right) but it was absolutely entertaining! All the performers were really skillful and impressive (the last bit of the crossbow performance was really scary!) and the modern clowns were absolutely hilarious! Abby caught one of the paper planes they flew to the audience and she was so happy! If they do this again next Summer I'd definitely recommend it!

If you watch carefully enough, you'll also spot the individual entertainers scattered around the whole resort. We spotted a "worker" in the Skyline pavillion one day with a sign next to him saying "Men Not At Work", and he's been telling the kids not to bother him as he's busy "not" working (flipping through a magazine)! There was also a group of 3 entertainers doing tricks outside the Aerial Adventure, while we were queuing for the WaterWalker, and another group dressed as cleaners pushing a cart and a music player around the resort blasting music while getting everyone near them to dance! This is one of the reason why Butlins is so different than others, their staff are always there to interact, even when you least expect it!


Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins shopping

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins shopping

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins shopping
















Shopping

And of course you can't miss out on the shopping! Apart from the daily needs kind of shopping where you can do at the Spar shop, there is also the Butlins' Store where you can get all kinds of souvenir (the necklace badge holder and collectible pins are very popular as they are the same as the ones the staffs wear) as well as other unique pretty and nice smelling things, sweets shop, and shop for toys and clothes, etc etc. It's very hard to watch your wallet obviously, but at least the kids were having a great time!


Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins healthy and safety

Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins healthy and safety



















Health and Safety

Something that caught my attention was the hand sanitary gel machines that appeared almost everywhere, which I think is a great idea to prevent germs spreading out, but I have a feeling that most people didn't really use them. I would recommend using them especially during the germs peak season, as you really don't want any sickness to spoil your holiday!


There is also a First Aid station located behind the Skyline Pavillion, if you want to be on the safe side, make sure you note down it's location.

Security wise, we saw a notice at the entrance stating that all children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult before they are allowed to leave the resort for their safety, which makes a lot of sense. The friendly security guards also made sure that they checked up on everyone who enters the resort, so do remember to bring your passes (you will be given these for each person including children when you checked in) everywhere with you throughout your holiday.


Butlins holiday, Butlins Bognor Regis, Butlins beach side






































Beach

Seeing that the resort is situated right next to the beach, it's only logical to check the beach out. I have completely forgotten that beaches in the area are made of stone, but it was still a lovely visit. There is a mini train that takes guests from Butlins main gate to the beach, and it only takes about 5 minutes ride to get there. There are a whole stretch of beach side stalls as well as a funfair further down, but w didn't go there. For some reason, after having been to Butlins, everywhere else just felt a bit less safe! So we just wandered near the station, and I had one of the most delicious Whittington's ice-cream (banana something, I think) from the stall nearby. It was really relaxing sitting at one of the picnic table, enjoying the warmth from the sun that has just started to peek through the grey clouds. Even Abby and Clay decided that a lie down is needed (only on one of the weirdest place).


Before I conclude our holiday, I'll be writing up another 2 posts on our Butlins trip, one for the Wave Hotel, and another for the food at Butlins Bognor Regis. Hopefully it won't take me this long to write up part 2!


Disclosure: We were invited to review a holiday break, which is free for the review purpose; all opinions are honest and our own