The last time I went to Butlins I found myself on stage in a red bikini.
It was 1986, I was three years old and won third place in their “picture of health” competition.
Fast-forward 25 years and I was visiting again, this time with my own family, including our nine-month-old son.
We wanted to take Oliver away in his first year, but didn’t fancy the hassle of flying anywhere, so opted for Butlins in Bognor Regis.
The resort is located on a lovely Blue-flag beach in west Sussex, with the South Downs National Park right on its doorstep. It’s a shame it was freezing when we went though!
On arrival, we made our way to the main pavilion, where we were greeted by the Redcoats team and handed our activity schedule booklet.
Each one is printed ready for arrivals each week. With pages and pages of information and events, it was clear there was going to be so much to do.
Each section is broken down into age groups, so for us it was a case at looking to see what was available for the under-fives and planning our week.
There was something for all the family to do, every hour of every day, and the absolute best part is that it is all included in what you have already paid.
So whether you want to try beach football, visit the outdoor fairground, play for hours in the indoor play zone, join the messy play activity session, watch a show, go to dance class or meet live animals, you can see at a glance what to do when.
There are even Club Red events for the older children to go on without their parents, where they can make new friends and take part in events such as archery and jewellery making, as well as learning magic and walking the high ropes at the circus.
Having visited other, more expensive, well-known holiday parks in the past, I was surprised at just how many activities were included in the price.
Even though Oliver is so young, there was even a lot for him to do, including storytime and the daily puppet show.
We also made full use of the babies’ playing area. Complete with a ball pool, soft play, mirrors and slides, it was the perfect colourful place for him to explore and was strictly for under-ones, making it safe for him to crawl about.
The only time we put our hands in our pockets was when we wanted to buy drinks in the evening or treats.
We also went swimming in Splash World every day. There, you can fly down the flumes, dance in the rain showers or simply float in the waves.
All the activities are designed to help you spend time as a family and it’s obvious a lot of money has been spent – and continues to be spent – on the resort to improve the facilities.
Although the majority is included, there are paid-for activities, including character photoshoots and lunches, bike hire, cinema and ten-pin bowling.
At Bognor Regis, there are several types of accommodation available on site.
The cheapest are the apartments, which have an open-plan kitchen, diner and lounge and prices vary depending on whether you opt for standard, silver or gold.
We stayed in the Shoreline Hotel, which is designed for families with young children.
We had a Columbus Quarters room, which was the perfect family room, with its own “children’s den” away from the main sleeping area, complete with bunk beds and its own TV.
The main bedroom, with its king-size bed opened out on to a lovely patio area with acres of green space.
We added the dining plan to our room package, which meant we could have our breakfast and evening meal in the main hotel every day. It was worth doing because, although we grabbed a sandwich while out and about during the day, it was nice to start and end the day with a decent meal.
I was quite impressed with the level of food and service in the hotel’s restaurant. Although it was a self-service set-up, we were always greeted and seated, with drinks brought to our table.
Chefs were on hand to let us know what was on offer and the food was of decent quality.
There is also the Wave Hotel and Apartments, a newer hotel, which is perfect for older children, and the Ocean Hotel, which promises the premium hotel experience.
Overall, I can’t praise the resort enough. If you are looking for a brilliant family holiday in a top-class park, with everything you need on tap and all at an affordable price, you won’t find better than Butlins Bognor Regis.
- Reviewed September 2011
NEED TO KNOW…
LOCATION: Upper Bognor Rd, Bognor Regis, West Sussex PO21 1JJ
CALL: 0845 0704757