At the end of April this year we took a short break at Butlin’s Bognor Regis. The arrival of POD three and a half years ago was, as expected a huge catalyst for change in our lives. Amongst these was the necessity to rethink future holiday plans. We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some fantastic holidays over the years including trips to Canada, New Zealand and Venezuela.
POD turned three on Christmas Day 2013. Now we needed to look closer to home and incorporate activities that would keep a very active and outgoing toddler excited, engaged and ideally worn out by bed time.
We don’t exactly have a checklist for our holidays but wherever we stay we expect a certain standard of comfort and cleanliness (even in the jungles of South America). We also like to have the opportunity to enjoy good food and plenty of it. We are pretty self-sufficient and happy to work out our own itinerary and discover what our holiday destinations have to offer. However we do expect to be able to rely on staff to fill in the gaps if required.
The English weather is no respecter of holidays and we arrived at Butlin’s Bognor Regis on a distinctly miserable day. Despite the rain first impressions were good. We were welcomed by some very soggy but extremely cheerful Redcoats who directed us to our hotel car park and wished us a happy stay. The excitement was building in the car seat behind me.
The Ocean Hotel promises a premium hotel experience. We were anxious to check in and explore. Having earmarked the activities and shows on offer, using the brilliant Butlin’s app, I made a beeline for one of the Butlin’s Butlers to get it all booked in. Ten very painless minutes later we were all booked and headed off to our room.
Our home for the next three nights was to be a Neptune Room which sleeps two to four with a King size bed in the main area and two twin beds in the children’s den. The room was modern, clean and comfortable.
There was plenty of hanging and drawer space, tea and coffee making facilities, fluffy towels and free toiletries in the bathroom and TV’s in both rooms. Plus a towel swan to greet us on the King size bed. So far so good, we were damp but after a quick change and a cup of (Nescafe) coffee, ready to start our holiday.
Over the next three days we crammed in a huge amount of fun and a considerable amount of food. Thankfully the weather improved so we were able to take POD on the Helter Skelter,
the Carousel, Go Karting (The PODFather channelled Lewis Hamilton to secure a win) and trampolining outside.
We took POD swimming one morning at Splash Water World which more than lived up to its name. Under the impressive canopy of the Skyline Pavilion, POD raced up and down the four storey soft play area which is sensibly split into age groups to avoid larger children.
She got to meet and hug some of her TV heroes and heroines; including Angelina Ballerina, Scooby Doo and Fireman Sam
as well as seeing them perform in their featured shows.
During the day the 10 to 20 minute all singing and dancing shows had her transfixed and happily interacting where appropriate. On our first night we took in the 50 minute Scooby Doo show in the Centre Stage.
POD danced and sang her way through it resulting in a tired toddler ready for her bed, result! Top marks to all the Redcoat performers day and night for their enthusiasm – Shaggy had the voice down to a tee.
In between these moments of unabashed delight for POD we were fed and watered at the various food ‘stations’ available. Included in our stay was breakfast at the hotel restaurant and dinner there or at the number of restaurants on park. Kaleidoscope, the buffet style hotel restaurant offers more food than we’d be able to shake a stick at.
Good quality English fare. If you’ve come to the Ocean Hotel to further your food journey you’re in the wrong place. If you want to set you and your family up for the day with a hearty breakfast or end the day with a tasty and filling dinner you won’t be disappointed.
At lunchtime we enjoyed The Beachcomber pub which provides snacks or a more substantial meal, again good quality, tasty and filling food.
We also sampled the delicious multi-flavour combinations of the Scoop Ice Cream parlour at every opportunity. The crème brulee ice cream was a particular favourite.
Due to an infestation of Brownies (as part of the Big Brownie Birthday Centenary celebrations) we weren’t able to experience the culinary delights of The Deck restaurant which has a more varied menu including a flame grill with food cooked to order, a fresh pasta station and a dedicated children’s buffet counter with options from Annabel Karmel. Our visit also narrowly missed The Diner which opened a few days later to rave reviews.
Throughout our stay the hotel and park staff couldn’t have been more accommodating. In the hotel, on requesting extra milk to satisfy our milky coffee cravings we were instantly furnished with a fistful of extra cartons, no short measures here. The temperature in our room was adjusted without question.
The Kaleidoscope restaurant staff made a point of engaging POD offering colouring materials to keep her occupied and were friendly and professional (even when met with some less than courtesy guests unhappy at having to wait to be seated at breakfast. There is a clear warning that there may be a short wait for breakfast after 9am. It starts at 7.30am.)
On the park there’s no cajoling to enter competitions or being bombarded with things to see and do by over friendly bright coloured jacket resplendent youngsters. The staff are there if you need them and inconspicuous if not. If the guys and girls who performed every day weren’t having a good time they can look forward to long and fruitful acting careers.
Our four day three night break at Butlin’s Bognor Regis was an unequivocal success. We left feeling rested and frankly quite full from the amount of food consumed. Regardless of the weather’s attempts to put a dampener on proceedings we came away with an extremely happy toddler, who since our return has delighted in telling anyone who’ll listen about her encounters with Scooby Doo, Angelina et al and regularly chirps “we’re going back to Butlin’s aren’t we Mummy?”.
If you’re looking for a great value, fun and fulfilling family holiday in the UK, Butlin’s can deliver. For those of you with preconceptions of the brand put them to one side and give it a try. I think you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised.
Disclaimer: As a brand ambassador to Butlin’s, we received a complementary 3 night stay at their Bognor Regis resort. Opinions are our own. For further information about Butlin’s, please visit their website. You can also read Butlin’s Ocean Hotel Bognor – a checklist here on PODcast.