16 June 2013

Butlin's Minehead 2013 - An honest review

I seriously cannot believe how time flies. Three weeks ago we were packing for our first family minus a tent and let me tell you that made preparations slightly easier! As you may know I love camping but it was nice to just pack a suitcase and some food basics to get us going.
 
I wasn't really sure what to expect when preparing for Butlin's. I had read many reviews, such as Mummy Mishaps', but still I needed to believe it for myself. Would a holiday camp be our thing? Would the smiley-smiley staff be too much?!
 
Well, here's what we thought.
Here is our complete review of Minehead Butlin's....
 

 
We arrived on a stereotypical wet bank holiday Monday pretty much at the designated check-in time. This made the arrivals area like an airport check in with families milling around with trolleys full of luggage and faces full of expectation. I was still wondering what to expect. I went to the wrong check-in and was directed round the corner to Gold Reception who then told me my arrival package was back in Guest Services. Awaiting me here was the very chirpy Michael who talked me through my maps and guides. The guide was essentially a day to day timetable of events, shows, entertainment, crafts and opening times so we were able to plan out some of our days. And I like to plan!

 
Once we were booked in and given our key-cards we drove round to the car park for our accommodation. This was close to our Gold Apartment and made 'moving in' an easy process. The apartments were in blocks of about 12 units each containing two bedrooms, a shower room and open plan kitchen/diner and living area. The kitchen was equipped with everything we needed and the living area had a flat-screen and DVD player. There was also a small television in the double bedroom but thankfully not in the children's twin room!
 

It was smaller than it looked online but clearly clean and well maintained. I did have a niggle over the size of the towels but luckily they grew following the first room service. Room service comes free with the Gold Apartments each day when beds are made, the shower room is cleaned, the bins are emptied, washing up done and a general tidy up. The staff doing this were very pleasant and quickly reported our faulty oven which was replaced later that day.

The site itself was well laid out and everything was easy to find. There was plenty of things to occupy the kiddies both inside and out. A firm favourite was Splash Waterworld which we visited twice. Both times we went for the first open session at 10:00. Splash Waterworld had ample sized changing unisex areas with large cubicles for privacy and the pool was great fun. The different zones meant the children felt safe and could stay away from the waves and Lazy River rapids if they wanted to chill for a bit. All in all it was a great place to spend an hour or two.
Top tip - go and queue by 9:45 to ensure you get in and don't forget your £1 coin for the locker!


Onto the Skyline Pavilion, where we spent many an hour. It is essentially a massive circus like tent housing the Skyline Stage, show stages, amusements, soft play, puppet shows, concessions, sports bar with pool and ten pin bowling, bars and eateries. Edith and Alban discovered the joy of 'winning' money on the 2p drop machines while Edith couldn't work out the injustice of the grab-a-toy machine - "Why wont it pick it up Mummy?!" We did have to limit the money in their purses in this area and I did attempt to give them a crash course in economics but left to their own devices they would have quite happily pumped £10 each into the machines.
Top tip - lie about the amount of money you have in your purse! Also if you want to see an evening show on the other stage be prepared to queue.

 
The Pavilion is home to the Skyline Gang, an infectious bunch of characters that sing, dance and grin their ways into the majority of the children's hearts! Each of ours quickly had a favourite and were happy to be entertained by them for a good hour whilst the grown-ups had a cold cider - much like a festival really!
Top tip - sit near the front and plan your route to the bar!
 
 
Inside the Hotshots Sports Bar the kiddies discovered a love of Ten Pin Bowling. We did manage to have a lane where one of the bumpers was jammed in the up position - this seemed to foil the adults as Alban came away the clear winner!
Top tip - check out the times when children bowl free and book a lane in advance.

 

We opted for self-catering so fed ourselves in the apartment for breakfast and lunch. For dinner though we headed onto the site. There was the expected choices of places to eat: The Fisheries - fish and chip shop, Pizza Hut, Burger King and Firehouse Grill. We had fish and chips on our first night and it was great to see Pollack on the menu as well as the over sourced Cod and Haddock so a tick there! Here children's meals were £3.70 and for adults about £6-7.50.
 
We also checked out The Firehouse Grill. From the outside it was not clear what they offered for children but once in we discovered a good choice of main, side and dessert for £4.95. For adults the menu was very chicken based with whole chickens, butterfly breasts, chicken wings all with a choice of bastes from sticky BBQ to habenaro but it also offered burgers, falafels, salads and ribs.
To get an idea of prices we spent £45 on ribs and a side, butterflied chicken and two sides, two children's meals, a large glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and two pints of San Miguel. We had a very smiley server who the kiddies loved as he gave them a balloon each - the small things hey?!
 
All in all the break was so good for us as a family as it really felt we were locked away from the real world and all its stresses! I was pleasantly surprised with the whole experience and understand now why so many people said to me I would love it before I went.
 
On paper the 4 night stay for the four of us in May Half-term holiday was just under £1000. I thought that was a lot for a self-catering break, but I am more used to camp site prices! However, I know there are many deals available that in reality brings this cost down.
 
I know the children would love to go again and it really is their happiness that makes the family happy. So we would consider Butlin's again but I would hunt for a good deal first.
 


 
Disclaimer: The holiday was paid for by Butlin's as part of my role as a Butlin's Ambassador. As always my views and opinions are honest and are mine. 

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5 comments

  1. Great review - we were there the week before and there's a significant price difference, but that's not something you can take advantage of with school age children!

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    1. Yes, I miss holidaying out of term time!

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  2. this is a really comprehensive review Viv and well done for your tip about the swimming pool , we arrived at 9.50am quite by chance and had to queue but luckily we did have a £1 for outr locker!! we didnt manage a game of bowling - which wa a shame as we all enjoy this i think i forgot because it is tucked away in that sports bar area isnt it?
    I wanted to try the Firehouse Grill and now i have heard your thoughts then i would try it next time.
    i notice that your room didnt have a balcony? i wonder why we did and you didnt?
    nice to read about another Minehead visit
    thanks for my mention x

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    1. I tried to get the gold appts with a balcony but they were all booked up. They charge extra for those but not sure we would have used it much anyway with the iffy weather!

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  3. Thanks for the honest review, and the really helpful tips! We've not done a Butlins holiday with our family but it's something that we might consider in the future. I didn't realise that there was such a choice of dining options. Lots of great pictures too, a really comprehensive review of what there is to see and do.

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I appreciate all comments, thank you! x x

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