Today I thought I’d finally get our Butlin’s Just For Tots review written and posted for you all to enjoy! Butlin’s needs no introduction for many of you as it’s a big deal in the UK for family holidays. We opted for a trip to their Minehead resort because thats the resort we visited with my Stepson 9 years ago. We have special memories of that trip and we wanted to revisit with Spike. The Just For Tots holiday, aimed at children under 5, seemed perfect for us too!
Our road trip
At just over 4.5 hours, we split our drive down there up a bit. Read all about there here. We extended our holiday by staying in a travelodge on the way down on the Sunday night. Then we arrived on the Monday morning at 11am but check in isn’t until 1pm so we got lunch in the town and enjoyed some beach time before check in. The beach at mine head is lovely and we did some spotting of Wales and places we could see off the coast!
Check in and initial thoughts
We checked in, discovered we had been ‘upgraded’ and made our way to the big car park nearest our accommodation. Things were busy right from 1pm but there was lots of space for Spike to run around and enjoy. We had to go on the carousel because “Horseys!” but when we discovered that Spike was too small for everything on the fairground, including the horses on the carousel – we had to sit in the carriage – we were a bit disappointed. She was walking around saying “I’m too little” for hours, bless her! Thats the only thing that disappointed at first though. There were plenty more fun things for Spike to do!
We took a look at the Skyline pavilion and went on a little walk around the park. Theres so much to see and do that we were discovering new things days into our trip! Even though we thought we’d covered plenty of ground that first day. At 4pm the accommodation opened up we went back to the car to get our things and took them to our Silver Bungalow.
We booked a Silver apartment. The ‘mid-range’ of accommodation at Butlins. So I wasn’t expecting anything special. We went for this option because I wanted a microwave as Spike still has a bottle. Apparently the apartment we were due to go in was two floors up. We got an upgrade to a bungalow though as they felt we didn’t need to walk up two flights of stairs.
Once I got the key working we took a look around and things looked ok on the surface. It wasn’t anything special as I suspected, but T was a bit disappointed, saying everything was too brown. The TV made a funny noise and there was a bug on the carpet under the table, but everything appeared clean. Until we lifted the bed sheets, which had stains on them. And I discovered the pans were mouldy…
I work for a holiday park company which prides itself on quality accommodation. I think one of the reasons the accommodation didn’t appeal was due to that. We would never place someone in a caravan or lodge like that and I didn’t expect it from anywhere else… but its a bigger operation that probably doesn’t mind so much.
Like I said to T as well, you don’t pay for Butlin’s for the accommodation. You pay for everything else. The ease of having everything there. The entertainment and the was of half board or premium dining! We didn’t opt for his but it was easy to add to the package if we wanted to! We instead chose to eat in the Fish and Chip Restaurant (Expensive), Make our own (Easy with a Morrison’s round the corner) and then sample the Firehouse Grill (reasonable with the 25% off food before 4pm offer!)
There were loads of options for eating without the packages offered. However, they would be expensive should you eat out every night. The Skyline pavilion and surrounding area had at least 5 restaurants.
We chose Just For Tots because of the entertainment. The Teletubbies Live, Various shows from Mr Men and Little Miss. And Justin Fletcher himself? What more could Spike want. And She loved it all. She was in awe of the teletubbies. Loved the tickle monster and now can’t watch MR Tumble without saying “I seen him! He gone! I liked him!”
There was so much to do that we barely fit it all in and only managed to catch one show from the Skyline Gang themselves. We watched a pantomime and hit a couple of the ‘tots dance’ sessions. But we did miss the Tots Discos in the main ‘Centre Stage’ area.
We were a little annoyed at the lack of kid-friendly entertainment past 7:30pm though. The main shows finished between 7 and 7:30. With acoustic sessions taking over in the bars. Whilst most people either didn’t care that these weren’t massively kid-friendly, or just going back to their accommodation/to the arcades, we weren’t happy. Spike wanted a dance, she didn’t want to go to bed. She was on holiday and I definitely think there should have been a disco on after the main entertainment at least.
In addition to the entertainment, there were kid-friendly activities on throughout the day. Our favourite was the blow up “Little Library’ where you could enjoy lots of books whilst sitting on bright bean bags and tables and chairs. Spike couldn’t walk past it without going in! We took her for a balance bike session which she kinda enjoyed, and we did book in for a mini archery session but she fell asleep so we didn’t make it! There were arts and crafts in the mornings and play dough sessions in the afternoons too! We could barely fit it all in with how much there was going on. Almost everything was repeated lots so you got a few chances to do the activities.
Not only did we have activities and entertainment. Butlin’s also has a great deal of facilities to offer. We went swimming in the
Splash Zone, while enjoying the lazy river. Spike sat in a ‘boat’ and didn’t want to get out because she was like “Iggle Piggle”! And we visited the play areas. There was a high ropes area for older kids and adults, and we rented a family Dino Bike for a trip around the park too! While the main Fairground was too big for Spike, we played in the Little Stars Fairground a lot. But the Little Stars Soft Play was a no-go as that had a height restriction on the main play frame that was taller than Spike and the ‘toddler’ area was awful. Spike really loves Little Tykes Town too with all the cars and ride ones that Little Tykes have!
One of the reasons I chose this type of break for Spike was because I thought it would be good for Spike and she might make some friends. It didn’t happen as everything was far too busy! I was pretty impressed at the number of groups had 3 generations, obviously to help out with babysitting! But the other kids were not of interest to her! We spoke to some families who were lovely but on the first day in the playground I did have an encounter with a 4 year old who spat at me and called me a W*nker because I wouldn’t let her steal Spikes balloon… You get that everywhere though, I’m sure.
What Spike thought
We went on holiday for Spike and its fair to say she loved our holiday. Having both parents there for a week was amazing for her and she was such a good girl the entire time. She slept through the night and didn’t complain about going to bed. She loved the shows and didn’t run off too much! Scared of the characters she didn’t enjoy ‘photo times’ but thats fair enough! Now that its over she just keeps saying “We went on holiday! It’s gone now!” and looking sad about it. Which is adorable!
My overall thoughts about our Butlin’s Just For Tots break
I did really love our holiday and it was such a great experience. We met one Red Coat called Caitlin who Spike just adored. She wouldn’t leave alone – which is strange as she normally doesn’t talk to anyone! It was amazing to spend some uninterrupted family time with Spike and see just how much she has grown over the last few months since we last did it for more than a weekend. And she has brought home some amazing memories of her trip. We probably would consider going again but we would be going in better accommodation for sure!