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A Mile of Smiles

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What is it? A Butlins resort

Where? Skegness, Lincolnshire

Description: [on_skegness_beach.jpg]Kirsty took a ‘mums & sons’ trip to Butlins in sunny Skegness. with her friend, Pauline & both their 2 year old sons. A self-confessed snobby traveller, she was very surprised at what she found…

In 1936 Billy Butlin created the first Butlins Resort & introduced the famous Redcoats. With Butlins, a new holiday concept was created for the British holiday maker. Today, Butlins is a huge brand and they tell us it still has everything a family needs for a fun-filled holiday.

Every conceivable type of entertainment is on offer here – apart from a Playstation!

Stage shows every evening in the main entertainments complex ‘Centre Stage’ plus shows scattered around the complex throughout the day.

Nursery for under-5s. Good value & great fun for the kids.

The Spa – just perfect for a couple of hours of peace!

Local activities: We played on the beautiful sandy beach at Skegness, and visited the Natureland Seal Sanctuary – a fantastic visit for a couple of hours to see seals, penguins, tropical reptiles including crocodiles, koi carp, goats, guinea pigs & turkeys – to name but a few!

Lovely place for toddlers as well as older children, as they can see everything easily. Some fantastic conservation work is done by the family that own Natureland, and you can even visit the Seal Hospital and hear about all the seals they’ve rescued.

Wish we had known: That the stage shows were so good – we’d have gone to more of them.

Our top tip: Watch the opening hours & plan ahead.

Kids say: I’ve seen Bob the Builder and Wendy and Spud and Fireman Sam and Pingu and Noddy and Fifi and…. (Luke, aged 2)

Getting There: Butlins has 3 resorts, Skegness, Bognor Regis & Minehead, plus the Shoreline Hotel at Bognor Regis. Check out www.butlins.com for offers & details of their special themed weeks. Note some weeks are reserved at the resorts for ‘adults only’!

Choose from standard, silver or gold standard accommodation, with Self Catering or Full Board options. Prices from L84 per person, for four people staying 3 nights in a 2 bed standard apartment on a self catering basis in August 2006.

About our stay: Yes, I was sceptical when I agreed to do this press trip to Butlins. When I holiday, I like to do it in style. Or else I’d rather camp in a tent. It’s one extreme or the other for me. And whilst I’d been to several holiday villages before, I’d never been to something that conjured up the images that Butlins did. Would I be expected to join in with all the Redcoats’ antics around the pool? Was it all ‘Glamorous Grannies’ and ‘Knobbly Knees’ competitions? Did I have to eat in school-style dining rooms and were the chalets poky and basic?[the_apartments.jpg] So nothing could have surprised me more, than when we arrived at the entrance to Butlins, to be greeted by Billy Bear and 3 storey high apartment blocks, painted in pastel colours, with a hint of the Med about them. Surrounded by well-tended lawns & flowerbeds, and clean & tidy pathways, we made our way to the Reception Office which is housed in a large glass conservatory-style building in the centre of the apartment blocks. The organisation was impressive. Although there were long queues of families all arriving at the same time, we moved swiftly to the front of the queue, and were presented with our keys. Several helpful customer service staff outside the building then help you get your bearings, and direct you to your apartment, which was another pleasant surprise. We stayed in Gold standard accommodation, which included a large double bedroom, 2 twin rooms, a living room, separate kitchen area (with microwave, fridge etc) and a good sized bathroom. It was clean, recently decorated and well laid out. So far, so good. After exploring the complex (which is a mile long!) we realised the main area is centred around the Skyline Pavilion, which houses a stage for performances, character ‘meet & greets’, wrestling tournaments & various competitions led by the Redcoats. All running throughout the day. There’s also a large amusement arcade, a sales office, three or four various places to get food (including Burger King), a supermarket (not too expensive actually) a multitude of kids’ ride-ons, the ‘puppet show theatre’ and a gift shop. Outside the main pavilion, is the superb Splash Waterworld (although I was disappointed at the restrictive opening hours, so make sure you check them before you plan your day), an ‘English-style’ pub, a carvery restaurant (The Yacht Club – very good value – [adults evening meal L9.99, kids L5.99] average food and the toilets are few and far between – important if you’re potty training!) and Papa Johns pizza (excellent food, great for the kids). [luke_&_ben_on_a_ride.jpg] Now when you’re talking entertainment, you have to admit that Butlins know how to do it! Our lads were delighted with “Bob the Builder’s Yard” just perfect for toddlers, and we made several trips a day there. There are four free indoor ‘fun fair’ rides (teacups, flying planes etc) and a stage for the twice-daily shows with the characters from Bob the Builder, ably assisted by some Redcoats. The outdoor fun fair for the older children also looks pretty popular, but whilst some rides appeared to be free, it looked like many were also chargeable. The entertainment complexes in the evening were obviously the place to be, and with Waterworld closing at tea-time, it was really the best place for keeping the kids occupied. And I have to say that their shows were excellent. They were full of children’s character appearances, Redcoats’ cabaret and games, and plenty of opportunities for the kids to get involved – but only if they wanted to. A couple of things to note though, the room is very dark (with the stage being lit up) and the drinks aren’t cheap! Our kids weren’t old enough to enjoy the ABC Cinema, the Quasar Laser, Go Karting, the ten pin bowling or the Games Room (snooker & darts). But you can tell that they try to cater for every age. And for adults, there is even a regular prize bingo in the Skyline Pavilion, and a betting shop – hmm not quite what I was expecting. But the Spa, now you’re talking! At L20.00 for up to 3 hours, you can relax (child-free!) in a lovely environment which includes the 20m swimming pool, fitness suite, hydrotherapy pool, sauna & steam room and the invigorating cold bucket drench or atlantic storm shower. However, once again, check the times because they only run for two sessions a day. If you have the budget for a little more pampering, you can book yourself in for a spa treatment, choosing from a wide range of facials, manicures, pedicures or massages. The baby & toddler nursery/creche facilities were very good. Although, note that you can only book one day in advance for a creche place, the hours are limited (so check first), and you have to book your child in for a half-hour taster the day before you want them to have their first creche session. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. The kids had an absolutely fantastic time. I’d certainly visit again, and for older kids, it would be great to take advantage of the day pass tickets which you can buy for every resort. (check under our Days Out pages and search for ‘Butlins’, for more information). There’s loads and loads to do, but to make the most of your visit, plan it well. Take note of opening times and make sure you cram in as much as you can!

Created: 2006-08-02 09:48:03.200

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