A few weeks back, we were invited to stay at Butlin’s Minehead resort to take part in their Just For Tots week. Just For Tots week is such a lovely idea – a week filled with fun activities for the little people and this was to be the first family holiday where Sophie could really understand and enjoy things. In fact, I don’t know who was more excited about meeting the Teletubbies – me or her! But we will get to that in a minute…
After a frantic trip to the doctors with Sophie and a temperature that just wouldn’t quit (post-vaccine nightmare), we were given the go-ahead to travel and the car, children and Calpol were packed. We made the relatively straightforward journey south to the dulcet tunes of the Gruffalo audio CD and occasional banshee-like squeals.
Unfortunately and as is often the case with children, Sophie was really unwell for a lot of the week, which meant that we didn’t get to engage in as many of the activities that I had planned. Seriously, I had a whole list of fun things scheduled in for us and it was a massive disappointment that we didn’t get to see many of them. Hopefully we can return again soon to make the most of the brilliant entertainment programme that Butlin’s Minehead had lined up.
It wasn’t a total disaster though and we did get to sample some lovely things like the aforementioned Teletubbies. But first lets talk accommodation because for me, this was the jewel in the Butlin’s Minehead crown.
Accommodation at Butlin’s Minehead
I cannot lie and say that I was expecting much from the accommodation at Butlin’s Minehead. I had images of old fashioned apartment blocks and lots of “hi-de-hi-ing”. Fortunately, I could not have been more wrong.
The Lakeside Chalets were without a doubt, the best self-catering accommodation we have ever stayed in as a family and was the perfect base from which to explore.
I did a little tour for you if you have a few minutes to watch. Sometimes it’s just lovely to see it in person I think.
If you didn’t watch the video, we stayed in a three bed, lakeside chalet, which would sleep six people and a baby in a travel cot (which Butlin’s provided).
It was spotlessly clean, completely equipped with everything you could need – cosy, comfortable, practical and with an amazing view over the lake. Seriously, I cannot say enough good things about it. Shaun and I both agreed that it was stunning.
One of the lovely details about this kind of accommodation is that you can borrow a multitude of board games, puzzles and books for the duration of your stay. I know it might sound silly but one of my all time favourite memories that I will take away is sitting with my family and teaching them to play, learn and love Cluedo and all the traditional board games that I was brought up on. We laughed so much each evening. This kind of family time reminds me of my own childhood and it really left me with all the warm and fuzzies and a healthy dose of competitive spirit!
Entertainment at Butlin’s Minehead
As I mentioned, we had a pretty grumpy and poorly baba for a lot of the time we were there but she did rally at points and we were able to enjoy some of the entertainment programme.
The main focus is the iconic white tented pavilion – this is really where much of the Butlin’s magic and entertainment happens.
The Pavillion is filled with places to eat and drink, shops, traditional arcade games (which Zak loved by the way!) and of course the centre stage where all the fun happens.
I’m just going to interject with a side note to explain how much my daughter is obsessed with the Teletubbies. She is OBSESSED. To the point that she can and does sing the full theme tune at 15 months old. She can also say “La-La” but not Mummy… I think you get the point.
Seeing her little face light up with joy when she saw them live actually made me want to weep a little bit. I know, I have issues – but it was happy tears of course. There is something just so magic in watching a baby discover the world and the joys in it (even if those joys are Teletubby shaped). a
Just look at her little face – this was mid-theme tune singalong… Also can we just take a second to appreciate how uncomfortable Shaun looks as a grown man, singing the Teletubbies (all the LOL’s).
What you might notice about the above picture is that Shaun was bright red and that was because we were lucky enough to enjoy one day when the sun came out, the clouds parted and he forgot his suncream. We took full advantage of this time to explore the whole site on foot and we came across the Little Tykes race track. It was a ridiculously cute sight, seeing all those tiny tots whizzing (said loosely, more like crawling) around a tiny race track! Sophie absolutely LOVED it and spent the whole time being pushed around the track, like a lady of leisure shouting “WHEEEEEEEE” and “YAYAYAYAY”. So funny.
One of the things that all parents hold close to their hearts is seeing their children playing together. For us, with a ten year age gap, this is often not a reality but on this holiday they actually did! It made me feel even more of the warm and fuzzies seeing Zak whizzing her around the race track, pretending to fill her car with petrol and getting down to her level to play.
As you roam around Butlin’s Minehead, there is just so much to see and do and although we were there for Tots week, I noted that there were some incredible facilities for older children too. Not least the high wire assault course, which Zak really wanted to go on! That will have to wait for next time I think!
The swimming complex at Butlin’s Minehead is one of the best I’ve seen. There are four or five really good water slides to keep the big kids happy, smaller pools for little ones, a pool for lane swimming and a massive open water complex, complete with a lazy river. We would have spent a lot more time in there if it weren’t for Sophie being poorly but next time we will be heading right back! It’s a shame you can’t take pictures because this was a massive highlight for all of us.
Food at Butlin’s Minehead
Travelling anywhere with children (and Shaun) requires some sort of military feeding operation. They just never stop eating, which was fine because we were offered the use of Premium Dining. For around £26 per adult, per day you get access to The Deck, Butlin’s premium dining buffet restaurant. Think all you can eat and no washing up.
There is a great selection of food on offer, catering for a wide variety of tastes. It looks as though they have thought of everything, they even have a child-height buffet with all the usual chicken nuggets etc that your kids will want to eat. Ella’s kitchen pouches are available for teeny tots, there are bottle warming facilities and even child-friendly cutlery.
All a really good idea but unfortunately we found the food to be luke warm at best and after twenty, rather frustrating minutes of trying everything, I had to stop the kids from eating much other than a few chips. Buffet food needs to be kept piping hot and this was definitely not at the required temperature. I will give Butlin’s their dues, when I mentioned the issues to the staff, they quickly started replacing the children’s buffet food for, what I presume was fresher, hotter versions but by this point I think we were all so tired and cranky that we just headed back to accommodation for some beans on toast (which I brought with us). That was the first night.
We returned the next day for breakfast and the experience was the opposite thankfully. Everything was piping hot aside from the coffee and that’s because I had no time to drink it. Standard mum life hey? Seriously though, there was a brilliant array of food and we all really enjoyed the breakfasts, which set us up for the day.
At this point, I want to give a special mention to the staff in the restaurant. Everyone was so lovely, warm, child-friendly, welcoming and helpful from start to finish that aside from that first evening, we left with a smile on our face each time. Nothing was ever too much trouble – even when I asked for soya milk. It promptly appeared and then each time they saw me they brought some over without even having to ask. Their attention to detail was amazing.
For the other two evenings we ate at the Firehouse restaurant on site. Think Nando’s and you’d be on the right lines. It was good food and reasonably priced. Again the staff were so lovely and welcoming in here too. If Nando’s isn’t your thing then there were a few other places to eat at, which I hear were all really good too.
All in all, despite the sick baby, we had such a lovely time. There is so much to do for little people and big people alike. If you just want to chill out and enjoy a traditional seaside holiday then it is also the perfect base to do that from too. We can’t wait to return soon and I definitely recommend that you check it out for a brilliant family holiday, where you are sure to make some unforgettable family memories.
For more information on Butlin’s holidays, visit their website here.