Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Just For Tots Week at Butlin's Minehead | Our Thoughts

With myself and Wayne often working opposite shifts, the time we have together as a family is especially important. We decided a few weeks ago to book a last minute break. A holiday where Jack's needs could be catered for - basically a holiday for toddlers. After having a bit of a look around we decided to head to Butlin's Minehead on a Just For Tots break.



Designed for families with children under the age of five, we thought this holiday would be perfect for us and at under £300 for a gold self catering apartment, it was reasonable in price too.

We are from the West Midlands so after a slightly stressful three hour journey with a teething toddler, we arrived. From food and accommodation to play areas and activities there is so much to talk about. I hope you find this helpful in deciding whether a Butlin's holiday is for you.

Accomodation

There are many different accommodation types to choose from when booking a Butlins holiday. From self catering apartments to chalets or rooms, you will need to have a good look at all the options when deciding what is right for you. We opted for a 4 person gold apartment. The apartment itself catered for our needs really well. Whilst a little small in size, it had everything you would need to have a comfortable stay. There was a open plan lounge/kitchen area that came with all the essentials. Butlins even leave plug socket covers which I thought was a lovely additional touch on what is essentially a toddlers holiday. Both bedrooms had lovely storage units with a bathroom that comprised of a shower, sink and toilet with a toddler step available as well. 

On the whole I thought the apartment was lovely. I only had one issue with it - the placement of Jack's cot. We brought Jack's travel cot with us and upon arrival went to the second bedroom to put it up. The problem was that with two single beds already in the room there was nowhere to put it. I physically couldn't fit it in and in the end resorted to removing the bedside tables from our main room, pushing our double bed against the wall and sliding the travel cot in there. Not ideal.

We paid an extra £15 for an apartment with a balcony. This was money well spent for us as the apartments with balconies were right next to the centre of the resort. Our apartment was in the perfect location.

Play Areas

Jack loves being outdoors and specifically loves slides and tunnels. When we stayed at the Butlin's Skegness Resort we were disappointed with the outdoor play area. In Skegness there was a small play area attached to the Sun and Moon Restaurant. I felt this was aimed at older children and didn't really cater for toddlers. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I saw the several outdoor play areas at Butlin's Minehead.

The two largest play areas were attached to the Sun and Moon Restaurant. Both catered excellently for children of Jack's age. There was slides, wendy houses and tunnels. Jack was in his element. We spent hours in there.








 There was also a smaller play area behind our apartment. I didn't see this until the day before the holiday ended. With a sandy area, it provides a different kind of play experience to the other outdoor areas. 

Jack loved an area that was aimed at slightly older children. This area boasted larger slides for older children and many opportunities for them to climb and explore. Jack loved the numerous tunnels in this area and loved clambering through them.


In the Skyline Pavillion there is also an indoor soft play. Children over 90cm tall have an extremely large play frame to use. Unfortunately Jack is currently only 86cm and was therefore restricted to the toddler area. This area was a lot smaller than it's counterpart in Skegness. The Skegness toddler area had a large play frame and several cars and ball pits. Taking into account the outdoor areas though, the Minehead resort was far superior in providing activities for Jack to enjoy.

Splash Waterworld

One of the things myself and Wayne really wanted to do on holiday was to take Jack swimming. After a failed attempt at baby swimming lessons last summer (Jack was terrified) we really wanted to help Jack overcome his fear of swimming pools. Whilst he doesn't like water going in his eyes, he For some reason though he hates swimming.

Splash Waterworld has several changing areas that you can use. Lockers are available - just remember to bring £1 with you. This is refundable. 

Jack was very upset the first time we took him swimming. The noise and sheer amount of people around was too much for him. He spent the first 15 minutes crying before he saw a slide and decided he liked swimming after all.

There was a lovely shallow area near to the changing rooms. This area had several water tables scattered around. Jack loved pouring water into the various funnels and loved playing with the Butlin's beach balls that were scattered around. Jack loved the water slide and spent ages going on this. 

Later in the week when Jack had developed more confidence we explored other areas of the pool. There was a lovely lazy river that we took Jack in several times. There were waves that started up periodically alongside sprinklers that dropped water on the swimmers below. When I take Jack swimming, I always worry about getting into the pool. There was no need to here as the pool had a beach area meaning that it just sloped down into the water.

Little Tikes Town

Jack loved the Little Tikes area. He has two Little Tikes cars at home and upon seeing this area immediately wanted to go and take a look. Set on a circular track, there was every type of Little Tikes car you could wish for. From fire engines with working hoses to taxis and scooters - Jack struggled to decide what he wanted to go on first.




When we booked the holiday we had read that the Little Tikes Town also included slides and play houses. I knew Jack would love this but couldn't find it in the resort. I only heard about where it was from another blogger when I got home. I feel that this area should have been more clearly marked.

Little Stars Fairground

The large outdoor fairground is perfect for older children, teenagers and adults. As Jack is still very small we didn't really venture into this area and instead opted to have a look around the Little Stars Fairground. An area aimed at under 5s.



With bouncy castles, slides and many other traditional fairground rides, it caters perfectly for Jack's age group. It was extremely busy throughout the day so we headed there as it opened at 9am.
Jack went on both the train ride with me and the aeroplane ride unaccompanied.  He was upset on the rides - I think that him cutting a tooth that very morning didn't help. 

This is an area I am hoping to explore more on our next visit as I feel he will enjoy it a little more when he is a bit older and not teething!

Restaurants and Shops

Initially we were planning to cook most meals within our apartment but inevitably we ended up eating out a few times. Butlin's has plenty of restaurants on site. If you payed for food as part of your holiday package there are restaurants that you can head to. As we were self catering we chose from the outlets on site. There is so many to choose from, that I'm certain there will be something to suit everybody. We ate out at Finnigans and the Sun and Moon Restaurant and received fantastic service at both. The staff were fantastic with Jack and went the extra mile in providing a friendly customer focused service. We also had lovely ice creams at Scoop Ice Cream Parlour.


There is a spar on site that we regularly used, I even managed to get a Costa Hot Chocolate from one of the shops. Other shops were also open including a toy shop that Jack spotted straight away.

Shows

One of the things that attracted me to a break at Butlin's was the shows. Jack loves Bob The Builder, Fireman Sam and Thomas The Tank Engine and they all have shows on during Just For Tots Week. With these character shows lasting between 20-40 minutes they are the perfect length for toddlers. Before we arrived I was concerned that Jack would not enjoy sitting through them but as soon as the music started, his face lit up.


The shows were very professional and were repeated throughout the break ensuring that there was numerous opportunities for you to plan them into your itinerary.  You could also meet the characters and have a photo with them. 

We didn't attend any of the evening shows. The sheer amount of things to do on this break meant come 6pm Jack was very tired and went down for bed at 7pm. He was often still tired in the morning!

Outside of the Resort

If you are staying in a self catering apartment you may need to do a food shop before you arrive. There is a Morrisons and a Tesco supermarket within five minutes of the resort. 
We ventured out of the resort during the latter part of the week. Minehead has lovely beaches that stretch for miles. The beaches were across the road from the resort. We couldn't have hoped for a better location. With a small harbour and lovely cliff walks, I would definitely recommend having a walk around.

We had a fantastic holiday and cannot wait to head back there in October. I honestly believe that it is the perfect holiday for young children. There was so much to do on this holiday. Jack is a very active toddler and runs around all day, I've never seen Jack look as tired out as he did before nap times on this break.



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