If you mentioned the word "Butlins" to me a few years ago, the first few words that would immediately pop into my head would include Redcoats, the seaside, cabaret shows and knobbly knee competitions. I'll be honest with you, it's not a holiday destination I have previously had on my radar.
Over the past year or two though, some of the amazing bloggers that I follow have been taking their families on trips to Butlins and sharing their experiences. I instantly became intrigued! Their trips looked like so much fun and photographs of the accommodation looked stunning.
I had been aware of the Butlins 'just for tots' breaks for a while and after reading so many positive reviews from other bloggers, we decided to take the plunge and book our first Butlins break in April 2017.
The 'just for tots' breaks are a relatively recent addition to the Butlins calendar, offered on select dates throughout the year. These breaks have been specially designed for families with children aged 5 and under and are the perfect way for little ones to enjoy everything that Butlins has to offer. From a jam-packed entertainment programme featuring beloved children's TV characters to tailored dining, no detail has been left out when it comes to creating a holiday that perfectly fits around the schedule of a young child.
We stayed in a newly refurbished Seaside Apartment which was the perfect base for our break. Located at the heart of the resort, we could pop to the Skyline pavilion in less than a minute and we were not far at all from anything. I'm going to be sharing a full review of our accommodation soon so keep your eyes peeled for that one!
I'm amazed that there was so much to do during our time in Butlins.... we literally didn't leave the resort all week. On arrival we were handed an entertainment schedule and a booklet detailing everything that was included in the price of our stay. Let me tell you, we absolutely loved sitting down each evening and highlighting all the things we wanted to do the following day..... from football coaching to play-doh sessions, messy play, shows, swimming and so much more!
I am so excited to share a few highlights from our break with you today. Here are our top five things that we loved about our 'just for tots' break at Butlins, Skegness.
Firstly, food. You know me, I love my food! We purchased the Premium Dining option when we booked our trip and this gave us a buffet breakfast and evening dinner at a premium restaurant for each morning and night of our stay. I can't rate our dining experience enough, it far exceeded my expectations! Each morning we were greeted by the friendliest staff and for the children there was always a character waiting to greet them. Kiddo loved meeting Mr Bump and giving Dipsy from the Teletubbies a cuddle before breakfast. Such a magical experience for her!
The range of food available for both breakfast and evening dinner was amazing. My husband was a huge fan of the made to order breakfast sandwiches whilst I tried to work my way through the rest of the buffet. Each evening there was a different theme along with all the usual favourites... there was a Mexican night and an Italian, both of which were complete winners with us!
When it comes to little ones though, we really loved the fact that no detail was left out when it came to dining. High chairs and child friendly cutlery were available, kiddo was given crayons and puzzles each time we dined and there was always a huge range of food for children. Yep, even Ella's Kitchen meals and plenty of fresh fruit! Kiddo loved being able to select her own food and she ate very well throughout our stay. She was particularly fond of the desserts but no surprises there!
When it came to lunch time, we were usually still pretty fully from breakfast though I just wanted to give Soho Coffee (you'll find it inside the Pavilion) a special mention because their freshly made sandwiches, jacket potatoes and soups were to die for. We visited every day as I soon became ridiculously obsessed with their beetroot humus, avocado and feta baguettes. Fresh, handmade and absolutely delicious!
Butlins is famous for it's entertainment and I can now fully appreciate the reason for this. It's blummin' fantastic! There was always something on, from shows to pantomime to sports classes and much more. Kiddo fell head over heels for the Skyline Gang who performed three shows throughout the week; "A Pirate's Adventure", "Carnival Crazy" and "It's Magic". These shows were perfect fun for little ones and were complete with juggling, magic, comedy and of course, plenty of catchy songs!
We tried to see as much as possible throughout our stay and this was made easy with the repeated entertainment schedule. We saw the Teletubbies, the Mr Men, Danger Mouse, Billie & Bonnie and the fabulous Whittington Rocks panto (definitely one for the adults too.... absolutely hilarious!). The highlight of the week for kiddo though was potentially the Mister Maker show, one of her TV favourites! Getting the opportunity to meet him after the show was a really special moment for her, especially as he really took his time with all of the children. No part of our break felt rushed, something we really loved about Butlins.
Throughout each show in the pavilion, the Redcoats were always sitting with children and encouraging them to join in. They were so friendly, enthusiastic and professional in their approach... I can see why they are such an asset for Butlins!
Outside of the Skyline Pavilion (the main activity hub), there is a whole heap of things to do outdoors. The weather was admittedly absolutely freezing during our trip (where on earth did spring go?!) so this is somewhere we'd love to spend more time when we return to Butlins! We loved the fairground. All of the rides are included in the price of our stay so it was lovely letting kiddo go on whatever rides she wanted, as many times as she wanted without having to say 'no'!
She also loved the various outdoor playgrounds. Immediately outside of our apartment was a little park complete with swings, slide and seesaw. Little things like this really impressed kiddo and she often played in the park just before bed ("Park in the dark!".... one of her favourite things!). Something she obviously doesn't normally have the chance to do, eh?!
Kiddo's confidence really shined during our break in Butlins. There were so many opportunities for her to be creative, learn new things or make new friends. It fills my heart with cheer to see her playing so independently, discovering new things and making use of opportunities available. I can tell you, she blummin' loved the Tots Disco each evening. She was a fan of the Little Library, a cosy quiet space crammed full of exciting books to read. Also a favourite was the Littlemagictrain show which made use of role-play, storylines and fun music to unleash that imagination. We loved how well thought out the schedule was for little ones, it was so inspiring for them! There was always something new and exciting to try out.
Finally, I wanted to mention the swimming pool. Splash Waterworld is potentially one of the best swimming pools we have been to with kiddo, it's the perfect place for little ones to build confidence in the water! The pool opens from 9am and the morning session is "quiet time" where the bigger rides are switched off and the pool is quieter.... just right for a relaxing swim!
There are opportunities here for swimming lessons (£5pp) but as kiddo is already quite confident in the water, we loved spending time exploring everything the water park has to offer which includes everything from raft rides to little boats and a lovely lazy river (my fav!).
We had such an incredible time and the experience for kiddo was truly magical. I can't believe we didn't discover Butlins sooner!
You can find out more about Butlins and their Just for Tots breaks by clicking here.