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Member Name: ButterBear
Advantages: Lots to see and do
Disadvantages: Not alot off site
As a child I always went on holiday with my family to a Haven camp, it was called Seaview and was in Weymouth, you may wonder why Iím mentioning it donít worry Iím not going off topic, you see after 16 years of visiting the camp the main club suffered a terrible fire, the place was gutted and had to be completely rebuilt, we went back for our annual holiday but it just wasn't the same anymore, all the things that we loved and had sentimental value for us were gone. Not happy with the new club, level of service or standard of entertainment we decided it was time we tried somewhere else, this was when we discovered Butlins. The Minehead camp is closest to where we live and so we took our first ever holiday with a different company. We were amazed at the difference, it was like a whole new world, the camp was like a small city compared to what we were used to with so much to do and see, after a few stays we decided we loved it so much that we bought our very own static caravan on site and have been going several times a year ever since.
With so much available and so much to do I feel I should warn you this may be a long review, in fact Iíll apologize in advance for the length but thereís just so much that needs to be mentioned. Feel free to skip bits, escape while you can or be daring and read the whole thing, go on be brave!
Butlins Minehead Camp-
The Minehead camp was built in 1962 at a cost of £2 million. In 1986 Butlins Minehead was the first of the Butlins sites to undergo major redevelopment work and £10 million was spent on its renovation, this saw the refurbishment of the indoor swimming pool as well as new chalets. In 1993 the amusement park was reopened after being moved to the front of the camp. In 1998 the camp was selected as one of the three sites to remain open and once again undertook major redevelopment. The Skyline Pavilion was added which is now the main focus of all the camps entertainment. In 2007 a Blue Skies apartment will open, which operates by the customer paying a lump sum and ensuring they will get a holiday at Butlins every year on.
The Camp and its attractions-
Most Butlins guests will arrive at the camp and enter through the main gate, there is a large car park which will take both cars and coaches. This car park is adjacent to the main reception area, you can go here for any enquiry about your booking or your stay, this however is not generally where you collect your keys from (Iíll tell you about that later) The staff are usually very well informed and friendly.
There are many large car parks around the site, all a close walk from the chalets. Top range chalets have private parking spaces and there are also many disabled spaces throughout the site. Although there is the car park by the main gate this is a temporary parking area, used for drop offs and pick ups. The caravan parks attached to the camp have parking bays for one car per caravan outside the vans themselves.
The Skyline is a large pavilion, noticeable from miles around, the giant, cream, permanent tent like structure houses 3 clubs, 4 pubs, a bowling ally, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Ice cream parlor, Joke shop, convenience store, gift shop, entertainment stage, toy shop, bookings office...............................90% of the camp attraction are housed within the Skyline which is open in all weather.
The 3 clubs which feature the main of the entertainment are
This is a family orientated club, it has always been no smoking although all the clubs will be as soon as the ban is put in place this year. The redcoats provide the main of the entertainment in this club putting on shows, running competitions, running the disco. The club has it's own bar, snack shop, arcade, toilets and juice/cold drinks bar.
Reds is split over 2 levels with a lower floor and a slightly higher level almost like a balcony, it is set out with numerous tables surrounded by chairs.
This club is situated upstairs and can hold up to 4000 guests, like Reds it is set out over 2 levels, with the higher level at the back of the large room, again it is set out with lots of chairs and tables. Centre Stage puts on a variety of entertainment including kidís shows, comedians, bands and big shows featuring the Centre Stage cast.
Again Centre Stage has its own shop, Ice cream parlor, and arcade, 2 sets of toilets, a large dance floor and 2 bars.
Jaks is an over 18s club and ID is required to enter. It is set out with a bar at the back of the room a small stage at the front, a dance floor and a scattering of tables and chairs. Jaks holds theme nights and quizzes. It also has its own toilets.
There are 3 bars within the Skyline. The Crazy Horse saloon is a country and western themed pub which hosts bingo, the Swinging Shillelagh is an Irish themed pub which holds karaoke nights and Bar Rosso is at the heart of the Skyline and serves Italian meals as well as drinks. The Sun and moon pub offers pub food as well as sport on TV and has a lovely terrace, this pub is accessible from the outside of the Skyline.
Shops within the Skyline include Everdays which is a convenience store selling groceries, newspapers, stationary etc. There is "Treasures" gift shop which sells gifts and souvenirs, "Toy box" sells a variety of different toys and games, "Jokers" sells various practical joke toys, fun wigs and flashing light up gadgets. There is also a photo store where you can buy pictures taken by the camp photographer, have your own prints developed, buy frames, albums, key fobs....................... There is a small section dedicated to an "internet cafe" thereís no cafe but you can access the net via the computers there. There is also a small post office style shop where you can buy papers, postcards, souvenirs, stamps etc. Other shops include "A'gogo" which sells clothes, "JAG" mobile phone centre and "Finishing Touches" hairdressers.
The Skyline has its own ice cream parlour "Mega Treats" where you buy a variety of treats and snacks, specialized rock and sweet gifts to take home, it has its own pick and mix counter, sells popcorn, candy floss and a whole host of lovely treats that are completely bad for you.
There are several places to eat in the Skyline, Iíve already mentioned Bar Rosso. Pizza Hut and Burger King do the obvious food, there is also a fish and chip restaurant which does traditional chip shop food with the option of eating in. There was a small cafe at the centre of the pavilion but that was recently removed and renovation work is currently taking place.
The Skyline features its own bowling ally "Hotshots" where you can play full sized 10 pin bowling, use its arcade, bar and pool/snooker area. There is also a separate pool hall situated above the Crazy Horse saloon.
The Skyline is dotted with various conveniences such as toilets and baby change areas, cash points (charge of £1.75 for use) vending machines, arcades and fun fayre style games. There is also a climbing wall, Rollercoaster simulator and giant trampolines where you're strapped into bungee harnesses to achieve big jumps.
For the little ones there is a soft play area with sections for under 3's and 3+, this is open between 9am and 8pm, with the under 3 session limited to 9-10 am depending on the time of year.
This is naturally the swimming pool. It has indoor and outdoor sections, large fun slides and a small pool for youngsters. There are 2 generous sized changing rooms with lockers for your personals (lockers require a token from the pool reception area at a 30p cost) By the main indoor pool there is a seating area and soft play area for children, there is also seating around the outside pool area (only open in warmer weather) In peak season swimmers are issued coloured wrist bands and allotted a certain time within the pool, this is to allow all holiday makers equal use of the facilities. The pool is heavily life guarded by well trained staff. It is open daily from 9am and offers parent and tot sessions as well as Aquafit sessions.
This is Britainís highest outdoor climbing structure. If you're a daredevil then this course of high ropes and challenges is the thing for you. For the youngsters there is the Adventure play fort which is open from 10am.
Connected to the Skyline and under cover is a child sized amusement park with special rides just for the little ones. Itís a mini fayre ground with spinning cups ride, mono rail, airplanes etc Bobs yard has its own toilet facility, vending machines and puts on small Bob the builder shows featuring men in giant Bob the builder suits (donít tell the kids itís pretend!) All rides are free to use and the yard is open 10am to 5pm.
Situated at the front of the park with a great view of the beach the amusement park features many classic rides- dodgems, carousel, waltzers, Viking boat and more, there are also many fayre ground style games (you know the type where you play and impossible game to win an insanely huge teddy) The park is free for all guests to use but there are height restrictions for safety purposes. The park is open from 10am to 7pm but is dependant on the weather for safety purposes, the rides are ran by well trained staff.
Multi Sports Court-
A series of indoor and outdoor sports courts suitable for tennis, football, basketball. The court offers sessions on Archery, Fencing, Circuit training as well as 5-8 and 9-12 football. All sessions are free and are 1 or 2 hours in length. Registration for sessions takes place at 9.30 am.
An important little feature, Butlins actually has its own emergency centre where you can seek immediate first aid and even book an appointment to see a doctor. These are properly trained staff and real GPs. The centre is at the front of the park by the reception and fayre ground. Like all doctors surgerys there is often a waiting time but it's better to wait and be treated then to try and spend your weeks holiday ill or injured.
The Hire Shop-
You are able to hire a wide range of things during your stay such as DVDs and videos, TVs, irons, phone chargers, hair dryers, push chairs, travel cots, baby baths, fans, wheel chairs, bikes and more. Hire prices vary.
The Yaught Club-
This is actually a restaurant. It is primarily for full and half board guests however self catering guests can also use it. It is situated in the centre of the camp and has large open dining spaces. Attached to the restaurant is also a small chip shop which opens on an evening.
The Highwayman pub-
This is a small family pub at the east end of the park bay the caravan park. They sell pub lunches and have a lovely view across the lake.
This is as it says a lovely little chapel near the east side of the park. Having never used it Iím not sure what it looks like inside or if it holds services.
Other outdoor onsite attractions include Formula-K go carting, Junior drive, Crazy golf,the 2 screen ABC cinema (ok technically it's inside) which shows up to date movies and thereís even a launderette.
Staying at Minehead-
There are many ways of booking a holiday at Butlins and lots of accommodation offers. You can book onsite in the booking shop, online at Butlinsonline.co.uk, via telephone or travel agent.
Accommodation is traditionally in the style of chalets these range in quality and price, depending on the size of your party and time of your stay.
You can choose from self catering, half and full board with 4 levels of accommodation- standard, silver deluxe and gold. All options have a minimum occupancy of 1 excluding Silver which requires 2 and Gold accommodation which is a minimum of 4.
Standard- the chalet comes equipped with colour TV, shower or bath, tea/coffee making facility and bedding. Size- 1-5 people.
Silver- comes with colour TV, shower room, tea/coffee making facility, bedding and house keeping. Size 1-6 people.
Deluxe- comes with complimentary bottle of wine and chocolates, 28" TV, DVD and VCR, 2nd TV in master bedroom, shower and bath, housekeeping, personal safe, hairdryer, tea/coffee making facilities and towels provided. It also has free DVD. video hire, personal parking space and balcony/terrace. Size 2-4 people.
Gold- comes with all mentioned in Deluxe as well as lounge/Dining area, kitchenette, Modern fixtures and fittings, free DVD hire and a
Dedicated Gold host to assist you in checking in and ensure you have a pleasurable break. Size 4-6 people.
As much as Iíd like to tell you all the pricing I simply can't, there are so many different options available and the prices change depending on the time of year, late deals are possible and there are always special offers. What I would recommend is that you visit their online site and request a price or a brochure, to give you a very basic idea for a week in July prices start from £52 up to £161 per person, a week in August would range from £84-£204, obviously this depends on the week and the standard accomodation you choose(prices listed are from Butlinsonline.co.uk, they are listed as half the price they would have been if you had booked earlier, they are subject to change) if you should choose the caravan route you will find the prices vary from owner to owner but a peak holiday will average between £550-£800 for up to 8 people, they don't work on a per person basis.
When you have arrived at the site you will go to the reception and will receive your information pack which will provide details of the location of your accommodation as well as where you collect your keys. You will then go into the Skyline where the redcoats will greet you, direct you to the appropriate desk where you will receive your keys and passes. There are maps all around the site and large sections of the accommodation are colour coded to make them easier to find. All welcome packs include an entertainments guide; this is a small glossy brochure detailing whatís on during the week (where and at what time) general information about the site as well as a map of the camp.
You don't need to spend a whole week or more on the site to make use of its facilities. Day passes are available which enable you to use all of the camps attractions, even access into the clubs. Passes start from £38 and are available from the booking office or during the peak season there is a small hut outside the main camp which sells the passes allowing immediate entry.
The Caravan Parks-
Many people donít know about this option but Minehead camp has 2 caravan park options, first is the Lakeside caravan park. Set in beautiful sweeping land with its own lake it has over 100 caravans all privately owned but often available for hire. Each van has its own parking bay and garden area. They are usually very well looked after and come with such things as TVs, stereos, DVD players.....all the modern amenities provided but which you would not get in the chalet accommodation, many of the gardens will have seating areas, washing line facilities and some even have plants and flowers to enhance the overall look. There is also a touring caravan park for people with their own vans and trailers, this comes with the ability to hook up to the onsite elctricity circuit.
You can get information on the parks from the booking office who will have a list of owners who you can contact about hiring a van, alternatively you could run an online search, and I know many owners have their own sites for letting out their vans. Often the caravan prices are cheaper than Butlins own, vans usually fit 6-8 people all of which will have access to all of the parks attractions and entertainment at no further cost (other than paying attractions such as bowling, arcades etc which everyone pays for) caravan users are treated equal to chalet users although the park is at the furthest point from the Skyline pavilion.
The caravan park itself is beautiful, the large grounds are well kept and because it is so far from the clubs it is always peaceful and relaxing. Ducks, geese and swans live on the lake and will quite happily wander around the park looking for a friendly holiday maker to offer them some bread. You can even go fishing on the lake. You could book a holiday in the Lakeside caravans and never need to go into the Skyline, the caravan park is ideal for a relaxing get a way.
There is constant entertainment provided at Butlins from small shows for the kids during the day to large production numbers on an evening. They have they're own puppet show crew, Titan the £10,000 robot, circus acts, costumed performers and of course the Red Coats who are always floating around. The entertainment is always at a high level of quality, put together by talented choreographers and directors, the entertainers themselves are always extremely talented and professional.
There are regular photo opportunities for the kids to get a souvenir picture with their favourite character, these include Bob, Wendy, Spud, Fifi, Spiderman, Hulk and more.
Minehead plays host to may special themed breaks and concert weekends. In the past they have hosted Westlife, Ronan Keating, Blue, McFly, WWE Wrestling and more big stars. They have all sorts of themed breaks suitable for family and over 18's alike including chart buster weekends, blues, Motown, Irish, country and western, sports, comedy, kidís specials and even a religious festival-spring harvest. For details on the upcoming events and next years spring harvest visit WWW.Butlinsonline.co.uk
Whatís on off camp-
Well Minehead is quite a small place, in fact thereís probably more on site than off, but they do have a small shopping area as well as the beach, there is the steam rail station and just up the road in Dunster is Dunster castle and medieval village. There is also the station at Watchet, the Tropiquaria and if you are willing to travel a little you can get a bus from Minehead to Taunton (for about £4 return) Minehead itself has several supermarkets including a good sized Tesco, it has a gym and holds a market every Tuesday and Thursday.
Ahh so here we are, Iíve told you so much about the site and Iím sure I could tell you even more but now to tell you my experience. Well I've been so many times now it would be difficult to tell you everything but the fact Iíve been so many times does of course say one BIG thing, that I enjoy it there.
I mentioned earlier that we have a caravan on the site so I donít often use Butlins chalets, I have used them however and have so far found them to be clean, they are reasonably maintained- once the fridge wasn't working and there were problems with a wardrobe but a maintenance team quickly sorted out those problems. I found the chalet to be comfortable and spacious despite the fact that 6 of us were staying in it. The chalet was supplied with clean bed linen and had a greeting pack on the table ready for our arrival, it also had a fridge, dining table and chairs, sofa, TV etc etc. We paid about £48 per person for our stay which was in the lowest accommodation level.
The park itself is huge, great for a little exercise; naturally the more you pay for your chalet the closer you are to all the attractions. The downside to that though is all the holiday makers will be passing your chalet and you'll get a bit of noise, if you're staying a bit further into the camp site then you'll have a far more peaceful stay.
The entertainment varies and I personally like the big musical shows that are put on in centre stage, the cast are always very talented and you get a varied mix of musical styles and era's, meaning you arenít getting the same thing every night. The kids entertainment is good, usually there is at least one evening show a day for them, I do think though that more could be done for the tiny kiddies, my little boy is 2 1/2 and I feel that there isnít enough to keep him entertained for a long time, he doesnít mind sitting through 80's themed shows (my fave) but Iím sure he'd rather be off doing something more fun like diving around in ball pits or watching giant TV characters singing and dancing.
Iíve eaten in most of the food areas, Burger king and Pizza hut are as expected, they have the same deals and offers that any normal one would, Pizza hut will even deliver to your chalet! All the pubs serve very pleasant food although their menus are quite limited, I guess this is due to the fact that there are so many different style restaurants on site, so if you donít like the selection in one venue you can go elsewhere. The sun and moon has probably been my favourite of all the eating areas but with constant menu changes and a new season upon us my opinion may change. I've always found the restaurants clean and well staffed, occasionally later in the evening some of the food options are not available having already sold out but I guess thatís to be expected.
Some of the pricing can be a bit high, the alcohol prices at the bars for example. It is easy to avoid the high cost most of the time as there are so many shops off site and you are able to take your own soft drinks and snacks into the venue, however you cannot take in your own alcohol which means if you want to drink it you have to pay their prices. I think though considering the amount of activity and entertainment that is provided free of charge that the shop prices get balanced out.
Now Iím a little older I get most pleasure from watching how much fun my little boy has while we're there and now my little girl is starting to walk she'll be able to join in a lot more this year. I have such a great time with them during our stay that I get sad when we have to leave and can't wait for our next visit, fortunately having the caravan does mean I can visit more frequently then most people can.
Iíve used Butlins for both a relaxing get a way and a non-stop action filled break. It's a great holiday resort and with so much on offer it's hard to find fault, even the worst rainy weather canít ruin a holiday here, after all most of the venues and entertainment are under the safe cover of the Skyline Pavilion(which by the way is all heated). The staff are always friendly and helpful, the resort is clean and kept up together, the entertainment is fabulous. Thereís something for everybody here. If you've not tried Butlins I highly recommend you give it a go. I know many people have had negative experiences or simply not enjoyed their stay at the site but i've never experienced such things and can assure you that not everyone has a terrible time there, in fact the majority go back for more.
Summary: A good holiday location, not everyone has a bad time!
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