Butlins Resort, Minehead
Hotel - Warren Road, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5SH
21 reviews from the community
Review of "Butlins Resort, Minehead"
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When I was young and carefree I loved travelling to new places and could never understand people who kept returning to the same place every year. Add one, two and then three kids to the mix and I quickly discovered that there is a lot to be said for going back somewhere familiar knowing that the kids will be happy - resulting in a stress free break. That is the main reason that we have been returning to Butlins on and off for over ten years - initially staying at the Skegness site and for the last two years visiting the Minehead complex. We have just returned from a seven night break at Butlins Minehead so a good time to share my experience.
BookingI booked this year's holiday online without issue although the previous year I had some difficulty with the booking and had to contact the customer helpline who resolved things for me. We do get a small discount on prices as a Premier customer. Butlins Minehead offers quite a wide range of different types and classes of accommodation from the cheapest (standard chalets) right up to the most expensive Gold Blue Sky village apartments and various options in between.
Butlins Minehead is in Somerset and for us heading down from the Midlands a trek down the M6 and M5 and then a straightforward drive down the A39. Our sat nav coped with the journey well and Butlins is clearly signposted from about twenty miles away.
Silver AccommodationThis year we priced up the cost of staying for seven nights rather than four and felt that the price was more than we wanted to pay in Gold. In the end, we decided to stay in Silver accommodation having stayed in Silver accommodation before in Skegness so that we could afford to stay for the longer period.
I have to say that the first impressions of the Silver chalets were not great. The exterior of the chalet blocks are very worn and look in need of a some maintenance and general tidying up. We were on the third floor of a block in Oyster Bay and the metal stairs leading up to the accommodation were rusty and shabby.Fortunately the interior of the chalet was more pleasant with each room looking clean and tidy and the general layout being pretty user friendly with ample space inside for our family of five and everything that we needed to take with us for a week's stay. There are a few non-essential items that are not provided in Silver (but are in Gold) including a dishwasher, DVD player and second TV in the double bedroom. An iron and ironing board are supplied but when my husband decided to do some ironing, the iron didn't actually work! More noticeable were the absence of daily 'housekeeping' and having no towels provided although I was reminded of this via email a few days before we travelled and given the option of having both provided for an additional daily fee. To be honest, I've never really seen much benefit from the housekeeping service beyond replenishing the loo roll and it wasn't an issue packing extra towels. My husband was a little stressed when we returned from the beach on the first day caked in sand and mud and was muttering about not having any housekeeping but I think the accommodation remained in clean enough condition with us just tidying up as we went along.
There were a few little niggles with the accommodation with the shower proving quite tricky to regulate the temperature initially - it kept fluctuating between freezing and boiling hot - and even when we did work out how to keep it at a reasonable temperature it wasn't exactly a powerful shower. The other appliance playing up was the fridge which, even at the very lowest setting, managed to freeze all of the contents so I was faced with lumps of ice in my milk every morning! Even the sliced chicken that I'd bought to save on the cost of the kids' lunches ended up frozen solid! The other minor irritation was that the beds were not at all comfortable. The mattresses on the kids' beds were thin and rock hard whereas the double bed was saggy and really uncomfortable. We had the foresight to pack our usual mattress topper but I still struggled to sleep well, not helped by pillows that were so thin they were practically transparent.Other drawbacks to the silver accommodation here in general is that it is all a long way from the car park so there is no way of keeping an eye on your vehicle during your stay and makes the process of unloading (and loading) all the luggage a bit of an issue as it needs to be moved quite a long way across the site. There are plenty of trollies available but it is still the furthest distance that I've had to maul our belongings in any Butlins accommodation.
Gold Accommodation (Wisteria Lodges)
Last year we booked slightly earlier and managed to get one of these lodges as there are only twelve of them on-site. These are attractive wooden lodges with three bedrooms and a living room, bathroom and kitchen area. The best part of this accommodation was its location as it right next to the splash pool so ideal to let the kids have a play and keep nipping back to dry off whenever they needed to. The lodges are also close to the entrance so handy for popping across to the beach or into town. Despite being so close to all the action we weren't bothered by noise at all. The other advantage of this style of accommodation is that each lodge has its own personal parking space to the side so it made packing and unpacking so much easier!
EntertainmentButlins is famed for its shows and family entertainment and this year's entertainment seemed to be even more diverse than previous years. Much of the entertainment is based inside the giant central Pavilion which has a range of shops, restaurants and bars surrounding the central stage. Admittedly most of the shows are cheesier than a Stilton factory as there is a lot of entertainment aimed at the pre-school market; featuring grown adults cavorting about in daft costumes and singing and shouting with limited talent and far too much enthusiasm. Fortunately all of my kids are now beyond the stage of wanting to sit through such shows but, even when they were of an age to tolerate the Skyline Gang and other nonentities, the experience was made much more tolerable by the positioning of a number of licenced bars surrounding the entertainment area in the pavilion. Happy kids, happy adults! (Ironically, my youngest decided he wanted to watch the Teletubbies perform this year - twice! - much to his big brothers' disgust. When he was of an appropriate age to enjoy the programme he would have been wailing at the sight of grown adults dressed in Teletubby costumes!)
There are some genuine big name acts performing at Butlins each season and the cost is included within the cost of the holiday. Diversity were performing during our visit but the queue to get in to see them was ridiculous with people queuing for well over two hours to get in! The queues were equally as long for other well known acts including Stephen Mulhern - himself a former Redcoat. Needless to say we gave the queues a miss and spent the evening watching a 'Silent Cinema' showing of Finding Dora in the Pavilion instead. I was a bit confused about what silent cinema meant beforehand and we actually missed a showing of Moana because we didn't understand what it involved. Silent Cinema is simply the film shown on a giant screen with the viewers supplied with wireless headphones to listen to the film. This is a clever idea as everybody is able to sit together and those who do or don't want to watch the film can still enjoy themselves without disturbing others. We also enjoyed a wrestling show during our stay and various puppet shows and other performances.
ActivitiesThe younger the children, the better value for money Butlins will prove as there are a lot of free activities and facilities aimed at the pre-school market. This includes their own little fairground ride section which is undercover so a good option in wet weather. Rides are suitable for children under 150cm tall so both of my younger two are still able to use these rides including spinning tea cups and flying aeroplanes. These are all pretty tame rides designed to put a smile on toddlers' faces but they are decent enough entertainment for the odd wet afternoon. My six year old came off the teacups with his head spinning as the ride attendant was getting a bit carried away with the spinning! There is also a large outdoor wooden fort which is good for children of different ages to play together as well as smaller outdoor play areas dotted around the site.
Weather permitting there is an outdoor splash pool with a selection of activities and plenty of deckchairs. This area could be improved by adding some outdoor toilets and changing rooms as I'm sure plenty of young kids have a wee in the pool rather than trek over to the toilets in Splash Waterworld. Outdoor water play might be a bit unrealistic at times - out of a seven day stay we had two days that were hot enough to go in the outdoor pool even in August although one of the days was hot enough that I managed to burn slightly! The outdoor pool is fine for younger kids to splash about in and there is a table tennis set outside to keep older ones entertained if they don't want to relax on the deckchairs.More time is likely to be spent in the indoor pool where all activities are completely free of charge and even the £1 needed for the lockers is refundable. The Splash Waterworld includes a large pool, lazy river and a number of water rides as well as more sedate activities such as a bubble pool, toddler pool and play fountain section. My boys have never been too bothered about the rides as they hate waiting about shivering in the queues. They do enjoy the wave machines although my youngest can find them a bit overwhelming at times.
Holidays with teenagers are much more expensive as whilst there are a huge range of activities aimed at teens most of them come at an additional cost. There are the activity gardens with football pitches and basketball courts where my boys tend to spend the evening in dry weather. There are also some formal organised sports activities that take place here during the day. If the pitches are all taken, my boys are quite happy having a kickabout in the blue skies green rather than sitting through the shows with a few exceptions.There are lots of teen friendly activities undercover including Hotshots which has plenty of pool tables, air hockey and ten pin bowling all for an additional cost. There is also a bar area so I was able to have a crafty drink while the boys played pool.
Outdoors there is the opportunity to hire out family sized fun bikes that can fit up to four individuals as well as large twin or single go-karts. These are available to hire for thirty minutes at a time which might not seem a long time but certainly feels enough as these are quite hard on the limbs! This is long enough to do a full circuit of the complex as you are not permitted to take them off the site. My oldest is deadly enough driving a go-kart around Butlins without being let loose on the beach!There is also an Aerial Adventures section of the complex which offers activities including a giant climbing wall leap of faith and general assault course. These are all available to pay for as separate activities and take around 30 minutes to an hour per activity.
Fortunately the main outdoor fairground is largely free of charge and open until 9pm most evenings. The focus here is on good old fashioned traditional fairground activities so the rides are pretty tame but a lot of fun nonetheless. Our favourite is the traditional helter skelter which goes surprisingly fast and despite all of the safety warnings I don't seem to be able to go down without grazing my elbows on the side! My ten year old son loves the spinning chair ride and my six year old enjoys the boat. Unfortunately their favourite is an activity that comes with an additional £5 charge per child and is being inside a giant inflatable ball rolling about on water for five minutes! They both found this great fun.One of the newest activities on site is a Mini Safari World Jeep ride which actually opened for the first time during our stay this year. I did think this was overpriced as it costs £8 for a child to drive a small electric Jeep around a course of sand and mud for fifteen minutes. My youngest did beg to have a go but found it quite hard to navigate the course as it was very boggy and the Jeep had quite a wide turning circle so he struggled to steer. It was fun watching some of the kids ending up in some precarious positions wedged on the side!
I can't disguise the fact that the food is my favourite part of the holiday - not just eating it but not having to prepare, cook or even think about food for the rest of the family for a whole week. It is possible to go self catering and our chalet includes a fully kitted out kitchen including fridge, oven and microwave. There are also plenty of eating places dotted around the complex including known franchises such as Burger King and Soho Coffee Co as well as Butlins own range of eateries. There are also a couple of supermarkets on site to purchase essentials although they are more expensive than standard supermarkets. There are Tesco, Lidl and Co-op stores a short drive/walk away to stock up on cheaper provisions.We pay to add a dining plan to our stay which includes an all you can eat style breakfast and evening meal (no lunch). We opt for the premium dining which means eating at either the Yacht Club buffet restaurant or the Deck restaurant. Both restaurants are next to each other and have a similar menu on offer although the Yacht Club tends to be quieter and doesn't have quite as much choice with its main feature being a traditional carvery. The Deck has a a selection of mass produced hot meals each night - so fairly standard options such as curries, chilli, pies etc. There are also individual 'cooking stations' where the chefs will freshly prepare individual portions of stir fries, pasta or grilled meat to your exact specification. There is a queue for this service as all dishes are individually prepared but this is handy for people like my ten year old who have a strong dislike for certain ingredients and want a stir fry consisting of only noodles, chicken and sauce or those that want to try something more unusual.
Both restaurants have a children's section where the counter is much lower to encourage children to help themselves. Meals here were more child friendly options but both kids and adults can help themselves to anything from any of the sections without restriction. There are a lot of meat based dishes but as a vegetarian I found there to be plenty of variety and I was often spoiled for choice and able to have a different meal every night. My personal favorites were the Mushroom Charlotte and frittata. I particularly appreciated that there were at least two different types of veggie curry (of different strengths) rather than just a standard veggie option. There is also a well stocked salad bar, fresh cooked pasta with a range of sauces and a selection of hot and cold desserts.Breakfast options include a standard cooked breakfast with all the usual components on offer; sausages, bacon, beans, tinned and fresh tomatoes, hash browns and eggs amongst less standard ingredients such as black pudding and lovely veggie sausages made with a mixture of real vegetables rather than synthetic meat alternatives. My youngest two particularly enjoy having warm hard boiled eggs with their breakfast here as they come complete with their shells and the opportunity to make plenty of mess removing them!
As well as the traditional cooked breakfast there is a decent continental offering with fresh pastries, cooked meat, bread, cheese and fresh fruit alongside a selection of breakfast cereals and hot and cold drinks. I can't think there is anything missing that anybody would reasonably want for breakfast. My only criticism would be that the hot drinks come from a machine so don't make for the best tasting brew even when I add fresh milk from the cereal counter rather than the 'milk dash' setting on the machine.
Customer ServiceI really can't fault the customer service on site and all of the staff are friendly and helpful. There are a lot of Eastern European staff but everyone we encountered spoke fluent English and would go out of their way to be helpful and make conversation. The Redcoats have a well deserved reputation for being friendly and gregarious and they all lived up to that reputation this time. The restaurant staff were equally friendly much to the embarrassment of my kids who are quite shy!
Local AreaIf you do want to leave the Butlins complex, the town centre is literally just a walk up the road. Attractions include a free (but tiny) museum and the West Somerset Railway with working steam trains. There is a good selection of shops including brand name chains, independent stores and charity shops. We spent a good afternoon browsing and purchased some clothes for the boys including some Superdry tops from a local sports shop and hoodies from a branch of Saltrock. The boys also loved one of the local arcades - imaginatively called the Arkade- as the kids found the two penny machines to pay out more than those inside Butlins! They also won lots of tokens and were able to exchange them for some souvenirs.
I did want to visit Dunster Castle which is a National Trust property about three miles away but I couldn't convince the boys that it was a good idea and nothing is guaranteed to spoil a trip more than three miserable kids moaning all the way round!
CostButlins is not a cheap holiday, certainly not in the main summer holidays for five of us! We paid over two thousand pounds for seven nights in Silver accommodation for the five of us including Premium dining. Gold accommodation was being quoted at over £3000 for the same period in August! It is possible to get a much cheaper deal out of season particularly out of school holidays although the shows tend to be lower key out of season, if that is a consideration. Self catering will also be much cheaper although we found the cost of eating out (having self catered at Butlins Skegness in previous years) to work out more expensive than paying for a dining plan. I really don't want to spend my holiday cooking meals for everybody either!
Whilst not a cheap option Butlins in Minehead is a great way to keep the whole family entertained from tots to teens and adults as well. I'll leave the final words to my six year old who declared "Butlins is the best part of my life!" on our first day and still felt the same by the end of the holiday.
Product Information : Butlins Resort, Minehead
Manufacturer's product descriptionHotel - Warren Road, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5SH
Address: Warren Road, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5SH
Listed on Ciao since: 26/06/2006