TRAVEL: A nod to the past but an eye on the future at Butlin’s

The wooden chalets overlooking the lake at Butlins , Minehead
The wooden chalets overlooking the lake at Butlins , Minehead
Azura docked in picturesque Geiranger.

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EMMA ALLEN and her family spent four nights and five happy days in the new lakeside chalets at Butlin’s in Minehead.

Butlin’s is like an old friend that you only see once in a while. Fundamentally nothing’s changed but you may notice a few differences.

Unlike your friend who may have aged slightly, put on a few pounds and gained some additional grey hairs, Butlin’s ethos remains the same – a true intent to delight – but they are moving with the times, modernising their accommodation and updating their entertainment.

Out go the old-fashioned 10ft square chalets, replaced by modern wooden lakeside chalets, think less Hi-de-Hi! more Center Parcs. No more creaky bunk beds and communal washrooms, Butlin’s have created the ideal accommodation for families wanting to spend quality time together.

Butlin’s have even consulted popular parents website, Mumsnet, to come up with a 21st century take on the traditional chalet self-catering holiday which would appeal to the modern family.

These new-style chalets are built in a peaceful setting away from the busy central hub, yet still close enough to the heart of the entertainment.

Our two-bedroom chalet was spacious, modern and contained everything we needed for a week’s holiday. There’s an open plan living area with kitchen, dining area and lounge plus a veranda overlooking the lake, where we were able to sit and watch the sun go down while greeting the friendly ducks who would swim up to us in the hope of a disallowed crumb of bread.

With a large family bathroom complete with a bath and shower and also a separate WC, the light airy accommodation was perfect for our family of four. But with the average modern family increasing in size, Butlin’s have designed a range of chalets with three and four bedrooms so extended families can holiday together.

If you can tear yourself away from these comfortable surroundings, then the delights of Butlin’s famous brand of entertainment is waiting for you not so far away.

We were up early each morning to grab breakfast before heading off to a football coaching session with our footie-mad six-year-old son. His older, less sporty, sister preferred to venture off into the funfair and queue for unlimited rides on the dodgems.

Did you know that the first dodgems in the UK were originally at Butlin’s? Billy Butlin introduced them in the 1930s and they have been a popular fairground attraction ever since. And the remaining three sites – Minehead, Skegness and Bognor – still have them today.

Another popular feature at Butlin’s has always been the swimming pool. The outdoor Olympic-sized pool from the original holiday camp era has been upgraded into the indoor spectacular Splash Waterworld. With flames, wave machines, lazy rivers and jacuzzis, swimming is never dull and lots of fun for the whole family. Plus if it’s raining outside then it doesn’t matter.

It was certainly a thrilling experience hurtling down a flume at breakneck speed in a rubber dinghy. The children were desperate for another go, the adults not so keen!

When you think of Butlin’s then the famous Redcoats spring to mind. These bunch of friendly, energetic and hard-working entertainers are adored by guests and can be seen working from early morning through to late at night; always immaculately turned out and always with a smile.

In fact there are a lot of smiles at Butlin’s, from the audiences in fits of laughter, to the little girl who has mastered the dance moves of her heroes Diversity, who appear on stage during selected breaks.

New for 2017 are also BBC duo Sam and Mark, former Redcoat Stephen Mulhern and the little ones’ favourites, The Teletubbies.

If you fancy eating out then there are a variety of restaurants to try from a brand new eaterie serving traditional fish and chips, an American diner and the classic Beachcomber Inn, as well as the dining plans available in the buffet-style restaurants which can be added to your package.

Butlin’s offers the perfect family holiday; a nod to the past but very much keeping an eye on the future.