As I write this from the Pavilion itself I can tell you this, don't believe everything you read in reviews (this one included).
I arrived for a Monday - Friday trip and have so far writing from experiences up to Tuesday evening.
Prior to arriving I paid £15 for access to the wifi (you get 15 minutes for free, but as a gadget addict, 15 minutes minutes is not enough) system, expecting it originally for use to only in the Resort Buildings (Pavilion, Pubs, Splash Zone etc.) I found upon doing a quick scan that they have installed outside transmitters for wifi in and around the apartments - brilliant I thought so I could use my iPad in my bedroom, to check it was all working I logged on via my phone which was a huge mistake! The company that controls the wifi (Arqiva) logged the individual IP address of each device and once logged on is locked onto that device - it doesn't allow you to share the connection with another device. I tried asking if I could swap licences with Arqiva over a pay phone (they don't have offices on site) and had instead to pay for another to connect my iPad.
Problem Solved I hear you say.....Nope!
The wifi signal in the rooms although claiming 2/3 strength are very temperamental one second it will show up with your required connection (Butlins Wifi - not to be confused with Butlins Team, which is the redcoats wifi package) the next second it won't exist or if it does stay available to sign on, it may not always connect. I have spent over half an hour to try and secure a connection in my apartment to no avail, when I do get one it's because I'm pressed so close to the outer wall of my bedroom I start to crush my arm holding my iPad.
The apartments - well what can I say, if your using them as a base which the intention to either blown every penny in the resorts clubs and diners or for day trip excursions then you'll be well suited, if you intend to stay on site and remain largely in your apartment you will be bitterly disappointed!
The TV only picks up 6 channels (Butlins own promo channel (on 1), BBC 1 (on 2), BBC 2 (on 3...), ITV, CH4, and CH5.
I was horrified considering all television transmitters now only broadcast in digital but Butlins only provide the equivalent of terrestrial. It's a further ploy to force you out of your homes to reap more of your hard earned cash.
The windows in all the properties are SINGLE PANE windows, that are so thin you can clearly hear anyone and anything on the outside of the apartment, and they leak! (The wind whistles through them without a problem) in some instances you hark for the hard plastic rubbish you get in caravans.
The latches on these single panes do go right back to the knotholed lever system which is pointless as the cold air already comes into room anyway - but one disadvantage/advantage is all the windows are of knee height meaning in cases of a fire (which considering the structure of these apartments maybe a good thing - to start again I mean) you could step out of the window to the outside, but if you leave a window open there is nothing really to stop someone coming into your rooms and pilfering anything without meaningful detection as there is no CCTV in the apartment buildings.
The Bathroom is very small (as all WCs are) with a standard shower cubicle and a toilet and hand basin squeezed in, the only mod con you could say that is equipped is a heated towel rack, handy but doesn't quite get hot enough to properly dry damp things.
The kitchen is adequate to cook in (assuming the last occupants hadn't stolen or broke the equipment as those in my apartment had - we didn't have a frying pan, grill pan, can opener or paring knife for vegetables nor oven gloves)
Lets move on to the entertainment -
I am not fond of kids entertainment and their entertainers (I guess it's the forced amusement they need for the little darlings - makes me cringe), I like children but only if I'm in their presence for as short a time as possible - so needless to say I tried to avoid the kids entertainment.
Grown Up Entertainment - Minehead does have a large 'Sports Bar' a glorified Wetherspoons with a few more shoddy fruit machines and a bowling alley (not included in the park price) and a number of smaller pub/restaurants to cater for families - since I neither drink much and detest most sports I avoid both if I can help it.
Now I must say I do like a good game of Bingo which Butlins do provide in the 'Jumping Jaks' but what I was not happy about what the price and consequentially it's prizes.
For a family holiday park I don't expect to pay £18 for a 6 ticket book of 8 pages and 3 strips of 6 ticket flyers - to me that is the premise of Gala or Mecca. After the shock of the price, the games they play were awful, rather than playing the standard format of 'One Line, Two Line, Full House' (Whether this was the Redcoats whim or the illogical nature of it) they played on one page 1 Line, once that was called we started a new game on the next page for a Full House, after that on the following page another Full House, only on the three flyers did we get a modicum of normalcy with One Line and Full House Prizes, of which the prizes were an abomination. Main Booklet Prizes were: £12 One Line, £20 Full House and the flyers £22 One Line, £55 Full House
I went on the Monday night and I swear there must have been at least 50 - 75 people playing bingo so Butlins raked in that cash there and in this was squeezed into a space of 1 hour
(I would have preferred a low stake game - say £5 - £10 for the night and played £2 1 Line Prize, £5 Two Line Prize, £10 Full House on the 8 page booklet only - no flyers)
Needless to say I shalln't be doing that again but it really spoilt my evening so much I felt like destroying something (I didn't but could have).
There is a large arcade in the Pavilion at the rear with a wide selection of 2p pushers and a multitude of Skill games for either prizes or tokens - yes Butlins has a Ticket Booth selling tat to one and all - for 100 tokens you can get a small magnetic travel game or box of cheap dominos (worth £1) for 1,000 tokens you can get some slip-on furry slipper booties (worth £6.99 from most markets) and what the average hoard from the multitude of games 5-10 tokens per £1 (unless your very skilful) Butlins has however brought a compromise to those who like the 2p pushers on some of the 2p pieces they have attached a star sticker, if you collect 3 stars you can exchange they at the Token Booth for items equivalent of 50 Tokens - if you use the mega-collection book (collect 47 stars) they'll give you 3 stars for three meaning your book is worth 500 Tokens.
So even 2p's can't get you good tat.
I have so far found one redeeming feature that is included free of charge in your park price - the funfair (if its open) a small selection of thrills and spills including a pirate ship, a sky walker, waltzers and a carousel for those who like things a little slower. You can have as many turns as you want (queue size, time and weather permitting - the staff really don't like the rain so when they close for Health and Safety reasons they're actually happy for it)
But all in all, unless you've got young children (10 and under) this place is ideal, those with older children and those with shallow savings then the amount of things you can do that are included in the price is minimal to almost non-existent.
To Butlins I would strongly suggest the following:
1. Either lower the prices of those activities you provide, or include in each family check-in pack a number of Free Activity Voucher sets (3 Free Activities - worth £12) [1 Free set for Standard, 2 Free Sets for Silver, and 3 Free sets for Gold]
2. (i) I would also strongly suggest a new wifi package (and provider) that is an semi-open network - e.g. Pay £20 per trip for access to the Internet for your unit (So you can connect an iPad, phone, kindle or other wifi enabled device under the same licence)
2. (ii) Rather than having outside Internet router transmitters, install some cheap shortwave routers to be kept in the maintenance closet in each property to use a strong signal available to that unit.
3. Upgrade all buildings ASAP to Double Glazing Windows or higher (will cut down on heating costs in the long term) and provide Freeview Channels in all living rooms - not all families choose to use all the facilities and came to Butlins purely for a change of scenery.
4. This one is probably the cheapest to do - place net curtains on all windows to stop nosey and potentially annoying guests peering through your window to look at your unit whether your in or out.
And now...we'll return you to your regular reviewing public.
- Also Known As:
- Butlins Minehead Hotel Minehead
- Butlins Hotel Minehead
- Butlins Resort
- Butlins Minehead Resort Somerset