If you've been hiding under a rock for the past month then you'll be excused for not knowing that this weekend was the Tots100 Christmas Party at Butlins, Bognor Regis resort. Anyone else has no excuse and should hang their heads in shame now!
As this was my first proper blogging event, I was so excited but incredibly nervous. Obviously anyone is nervous about these, but I have been particularly nervous as this was the big reveal: I was no longer going to be a green bug with yellow antennae and a permanently happy smile. However, with Mr. TheBoyandMe and The Boy in tow for the family weekend in Bognor Regis, and my lovely friends @JennyPaulin and @Jessies_Online to support me I felt a lot more comfortable at meeting the other bloggers.
Having decided to stay an extra night, we drove down on Friday night (right decision, roads were empty) and with The Boy settled into his pyjamas and travel Gro-bag the three and a half hours passed quickly.
We were soon settled into the incredibly plush Ocean Hotel in the Butlins resort. I didn't get the chance to see the Shoreline hotel over the weekend and I understand this to be more orientated towards younger children, but the Ocean is more my cup of tea: a nice boutique-style hotel with additional facilities making it easy enough for those with younger children.
We stayed in an Atlantis room which is more of a mini-suite with a king-size bed in the main bedroom area and small seating area, good-sized bathroom (with a fixed overhead rain shower) and a twin bedroom area. There are flat-screen televisions (with in-built DVD players and freeview) in both sleeping areas, a plethora of towels and a complimentary toiletries set, a small fridge in the main room, a balcony with table and chairs, a safe (big enough to fit a laptop, DSLR camera, video camera, etc), a kettle (with four mugs, tea bags, sugar, long-life milk and coffee sachets), an iron and ironing board, a hairdryer and 'disco' lights throughout! That's not something that I'd normally consider a selling point, but the slow colour-changing ambient lighting was strangely calming and The Boy and me (ha!) loved it.
The room was excellent and I can't recommend it highly enough. I have only three tiny niggles: the first was that the carpet didn't appear to have been hoovered and so on Saturday morning I asked at reception if they could send house-keeping in to give it a quick going over. Reception were most apologetic and by the time we got back two hours later, every fibre of the carpet was standing to attention having been vacuumed to within an inch of its life. Secondly, it was incredibly hot in the room! The other thing that irked me was that they didn't empty our bins on either day, and as we had eaten breakfast in our rooms we had food waste, plus with a child who is still in nappies at night, there was a fair amount in the bins overflowing onto the beautifully clean carpet!
I was amazed at the amount of entertainment available throughout the weekend, definitely something for everyone in the family. The staff are genuinely helpful and caring, being a redcoat really does matter to them! I'd downloaded the brilliant (and free) app for the iPod Touch which can add entertainment events straight to your calendar, this made it really easy to keep track of where everything is taking place and at what time. With free wi-fi (strict firewall settings making it safe) available in both hotels and the Skyline Pavillion it makes it easy to check against the app. Oh and to tweet!
There's a fair amount of places to eat: pizza, pub food, snacks, bar food, Burger King, Turner's (where we had our meal) and in the hotels themselves. However, having spent £90 on just four meals (lunch for the three of us on Saturday and dinner for Mr. TBAM & TB, lunch and dinner for all three on Sunday) the prices are a little on the steep side, which makes the Spar shop a good addition to the site. We had a very good meal with some healthier options available (there's quite a fast-food vibe to some of the 'easteries') in the Sun and Moon pub. The Boy had three fishfingers, five smiley faces and a pot of peas for £3.50 and it was served on the most sensible plate I've seen given yet:
Unfortunately we had to leave last night rather than this afternoon (as I wanted to get The Boy to the doctor this morning) and therefore we missed out on seeing Father Christmas in our designated slot, but were provided with a small gift of a selection box as a consolation.
Would we go again? Yes!
Would I go in the depths of Winter again? No! The site is right on the coast and it was bitterly cold in the open air.
Was the Christmas vibe present during that Christmas Festival weekend? Yes, in abundance!
Overall: service – excellent, hotel – excellent, entertainment – excellent, food – good but pricey.
This is neither a sponsored or a review post. We had a reduced hotel-rate as part of the deal that Tots100 organised with Butlins, but this has no bearing on the outcome of this post which I wasn't asked to write. I just wanted to share the love!