This is one of two reviews I’m writing. This review will focus on the Wave Hotel and Premium dinning plan. The second, which will shortly follow, will feature the rest of the resort and its facilities.
So, last year I was selected to be one of 40 Butlins Ambassadors and at the end of the year I decided I’d book our family break for this April Easter half term.
I booked the break for a family of 6. The party consisted of myself and 3 children (Alice 10, Harley 3 and Little man who is 12 and has a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome). Also coming along was my mother and a good family friend.
We decided we wanted to try the newest of the resorts 3 hotels the ‘Wave’ and due to the number of guest in our party, we were offered interconnecting rooms.
We have been to Butlins a few times before with our last trip being a weekend break staying at the Ocean Hotel (which we were very impressed by). This time we would be staying midweek for a total of 4 nights (Mon-Fri).
As my eldest child has Aspergers Syndrome his very routine reliant, likes to know what is happening when and where and can become upset or somewhat challenging when faced with change. For this reason I made it my mission to fully look into all the accommodation and dinning plans available to us before booking. I also sourced images from the Internet and brochures as well as Videos on youtube to share with the little man so that the facilities were not considered too “New” for him.
My reasons for opting for the Wave Hotel was its focus on families with older children (Ok, Harley is 3 but both little man and Alice are older). The games room (Little man is PS3 nuts) and the positive reviews I had read.
We arrived at the Hotel reasonably late (9.30pm) which meant we were the last to check in. Despite this there was still a few parking spaces left in the hotels private car park. The hotel has its own entrance separate from the main resort entrance. We did enter the wrong way despite the wave being clearly signposted (I blame the kids backseat arguments) but the guys on the gate were most helpful and understanding. The hotel car park also has allocated disabled parking available.
From the outside the hotel is most attractive, very modern and quite obviously newly built.
The reception area is smart and sleek with great lighting. It has beautiful water features to tie in with the whole wave theme as well as a large seating area, bar and coffee shop, cash machine and large checkin and reception desk. Its here you will also find the entrance to the state of the art games port that gives families access to PS3s, Wiis, 3DS consoles and even Mac desktop computers. There are a number of leaflets detailing local attractions on display as well as a good selection of family DVDs that are free to borrow (with a refundable £10 deposit).
We were situated on the hotels 5th floor and there were 4 lifts in operation. Lifts are not overly huge but we were easily able to load the luggage trolley and all six of us in the one lift. Given we arrived later than most the lifts were empty at this hour. The ocean themed imaging and jaws theme tune music, does really add to the whole “Lift” experience.
Our doors were opened electronically with cards for which we were given two cards for each room.
As mentioned we had 2 rooms with an interconnecting door. In one room we had a huge bed, kids room, bathroom and nice size balcony with great sea views. In the next room we had the exact same again, only with twin beds. Each had huge wardrobe fitments with electronic safes. There was a nice size fridge and full sized ironing board with iron. There was a hairdryer that was connected to a nice vanity unit with large mirrors. Lights were operated by an electronic card and lighting options were good. This is particularly important as Little man has many sensory sensitivities and the right lighting is essential to his mood. There was both low lighting and bright lighting in the main room.
The main room has a large TV with lots of channels and it is fitted to the centre of the wall in line with the bed. In the kids room you have bunk beds with a TV at the end of both beds. This is great only we didn’t find any headphones meaning watching both at the same time wouldn’t be an option. However, the reception may have provided these if asked, only we were to busy having fun that we forgot to even ask in the end.
As we had the interconnecting rooms, little man was able to have his own space which is important to a child on the spectrum. Only without sounding too negative, little man didn’t feel that relaxed in the room. The children’s rooms are very small and have been designed to resemble cabins. This didn’t sit well with little man. The low lighting was a little to blue and he commented that he felt like he couldn’t breath because of its size and lack of windows. Then again my daughter of 10 absolutely loved her room. She couldn’t wait to get in bed and relax at the end of each night so it all depends on ones own needs and taste.
The children’s rooms have these really funky images of Octopuses and seahorse’s that are meant to come “Alive” with the use of a free iPhone app. Sadly my app wouldn’t work so the kids missed out. I have seen this work when used on a Butlins writing pad and when it works its fantastic. The app may have required me to have more space on my device. The iPhone is admittedly very full at present.
The bathroom is of a great size and has a good size bath with shower fitment. The water was always hot and the bath filled up quickly. The power shower was fast and powerful. Little man hates baths but loves showers (this again is a sensory thing)! He spent lots of time in the shower and noted how much he loved the lighting feature on the shower head (it changes colour).
We were provided with lots of soft clean white towels and a small selection of toiletries (note, we were provided with these whenever we ran out when staying at the Ocean, though this doesn’t seem to be the case for the wave) luckily we had brought our own.
We found our rooms to be of a good warm temperature on arrival and the heating was easily operated by a digital box on the wall. The decor was nice and modern with a yellow and blue theme throughout.
Tea and coffee facilities were provided, though it was felt that there just wasn’t enough milk for 3 adults. Nonetheless these were topped up daily which was appreciated.
We were pleased with the presentation of both rooms with all areas being very clean and tidy. Daily house keeping was of an excellent standard over the first few days and a good standard for the remaining day.
There was also some nice little touches, such as the addition of a card left on the table which wished us all a Happy Easter.
Free Wifi was provided in and around the hotel. This was easy to log into with no sign up required. Download and streaming speeds were great in the hotel and Ok around the resort. This was a bonus as I was keeping up with my emails via my iPhone and the kids had brought there tablets with them.
I did notice that when any of us including the children walked across the floor, this was rather loud, despite the addition of carpets. I’ve been informed that this seems to be common in newly built buildings. As I have a child with Autism who at times requires medication to sleep I did worry about the night times.
My worries were warranted as on our final night at 12.50am I heard a knock on the door. Little man had been having a minor meltdown some 20 minutes before and the Butlins rep informed us that someone had complained about banging on the floor. When your child has just finished a meltdown it can feel a little upsetting that others have phoned down to the reception to complain. However the rep was most understanding and very polite. Nonetheless it is felt that this is worth mentioning as if your child is very active especially of an evening you may want to ask for a ground floor apartment or go at a quieter time of year when the hotel is less full (term time if you have little one’s would be best). Its not very nice having someone knock to tell you that they’ve received complaints while your 12 year old is just calming down but doing so with listening ears.
Rooms also have a telephone so you can easily call downstairs to reception with any questions. I was told I could use the hotel phone to call an 0845 national number for free but having followed the instructions more than once I couldn’t connect. Thankfully the reception staff were very accommodating letting me use the reception phone.
Great sea views
Nice clean rooms
Good house keeping
Free Wifi facilities
Great shower and bath
Good wardrobe and storage space
Very comfortable beds
Self controlled heating
Room under all beds for suitcases
Option of easily interconnecting rooms
Free cash machine withdrawals
4 lifts (especially of importance for wheelchair users and those with small children/pushchairs)
Kindle library (with options to borrow both kindles and iPods)
Those little things that may make it that little bit more perfect than it is already…
Room Service option
Drinks vending machine (nearest vending machine is at end of car park when bar/coffee bar closed)
More detailed room guide specifically for the hotel room (just to advise on how to work TVs, heating and phones).
More mood lighting for children’s rooms (like those provide in the main rooms at the ocean. Also some under bed trays like those in the Ocean would be good.
Some door stops or heavier doors that naturally close much slower so that these don’t accidentally keep slamming shut.
As mentioned we opted for premium dinning plan and would be receiving both breakfast and dinner (half board).
On arrival we were allocated a dinning pass for the deck restaurant.
Firstly if your child on the autism spectrum has a very over sensitive sense of smell and is upset by this then I’d highly recommend self catering because as you probably know, the different smells of various foods can be upsetting to a child on the autism spectrum.
This is sometimes the case with little man but this has been steadily improving and we decided that if the noise and smells became to much for little man then one of us adults would leave with him.
Thankfully we experienced little problems on this front with only minor unavoidable upsets experienced.
There was a very good selection of foods on offer both during breakfast and dinner. This is great for those fussy eaters like little man. This is also a self service option so little man didn’t need to worry about different foods coming into contact with one another and was able to put different foods onto different plates with no questions asked.
At breakfast there was everything from fresh juices, cereals, toast with various spreads, fresh fruits and yogurts, freshly made omelettes and pancakes to full English fry ups.
Dinner time was just as good when it came to variety. A good selection of meat and fish with various sides of potatoes, veg and more. There was vegetarian options and menus designed specifically for the children. You were tempted by the salad bar, different soups and fresh breads, cheese and biscuits as well as a vast selection of both hot and cold puddings. I think the self service Ice cream machine was an instant hit with all three of my children with little man wanting to serve it up for all of us as he had developed a love for operating the machine.
As a premium diner you also have a Carvery and Someone cooking hot pastas which I must say were absolutely delicious.
We didn’t eat on the Friday but on the following three evenings we ate dinner I was very impressed with what I’d chosen and left feeling happy and content.
I’ve never been great with breakfast as don’t seem to eat as well at an earlier time. However, it was nice and the kids received a good start to their day.
We dined at various times of the morning and evening and never waited to long for a table. Though on the first morning we were allocated 2 tables next to one another which did mean I found it hard to keep the toddler seated (he kept wanting to go from table to table). Once we had explained that we’d like to remain dinning together on the one table, no further issues were experienced.
There were plenty of high chairs for little ones as well as smaller cutlery and even Billy Bear plates.
Huge selection of food on offer
Quality of food
Helpfulness of staff
Non rushed environment
Baby foods and bottle heating
Those little things to make it even better would be…
Clearer menus of whats on offer (many people need to grab there glasses or lean over others trays to read small cards.
A little more info when you arrive at the Deck restaurant for the first time (how it all works… I wasn’t sure if it was the one queue formed or a queue for each counter etc…)
On the whole the Wave offers a very present stay with friendly staff, nice rooms and good facilities.
The dinning plan also makes a great addition to your accommodation and is located right outside the hotel for convenience.
Did we love our Butlins Experience? You bet we did!
Here’s a video below giving you a sneak peak of our up coming review of the Bultins Bognor Regis Resort and its facilities.
Checkout the Butlins official site for all current prices and special offers
Disclaimer: As a Butlins ambassador I was provided the accommodation and dinning plan free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are solely my own and have not been influenced by my position.