BUTLIN’S is bouncing back this weekend – welcoming hundreds of happy holidaymakers for the first time since lockdown.
I joined the sun-sensational seaside getaway at Butlin’s Bognor today as
their other resorts at Minehead and Skegness re-opened at the same time.
It was Butlin’s business as usual again after they shut down more than four months ago and it was clear that guests couldn’t wait to enjoy their new- found freedom even though the complex had a very different look and feel to it.
There were lots and lots of hand sanitiser points, extra cleaning teams in action, and loads of social distancing signage among the many other health and safety features.
But one thing that definitely hasn’t changed is the way the amazing, hard- working Redcoats ensure everyone has a break to remember.
Redcoat team leader Rowena Kelly said: “It’s so exciting to be back. Seeing those first smiles was heart-warming. It’s going to be a magical summer for all the children and their families.”
Rowena was joined by fellow-Redcoats Braydon Huthwaite, Freya Carter and Jacob Murphy and they all agreed it was great to be back in the swing of things.
I met up with the first family through the doors, Peter Nicholas and his 13- year-old daughter Lucy from Essex.
Peter, 51, and a regular at Butlin's when he was a kid, said: “This is our third attempt this year at booking a Butlin’s break. We tried at Easter and the May half-term, but both were cancelled because of Covid-19.
“We’re here for the week and it’s great to be able to spend some quality time together."
They have already booked their daily 90-minute slots at Splash, the £44 million swimming pool complex which opens tomorrow, as the pool is top of Lucy’s holiday wish list.
Butlin’s is famous for its non-stop entertainment and, to mark the re opening, they raised the curtain on a new, 500-seater open-air amphitheatre venue.
In addition, all the regular indoor family favourites were there too, including Bonnie and Billie Bear, the Teletubbies and Skyline Gang.
The only change is that spectator numbers have been trimmed in line with government guidelines.
Headlining at the amphitheatre are Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity, who will be doing three shows a day and touring Minehead and Skegness for the next seven weeks.
Diversity star Ashley Banjo took time out from rehearsals to meet Lucy and her Dad, with Lucy a huge fan.
Ashley explained: “We’ve already been here a week. There are twelve us and we’ve all been staying in a ‘bubble’ in one of the three hotels on the complex.
"Before that we were all in lockdown individually and now the group is raring to go. We’ve got some great new routines which we worked out on Zoom and we think everyone is going to love them.”
Ashley has strong ties to Butlin’s and as a 16-year-old he used to come to Bognor to teach street dance to the Redcoats.
He stayed at the park with his family. “I even think we came on one of ‘The Sun’s Holidays from £9.50’ because my Mum loves a bargain!
“It’s going to be great seeing all the guests letting their hair down. Butlin’s is all about high-energy entertainment for all the family – and that’s exactly what we aim to deliver.
In addition to Diversity, the shows include X Factor winners Rak-Su, British comedian and ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, who won America’s Got Talent, and Britain’s Got Talent winners Twist and Pulse.
Butlin’s boss Jon Hendry-Pickup said: “It’s so good to be up and running again and we’re right behind The Sun’s ‘Bounce Back Britain’ campaign. It’s fantastic to be welcoming thousands of guests after all they have been
"We are determined to give them a great time. Of course, our priority was making everything safe and secure for all our visitors so they can relax and enjoy themselves.”
Butlin’s has even hired a bigger circus tent so that one of the first circus troops in the UK can strut their stuff as part of a government initiative to get circuses back in action.
There was no queuing for any of the venues or restaurants with a mobile phone app available to allow visitors to book a guaranteed socially-distant place to sit.
Plus, there’s a Food and Beverage app so guests can have their orders delivered direct to their tables.
Normally, Bognor, which has three hotels with 587 rooms as well as 532 apartments, would have up to 6,500 people at the park each day.
But to stay within social distancing guidance, this number has been reduced to 2,500.
Weekend breaks are Friday to Monday and midweek holidays are Monday
to Friday and you can also stay for a full seven nights, but at the moment,
there are no day visitors.
We've also revealed what to expect from your Haven holiday this summer – with stricter cleaning and arrival processes but quieter beaches.
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