‘Playing it safe’ definitely wasn’t in Sir Billy Butlin’s vocabulary. He always believed in a better way.
In the 1930s, he made a brave bid to change the way the nation holidayed forever. He built his first 600 chalets on a former turnip field next to a sandy Lincolnshire beach and it paid off. He knew what post-war British families wanted; the freedom to have a key to their very own chalet, with their own front door to come and go as they pleased. Billy had successfully introduced the British seaside break to the masses!
Billy’s resorts were the most luxurious on the market. His revolutionary chalets stood 10x10ft, with cold-running water and one 40-Watt light bulb. And while they wouldn’t hit the mark with modern families these days, we do think there’s something quite charming about a time when family life seemed just that bit simpler.
Fast-forward almost 80 years to today. While Billy’s original chalets are now a treasured thing of our past but we’re still dedicated to giving modern families exactly what they want in a British break beside the sea.
So, with the help of our friends at Mumsnet and over 1,000 Mumsnetters, we’re about to launch a brand-new accommodation village, set around peaceful lakes at our Minehead resort in Somerset. There you’ll find over 100 brand new Butlin’s chalet proudly reinvented for the 21st Century.
Mums and Dads told us they wanted; a family place to stay that was clean, modern and nice for them too. They wanted to ‘unplug’ the routine of daily life and help to play together as a family. And, somewhere with a cunning ‘plan B’ in place if the weather turned.
Next week our first guests will see for themselves what we’ve done to bring their wishes to life. It’s a really exciting time for us at Butlin’s. We’re going back to what made us great. Our brand-new chalet design development has focussed on honouring Butlin’s past.
Billy consciously painted his first chalets in colours that contrasted the grey of the outside world. Inside he introduced sprung mattresses for a guaranteed good night’s sleep and embroidered Butlin’s Bs on the bedcovers. These little touches, revolutionary for their time, showed just how much he cared for his guests.
Today, we live by the same principles. For example, while our new interiors are unmistakably modern, we also wanted them to somehow evoke nostalgic childhood memories of your holidays beside the sea. The colour scheme is vibrant but not overwhelming and you’ll find lyrics from feel good Butlin’s songs decorating the walls.
And our shared living spaces aren’t full of high-tech gadgets (well, you will find a 42inch TV with DVD and free WiFi…we’re not suggesting you unplug modern life completely!). Instead we’ve focused our time on making the most of space in which you’ll spend most time together; the comfy corner sofas, family dining areas and balconies and verandas with views across lakes and gardens. We’ve plenty to encourage everyone to put their tablet or phone down too. We’ve teamed up with Hasbro to offer you a family board game library, free to hire from our village chalet office, to bring back childhood memories and help you play together as a family.
Our weekly diary chalkboards will help kick-start the discussion around what you all plan to do together each day too. To help, when you arrive you’ll receive a schedule of what entertainment and activities are taking place within our new chalet village, as well as in and around our famous all-weather Skyline Pavilion, waterworld and fairground. The majority of it is all part of the price of your break too!
You’ll also find a ‘break in case of emergency’ arts and crafts kit inside your chalet. So, whether the rain decides for you or your lake views prove too irresistible, you’ve another option for something to occupy young minds if you decide to take it easy indoors.
Those who remember the Butlin’s of Billy’s day, or have heard stories from their relatives, may like to know that we’ve named our chalets after Butlin’s old ‘house names’. Butlin’s ‘houses’ were originally devised to bring ‘campers’ together at mealtimes and help break the great British reserve by playing games organised by Redcoat House Captains. These days, our house names, including Gloucester, York and Windsor, are designed simply to help you find your way around our new village, but all is not lost. We will still be organising some games for children to join in on the village greens, hosted by our famous Redcoats.
Throughout our chalets you’ll find framed references to the nostalgic adverts of our past; a quaint reminder of how our holidays were promoted in days gone by. And, acting as a unique backdrop to our open-plan living space, a bespoke floor to ceiling wall design illustrating the view to North Hill across the sandy beach and bay in Minehead.
Here’s another nice story to help us all reminisce. Someone once said they had a vivid memory of the curtain design from their childhood holidays at Butlin’s. They remembered a yacht scene design. So, no sooner had we found the original curtain reference, we’d reinvented a modern day yacht design for our new chalet curtains; a small detail for some, but one that we hope you’re quite taken with. Even our new doormats, rugs and decorative book-ends have had the Butlin’s treatment, in a bid to create even more lasting childhood memories for future generations.
As we’ve mentioned, Billy was obsessed about comfort. To honour his efforts of ensuring a good night’s sleep for all, we have had brand new king and twin size mattresses designed especially for Butlin’s. Enjoy four layers of filling across 1,000 nested pockets in all of our new chalets. And to top it off (literally) our Butlin’s branded bed throws and cushions add that extra touch of detail that you’d only find at Butlins.
Billy’s passion for the detail was famous, and we’re still just as picky! It would great to hear your thoughts about the efforts we’ve gone to make Butlin’s brand-new chalets just as much a celebration of our past and they are of your future with Butlin’s. Comment below and you could become the proud owner of the first ever Butlin’s chalet cushion to be offered up as a prize.
Good night campers!