For decades the Butlins name has been synonymous with self-catering apartments, knobbly knee contests and those iconic red coats.
But the brainchild of Billy Butlin has been quietly updating its image in recent years, completing the transformation with a £25 million (R301m) hi-tech “tween” hotel. Shaped like a massive cruise liner, Wave Hotel & Apartments at Bognor Regis in West Sussex is geared for pre-school children to teenagers. And it's full of gadgets and gizmos.
A Games Port is packed with Wii consoles, iMacs, PS3s and iPod docks and there’s a Kindle library. Walls transform into 3D features with a special app and there’s even a flat-screen TV set at the end of each child’s bunk bed.
Wave, which has 29 self-catering two and three-bedroom apartments and 215 family rooms – some with balconies and sea views – stands alongside sister hotels Shoreline and Ocean.
The accommodation is incredibly spacious, light and airy, the beds are comfy, you get free Wi-Fi, toiletries and there’s a hairdryer, iron and fluffy towels.
Children have their own “room” within the family rooms with a porthole door so that parents can keep a watchful eye.
The hotel reflects its name. White ribbons blowing like waves stand outside the entrance and a block of blue discs, resembling running water, shimmer behind reception. In the coffee shop on the ground floor, sails hang from the ceiling and the sofas are shaped like giant sea plants.
The apartments have a fish-frieze along one wall and even the shower heads light up.
Butlins operations director Mike Crowther said: “Families are busier than ever and we are always looking at new and innovative ways for them to spend time together. This is a state-of-the-art hotel.”
Wave was opened by TV actress Angela Griffin who brought along daughters Tallulah Jae, eight, and five-year-old Melissa.
The Holby City and Mount Pleasant actress said: “I am very impressed and it’s not just the girls who love all the gadgets – I’ll be giving them a run for their money.
“I feel I have now discovered another part of the UK and there’s so much to do here. The resort is great for families on a budget because so many of the activities are free.”
Facilities include Splash Waterworld, a fun fair, sports, live entertainment, a choice of bars and restaurants, including Turner’s from celebrity chef Brian Turner, and the Ocean Spa.
Wave is Butlins’ third hotel in seven years. The £10m Shoreline made a splash when it opened in 2005, followed by the £20m Ocean in 2009. – Daily Mail