Part of our Ambassador's holiday at Butlin's Bognor Regis included testing out the Premium Dining Plan. This is a flexible half board plan which provides breakfast and an evening meal throughout your stay. As we are all vegetarians, this was something that I was particularly interested in trying out, to see how well it would cater for our family.
The Deck restaurant is close to the Wave Hotel and is a self-service buffet. The atmosphere is very relaxed and perfect for family dining. There is ample seating in different arrangements to suit families of all sizes. Hosts show you to your table after you are greeted at the door.
The evening buffet counter includes a carvery alongside an array of international and traditional dishes. There are daily fish and veggie options. Two live stations prepare fresh food to order while you wait. One is a grill for burgers and kebabs and one is for pasta. A children's buffet counter features kids' favourites and is low enough for them to help themselves. There is also a salad bar, soup and bread rolls. A hot dessert counter with two pudding choices, an ice cream machine and a selection of cold desserts and fruit caters for sweet toothed guests! There are two self-serve drink stations serving both hot and cold drinks.
The choices on offer changed everyday and I was delighted to see a fair few vegetarian options being rotated, so we didn't end end eating the same everyday. A spicy chickpea burger, spinach and ricotta canneloni, cheese tortellini, macaroni cheese, vegetable kebab, vegetable curry and mushroom stroganoff were among the options we had. We also had a pick of the carvery vegetables, noodles, rice and potato options. The Pasta station made delicious dishes to order which we really enjoyed. The desserts included cheesecakes, gateaux, crumbles, hot sponge puddings, cheese and biscuits and jellies. We enjoyed sampling the different dishes and the children liked being able to serve themselves. Being buffet style meant we never had to wait for food which helped prevent Freddy getting restless between courses. Also, if there was something the children didn't enjoy, they could go and get something different (or help themselves to seconds if they did like it!)
The breakfast set up was similar. Hot and cold drinks are available from dispensing machines. There are hot cooked English breakfast items served buffet style and I was delighted to see the inclusion of vegetarian sausages. Continental breakfast foods such as Danish pastries and croissants along with cereals, fruit, yogurts and toast add some lighter options. There are also boiled eggs, porridge, pancakes and kippers on offer. The live stations make up toasted sandwiches and omelettes. I loved the cheese and onion omelette for my breakfast along with a veggie sausage and some beans.
For a restaurant catering to so many guests, I felt The Deck had got it very right! Huge choice, efficient service, continually stocked up pots of food and plenty of plates made the experience very positive. The vegetarian options were varied and very good. I did not feel cheated in any way, knowing that our plan cost the same as those who could eat the meaty dishes too.
My only criticism would be the labeling of the dishes, as it was sometimes difficult to work out what something was. With things like soups, breaded burgers and curries it can be hard to tell exactly what's in them. Even more important if you are a vegetarian or have an allergy. The staff were happy to answer questions, but labels would have made it much easier.
The cold drinks were OK but the juice drinks tasted a bit artificial and very sweet and the kids were not keen on them. We stuck to the chilled water. It would have been nice to see a real fruit juice on offer. However, drinks could be purchased from the bar at an extra cost.
The Premium Dining Plan allows guests to swap a dinner for vouchers to spend at one of the other restaurants on site such as Turners, Papa Johns or the Beachcomber Inn. We did intend to take advantage of this, but we all really liked the flexibility, the choices and the atmosphere of The Deck and decided to eat there everyday. Freddy can be difficult when eating out but loved The Deck. Although he didn't eat much (as he doesn't have a big appetite) he enjoyed what he had and liked trying different things, so it suited us perfectly. We loved not having to think about food or where to eat, and having the pre-purchased plan mad
kes it very simple to feed the family. I'd definitely recommend this option. It was such a treat not to have to worry about cooking or clearing up!
The cost our plan was £21 per adult and £10.50 per child per day for half board dining.
We were given a four night break with a Premium Dining Plan as part of the Butlin's Ambassador Program 2012/13.