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Wednesday, May 19, 1999 Published at 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK


Butlins loses hi-de-hi image

Goodbye Hi-de-hi - holiday firm Butlins has had a facelift.

The company pledged to restyle its image two years ago, scrapping traditional glamorous granny and beauty contests and replacing the redcoat uniforms with outfits from designer Jeff Banks.

Now Boyzone singer Ronan Keating has officially opened the rebranded "Family Entertainment Resorts" in Bognor Regis, west Sussex.

Butlins has spent £140m has been spent on updating the camps around the country with £40m alone ploughed into the Bognor resort.

Holidaymaker Karen Brind on the new look
Redcoats are now trained at Butlins academies of excellence and West End choreographers have been brought in to direct them in lavish musical productions.

It is a far cry from the days when Des O'Connor, Dave Allen and Jimmy Tarbuck entertained families in the 1950s.

[ image:  ]
Mother-in-law jokes have been banned, as have beards for Redcoats, who must also now adhere to "grooming guidelines".

The Bognor centre boasts improved security, including its own beat constable, PC James Asher, who likens the resort to a small town.

He polices the 7,000 people who work and play there, using state of the art electronic surveillance methods like CCTV.

The company's three flagship resorts in Bognor, Minehead and Skegness have all been given their own baby domes - Wembley football pitch-size pavilions costing £23m - housing shops, restaurants and entertainment.

[ image: PC JAmes Asher - Butlins own beat officer]
PC JAmes Asher - Butlins own beat officer
The revamp has been heralded as the most important development for the resorts since the company was founded in Skegness in 1936.

Managing director Tony Marshall said: "I am confident the relaunch will demonstrate that a new, more relevant Butlins has been developed for the millennium.

"We believe that a weather-protected Butlins, with world-beating family entertainment, will give our existing two million guests each year even more reasons to visit."

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