Some 72 per cent of dog owners consider their dogs to be family member when it comes to booking a holiday. With eight and a half million dogs kept as pets in the UK; that is a customer focus group not to be barked at!
So no wonder that many UK holiday parks now offer options to bring along Rover and Patch with a dog-friendly levy attached. Manager of the North Devon safari tent glamping site, Daisy Meadows; Tina Walters, knows how difficult it can be for dog owners and since taking over the North Devon site in 2013, has aimed to make the park more enjoyable for dogs and owners alike.
The strategy is paying off. In 2016, 80 per cent of Daisy Meadows guests were accompanied on their summer break by their pooch. Visitors can enjoy a spectacular glamping experience as well as including the dog as a special guest, with its Happy Hounds Doggy Day Crèche.
“We created Daisy Meadows as just the right mix for guests, particularly those who have dogs,” says Tina. “We can provide a doggy day crèche so that you can still bring your dog on holiday. We realise that sometimes you might want to spend the day shopping or go to a show and still come back at the end of the day to your happy hound.”
Tina adds: “They are always cared for as if they are our own. On site, dogs are free to roam in the meadow, but we always ask guests to check with their neighbours, and pick up their dog’s poo and pop it in the bins provided, of course!”
The family-run business is situated in two-and-a-half acres of land in the Blackdown Hills area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - also known as the ‘Gateway to Devon’ - and offers a back to nature safari tent experience. The site is set in a secluded corner of the county, but within easy access of the M5, linking it to Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks.
“This is a great base to explore areas of outstanding natural beauty,” says Tina, “And it’s a doggy-walking paradise. Guests can set off in a different direction every day and be at a beach or place of interest within minutes.” Not only do their owners enjoy the amenities laid on for pampered pooches, but it is also cost-effective. The average cost of a kennel is around £140 per week, whilst many holiday parks allow pets for free – or a nominal fee, often to cover cleaning costs and supplies – although one in four are happy to pay the same amount to take their dog on holiday, as it would cost to take another adult.
Dennis O’Connor, Tourism Liaison Manager of Pembrokeshire Tourism says: “Increasingly, visitors are looking for dog-friendly destinations to avoid the distress of leaving their pets in kennels. “The wonderful coast and countryside is a very special place for visitors, and we are delighted to have been able to recognise the work of dog friendly businesses throughout the county as well as our fantastic towns and beaches.”
Coastal Wood Camping was crowned ‘Best Dog Friendly Campsite’ in May. The Pembrokeshire site is rapidly becoming a first-choice holiday destination for dog owners – not only for its beautiful coastline but for the many facilities that now welcome holiday makers with their dogs.
This status was celebrated at the inaugural Dog Friendly Pembrokeshire Tourism Awards ceremony to recognise businesses, villages and locations going the extra mile, and awarded by Pembrokeshire Tourism and Burns Pet Nutrition. The judges assessed a wide range of criteria to decide the winner, but most specifically; an area dogs can enjoy safely with exceptional dog litter facilities, facilities to wash dogs if they got muddy and excellent dog friendly facilities and supplies.
Although the majority of campsites, holiday parks and beaches allow dogs, vacations in caravans and motorhomes are usually accessible for pet owners, perfectly tailored for their animal’s needs. With some of the most beautiful national parks, forests and beaches in the world, the UK is perfect for a caravanning dog-friendly holiday. Woodhill Park in East Runton, Norfolk has been dog-friendly since its owners took over the site in 1988, but the park has noticed a steady increase in the number of guests bringing their pets with them in the last 18 months. “
To read more about Dog Friendly Holiday Parks subscribe to Holiday Park Scene
Daisy Meadows Tel. 07852 544219 www.daisymeadowsafaritents.co.uk
Coastal Wood Camping Tel. 01994 453214 www.coastalwoodholidays.co.uk
Thornley Leisure Centres Tel. 01606 861043 www.thornleyleisure.co.uk
Whitehill Country Park Tel. 01803 782338 www.whitehill-park.co.uk
Woodhill Park Tel. 01263 588181 www.woodhill-park.com