PAW-SOME HOLIDAYS - DOG FREINDLY
Going that extra mile for our furry friends...
This summer, the Great British public reconnected in their droves with our furry housemates – that’s our pets, not the partners who have stopped shaving during lockdown. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, a whopping 3.2 million people welcomed a new pet to the family during the pandemic. Switched on holiday parks up and down the country recognise the earning potential and have made themselves ready to host guests and their furry plus ones.
But what makes a truly pet-friendly holiday?
We’ve spoken to experts and holiday parks to find out how they plan to make a dog’s dreams come true this summer - and some other quirky creatures too. Sarah Ferguson is Head of Business at Paws Holidays, a website dedicated to collating information about the UK’s most dog-friendly holidays. So, Sarah knows what a complicated minefield planning a holiday with your pet can be: “Finding a dog friendly resort or destination can be mind-blowing, as dog owners have to think about so much,” she says.
Typical questions on booking are:
• Will the resort have a dog exercise area? And if so, is it enclosed?
• Will they be able to let the dog off its lead?
• Are there dog drinking stations?
• Will there be a designated area where the family can eat but the dog is allowed in too?
And then there’s accommodation which is a massive consideration. Sarah explains: “Some Park operators remove carpets and have just a wooden floor or a very high standard of lino which makes it so much easier if the dog does have an accident. “Dog owners expect the dog to be welcomed as a guest, just as much as they are. They will expect to see dog waste bins dotted around the resort, dog-wash areas and some park operators such as Haven even have a dog playpark.
“Forest Holidays provide a Doggy Welcome Pack – containing a healthy biscuit and poo bags. And some parks will provide a dog blanket and dog toys.” Sounds like pure luxury. But does being ‘dog-friendly’ also mean extra cleaning/maintenance? Sarah again: “Most park operators have very high powered hoovers that will pick up any dog hair, and also have a wet and dry hoovers, just in case a dog has an accident. “And the smell of the previous dog can be eliminated before the next guests arrive.” What can go wrong? Sarah points out: “If a guest leaves the dog in the accommodation unattended it can cause the dog stress, and they could scratch away at the soft furnishings, or start to chew, or even constantly bark, which might upset or annoy other holiday guests.” And its not just dogs who are welcome this summer, other pets deserve a break too and there are many pet-friendly places.
CATS AND FERRETS
Sarah recalls: “Over the years, I have seen guests on holiday parks with a cat on a lead or a ferret on a lead. “One holiday guest brought their African Grey Parrot and one family brought a horse and checked him into the holiday park’s stables.” Debbie Dangerfield is the owner of dogsinvited.co.uk and another expert on what makes a holiday great for a pet and an owner. “Visitors especially look for an enclosed area, so they can relax with their dog by their side,” says Debbie. “And many holiday properties supply throws so that they can be put on the furniture to let dogs on. “Dog bowls, towels, and even a temporary dog tag in case they run off are a nice touch too. “For real luxury, some places now supply a warm dog shower to give the dogs a clean after a muddy walk or sandy day at the beach.” Debbie echoes Sarah when she says that dogs left alone are the biggest problem: “Dogs are usually left on their own if they aren’t allowed to go where the rest of the family are going.” So that is what the experts think, but what about a holiday park that does some of the above really well? Caroline Povey is the Marketing Director for the Coppice Spa Lodges at the Darwin Forest Luxury Lodge Holidays. It is a spectacular development of seven luxury pet- friendly lodges designed with pets in mind.
Caroline adds: “Our Coppice Spa lodges are very popular. Each one has a separate utility room and everything you need to pamper your pooch, complete with a doggy shower, hairdryer (fur dryer), towels and space for their bed and feeding bowls, your dog can have its own bedroom. “Stable doors separate the utility area from both the decking and the internal living space enabling you to keep your pet safe and secure.” Another favourite with dog-owners are the Forest Holiday cabins with locations in England, Scotland and Wales. Amy Teige from Forest Holidays explains: “The cabins are the ultimate base for dog owners who want the freedom to explore the forest and woodlands surrounding the locations. “Over half of our cabins are pet- friendly, offering doggy treats, wipe- clean sofas and plenty of space for the animals’ favourite bedding and toys, plus we have the gentle warmth of underfloor heating throughout.” It can be tough finding a park that will allow guests to bring more than two dogs, but Forest Holidays allow up to four pets per cabin. Caroline explains: “It’s usually dogs but other pets are welcome too, and we charge £15 per pet, per night.” Helen Scott is the Director of Cofton Holidays and explains: “We’re set within 80 acres of glorious Devon countryside, and have four dog-friendly cottages on the Eastdon Estate where we’ve designed six of our holiday homes with pet-owners in mind.” Helen continues: “The cottages on the Eastdon Estate are set a short walk away from the main park and boast incredible views of the Exe Estuary and Devon countryside.
“All dog-friendly accommodation features hardwood floors, dog food and drink bowls, a dog mat, a blanket plus some delicious handmade local treats.
“What if your dog fancies an ice- cream? Not a problem! Says Helen: “Our Waggy Doggy Doodah doggy ice cream is served inside our on-site pets- welcome pub, The Swan Inn.” Guests can also look forward to the annual Cofton Dog Show. They offer a dedicated dog exercise field and have developed woodland walks through the Eastdon Estate. Sounds like dog paradise. And there’s more. Helen continues: “Our on-site shop has a good selection of dog supplies and guests can find dog mess bins across the site which are emptied regularly. “Plus, there’s no additional charge for dogs when visiting in low and mid-season and we don’t charge for registered assistance dogs. “We are located next to the award- winning Dawlish Countryside Park which was developed for local dog walkers and is an excellent facility for customers staying at Cofton.
“We also have a dog-wash planned in the new 12-acre camping site toilet block, and we’re planning four more pet friendly lodges with hot tubs due for launch later this summer.” To quote from the Forest Holidays dedicated dog-blog, 10 reasons why dogs love the forest: “We are a nation that adore our four- legged-friends and love taking them on holiday with us! “Sure, that means staying reasonably close to home, but watching the pure joy on their faces’ as they scamper about, snuffling happily at all those new smells, nose twitching, tail a blurry wag, makes it all worthwhile.” When it is done really well, helping dogs have a good time is just as satisfying for the holiday parks as it is for the guests.