A ruff guide to welcoming those furry friends...
This autumn, Lola, my much-loved three-year-old spaniel, and I, will be undertaking an extended East then West coast tour of England and Scotland, plotting a map of dog- friendly stays to break the journey there and back. We will have plenty of canine company. Thousands of holiday makers will enjoy UK holidays with their furry friends this year. If we have booked carefully, we know we can expect a warm welcome of a comfy bed, fresh towels, and delicious homemade biscuits – and that is just for the dog!
Mapping out our journey, preparation has included basic checks such as rules and regulations per stop, access to dog-friendly areas including restaurants as well as a quick survey of outstanding nearby walks including beaches and coastal walks. Our on-line research offers up plenty of choice. There were more than 3,000 locations willing to accommodate one or two dogs with their human guests. Perhaps not surprisingly, only 172 would take a booking for three dogs and a mere eight locations willing to welcome four of more dogs.
A nation of dog lovers, dog accommodation is big business not overlooked by the industry’s biggest players. For instance, Haven offers mile upon mile of countryside and coastline for visitors to explore just a stone’s throw from their 33 dog-friendly parks. They can offer a list of dog-friendly beaches that will welcome dogs all year round while making its Saver, Bronze and Silver caravans are all accessible for humans and their four-legged friends. When it comes to the best locations for a dog-friendly caravan holiday, the Haven park that stands out is Lincolnshire’s Golden Sands. At Golden Sands, the pooch facilities are second to none.
Equipped with a Bark Yard obstacle course, your Fido doesn’t even need to leave the park to be entertained. Golden Sands is also surrounded by pooch-perfect places to visit, from the Lincolnshire Wolds with its Rolling hills, hidden valleys and gentle streams to Mablethorpe Beach, a nearby paradise with a Blue Flag Award to its name. Multi award-winning holiday park Cofton Holidays has invested £300,000 in four new dog-friendly lodges to cope with record demand for staycations from dog owners. Shortlisted in the iTravel Staycation Awards 2020/21 for Dog-friendly Accommodation of the year, the family-run holiday park, situated close to Dawlish Warren’s Blue Flag Beach, has added to its existing luxury hot-tub lodge collection with four dog-friendly Kingfisher lodges close to the coarse fishing lakes.
The launch follows research conducted by Cofton which showed that online searches for UK dog-friendly holiday destinations increased by 665% year on year between May 2020 compared with May 2021. Helen Scott, Director of Cofton Holidays, is looking forward to welcoming owners and their dogs to the new lodges, Cofton’s latest investment: “Lockdown has seen a huge rise in dog ownership, and that’s driving unprecedented demand for dog- friendly holidays. “As dog owners ourselves, we know just how important it is to be able to take your dog on holiday with you. That’s why we have gone the extra mile to ensure that Cofton is leading the way in dog-friendly breaks.
The introduction of our new lodges is our latest response and builds on our collection of pet- friendly cottages and holiday homes.” Offering all the creature comforts, the Kingfisher dog-friendly hot tub lodge collection offers two-bedroom lodges from £428 for a four-night mid-week break, £474 for a three-night weekend break, and £651 for a week break. The decking areas are safely enclosed with one gate at the entrance to the lodge and another separating the hot tub area from the outdoor al fresco dining area.
Dogs are welcomed with a pet mat, blanket, stainless steel water bowl and food bowl, whilst their owners can look forward to the complimentary hamper filled with local handmade treats. Guests also have access to a dedicated dog exercise field, miles of cycle paths and nature trails that take you through woodland to Dawlish Warren’s dog-friendly beach. Cofton benefits from the added advantage of the Dawlish Countryside Park right on its doorstep where dogs can run free around its circular walks.
With a minimum of research, you can reassure human guests of a warm welcome for them and their pets, by supplying some pre-arrival tips on making their stay as smooth as possible. Don’t bog visitors down with red tape rules but keep essential messages positive. Offer a check list of essentials such as basic equipment and why not establish a link with your local vets to provide guests with emergency contact advice Encourage guests to walk dogs on a lead, on site, and if walking in dim light, to wear an LED collar. Remind them to pick up poo with bags and use the special bins provided. Perhaps you have provided a few in their welcome packs to help out?
The UK is home to plenty of tail- wagging destinations. So you need to make sure you stand out from the crowd. A pre-season safety check can ensure you are confident of a safe visit and plenty of return visits. Hidden hazards could include certain mushrooms, compost and over- zealous use of weed killers and other environmental control such as rat poison. Pet owners love spending on their pampered pooches. So, don’t forget to add a few dog toys, including balls, to the site shop.
Add a couple of lines of dog food and treats, even a few collars and leads -- not to mention poo bags. For many, having a holiday with their dog is non-negotiable. Not only is Tewkesbury Park a beautiful family owned resort, boasting an exquisite 28 hole golf course and destination spa, offering stylish, comfortable luxury in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, it’s also a pet-friendly retreat offering the paw-fect place for a summer staycation for you and your canine companion to enjoy.
And on top of its already very popular ‘Scrumbles Dog Retreat’ package, Tewkesbury Park is launching a ‘Bow Wow Breakaway’ package, which is suitable for all guests and their pooches. All of Tewkesbury Park’s dog-friendly rooms come complete with a private patio. Double doors open directly onto a grassy patch, which is self-contained so they can snuffle around. Dogs are also welcome in the piano lounge, which means they are able to accompany you while you enjoy a drink or bite to eat.
One small matter of paperwork though; dogs are asked to remain on leads when outside of bedrooms, if only to avoid them chasing after those pesky rogue golf balls. With the Bow Wow Breakaway package, guests can enjoy a luxuriating two-night stay with dinner and a bottle of wine on one night, along with a Cotswolds dog walking booklet from £339 per night, based on two sharing. The tour begins…woof!