Have dog, will travel: doggy holidays
19 October 2015
These days having a pet is no impediment to luxury vacationing. Sarah Tucker dips a paw in the water
It’s October and your little darling, now all grown up and clutching his or her A Levels, is about to leave home for university. If he or she is the last of your brood to take flight, it is entirely possible that you’re looking for some kind of substitute and quite fancy showering all your surplus attention on a pet of some kind, perhaps a dog?
If you’re concerned about being tied down by said pooch, with the opportunity of weekends away sliding below the travel horizon, worry not for there are plenty of options – either to have your mutt looked after – or, perhaps better still, to take him with you.
I do not own a dog but I am a member of Pals for Pets, an organisation launched by actress Jenny Seagrove in 1998. The pet care company provides a variety of services, including boarding in private homes, which gives me the opportunity to test out what it’s like having a pet over a few days or the weekend, and leaves the owners safe in the knowledge that their animal is well looked after. As a sitter you are checked out fully before you become a ‘member’; so thoroughly in fact that I suspect it’s probably easier to adopt a child in some third-world countries than it is to get on their books.
If you do want to take your pet with you, there are a surprising number of choices. Increasingly owners are keen to take their pets away, not only because boarding costs can be high, but also because nowadays it can be easier. There are tons of hotel owners (many of them dog owners themselves) who will happily accommodate you, providing of course you have all the relevant blood tests, pet insurance and vaccination against the dreaded kennel cough.
I recently visited The Old Swan and Minster Mill, a luxury inn in the Cotswolds, owned by Peter de Savary. There are 65 acres of private gardens and meadows to explore and your pooch will be well catered for. Why not splash out on the Canine Traveller Trip (from £245 per night), which includes dinner selected from the chef’s canine menu (plus three-course dinner for two humans), as well as overnight accommodation, breakfast, packed walkers lunch and full use of facilities. There are also dog-sitting and walking services available and an alternative package – Country Escape with Paws – that also includes 90 minutes of dog training and canine country etiquette.
If West Wales is more your style, you may want to try out the Ceridwen Centre in the Teifi Valley This tranquil haven offers accommodation for groups of two to 25, provides workshops, retreats and beauty and holistic treatments. Not only is it dog friendly, but at certain times Ceridwen also runs animal healing retreats so you and your pet can chill out together.
Dogs at play in the grounds of Cradlewynd Boarding Kennels
Alternatively, if you would like to leave your dog in an experienced kennel while you explore Camarthenshire, you could try the Cradlewynd Boarding Kennels in St Clears, which promises to provide your dog with its own five-star holiday in a relaxed and stress-free environment. Set in six acres of grounds and woodlands, the staff have expert knowledge of behaviour, health, nutrition, grooming and training.
Scotland is a top autumn destination and where better than a jewel in the golfing crown: Gleneagles. As you can imagine, the luxury on offer for your dog easily equals that available to the human guests. The hotel is happy to accommodate dogs up to the size of a labrador for an additional charge of £100 per night (but you must inform them when booking) and this includes a dog bed, foam duvet, floor mats, bowls and that all-important doggy accessory, a poop scoop set. There are also kennels on the hotel grounds for £44 per night.
Finally, Belgraves in Belgravia is a sophisticated boutique hotel in the heart of London, which provides complimentary pet packages, including food bowl, toy and late check out.
There are also many resources to help you plan your holiday. Cornwall has its own dog-friendly guide, while you can also check out We Accept Pets and The Woof Guide, as well as Chien Bleu Travel, which reviews dog-friendly luxury hotels, from gastro inns to country estates.