We spoke to Julie from The Chesterfield Pet-Friendly Hotel to find out what goes into the B&B that looks after fluffy friends just as well as their human companions.
So what made you open a dog-friendly property?
Well we didn’t actually open a dog-friendly property as such, we were already hoteliers. We’ve had a hotel for 27 years now, but we decided to go pet-friendly due to demand really. People kept saying to us where can we take the dog, and we thought well why not bring the dog here – and we’ve never looked back. It’s been one of the best decisions that we’ve ever made.
Tell us about some of the pet-friendly awards that you’ve won.
The one that we were the most proud of was the Be Dog Friendly Award that’s run every year by the Kennel Club. And we won most pet-friendly place to stay in the UK in 2014. We had to go down to London to collect the award from Earls Court and the best thing about it is that it was a public vote so it was our customers that voted for us. We have also been given five stars for dog-friendliness from Your Dog Magazine – they had an overnight stay with us, and put a feature about us in their magazine.
So where do the dogs stay?
Well we’ve got 8 rooms and it’s the ideal size for the dogs. Pretty much all of our customers have a dog that comes, and that means that we can be really dog-friendly. We can allow dogs in all areas of the hotel – apart from the kitchen obviously. And we do pet-sitting as well, in case people want to go to a show or out for a meal or something. We also do a dog listening services, where if the dogs ok to be left in the room, we’ll go and check on them every so often and take them out to the toilet. Or if we hear them crying, or getting upset or anything then we’ll bring them down with us. Some dogs are quite used to being left for a couple of hours on their own so we don’t see any objection to that. As long as they are ok, we’re fine. The dogs do tend to settle with us really well and people are often amazed at how quickly they settle into the hotel. I think it’s because the owners are relaxed, it has a knock on effect with the dogs.
What is there for pet-owners and their dogs to do in the area?
It’s not particularly dog-friendly in terms of venues – but there’s a huge beach where you can take your dogs. The dogs love the sand dunes at St Annes and the rural areas that are not too far away. There’s more places to walk the dog than you’d expect. If people are coming to enjoy the attractions in Blackpool such as the Pleasure Beach and The Tower, you can’t take your dog in there but we do do pet-sitting for that reason – so people can get the best of both worlds. A lot of people do say ‘he goes everywhere with me, i wouldn’t go anywhere without him or her’ and I think it gives them that peace of mind, they can go out and see all the things in Blackpool but when they come back their dog is waiting for them. So they all enjoy their holiday together – which is great. And it makes a nice atmosphere in the hotel because everybody has something in common immediately and it can break the ice.
Have you ever had any dogs that you can’t control?
No not really, we’ve had a few humans! But the dogs are usually alright to be honest. I think most people wouldn’t bring their dog if they thought it was going to be too much of a handful. We are relaxed about it though, we don’t mind if we get a few dogs yapping, we just accept that. We’ve never had any aggressive dogs or anything like that, everybody seems to be quite sensible about it. But we do every breed of dog, we’ve had Peruvian Mountain dogs and Great Danes, you name it we’ve had it. From the biggest to the smallest.
How did you end up in hospitality?
Well it’s me and brother who run the hotel, and we came into it more or less by accident. We both got holiday jobs in Blackpool in a big hotel on the seafront when we left school. We are from Yorkshire originally but enjoyed being here so much that we thought let’s try this ourselves. So we moved the whole family, selling our house in Yorkshire, and we’ve been here for 27 years now. We’ve always done it, it’s kind of in our blood now.
What is the kindest things someone has said about a stay with you?
It’s difficult to answer that one because we’ve had so many lovely comments from people. People are really nice but one the nicest things people say is that the dog felt at home, or the dog relaxed and the dog wanted wanted to come back. And sometimes we have people who just come for the day and call in to see us because the dog knows where we are, and it’s just really nice. The dog is so important to people, that’s what they like about our place in particular, just the fact that it is so focused on the dog as well as the humans of course.
How do you stand out in Blackpool?
For us the fact that we’re dog-friendly has been really good. We’ve adapted ourselves in a way because Blackpool is always changing. For example when we first came here people would come for a fortnight, but that’s long gone now. It’s always overnight stays and short breaks. But the fact that we are dog-friendly gives us a way to interact with our customers like on social media and it gives us a way to stand out. We get so many updates from people about their pets. We get photographs all the time – which is great.
Do you have any memorable guest stories?
We had an elderly lady staying once and she had a Dachshund with her called Heidi and she used to take the little dog around with her in a shopping bag on wheels. It was specially designed so that the dog could stick his head out. One day she went out and she she called me and said that she’d had a fall and had been taken to A&E in an ambulance. She’d taken the shopping bag with her – but none of the hospital staff realised that she had a dog in there. And she didn’t want to tell them, so she rang me up and asked me to get Heidi for her – which of course I did.
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