Never mind the 4 X 4, four-legged travel is where it is at. As we increasingly find we have to avoid other people, our relationship with our family unit becomes even more essential. And, if, as in ours, a pet is included in that family unit, then being away without them is a hardship and should be avoided. Happily, and ever more so, as hotels and guesthouses adapt to the new normal, well-behaved pets are invited too.
The Marine Hotel in Hermanus recently updated their pet policy. Guests in ground-floor rooms with a balcony are most welcome to bring their princess pooches or, indeed, feline friends along for the visit at no extra cost, providing a pet service is requested at the time of booking. As an elegant yet comfortable seaside hotel, The Marine knows that those of us travelling with pets want to have clear directions about where we and our pets will be welcome. All the information, including a copy of the Bark-A-Licious menu and the option of an in-room pet sitter, was explained in a note addressed to Julie, our doggie daughter.
Like all things at The Marine Hotel (and any of the other fine hotels in the Liz McGrath Collection), the warm hearted, yet efficient customer-centric service, will leave one wishing that handshakes or even hugs to show appreciation were again permitted. It is hard not to be emotionally touched by the staff at this landmark hotel.
Do be prepared though to have less of the limelight. Julie was certainly the star of the show during our recent visit, with all the staff knowing her name and enquiring after her. She may have been travelling with us, but from her perspective we were simply part of her entourage. While we selected our breakfast, sitting poolside under the awning where jasmine and pink bougainvillea competed for attention, the chef came to enquire how Julie would like her burger cooked. Any notion of our Julie being an elegant sophisticate, she does, after all, have a twinset (matching harness and leash), went out of the window as she inhaled her carefully prepared and presented burger and rice. As an aside, for days since returning home from The Marine, she looked accusingly at us come mealtimes. Although we always travel with food and a bed for Julie, The Marine Hotel has more than everything you will need – even, thoughtfully, some snacks for her and a roll of poo-bags along with a plush cushion which, being the snob she is, she preferred.
While in Hermanus, make a point to walk along the cliff path, 11km of craggy coast and likely the best land-based place to see whales. Julie is fascinated by the Dassies that live among the milkwood trees and in the crags. Also, in the nearby Fernkloof Nature Reserve, dogs on a leash are welcome to use the blue walking route.
Note that this route is quite exposed to the sun during summer so take care not to overheat. But, with all the luxury and pampering on offer at The Marine Hotel you, as we, will be tempted to spend days at the heated pool. Room service includes cuisine from all The Marine’s restaurants, including the outstanding Origins, at no additional tray charge.
Greater pet-friendly luxury will be hard to come by.
The Marine Hotel, Hermanus
Walk among the citrus orchards at Petersfield, a working citrus and rooibos-tea farm on the N7 near Citrusdal. Accommodations are self-catering and vary in size from the romantic two-person Stonehaven cottage, high on the mountain, to an extended family-sized house, Die Veepos cottage.
Pets are welcome throughout, but note that Stonehaven is not fenced in while the others are. With more than a kilometer between accommodations, one feels wonderfully isolated. Although among the most affordable of accommodation options, one leaves Petersfield with a sense of the owner’s generosity.
Loads of additional firewood, is one example, and the invitation to pick lemons from the tree when you see them is yet another. Also, the thoughtful touches like salt and pepper in the kitchen and good quality kitchen implements are remembered. Standouts at Petersfield include outside baths (there are tubs inside too) and a plunge pool to stay cool in the heat. Or, come winter, the sort of sofa in front of the fireplace that simply invites sloth.
Julie loved her walks around the dam (take care that the dam is deep and plastic lined and dogs or children might slip in), through the orchards and the impressive avenue of poplar trees and up the mountain to look at the tea lands on the opposite side.
There is good MTN mobile and data reception, and the tranquility of being ensconced in nature with your loved ones makes it a regenerative visit and worthy of an extended stay.