NOW Pet Diaries

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The unconditional love of a pet do more than keep us company when we travel. With the return to domestic and drive tourism, our pets can be precious companions that share our many memorable travel experiences.

Their presence can boost our mood and wellbeing, and they are our go-to companion of choice to explore, have fun and a furry warmer when reading a book. And best of all, they listen to every word we say and don’t answer back!

NETHERLANDS - Noordwijk:
Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin

It was late June 2020 and the first week of summer by the time the EU reopened its borders after months of lockdown due to Covid-19. Curious and cautiously excited at the thought of travelling again, my husband Onno and I drove from the Suisse alps, through Germany, to our favorite beach in west Holland called Noordwijk aan Zee with our 1year old Shiba Inu named Hachiko.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin, and we were welcomed with a touching Heart-in-Hand from the Managing Director Stefan Stokkermans and his team who made a huge effort to extend their personal and warm hospitality at a respectful social distance. It is the only pet-friendly beachfront hotel in the area that offer a luxurious and truly sustainable travel experience.

We were totally pampered with an upgrade to the Advocaat Penthouse Suite, a private residence with a panoramic view over the North Sea. Hachiko was extended and I Love My Pet service and was delighted to find dog treats in the room and breakfast table and a huge ‘FatBoy’ pet bed, though she preferring to snooze in the out-of-bounds soft pillows and duvet of the king bed when we were not looking. We all loved the breezy balcony where Hachiko joined me for a ‘downward dog’ pose during my morning yoga and watched the dramatic sunsets.

Everywhere, we met friendly dog lovers with great stories to share about their furry friends. From the hotel, a mere 500 meters stroll on the boulevard is an amazing dog paradise named Bubbles Beach. The entrance is marked by Bubbles Beach Restaurant with an outdoor terrace and the Honden Bar (Dog Bar) with a fun selection of dog toys and accessories. We all enjoyed a leisurely walk in the fresh sea air as we watched a lively parade of canine breeds freely frolicking, growling, howling, playing, sniffing, slobbering, swimming and running up and down the beach. It was Hachiko’s first beach experience and she was fascinated by the sea and sand and the action around her. Bubbles Beach welcome dogs all year and the other beaches welcome dogs from October to May.

Authentic and traditional Dutch food and sweets are wholesome and delightfully delicious. The hotel’s beachfront terrace, Breakers Beach House and Salt Restaurant served the freshest seafood and other delicacies – tiny tasty shrimpies are called garnalen, smoked eel is called gerookte paling, herring is called hollandse nieuwe, and veal or shrimp croquette is called kroquetten or bitterballen. Stroopwafel is a melt-in-your-mouth rich caramel sandwiched between sweet thin wafers. For an exquisite culinary fine dining experience, the hotel’s Latour Restaurant has been awarded one Michelin every year since 2005.

We wandered through the old fishing village of Katwijk and its interesting boutiques, bakeries and a fish market. We explored the coastline landscape with rolling dunes and grassy peat meadows where we discovered countless fluffy rabbits to the delight of Hachiko who wanted to make friends and attempted to hop after them through the tall grass with little success. We learned stories of days gone by from storyboards standing in key landmarks.

Our relaxing and carefree vacation with Hachiko was short, sweet and so memorable. Travel is a privilege and it is more precious when the simple pleasures are good for people and planet, and connect us with other cultures's and 'nature'.

Koningin Astrid Boulevard 5, 2202 BK, Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands

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About the Traveller

Alexa Poortier

Alexa Poortier Founder, itmustbeNOW.com

At this most urgent of times, Alexa believes that each of us have the responsibility to act now to help keep our planet healthy for us and future generations. Knowing the positive and negative impacts of travel and the crisis of trust in our world, itmustbeNOW.com inform, inspire and empower travellers to use their spending power to drive global change and only support truly sustainable travel experiences.

Living Positively

Laugh

Dogs sleep 14 – 16 hours per day and Hachiko has many sleeping positions. This one makes everyone laugh out loud!

Learn

We learned about the extra mile effort taken by the hotel to ensure the wellbeing of both guests and staff during Covid-19.

Look

Summer days are long. The sun sets around 10pm and it was spectacular and dramatic.

Love

We love the many ways the hotel gives back to the community. I Love My Pet service fee support Hulphond which help people with physical or mental care needs by providing an assistance dog.

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