Bring Rover on Over - Hotels That Want to Pamper Your Pooch
Photos courtesy of the Driskill Hotel, Disney's Best Friends Pet Care Resort and Deborah Brauser
When I moved cross-country a few years back with 2 large dogs in tow, I was concerned with where we were going to spend our nights on the road. Because I wasn't sure how far we would drive each day, I couldn't make reservations and thought perhaps we would be stuck with down-trodden, out-of-the way "dumps." So it was a pleasant surprise to learn that wasn't the case at all!
In our situation, I was happy to learn that most Hampton Inns take in dogs quite cheerfully. Other pet-friendly chains I later discovered include many of the La Quinta Inns or Suites, Comfort Inns, Holiday Inns, and Motel 6's.
And for those who want to actually vacation with their pets in swankier places, the choices are seemingly endless. Just check out these hotels that roll out a very fine welcome mat to some very lucky animal pals.
The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas has received significant recognition as a pet-friendly destination, including winning the 2008 Cesar Five Dog Bone Award from Animal Fair and a 2011 Fido Friendly "Best Of" award.
Upon checking into this beautifully appointed historic hotel, dogs who take advantage of the Pampered Pet Program receive bottled spring water, gourmet pet treats from the on-site 1886 Café and Bakery, and a souvenir pet toy. Once in the room, a pet bed, stainless steel dishes, and a fancy Driskill-stamped eating mat await.
Guests also receive a map of pet-friendly areas around the Austin area and use of a leash and collar, if needed. Definitely take advantage of these, as the city prides itself on offering fun activities for its 2- and 4-legged visitors. After romping through the nearby 3-acre Bull Creek District Park, which is just a short car-ride away, be sure to stop by the locally lauded Dog and Duck Pub for a drink or "pub grub" out on their huge porch. And yep, you'll both be served there!
For guests traveling with pets to the Big Easy, The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans offers use of collars, leashes, pet beds, doggie bowls, and chew toys. Staff at this hotel, which sits on the edge of the city's French Quarter, also provide pet sitting and walking services. And while their dogs are off taking in the sites, human guests can enjoy the hotel's 25,000 square foot spa and fitness center.
Travelers to the Orlando, Florida area have several over-night options for those with dogs and/or cats. The three Universal Orlando resort properties owned by Loews (the Hard Rock Hotel, the Portofino Bay Hotel, and the Royal Pacific Resort) all participate in the "Loews Loves Pets" program.
Catering to what they call "Very Important Pets" (or VIPs), the hotels provide a personalized note from the general manager containing a list of available pet services and a map of dog-walking routes, as well as treats and use of beds, pet place mats, bowls, leashes, and even pet videos.
Even more exciting, a specially-designed room service menu offers choices such as roasted salmon for the kitties and bow-wow-burgers or grilled filets for the pups. Pet walking and pet sitting services, litter boxes, and a selection of pet toys are also offered at additional cost.
According to a release put out by Loews, 62% of Americans now travel with their pet.
"More and more people see their pets as members of the family and want to bring them along when they travel. Having accepted pets for years… the Loews Loves Pets program allows us to formalize that welcome," said Lark-Marie Anton, vice president of Lowes' public relations.
Another option for travelers is luxury kennels, or "pet resorts" located near a destination. The top of the line in this category may be Best Friends Pet Care at Walt Disney World in Orlando, near Disney's Port Orleans Resort.
This sprawling locale opened its doors last year and includes live webcams, 17,000 square feet of indoor space, 10,000 square feet of covered outdoor runs and play areas, and use of an exclusive 25,000 square foot dog park.
Suite packages for dogs range all the way up to rooms with televisions (playing Disney classics such as "Lady and the Tramp," naturally), raised bedding, and private outdoor yards. Cats have their own digs at the adjacent "Kitty City" facility and separate quiet rooms are provided for small mammals and birds.
Other amenities, at additional cost, can include ice cream treats and a staff-read bedtime story.
"Our goal is to ensure that pets staying with us have a fun, action-packed vacation - just like their families vacationing at Walt Disney World," said Dennis Dolan, president and CEO of Best Friends Pet Care in a statement.
Pet Paradise also offers luxury pet boarding facilities, with locations near airports in Houston, Charlotte, New Orleans, Atlanta, and all over Florida. All provide in-ground bone-shaped swimming pools, plush bedding in all suites, and ice cream treats for its doggie guests. Felines get to stay in peaceful 6-level cat condos that include piped in calming music. In addition, the facilities offer 24/7 pick-up and drop-off hours.
In other words, for those who want to travel but don't want to leave behind their furry friends, there are many, many options to ensure that everyone in the family has a great time.
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