12 Apr Dog-Friendly Hotels Let You Take Your Best Buddy On The Road
Dog-Friendly Hotels Let You Take Your Best Buddy On The Road
Apr 11 2018
Today is National Pet Day, and I wrote earlier here at Forbes about all the myriad proven health benefits of owning a dog, including better physical fitness, more exercise, and a slew of psychological benefits, from higher self-esteem to better relationships.
Now I’m taking woman’s best friend on the road. The good news is that it is easier than ever to do that – it used to be much harder to find dog friendly hotels. In a trend reversal, it is now getting harder to find hotels that don’t allow dogs, but there is one important caveat to this: many hotels that claim to be dog friendly actually have weight limits, often quite low, and surcharges, often quite high. I’ve always had larger dogs, and while each dog is unique, in general my experience has been that across the board, smaller dogs are louder and more likely to disturb hotel neighbors, making the size discrimination nonsensical. And I do appreciate that cleaning up after a dog guest has checked out might require more thorough vacuuming and other cleaning to work to protect future guests against allergies, but under this logic, the fees should be per stay, while they are almost always per night. Some properties seem to be profiteering off the increasing number of luxury travelers with dogs, but overall, the landscape has gotten much better for traveling pet owners.
Just like WiFi, which was long free at motels and cheaper hotels but took a long time for luxury properties to stop charging (some still do), dog friendliness has trickled up. Years ago, I had a colleague who drove across the country with an entire sled dog team in his pickup, and he had no problem as long as he stuck to budget properties such as Motel 6 and Super 8. That is still the case, but luxury chains have also embraced pets much more broadly than in the past. The one really standout hotel company that has been doing it the longest, the best, and without fine print or qualifications is Loews Hotels, which has mostly urban hotels and resorts across the US and Canada, including iconic properties like the Coronado in Southern California and the Regency in New York – where the term power breakfast was coined. Loews is an eclectic brand and has everything from resorts in Universal Studios Orlando and an airport hotel at Chicago O’Hare to properties in tourism hotbeds like New Orleans, Nashville and Montreal. But wherever you go, they love dogs – the brand’s program is rightly called Loews Loves Pets – and mine have stayed at serval Loews properties happily over the years.
Kimpton is another famously pet friendly chain, without surcharges and with amenities like treats and in-room dog bowls (my pup had a great summer visit at the Kimpton Taconic Hotel in Manchester, VT). Fairmont is also broadly dog friendly, thought not every hotel has the same policies, but in general, they welcome pets, have nice amenities like dog beds and house baked treats, and several properties from Boston to Vancouver have large, happy house dogs. My dogs have also been to Westin properties and last year I wrote here at Forbes about the debut of an entirely new pet friendly brand, Canopy By Hilton. Canopy by Hilton’s Paws in the Neighborhood partnership debuted at The Wharf in Washington D.C., and includes a welcome gift pack including name brand dog toys, treat carrier, pick-up bags, leashes, beds, food and water bowls and a Woof! dog in residence dog hanger tag.
In terms of top luxury hotels, a few are especially notable. My dog absolutely loved the Boston Harbor Hotel, and so do the human guests – it’s a Forbes 5-star gem right on the water, with a direct water taxi to Logan airport, about the best way to start or end a flying trip. Recently extensively renovated, it has always been one of the Northeast’s finest hotels, but now it is better than ever, has one of the nation’s best wine-centric fine dining restaurants, hosts America’s longest running wine festival, opens onto a long pedestrian greenway, and the doormen keep dog biscuits in their pockets. Inn By The Sea is in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, a close suburb of Portland. This is one of New England’s top beach resorts, just outside Maine’s hippest city and in the super popular southern coastal stretch, and it one of the most dog friendly hotels in the country, with bar snacks for Fido and a closing weekend of the summer season when dogs can use the pool.
I haven’t been to Florida’s chic Boca Raton Resort & Club in years, but I loved it when I did visit. Now it is a member of Waldorf Astoria and recently launched its Paws in Paradise program. At check-in pets receive a welcome letter from rescue dog and Director of Canine Affairs Hayes Tolbert, a keepsake monkey toy representative of the resort’s history and Mizner’s Monkey Bar, puppy pads and complimentary dog park access. Optionally, the resort provides dog sitting and walking, canine room service menus, rental pooch “Nanny Cams,” and even dog massages at the spa (but dog guests at the resort pay a hefty $150 per pet fee). There are designated pet relief stations throughout the vast resort, in the Tower, Yacht Club and Cloister. Also in South Florida, the iconic Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s pet program includes a complimentary dog tag with “return to” information, in-room pet movies, and an on-premises, ocean-side dog park – that’s a hard-to-beat amenity few hotels can boast. For 2018 the Fontainebleau just launched Bleau Adopts, a new pet adoption program that connects team members to animals in need. The program aims to inspire a new approach to finding homes for pets by introducing adoption options to families who might not have considered the route or are looking to learn more about the process.
A few years ago USAToday ranked the top 10 dog friendly chains and they included Loews, Kimpton and Fairmont, along with La Quinta, Best Western, Ace, Red Roof, Indigo and Four Seasons. More recently blog GoPetFriendly.com listed half a dozen brands that never charge pet fees: Kimpton; Starwood’s Aloft (at two thirds of their roughly 170 North American hotels); Virgin Hotels; Motel 6; Red Roof; and La Quinta, which seem to be the most reliably dog friendly low/mid-tier chain with more than 800 locations.
Many other luxury chains are hit or miss and vary by property, but generally tend to skew more dog friendly in active, outdoorsy settings. Four Seasons limits many hotels to small dogs, but has a big Alaskan malamute as the house dog, greeting guests at the front entrance – with its own bed – at their hotel in Canada’s Whistler ski resort. Likewise, Ritz-Carlton varies its policies by location, but was one of the first of what is now many US hotels to introduce the concept of a house dog (then a yellow lab) when they opened the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek, CO more than 15 years ago. Conde Nast Traveler ranked the Top 10 dog friendly luxury hotels and included: The Park Hyatt, Chicago; St. Regis, Aspen; Peninsula, New York; Lodge at Glendorn, Pennsylvania; Envoy Hotel, Boston; Vanderbilt Grace, Newport RI (my dog stayed here and loved it!); Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt, Austin; Fairmont Miramar, Santa Monica; Pines Lodge, Beaver Creek, CO; and the Cypress Inn in Carmel By The Sea, California. This last property is owned by famous pet lover and philanthropist Doris Day, has an evening “Yappy Hour” social gathering for guests, and is in the middle of what has been repeatedly rated the single most pet friendly town in America.
Safe dog travels!
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