Looking for accommodations where the family pet can come along? Several of the major American hotel chains and resorts have started saying "Lassie and Whiskers Welcome Here."
From the 36 million American households with live-at-home pets, says Parade magazine, come 10 million Americans who travel with them. Probing more deeply into the collective pet spyche was a survey by the Travel Industry Association of America, which showed that in 2002, 14% of all adults (29.1 million) said they had traveled at least once with a pet on a trip of 50 miles or more.
Blame it on the cost of doggy daycare, the guilt that only working moms used to feel, the prevalence of drive-to destinations; whatever the cause, the increase in pet travel is so clear that everyone in the hospitality industry has taken notice.
Did you choose your hotel brand so Rover could get free biscuits at Loews? A plush cat bed at the Sheraton? A walking map and dog-run guide at a Fairmont? Or was it the room service salmon pate and petware at the Four Seasons? In honor of pet lovers and their newfound mobility, fine hotel chains such as the Four Seasons, many Ritz-Carlton properties, New York's Regency A Loew's Hotel on Park Avenue, Toronto's Sutton Place Hotel and others are catering to travelers' pets as lovingly as travelers themselves. (And like children under 18, pets can sleep free when accompanying their 'parents.')
When a luxury hotel such as the Four Seasons Boston charges $6.50 for a Shepherd's Pie or poached salmon on the Room Service menu, it sounds like a pretty good deal. When it's $7 for a Rin TinTin Tartare or a Kitty Seafood Combo, and the fine print says "All Pet Cuisine orders are served on appropriate pet ware," you begin to see why it's a bargain.
The perks don't stop there. At the Loews Annapolis Hotel (800/526-2593) in Maryland, the 2005 summer season is kicking off with Luke's Sunday Night Drive-In. According to a spokesperson, the hotel's resident Labrador Retriever Luke will be hosting Sunday evening movies outdoors on the hotel's patio for guests, their pets, locals and their pets. Treats will be available for purchase; the schedule to date includes screenings of "Lady and The Tramp," "101 Dalmations," and "Beethoven."
And don't assume everything is going to the dogs! The TIA survey found that of all these traveling people with pets, 78% had taken dogs, 15% cats, 3% ferrets, rabbits or fish; 2% birds; 2% other (?) That prompted many hotels and resorts to expand their amenities for all traveling companions. San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, California is no exception.
Pets have been welcomed at this luxury resort since the 1930s, but only recently have been offered their own in-room half-hour massage treatments ($65). This resort features 20 cottages with cedar-stuffed fleece dog beds, 17 miles of hiking trails across 500 acres overlooking the Pacific, and an organic vegetable, meat and fish pet menu, in addition to luxueries which pets' best friends enjoy. A $100 deep cleaning fee applies upon departure; pets may stay in freestanding cottages only. Info: 800/368-1788; www.sanysidroranch.com.
For an exhaustive study of American hotels and motels which welcome pets, click on www.petswelcome.com or turn to any in the series of comprehensive travel guides, "On The Road Again with Man's Best Friend" (Dawbert Press). At bedandbreakfast.com you'll find a listing of the small inns and B&Bs that welcome pets.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.