When it comes to vacation time, let no four-legged family member be left behind. According to the U.S. Travel Association, 18 percent of U.S. adult leisure travelers usually take their pets with them when they travel.
“Newlyweds are delaying starting families, but are less hesitant to start with fur children,” says Melissa Halliburton, founder of www.bringfido.com, a pet-friendly hotel and dog directory that reports traffic to the site has quadrupled in the past two years.
As hotels and airlines hone in on this special relationship, they’re inventing so many lavish pet-friendly deals and amenities that you may even want to rent a pet to take advantage of them.
You can do exactly that at any of the Kimpton Hotels’ Guppy Love programs where guests can request a live goldfish the hotel staff cares for so you can enjoy stress-free bonding throughout your stay.
Servicing four-legged travelers is a new breed of hotel staff – doggy concierges -- elevating critters to celebrity like-status.
Once you make a booking, The Omni San Diego Hotel’s Doggie Concierge can arrange a mutt makeover; or you may get a missive from Oliver, director of Pet Relations at the Kimpton’s Monaco Hotel; patrons and pets can opt for en-suite spa treatments at the Inn by the Sea in Maine or at the 15,000-square-foot spa that was just voted number 1 in the U.S. by Travel and Leisure magazine at The Allison Inn & Spa in Oregon. From Rome Cavalieri’s Grand Spa, pets are accompanied to La Domus Aventina a nearby doggy spa, for shampooing, massage, skin treatments and stylish comb-out.
Once you’ve settled in your posh pad at London’s Atheneum, don’t leave him or her alone. Recent visitor, leading Australian actress, Amanda Muggleton stayed with her dog Dudley who indulged in specialty canine treats from the doggie menu at the Atheneum.
Doggy divas looking for red carpet treatment can follow in the wake of the recent premiere of Disney’s direct-to-DVD flick, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta!” that is now available on location at The Langham Huntington, in Pasadena where the movie was shot. For $135, The Langham Huntington Doggie Program offers in-room use of a luxurious Langham pink porcelain pet bowl, gold mat and a plush pink bed pillow; a bag of gourmet doggie treats upon check-in; a doggie door hanger; and The Langham Huntington Doggie Newsletter, full of activities for you and your dog can enjoy at the hotel and around town.
And it is just not hotels. JetBlue launched the “All Your Pet Can Jet” pass for unlimited travel. El Al Israel Airlines created the Matmid Frequent Flyer plan letting pets flying three times within three years, earn a fourth trip free. Lufthansa gets high marks for its temperature-sensitive restrictions on 10 breeds of dogs.
While dogs tend to be the most peripatetic pets, any animals under 20 pounds can usually fly with you in the cabin. Aegean Airlines lists ferrets and Frontier’s list is broad and tolerant: dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and small household birds can ride with you (in the proper carrier) on flights within the U.S.
Hallliburton, who has just returned from an 80-day trip assessing pet amenities for her upcoming book, “The Best Places to Bring Your Dog,” says hotels offer guided hikes, room service, doggy masseuses, turndown service with freshy-baked biscuits, doggy psychics and surfing championships.
At the Resort at Paws Up, a luxury ranch resort in Montana, dogs are welcome to reside inside select accommodations. While outdoors, they can sleep under a wide Montana sky or be take a nap in the kennel adjacent to the accommodation.
Even nuanced activities like a glass of Welcome Champagne at The Residence Inn on Amelia Island includes canine/kitty cocktails. The D.C.-based Liaison Capitol Hill’s Pooch Patio Menu offers “Bowser Beer,” non-alcoholic of course, and the “Hungry Dawg” a 6 oz. grilled steak.
The doggy psychics are new at the Provenance Hotels (as are the in-room Reiki treatments and pet spiritual menus), “Canine Culinary” room service at New York’s Waldorf Astoria starts with crisp white linens and china service for pups with delicacies like German shepherd’s pie or Pekingese’s duck.
Pastry chefs are aiming at furry companions’ palates with freshly baked biscuits following a long day’s hike through piles of new-fallen snow at Four Seasons Resort Vail, just outside The Vintage Inn in Northern California Yountville’s Bouchon Bakery sells two kinds of dog biscuits while Vancouver’s Loden Hotel slips freshly baked treats on doggy pillows at turndown with the latest issue of “Modern Dog” magazine.
After introducing a new Pet Friendly program, Hilton Hotels & Resorts is now marketing a Pet Friendly collection designed by famed artist William Wegman, best known for his striking photographs of Weimaraner dogs that includes a small tote stocked with travel essentials no dog worth its wag could leave home without.
Remember, if your pooch is a surfing champion, you could win a getaway at Loews Coronado Bay Hotel…and the endless bragging rights that come with owning the San Diego waves.