STEPHANIE ABRAMS' TRAVELING PAWS
"Dogs Accepted. .Dog-Friendly. .Dogs Welcomed. . .What's the difference?"
There was a time when you had to drive for hours to find a place that would accept you and your furry best friend. Thankfully, hoteliers and innkeepers have learned that accepting you along with your pet is big business. But with all the competition for your stay, there are vast differences between the quality of the pet-related experience you will have between one lodging facility and another. Let's explore what to look for in your travels!
First, there are hoteliers who will tell you that dogs are accepted. While that may be true, it may also be true that they are barely tolerated. So here are some questions you need to have answered before you arrive:
1) Is there a size limit on the pet you will allow to stay? Sometimes the answer is in pounds and ounces, in inches tall, or by selected breeds or dog groups.
2) Is there an additional fee for my dog to stay in my room? If so, is it a ‘one-time' fee regardless of the length of the stay or is it a daily rate? Also, is the fee, in whole or in part, refundable if there is no damage or wear-and-tear to the room or is the fee non-refundable regardless of circumstances? Some hotels will charge a modest one-time fee which they will then use to steam clean the room and dry-clean the draperies and bed spreads so that the next guest, who may have allergies, is not exposed to any allergens from your pet. Other hotels reserve specific rooms just for guests traveling with pets.
3) Does the hotel provide any special services for your pet?
In essence, the lodging that Accepts Pets, generally doesn't do much more than allow you and your furry friend to room together and often imposes fees, frequently non-refundable, for the privilege. I categorize Dog-Friendly lodgings as those that allow dogs of all sizes and, if they assess a fee upon check-in for your pet, refund it totally on your departure if their hotel has not been damaged in any way by Fido.
Ah, but there is the Dogs Welcomed category that I honor and respect because they know, what you already know, that your dog is better behaved than most people's children and you are both to be treated with courtesy and every amenity.
So what is it that the hoteliers in the Dogs Welcomed category do that makes them different? Let's start with some of the greats!
Sofitel Hotels, with eleven locations in key cities in North America, including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Houston, Chicago, Montreal, Minneapolis, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, plus a significant presence globally in just about every country you can mention, rolls out the red carpet for your dog. . . . and you as well! Staff members have welcome treats in their pockets for your dog, a basket of toys and dog-bakery snacks is there to welcome Fido, special dog beds, pup room service menus, and special bowls for Fido's food and water are provided.
Just ask if you'd like to have dog-walking or dog-sitting services arranged to meet your sightseeing or business schedule when you can't be there for your furry best friend. You can expect the concierge to have a map and list for you of Fido-friendly parks and restaurants with courtyards and terraces where you and your four-footed traveler can dine together. And if Fido needs a spa visit, arrangements can be made for a doggie-massage, a shampoo, and a visit with a trendy groomer. In essence, any service your would expect for yourself can be gleefully arranged for your pet. And you'll love the ‘joie de vivre' style of Sofitel's, always located in the prime area of the cities in which they are found, where orchids, marshmallow-soft bedding, and uncluttered elegance provide that special pampering you need when you're on a rugged schedule or itinerary. This is the perfect oasis for a splurge in your travels with Fido.
If you're in a city where there is no Sofitel
Hotel, other top-notch brands to seek out where pets are warmly
welcomed and truly appreciated include Loews Hotels, where the
chef prepares spectacular dishes for the pampered pet and choices
of dog-bed covering from faux mink to cashmere are available
for Fido, and Westin and W Hotels, part of the Starwood brand
which boasts its Starwood LTD program, not Ltd. for limited
liability as in a corporation, but Starwood LTD for Love That
Dog! What more does a company have to say to drive home the
point! But remember to ask the pertinent questions at the top
of this column so that there are no surprises when you and Fido
arrive. You're going to have such a good time! Bone Voyage!
Gotta Fly Now! sm
www.FidoFriendly.com • Spring 2006