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How to Find a Pet-Friendly Place to Stay

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Finding a pet-friendly place to stay can involve a number of factors. Imagine driving all day with a long suffering, trusty animal companion by your side, then finding the only hotel for miles around doesn't admit pets.

This scenario may have been all-too-familiar a few years ago, but the ever-increasing number of pet travelers has made a huge impact on the industry. Hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns, resorts, and private rentals are now vying to attract four-legged customers.

About 35 percent of hotels in the United States and Canada allow pets to bunk with you, according to DogFriendly.com, a Web site that tracks dog-friendly hotels and lodging, ski resorts, campgrounds and RV parks, beaches, and dog parks. The site also offers city guides and event listings.

With a little planning, it's easy to find the right place to meet both of your needs.

Catering to every taste

For the upscale pet traveler, hotels offer intriguing options:

The St. Regis Aspen is pet-friendly. Pet owners fret not: even the dog beds have Frette linens.

Hilton properties recently developed the Hilton Pet Friendly collection for dogs and cats, designed by artist William Wegman, famous for his Weimaraner portraits and calendars. The collection includes a stain-, water- and microbial-resistant pet bed. If you need pet-friendly information, the Hilton's pet concierge service is happy to help.

Austin's Driskill Hotel was named the nation's top pet-friendly hotel this year by Animal Fair magazine. Pets are served gourmet treats, bottled water, and can sleep on a custom pet bed. One pet package provides champagne and chocolate-covered fruit to the "pet master.''

For owners who realize their pets might not insist on high thread count, medium- and lower-priced motels and hotels also offer lodgings for furry travelers.

Don't rule out campgrounds and RV parks for a fun vacation. Check the specific rules at each facility before hitting the road.

Emerging trends

As the humanization of pets continues to grow, different ways to please and care for them are being offered by businesses savvy enough to know pet owners are willing to pay for something extra.

A new trend is the cage-free care facility, connected to resort hotels, which offers 24-hour supervision and companionship. This option provides a vacation for both of you, enabling you to see your pet when you feel like it.

The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa near Traverse City, Mich., recently rolled out "The Dog House - The Ultimate Dog Retreat.'' Four-legged guests can relax in a homey atmosphere with three separate play/slumber rooms, plenty of toys, and fenced-in grassy play areas. Cozy beds, daily walks, and filtered water and treats are part of the $35-per-night package.

Unusual and fun activities - including hiking, doggie yoga and surfing - are available at some resorts. In fact, earlier this year, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego hosted its third Surf Dog-a-Thon fundraiser, with 60 surfing dogs.

Last-minute plane trip? Paws4Paradise, located outside Chicago's O'Hare Airport, operates a 24-hour-a-day upscale hotel for dogs and cats. Owners can assuage their guilt of sudden or frequent departures by having their pets indulge in "pawdicures,'' haircuts, and massage therapy.

Need to relocate? Call NorthStar Moving Corp. The company, which specializes in moves in and out of California, offers pets a first-class way to relocate. Cats ride in an 11-by-9 foot compartment, the A.L. Webber, with a flat-screen TV for bird watching. Dogs have custom services provided by pet care specialists in "The Paris.'' These services, designed to reduce the trauma of relocation, were dreamed up by NorthStar and two partner organizations: the California Center Inc. of Los Angeles and Tamar Gellar of The Loved Dog cage-free dog-boarding facility.

Finding the right place to stay

For the most recently updated details, a growing number of Web sites offer pet-friendly travel information. The following sites can help you plan a well-rounded trip for the two of you:

If you have a preferred hotel chain, go directly to the company's Web site.

Bon Voyage!

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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