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Pet Friendly Travel: Ten vacation destinations for you and your dog

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Searching for a great getaway spot, but worried about leaving Spot behind? Why not bring your dog with you on vacation and stay at a resort, bed-and-breakfast or hotel designed to pamper both you and your pooch?  While traveling safely with your pet is most important, there's no reason why you can't have the best of both worlds.

Pet friendly travel is not yet well known.  Surprisingly, 82 percent of respondents to a recent study of dog owners commissioned by Starwood Hotels indicated they didn’t believe most upscale inns allowed dogs. Sixteen percent of those polled fessed up to smuggling their dog into hotels that banned canines.

But contrary to popular belief, there’s a wealth of dog-friendly lodgings across the country that offer travel accommodations for pets and their owners.

Take Texas, for example. According to AAA, The Lone Star State is the most accommodating among all 50 states for travelers with pets, boasting 108 pet-friendly hotels in Houston, 98 in San Antonio, and 72 in Austin.

More dog owners are learning that budget hotel chains all the way up to five-star resorts are not only accepting dogs and other pets, they’re providing a plethora of perks for pups—from dog bed turndown service to homemade doggy treats. It would appear they’re getting the message loud and clear from dog owners, including those polled in another recent survey revealing that 48 percent believed hotels should cater more to dogs. These respondents’ favorite canine-friendly perks included pet-sitting services (27 percent), on-site kennels (16 percent) and pet bedding (9 percent).

Mary White, president of BnBFinder.com, says that bed-and-breakfasts in particular “are the ideal choice for pet owners who don’t feel comfortable leaving their pets behind. Fortunately, numerous bed-and-breakfast owners are sympathetic and understand that pets are important members of the family, and that’s why they offer pet-friendly accommodations that go beyond the standard ‘pets allowed’ signage.”

Here are 10 paws-itively prime hotel recommendations for dogs and their owners:

Western state woofers

The W hotel Seattle in Seattle, Wash. (www.whotels.com/seattle), has a secret weapon: Executive Chef Adam Stevenson, who has created “gourmutt” treats like almond butter, peanut butter and organic biscuits. W Seattle welcomes pets at check-in with a “W”-shaped dog cookie, dog tags, toys and other treats. Among the plentiful in-room amenities are a plush dog bed, food and water bowls with floor mats, pet diapers (upon request) and turndown service. The hotel concierge ensures that dogs are walked as often as needed upon request.

The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Mont. (www.pawsup.com) has always had a special relationship with man's best friend—inspiring its name and logo along with its pet-friendly policy. Case in point: this resort offers an outdoor kennel for sleeping under the stars. Canine guests also get their own stylish Paws Up collar and leash combo, a bag of delectable doggie treats and a toy to keep them busy. Best of all, this is a wilderness sanctuary you’ll never forget, with plenty of walking trails for you and your dog to explore as the picturesque mountains form an idyllic backdrop.

If you want pet-friendly hiking trails that are just as breathtaking, check out *The Little Nell hotel in Aspen, Colo. (www.thelittlenell.com). Here, four-legged friends are treated to personalized brass identification tags, walking and sitting on request and grooming services. The Little Nell also provides a Puppy Jet Lag Kit for dogs who don’t travel well.

“The Petiquette Program at The Little Nell even offers doggie-sized portions of the hotel’s room service menu, including *beef tenderloin with scrambled eggs and brown rice,” says Julia Theisen, vice president of sales and marketing, Aspen Chamber Resort Association.

You know you’re among dog lovers when the director of pet relations at your hotel is a Cocker Spaniel named Bosco. He’s one of many furry friends at Firesky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. (www.fireskyresort.com). This recommended getaway boasts dog walking and sitting services, an exercise area and nearby dog park, in-room food and water bowls, a super-comfy doggy bed, a pooper scooper and walking map. *Ask for the Bone Appetite Package, which includes Bosco’s Brew (a pet-friendly beer), gourmet doggie treats, a top-quality chew toy and a leash.

Mutts across the Midwest

When visiting the Windy City, bring your pet to the Hotel Monaco in downtown Chicago (www.monaco-chicago.com). Take advantage of a special PAWS Chicago Pet Package that provides a doggy bed, bowl and welcome treat. Additionally, the hotel staff can arrange pet walking and sitting services along with day care, grooming and spa services.  Ten percent of all proceeds is donated to PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) Chicago, a non-profit organization working to help Chicago become a no-kill zone for stray animals. And if you and your dog get lonely, you can even call room service to request “Guppy Love,” a complimentary goldfish (cared for by hotel staff) to keep you company during your stay.

“Chicago is one of the most pet-friendly cities around, with a host of dog parks, dog beaches, and parks that allow pets,” said Tony Kremer, DVM, of Plainfield, Ill., who strongly recommends the Hotel Monaco.

Ever wish they made a luxury hotel just for dogs? Your wish is granted at Barkley Pet Hotel & Day Spa in Orange Village, Ohio, just a few miles from Cleveland (www.thebarkleypethotel.com). Here, you can board your barker in luxury and spoil her with pet grooming and spa services, de-shedding treatments, relaxation massages and room service that includes steak. Sorry, humans aren’t allowed overnight, but you can find plenty of posh lodgings of your own nearby.

East Coast Kennel Club

There’s a variety of highly acclaimed hotels heading eastbound, too. Take, for example, The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va. (www.thehomestead.com), which serves up a heapin’ helping of Southern hospitality as well as scenic hiking trails, a designated play area outfitted with a tether, a milk bone at turndown and much more.

“Homestead guests and their pets can explore miles of Allegheny Mountain trails ideal for those morning canine ‘constitutionals’ that are sure to set tails wagging and whiskers wiggling,” says Carol Stratford, director of marketing communications for The Homestead.

Take a bite of the Big Apple while your dog takes a bite out of a delicious doggy snack at The Muse Hotel, located in New York City's Theater District (www.themusehotel.com). The Pampered Pooch Package includes a basket filled with canine treats and access to New York's only doggie playground, "Canine Court," with open land and an obstacle course close by. You and your pet can also enjoy the popular dog runs in nearby Central Park. And if you’ve always wanted to explore the swanky stores with Rex at your heel, here’s your chance: Hotel guests and their dogs are welcome to shop together at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany's, Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic and the Gap.

If a bed-and-breakfast is more to your liking, check out Captain Jefferds Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine (www.captainjefferdsinn.com). Guests and their dogs sleep in charming carriage houses that offer a convenient entrance for pets. Man’s best friend is greeted with treats served on silver platters, scented waste bags, pet toys and more. Several dog parks are nearby, as are Kennebunkport beaches that allow owners to walk their dogs leash-free.

Yearning for a Sunshine State escape? Bring the pet to Grove Isle Hotel & Spa in Miami (www.groveisle.com). This 49-room boutique hotel indulges dogs with numerous amenities—including a Creature Concierge who arranges all the pet accoutrements, such as charm bracelets, Tiffany dog tags, cashmere pet beds, walking, local play dates, shopping, and priority seating at the pool (where you can partake in poolside “yappy hour”).  What’s more, Baleen, Grove Isle’s restaurant, provides gourmet dog treats and outdoor dining spots. If you really want to go posh, splurge for a canine reflexology session in a seaside cabana or a Doggie and Me yoga appointment at SpaTerre, the hotel’s to-die-for spa.

Rover’s runner-ups

If lodging on a budget is a priority, consider booking a date at a dog-friendly hotel chain. Results of a recent poll by TripAdvisor show that Best Western is the most pet-friendly hotel chain, followed by Holiday Inn and Red Roof Inn. You may not get a mint or a milk bone on the pillow, but you can get a great deal on an affordable vacation with the dog along for a companion.


*Dr. Amy reminds us that it's not a good idea to make drastic diet changes for your pet while traveling.  Novel food such as beef tenderloin can give upset stomachs if not a normal treat for the animal.  Travel can be a little stressful for animals, and a diet change could put yout pet over the top.  It is best to travel with your dog's regular food in tow.

Credit: Reviewed by Dr. Amy Attas, DVM
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