Pets Go First Class in World-Class Hotels
By Kathy Chin Leong

"It’s a dog’s life" has a new connotation as hotels across the country begin to extend their hospitality to four-footed guests. The hotel and spa industry is offering a spate of competitive services that will make Rover wag his tail in ectasy. And while it used to be that owners would take pets along for the ride, pet lovers are now making vacation choices based on the perceived desire’s of their animals.

Why all the fuss? As baby boomers’ kids fly off to college, furry friends are gaining a paw-up in status in the lives of empty nesters. At last count, some 39 percent of the U.S. homes own dogs, and that’s equivalent to 65 million pooches, both big and small. And when it comes to vacations, animal lovers want to pamper their pets as much as they do themselves.

TELLURIDE, CO

In Telluride, Col., the Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa has unleashed it’s new Doggie Spa. The unique program (scarily) mirrors the human services even to the extent of offering wellness and nutrition menus.

Doggie Spa rolls out the carpet to man’s best friend, providing a plethora of spa treatments and activities. Dogs can participate in a guided Frisbee toss, play ball fetch, romp in the water, or enjoy an old-fasioned tummy rub. More adventurous pups can go on guided hikes and be delivered to the trail in their own chauffer-driven Lexus.

At the end of an exhausting day, canines can retreat to the Golden Door Spa for a wet treatment, an in-room 25-minute massage, and be groomed with a refreshing teeth brushing, a body wash and a haircut. To top off the day of pampering, the Golden Door offers its signature "paw-dicure.’ Staffers will clean and manicure paws and claws to a sophisticated sheen. Prices for a four-hour pampering Doggie Package starts at $210.

That’s not all. What’s a spa day without food? Folks at the Doggie Spa think of everything- even a spa menu. The Beneful brand dog food is the cuisine of choice, featuring wholesome meat and vegetables that balances both taste and nutrition. The doggie welcome kit includes a brochure on canine nutrition, DVD on how to create an "at home" spa experience for your pet, and a product sample.

Dog owners will undoubtedly want a souvenir or two for Rover, and Wyndham has taken care of that trinket need. The canine boutique sells fleece sweaters, mittens, fancy leashes, collars and toys. Spa robes can also be ordered as a memorable keepsake for Rover.

"Not only do we pamper pets, but we also educate owners about the importance of pet fitness and nutrition," adds Fred Kleisner, general manager of the Wyndham Peaks Resort. "The Wyndham Peaks has always been a dog-friendly destination, and the new Doggie Spa has taken traveling with your pet one step further." For more info, call 800-WYNDHAM or click on www.wyndham.com .

LAS VEGAS, NV

The Westin Casuarina Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas has everything the casual tourist would want, and for the pet owner, it is just the place Rover would love to be. There’s no poker for pets (yet), but the luxury facility of 816 guest rooms is placing its bets on the success of its "Love That Dog" program which welcomes dogs to the property.

At the resort, the hotel, which opened in 2003, boasts of The Heavenly Bed. Unlike any other bed in the industry, the sumptuous, stylish, all-white Heavenly Bed consists of a custom designed pillow-top mattress set, a cozy down blanket, three crisp sheets ranging in thread count from 180 to 250, a comforter, duvet and five pillows.

Likewise, the centerpiece of the dog program is the Heavenly Dog Bed, custom-designed for the ultimate in comfort for four-legged guests. In addition to the beds, each canine companion receives food and water bowls and temporary I.D. tags with hotel contact information.

The Westin Casuarina, Las Vegas is located 160 East Flamingo, right outside the main part of the strip. Call 702/836-9775 or type www.starwoodhotels.com .

CARMEL, CA

Actress Doris Day is known for her love of animals, and when she purchased the Cypress Inn in Carmel in 1986, she immediately instituted a pets-welcome policy. The 38-room romantic inn is and has always been open to dogs. The harbinger of the pets-friendly hotel craze, the Cypress offers evening turndown services for owners who get chocolate on their pillows and dog who get biscuits. If Mom and Dad need an evening out, a dog sitter can be arranged ahead of itme.

The inn provides doggie blankets, special beds, bowls, and a never-ending bowl of dog biscuits available at the front desk. For more information, call 800/443-7443 or log onto www.cypress-inn.com .

The dog-friendly environment isn’t limited to the Cypress Inn. Other canine welcoming properties incude: Carmel Country Inn, Wayside Inn, the Lamp Lighter Inn, Lincoln Green Inn, Casesa De Darmel, Tradeswinds Inn, Forest Lodge, and many more.

Carmel is one of the few tourist towns in the United States that prides itself on its dog-friendly nature. Carmel recently installed a dog fountain called The Fountain of Woof. And there is a Blue Dog Gallery, owned by painter George Rodrigue, who made famous his blue dog in the Absolute Vodka ads. Carmel Plaza shopping center has over 50 shops which allows owners to bring in their dogs to go shopping.

Restaurants are equally friendly. The Forge in the the Forest offers pups a Dog Pound menu with delicacies such as Hot Diggity Dog , a Quarter Hounder , or simple a bowl of kibble. Over at the tony eatery, Porta Bella, waiters bring the esteemed canines water in a champagne bucket. And not to be outhowled, the French restaurant Le Coq D’or, has its wait staff bring a bag of doggie treats to its hungry four-legged patrons.

SAN FRANCISCO

In order to maintain its thriving tourist industry that has finally gone back up to pre 9/11 numbers, hotels are pulling out all the stops to woo adventurous pet lovers.

Hotel W, an ulta-modern property with sleek furnishings for the hip traveller, touts a Pet Welcome service. In an effort to make pets as happy as its owners, Hotel W, located near the Museum of Modern Art, will allow its guests to share a room with their dog or cat. These pets can have their own comfy pet bed and animal treats. Like the Cypress, the Hotel W provides pet turndown service with a tasty treat on the pillow.

The Hotel W provides walking services, pet sitters, and anything else that is essential for a happy pet excursion. For more info, ring them up at 415/777-5300 or log onto www.starwoodhotels.com .

The new Hotel Vitale near the Ferry Building is in tune with pet traveller’s needs as well. The on-site spa, Spa Vitale understands that pets are also affected by the tension around planes, trains and automobiles. Did your animal absorb your stress on the trip over to San Francisco? If so, the Spa Vitale pet massage may be just the ticket to increase blood circulation, improve flexibility and concentration, reduce pain, and decrease anxiety.

Each massage session lasts one hour with a licensed therapist. If time allows, the therapist can also teach the owners how to administer relaxation to his canine companion. In-room massages run $75 per hour. Hotel management stresses that all dogs must have up-to-date vaccinations, must have recently eaten, and not have"aggression issues." Call 415/278-3788 or visit www.hotelvitale.com .

SAN JOSE, CALIF.

The Fairmont : This swanky hotel does care about pets, especially small ones. While it does support families by providing crib, diapers, bibs, and pacifiers, and the loan of an HP digital camera during the stay, guests are howling about the new pet program. Small dogs are allowed in the hotel rooms. Animals sleep on their own pet beds, get a rubber toy and treat, and have access to their own water and food bowls with their names written right on them. Room prices start at $105. For more info, call 998-1900. Log onto www.fairmont.com

SANTA MONICA, CALIF.

Le Merigot Hotel and Spa features the Club Meg pet program which allows human-friendly dogs the opportunity to share a room with the owners. This high-end resort offers Fido special dog food, his own water bottle, bowl, and a Frisbee in a convenient carrying case. Owners put down a $150 fully refundable damage deposit, and a $35 room cleaning fee. This AAA Four-Diamond European-styled hotel is walking distance to the famous Santa Monica Pier, a great place for walking your pooch. Room prices start at $329. Call 310/395-9700 or key in www.lemerigothotel.com .

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NOTEWORTHY WEBSITES :

www.hotelvitale.com
www.starwoodhotels.com
www.cypress-inn.com
www.wyndham.com
www.lemerigothotel.com

Know of other dog-friendly resorts and hotels? Let us know at editors@bayareafamilytravel.com .

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