When it comes to pet-friendly amenities, hotels are going way beyond the basics. When a T+L contributor hit the road, with Herbie and Pickle in tow, she discovered just how sweet a canine’s life can be.
Last August, my family and I headed to Maine for a late-summer vacation. But the trip wasn’t just about us humans. One of our two dogs, Pickle, a rescue of indeterminate age who has been by my side for 13 years, had been diagnosed with kidney failure. I wanted him to be our traveler of honor.
At the 178-room Samoset Resort, part of Opal Collection, in Rockport, my aging pet and our other dog, Herbie, were both greeted with dental-stick treats, plush dog beds, and collapsible water bowls to take home. Farther north, we found another warm welcome at Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina, part of Opal Collection, in the dog-friendly town of Bar Harbor.
While these sorts of tail-wagging experiences have long been de rigueur at posh hotels, more properties across the country are stepping up with jaw-dropping amenities. That should perhaps come as no surprise, given that 45 percent of American households now have a pet dog, versus 38 percent in 2016; there are more than 83 million of them in the U.S., according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. At the same time, pet parents are spending record amounts, including more than $9 billion on services such as grooming, walks, and boarding in 2021, reports the American Pet Products Association.
“One way we can create a memorable experience for our guests is to create one for their pets,” says Scott Ostrander, general manager of San Diego’s Kona Kai Resort & Spa. His property’s Noble Paws Program goes beyond basics like treats and beds and offers pet massages, such as the 25-minute Pawroma Therapy conducted by a trained canine therapist in a private cabana on the beach.
Furry guests at the Rosewood London can celebrate birthdays orchestrated by chief concierge Judith van der Heijden: think pet-safe balloon displays, dog cupcakes, party hats, and even professional photography tailor-made for pets’ social media accounts. In the Cotswolds, where dogs have always been part of the cultural landscape, the Lygon Arms supplies guests with Wellingtons for tramps through the countryside. Guests and dogs alike are encouraged to clean up in the hotel’s courtyard after a hike, says general manager Graeme Nesbitt.
Pets in need of their own wardrobe can get assistance at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston, which can arrange a private shopping consultation and fitting at the Fish & Bone, a luxury pet store on Newbury Street. (The hotel has also partnered with New England Nature & Forest Therapy Consulting to offer pet-specific forest-bathing sessions at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.) Meanwhile, Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel can commission custom cashmere pet sweaters and other personalized accessories.
A couple of properties are truly blurring the boundaries between human and pet amenities. At the new Andaz Mexico City Condesa, the Wooftop Beer Garden & Canine Club has a food truck serving dog-friendly vegan poke and “dog beer,” an alcohol-free malt beverage made by a Mexican craft brewery.
Then there’s Pennsylvania’s Nemacolin, which has a hideaway exclusively for cats and dogs named Wooflands Pet Resort & Spa, with its own water park. “These days pets are part of the family,” says Lindsey Ueberroth, the dog-owning CEO of Preferred Travel Group, which counts Nemacolin among its members. “You’ve got a bunch of dogs who love to be in the water, and they’re just frolicking and having fun with the new friends that they make,” she explains. And if the pets are happy, then it probably follows that their owners are having a good time, too.
A version of this story first appeared in the May 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "And the Dog Came, Too.”
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