These days, lodgings
of all size and price range cater to
a new breed of VIP -- your very important
Not long ago, traveling with your dog or cat was
a little like being a bank robber on the run. Often as not, your choice was to
inquire at the front desk and risk rejection or smuggle Fido in and risk detection.
Few lodgings allowed pets, and those that did rarely had a star or diamond to
their name, forcing you to choose between your comfort and your pet's.
Today, however, hoteliers from coast to
coast are rolling out the red carpet for Rover and Fluffy
as never before to attract well-heeled boomers, pet-loving
businesspeople and families who wouldn't dream of leaving
their canines or felines at home. And for good reason:
Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook,"
a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association,
found that 53.8 percent of all U.S. households own at
least one pet and 47 percent of those consider their
pets to be family members.
lot of people view their pets as family. They enjoy taking their pets with them,
just as they wouldn't leave a son or a daughter at home," says Sara Weis
of the AAA. "Plus, there's the convenience of not being forced to make boarding
or pet-sitting arrangements."
Pet travel is the hottest
thing going in hospitality. The seventh edition of AAA's "Traveling
With Your Pet," the "big book" of pet-friendly accommodations,
grew by 23 percent from the previous edition and now lists more than 12,000 AAA-rated
lodgings and campgrounds throughout North America.
pet travelers have long been aware of the more visible pet-friendly national hotel
chains: Motel 6 on the budget
end; Red Roof Inn and La
Quinta for a step up in comfort.
But in recent years, high-end
properties including the Ritz-Carlton
as well as cutting-edge urban boutiques such as Starwood's
W Hotels and Kimpton's
Monaco Hotels, have not only welcomed pets, they're pampering them with everything
from plush pet robes to in-room massages.
Len Kain, who with his wife, Tara, started
in 1998 as a resource for like-minded souls who don't
want to leave their animals at home, says about half
of all pet-friendly hotels charge pet fees of up to
$25 per night. Some tack on an additional one-time cleaning
fee of up to $25 as well. Extended-stay hotels such
Residence Inn and Homestead
Studio Suites Hotels typically charge a potentially
steep one-time fee of $50 to $150.
"If you stay one night, the $150 is outrageous,"
says Kain. "But if you stay a month, it's not a big deal."
Affordable pet-friendly chains such as
Motel 6, Red Roof Inn and La Quinta aren't the only
fee-free zones, however.Higher-end chains such as Loews
and Kimpton don't charge for pets, either. Then again,
some ultra-ritzy properties charge one-time fees of
up to $250 for pets, albeit in rooms that may run $1,000
usually only have those really high fees at hotels that serve a clientele that
frankly doesn't care," says Kain.