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Travel 2006    

Road & rail


Millions of Americans still prefer to see the U.S.A. the old-fashioned way.

Traveling with pets is getting doggone easy
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Steve Pinetti, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Kimpton Group, says public response to the Monaco Hotels' pet amenities has been so favorable that the hotelier is expanding it across its 46 hotel properties.

"In 25 years, I've never seen anything go so fast, so far, so almost out of control as all this pet mania that hit us," he says. "We were the first folks to kind of go crazy with all the amenities -- the dog bowls in front of the hotel, the pet beds, the welcome gifts, the turndown service and the monogrammed doggy coats. You can even rent 'Lassie' movies on DVD."

The Monaco has gone out of its way to make pets welcome, by offering complimentary bowls, beds, pickup bags and even pet tags with hotel contact information. If you're away from the room, a bellman will gladly walk your dog. Turndown service features a gourmet pet treat. Feline guests are provided with litter boxes, snacks and even a keepsake catnip toy; scratching posts are also available.

Checking in without a pet? No problem: The Monaco staff will deliver a goldfish to your room to soothe your frazzled traveler's nerves.

"We try to have a lot of fun with it, obviously, but we are at the same time engaged in the seriousness of making this work," says Pinetti. "We have to show as much respect for the pet as we do for the guest. A pet is not a marketing vehicle; it's a living, breathing entity, and if it's a soul mate of a guest, that's not to be taken lightly."

The nitty gritty of pet travel
The Kains' "DogFriendly" travel books and highway guides drill down through the data to the real mechanics of lodging and entertaining your pet on the road.

Unlike the AAA guide, which often gives abbreviated details about a property's policies, DogFriendly gets down to the nitty growly. It won't, for instance, list hotels that restrict dogs by size or allow them only in smoking rooms, unless that happens to be the only option in town. It also lists a range of accommodations and attractions, 200 beaches and even pet-friendly ski resorts that allow dogs, all searchable by state.

"Most places in most guides get listed if they allow a dog of any sort and it's up to you to figure out the restrictions," he says. "We choose to feature those hotels that don't have those restrictions, and there are plenty of them."

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