Hotels are rolling out the red carpets for pets


Thinking about doing a little leaf-peeping this fall with your BDF (Best Dog Friend)?

There are a growing number of hotels, motels and specialty resorts that will welcome you and your pet. 

Once upon a time, travelers with pets were forced to drive from motel to motel inquiring about pet policies, and sometimes in desperation, resort to smuggling a dog or cat inside. Or you left your pet at home with a sitter or in a kennel.

Lately, hotel chains are falling over themselves to not just open their doors to pets but lay out the red carpet. The New York Times reported on Sunday the number of hotels allowing pets has leaped from 52 percent to 61 percent, based on a survey by the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

You've heard of girls' weekends at the spa or guys weekends at the cabin? One resort in Vermont is offering a mommy (or daddy or both) - puppy weekend.

Last spring I traveled to the Essex Resort and Spa for its first "Top Dog Weekend" with my new Jack Russell blend girl Olivia.

When you arrive the hotel desk the staff greets pets with a smile and a big plate of organic dog biscuits on the counter (human treats are off to the side). Over the weekend the humans learned how to make easy - even gluten free - dog treats, while the doggies relaxed. Later we went for a group hike in a park overlooking the Green Mountains. On Sunday the dogs got a spa treatment (Olivia was not so crazy about the grooming stand but enjoyed the pampering.) There was time for human treatments in the restort's full service spa (the massages are first rate), but I decided this time to hang with Olivia. All in all, a fun weekend for all.

I wrote up our trip for the Inquirer earlier this month. That's Olivia  in the photo above chilling after a morning jaunt around the grounds.

The Essex is gearing up for its second "Top Dog Weekend" in November. The fee is $499 for the weekend, pet activities included.

But they are not alone.

Take the West Gate Inn and Suites in Carlsbad, California. I received an email from their PR firm yesterday announcing a new room service menu for pets including entrees such as rotisseries chicken and chopped meatloaf shepherd's pie. The description notes that "each gourmet dish is freshly prepared by chefs at the hotel’s Bistro West restaurant and features farm-fresh ingredients from the property’s own 3-acre farm."

Expect to pay a fee though for the pet privilege and sometimes an extra cleaning fee on top of that. Fees can range from $10 a dog at some motels to as much as $200 at the Ritz Carlton in Charlotte, NC.

And there's even an app for that.

The national website now has an app to help connect pet lovers with pet friendly hotels - and also vacation rental properties, dog parks, dog-friendly eateries and pet retailers.