Very Important Pets: Seven Hotels That Welcome Four-Legged Guests by Larry Olmsted

Updated: Dec 17, 2021


Very Important Pets: Seven Hotels That Welcome Four-Legged Guests by Larry Olmsted, Bergen County Moms

Pet-friendly properties around the world.


Our pets are growing more and more pampered, spending their days frolicking at doggy day cares, celebrating their birthdays at elaborate fêtes, and enjoying an array of pet-centric designer accessories. It’s no surprise, then, that this coddling extends to vacations, a trend fueled recently by a pandemic road-trip boom and the concurrent popularity of private jets. Both make it much more convenient to travel with our four-legged friends, which has compelled more luxury hotels and resorts to accept pets than ever before.


“Absolutely there is more interest in taking the dog,” says Virtuoso agency founder Michael Holtz, whose Havanese-poodle mix, Bagel, is a frequent traveler with her own Instagram account. “All the pandemic puppies are now part of the family,” he says. “A lot of times our clients worry more about how much their dog will enjoy the trip than their spouse.” But there’s a big difference between merely accepting dogs and warmly welcoming them, and the pet-friendliest properties have special programs, from doggy room-service menus and dog-accessible dining venues to fancy beds and custom-baked treats. The best properties have no size or weight limits and offer services such as pet sitting and dog walking. And many have their own dogs in residence, for those who leave a fur baby home.


Some destinations are more appealing than others, according to Holtz, who has some tips to make traveling with dogs even more “pawsome.” From wine country to the mountains, California is especially welcoming. Cities have been much less crowded since the pandemic, so Holtz sees rising popularity for urban hotels among his clients and more top properties now embracing dogs. By their nature, villas are dog friendly, and he’s seen the villa rental market boom during the pandemic.


Getting there with a pet can be the trickiest part. Take flight connections, for instance. “Unless they are trained service dogs, as soon as they get in the airport they have to go outside, and that means leaving the secure area,” Holtz says. He adds that Mexico has been popular because it’s easy to get to, with nonstop flights to Cabo or Cancún from a dozen cities. The Caribbean, however, has been more problematic. He suggests that Canada-bound U.S. citizens drive rather than fly over the border. Across North America properties are welcoming pets, and these are some of the best.


Very Important Pets: Seven Hotels That Welcome Four-Legged Guests by Larry Olmsted, Bergen County Moms

Beach Breaks


Famously dog friendly for decades, Cape Elizabeth’s Inn by the Sea, just outside Portland, Maine, has dog menus, fine dining on a patio, and waiter-served treats (and cocktails for owners) at Adirondack chairs on the great lawn – and dogs are welcome at the indoor fireside lounge bar, an unusual touch. Pups can romp on the private beach during the off-season (October through March) and have the pool all to themselves during the “Pool Pawty,” always the last week of fall. The 61-room inn has 21 dog-friendly rooms (no pet fees, no weight limits) and includes extras such as water bowls, beach towels, cozy blankets, and signature treats at turndown. The newest lodgings of choice are the Cove Suites, two-bedroom beachfront residences with indoor and outdoor living space for all the creatures in your party, plus fireplaces, kitchens, and furnished decks. A longstanding “house dog” adoption program has placed more than 150 dogs with visiting guests. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.


Two Labrador mixes in residence anchor a canine ambassadors program at South Carolina’s Montage Palmetto Bluff. The dog perks include cushy beds for visiting pooches, accessories, toys, and a room-service pet menu with delicacies such as Angus beef with rice and vegetables. Repeat pets and guests know the signature custom-baked treat duo: minty oat cookies and sweet potato chews. The resort treats both guests and their pets with the same white-glove service, noting canine names and birthdays. But the real action is outside the 200-room property, with plenty of green space for dogs to play and run plus miles of tail-wagging trails on the 20,000 acres. Dog walking, day care, and grooming are available. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 resort credit.


Very Important Pets: Seven Hotels That Welcome Four-Legged Guests by Larry Olmsted, Bergen County Moms

The iconic Las Ventanas al Paraíso in Los Cabos, Mexico, has long pampered human and (under 40-pound) canine guests. They offer pet massages at the spa, “doga” classes at the fitness center, portable pet cabanas at the beach and pool, and a made-to-order “Canine Delights” menu. Dedicated dog butlers take four-legged guests on daily beach walks, and 84-suite-and-villa Las Ventanas even does seasonal pet specials: A doggy Thanksgiving package includes a festive canine menu, monogrammed VIP pet bag, and placemat embroidered with the dog’s name (no puppy tequila, though). Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily, a $100 spa credit, and a margarita and taco sampling.


City Dogs


The Conrad Washington DC’s “Lab of Luxury” experience includes a two-night stay in a “Bark View” Suite at the 360-room property, keepsake Hermès pet collar, leash, and Tiffany & Co. water bowl, plus gourmet treats made by executive chef Joshua Murray, a pet photo session, a $500 donation to the Humane Society, and an afternoon picnic with car service so you and your furry friend can tour three dog-friendly Virginia wineries. But even dogs whose owners don’t spring for the opulent package are welcome, with no weight limit, dog beds, bowls, and amenities – a chew toy, Conrad dog bandana, or gourmet treats. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 dining credit.


Treats, bowls, beds, and more await dogs at the 96-room Bisha Hotel & Residences in downtown Toronto. The property stands out with a location in the Entertainment District, a gourmet focus led by Michelin-starred chef Akira Back, and an artsy flair, including a lot of Warhol screen prints and an entire floor designed by Lenny Kravitz. Marquee human-centric attractions – such as Rogers Centre, CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, the symphony orchestra, and King Street nightlife – are close by, while Clarence Square, a wooded park with dog area, is less than two blocks away. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.


Very Important Pets: Seven Hotels That Welcome Four-Legged Guests by Larry Olmsted, Bergen County Moms

Country Pups


With properties from Maine to Mexico, Auberge Resorts Collection is one of the most consistently dog-friendly luxury brands, and Solage, a 22-acre, 100-room California wine country getaway in Calistoga, is especially attractive. Walking paths dot the resort, many more trails surround it, and all lodgings have outdoor space for dogs to enjoy. A just-completed $30 million redesign added new suites and Picobar restaurant, and renovated all guest rooms and public spaces. Solage has no breed or weight limits and provides all dogs with a bed, water and food bowls, plus treats. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily, a $100 resort credit, and a bottle of house Napa Valley cabernet.


The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colorado, was the first Ritz-Carlton with a canine ambassador and has welcomed pets since the day it opened in 2002. Today, Bachelor the Saint Bernard is often on hand to greet visitors in the lobby. The ski resort setting is perfect for outdoor canine activities, and nearby Beaver Creek is a pet-loving pedestrian village with a lot of outdoor dining and drinking. The 180-room hotel has no weight limits. It provides dog beds, bowls, and treats, and concierges are fluent in area dog walks and activities. There are even rare dog-friendly rooms and suites on the Club Level, and a deluxe chauffeured day-care partnership with high-end Wanderlust Dog Ranch. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.


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Elena Borrero, SmartFlyer Travel Consultant, is a lifelong globetrotter who has visited more than 40 countries. With an initial no fee consultation, Elena’s strengths lie in getting to know her clients and executing detail-oriented, completely customized itineraries for couples and families. She specializes in luxury hotels and resorts, and her extensive industry network allows her to negotiate amenities, upgrades and VIP status for her distinguished client base. Through her decades of testing out hotspots first-hand, her product knowledge of beach destinations, Europe and even African safaris, she is well-versed to take on creating a trip in practically any corner of the world. Learn more about the benefits of working with Elena via website or email: Elena@smartflyer.com.