Pet project: Increase the perks to pamper your guests’ best friends

INTERNATIONAL REPORT—They say every dog has its day. Well, when guests traveling with their furry friends check into a pet-friendly hotel that goes out of its way to make the stay enjoyable for both its two- and four-legged guests, that day just got a whole lot better.

There are thousands of pet-friendly hotels across the globe, but only some treat the canine crowd as if it’s part of the VIP set.

One such resort is Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, located in a fishing village on the southwest point of the Riviera Nayarit, not far from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The 400-acre beachfront property features 173 casita-style guestrooms, three Richard Sandoval restaurants, a newly renovated spa and Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses. More than that, though, it also offers the Best Friends Paradise program, which was launched last April.

The program includes doggy-sized cabanas for relaxing on the beach; gourmet dog-friendly meals like fresh catch-of-the-day tacos; and miniature beds that are replicas of the brand’s beds.

“It’s important for our guests to feel like they are part of the Four Seasons family, and we know that pets are an important member of the family, too,” said Ane Echeverria with Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita. “We know that it can be stressful to make arrangements for four-legged friends when traveling, so we wanted to create an environment where our guests can bring their furry companions along for the experience.”

Pets can also join their best friends during stand-up paddleboarding and surfing lessons in the Bay of Banderas, as well as mani-pedis and yoga classes.

“We wanted guests to be able to experience the destination with their pet, and have opportunities to bring their pet along for daily activities,” said Echeverria.

Furthermore, a dedicated pet concierge is available on-demand for walking and grooming.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts, where 80% of its properties is pet-friendly, is a company that provides more than just a room and some doggy treats.

“Our goal is to serve guests, create memories and deliver exceptional experiences,” said Laurie Hobbs, VP of marketing for Marcus Hotels & Resorts. “We recognize that pets are such an important part of people’s lives, we want to enhance their traveling experience by delivering an exceptional hospitality experience with their loved ones—whether they are people or pets.

“We are finding more and more travelers are taking their pets with them if they leave for more than two nights,” she added. “In order to accommodate this demand, many of our pet-friendly properties pull out all the stops to make our four-legged friends feel at home when staying with us.”

Pets enjoy some treats at the AC Chicago Downtown.

Among the Marcus properties that go above and beyond when it comes to pet amenities, Hobbs noted, is the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Geneva, WI, which offers amenities like in-room food bowls; plush pet bedding; and a special menu just for dogs with entrees such as Fromm’s duck and sweet potato, grain-free surf and turf, pork and applesauce and chicken pâté. At the AC Hotel Chicago Downtown, guests traveling with pets are greeted upon arrival with dog treats from a dog-themed cookie jar stationed at the front desk. Guests accompanied by pets also receive a welcome amenity that includes waste bags, water, dog treats and a list of dog-friendly attractions in the nearby metro area (i.e.,  dog parks, boutiques and pet spas).

“At any of our pet-friendly properties, our furry friends are sure to get a VIP pooch experience.  Pets at our hotels always receive a warm welcome and a variety of important amenities including a goody bag filled with treats and toys and a pet bed for proper sleeping arrangements,” said Hobbs, who added, “We also like to support the local Humane societies in our markets as well.  For example, if you book the Rover Night package at The Pfister hotel [in Milwaukee], a monetary donation will be made in your honor to the Elmbrook Humane Society.”

Valencia Group’s Cavalry Court hotel in College Station, TX, opened last November and has a staff member perfectly suited for pet relations, Jack the Australian Shepherd. The property’s general manager, Marcus Latner, is Jack’s owner.

“With the first Court concept, Lone Star Court in Austin, TX, I lived on-property and could have a pet. I got Jack at six months old and brought him home,” said Latner. “I worked from home and he naturally would follow me around the property. I noticed many guests would ask to pet and play with him, and it was natural to have him be a part of the team as our greeter and face of the hotel. His main duties are to meet and greet with the guests and play with the other dogs and kids around.”

Latner agreed with Echeverria and Hobbs on the reasons guests travel with their pets. “The pet is a very important member of the family and we find many guests want to bring them in as part of their travels,” he said. “The companionship they provide in the home is one that people miss and want on the road as well. The ease of knowing their pet can travel and stay with them releases unwanted stress and burdens and makes planning easier and the travel experience that much more enjoyable.”

Cavalry Court also offers other amenities for pets. “We have an outdoor courtyard space that pets and owners alike enjoy; all we ask is to help keep it clean,” Latner said. “We provide a doggy gift upon arrival that includes a treat, mess bags, a surprise and a special do-not-disturb sign.”

Marcus’ Hobbs noted a pet perk that all hotels should offer:  “At any of our pet-friendly hotels, our hotel staff is also available to accommodate any pet needs and is even prepared to give a pet or belly rub on a moment’s notice.” HB

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