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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Hotels roll out the red carpet for pets


In an undated image provided by 2023 Hilton, dogs at a Hilton. As people increasingly travel with their four-legged friends, hotels are stepping up with more amenities.

By Stephanie Rosenbloom


If you wouldn’t dream of going on vacation without your pet, you’re in luck. Hotels and resorts are increasingly catering to them with new packages and amenities (or “pet-menities,” as Virgin Hotels puts it), be it an in-room dining menu for dogs with a “beef woofslider” at Andaz Mexico City Condesa, or a posh pet blanket made of recycled wool from one of the Marine & Lawn Hotels & Resorts in Britain. Perks abound, like “puppuccinos” at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California, and paw-and-nose balm at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.


With more and more guests wanting to travel with their pets, especially since the pandemic, major hotel companies such as Marriott, Hilton and Kimpton are rolling out or expanding their programs across thousands of hotels and vacation rentals. While many inns have long welcomed pets, today all kinds of lodgings are courting them. Whether you and your furry friend are seeking a budget hotel in Ithaca, New York, or a villa in Umbria, Italy, these new programs and properties aim to make it easy for the both of you to sit and stay.



HOTELS


Andaz Mexico City Condesa


If you’re longing for a getaway with the four-legged love of your life, the first Andaz in Mexico City might be the perfect escape. You can hang out at the hotel’s indoor-outdoor Wooftop Beer Garden & Canine Club and enjoy snacks and drinks from a food truck that offers “dog beer” — not to worry, it’s made with water, bone broth, meat and herbs — for your companion, and then check out the pop-up pet accessory boutique from Perro de Mundo.


Retreat to one of the 213 rooms and suites and you’ll find a record player (a nod to the neighborhood’s long-standing record store La Roma Records) and a minibar with Mexican snacks and drinks. And for your pet? A dog bed and an in-room dining menu with dishes that could make a human jealous, including chicken Xolo-taco (a corn tortilla and shredded chicken with steamed vegetables) and salmon fillet (salmon steak, broccoli and green peas). For dessert (your dog’s, not yours), there’s birthday cake: apple cookie, banana and peanut butter.


Prices from $269 a night; the pet fee (cats are also welcome) per room is $100 per pet.



Virgin Hotels New York City


Never mind the amenities for humans. Virgin’s first hotel in New York City, which had its grand opening party in April, offers “pet-menities,” including a dog bed that the hotel promises pets is “as comfortable as your human’s,” a food and water dish, and a Virgin Hotels dog bandanna. Dogs also receive treats from Shameless Pets, a company that upcycles leftover food into treats.


Occupying the block between 29th and 30th streets on Broadway, Virgin Hotels New York City is in NoMad near Madison Square Park with its popular dog run. Its 460 rooms and suites have red minifridges, yoga mats, smart TVs, lights and thermostats that can be controlled with the Virgin Hotels mobile app, and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the city, including, in some cases, the Empire State Building.


Prices from $595 a night; free for pets.



Kimpton the Forum Hotel


This new 198-room boutique hotel opened in Charlottesville, Virginia, in April and has all the benefits pet owners have come to expect from Kimpton, which has been pet-friendly since it was founded in 1981. Its hotels don’t charge extra for pets, and they have essentials on hand, like water bowls and doggy bags, as well as lists of local pet-friendly restaurants, parks, groomers and boutiques. Last year, Kimpton, part of IHG Hotels & Resorts, introduced a partnership with Wag!, an app that connects pet owners with local caregivers for services like dog walking and pet sitting. So if you’re a guest at a Kimpton property in the United States, you can schedule walks and drop-ins (for a fee). You’ll also receive a complimentary month of Wag! Premium, which provides discounts on services and waives booking fees.


Kimpton the Forum Hotel is on the grounds of the University of Virginia, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and was founded by Thomas Jefferson (who designed the Academical Village at its heart). The hotel, located at the Darden School of Business, is about a mile-and-a-half walk to the university’s Central Grounds. It’s also near botanical gardens and an arboretum, offering plenty of picturesque and historical places for you to stroll with your pet.


Prices from $269 a night; free for pets.



HOTEL CHAINS


Aloft


When checking into some of the latest Aloft hotels — Aloft Austin Southwest, Aloft Playa del Carmen and Aloft Chicago Schaumburg — you and your pet can participate in the brand’s ARF (Animals R Fun) program, which is available at Alofts in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America. Pets receive a free ARF kit with a bowl, a bed and a Frisbee or rope toy. (Some properties may even dole out additional amenities, like dog towels and paw wipes.) More Aloft hotels, which are geared toward travelers who enjoy music and a social scene, are set to open this year, including Aloft New York Chelsea and Aloft Indianapolis Downtown. Nightly pet fees vary by hotel.



Hilton


As anyone who travels with a pet knows, sometimes questions or concerns about their health or behavior arise while you’re on the road. If you happen to be at a Canopy by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton or Tru by Hilton hotel in the United States or Canada, you’re able to get free virtual support from a service called Mars PET On-Demand from Mars Petcare, a pet products and services company.


One pet-friendly program is Canopy by Hilton Paws in the Neighborhood. If, for example, you and your dog are staying at certain Canopy hotels, you’ll be provided with a dog bed, food, a water bowl and a “bark bag” with a toy, treats and a guide to pet-friendly activities. Today, nearly 85% of U.S. Hilton properties are pet‑friendly. Check individual hotels for programs, policies and pricing. Pet fees apply and vary by hotel.



VACATION RENTALS


Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy


Since the pandemic, one of the most popular search filters on Marriott’s luxury home rental booking site has been “pets allowed.” In response to more travelers taking their pets on vacation, Homes & Villas by Marriott Bonvoy, which has more than 80,000 upscale and luxury rentals around the world, has teamed up with Petco Health + Wellness Co. For the last several months, users of the Homes & Villas booking site have been able to browse “Pet-Friendly Picks by Petco,” where they can check out properties from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Athens.


Other home rental sites like Airbnb and Vrbo also enable users to search for properties that allow pets, though Marriott’s platform is particularly attractive to members of its loyalty program because they can earn and redeem points for their stays.



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