Hoteliers embrace pet-friendly operations
23 SEPTEMBER 2015 8:05 AM
As the number of people who want to take their pets along with them on trips increases, hoteliers are finding ways to accommodate their special guests.
GLOBAL REPORT—When it comes to meeting the needs of the growing number of guests who travel with their pets, some hoteliers are finding that practical policy and some personalization can go a long way.
Some properties are new to allowing pets, while others have a long history of catering to the furry and multi-legged companions. Either way, to the guests, pets are like family, so hoteliers say they need to find a way to accommodate them.
While she couldn’t give a specific number of how many guests have pets accompany them at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Ariana Swerdlin, a representative for Fairmont (which manages the hotel), said staff at the property has noticed more pets as time goes on. She attributed that to the growing number of service animals as well as how much easier it has become to travel with pets.
Pets legally entitled to be in public locations in New York City are allowed at the Plaza Hotel as long as they meet the 20-pound weight limit, Swerdlin said. There is an additional $35 fee, per pet per night, with the maximum number of pets being two to a room.
While the hotel doesn’t require advance notice of a pet accompanying a guest, Swerdlin said that letting the staff know ahead of time gives them time to provide the appropriate accommodations and amenities, such as dog beds, chew toys and water bowls.
Anastasios Theodoropoulos, GM for the Best Western Plus Chateau Granville Hotel & Suites in Vancouver, Canada, said he is seeing more guests bringing their dogs than in years before. The hotel has welcomed dogs since 2013 and allows dogs with a maximum weight of about 44 pounds.
Ruvika Peries, sales and marketing manager for the Chateau Granville, said guests who bring a dog are charged $20 per night, with a maximum price of $100 if they are staying a week. That price includes things such as dog beds, bowls and waste bags.
The property has pet-designated floors, she said, which helps satisfy guests who are not keen on having pets on their floors. Guests cannot leave their pets unattended in the rooms, she said, and that’s for the security and safety of housekeepers walking into the rooms and the adjoining rooms.
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has had an open pet policy since its first hotel opened in 1981 in San Francisco, said Matthew Hurlburt, the area director of operations for Kimpton’s mid-Atlantic hotels.
“It’s been part of our makeup for a long time,” he said. “It’s becoming more trendy in the industry.”
Kimpton properties don’t have pet fees, weight limits or restrictions on how many pets a guest can bring, Hurlburt said.
“You would be surprised,” he said. “We get some very large dogs.”
Kimpton properties designate pet-free floors for guests who might have allergies.
Treating pets as guests
When guests check in to the Best Western Plus Chateau Granville Hotel & Suites with their dogs, they receive a welcome package, Theodoropoulos said. It’s all made by the hotel staff and personalized and it includes individually wrapped dog treats that list the ingredients and come in larger and smaller sizes.
The hotel offers information guides to show guests where the nearby pet hospitals and vets are, Peries said, as well as the area’s dog parks, including the off-leash dog park behind the hotel.
The Kimpton pet policy falls in line with the company’s philosophy on creating personalized experiences for the guests, Hurlburt said. Pets are part of the family, he said, and people enjoy being able to bring them along.
Each Kimpton location has a director of pet relations, which is the pet of an employee working at the property. The director at his location in Alexandria, Virginia, is Charlie, a bichon fries who belongs to the director of catering. The directors of pet relations meet incoming guests with pets, he said, and the property will send out emails from the point of view of the pet director to guests who indicate they are bringing a pet.
The hotels provide water bowls and treats in the lobby or at the door, he said, because the goal is to make sure guests feel like the staff is making the pet feel special, too, just like a member of the family.
“It’s interesting to see how other folks react when they see a dog,” he said. “If they’re traveling on business, they’re not able to bring theirs. They engage with other people’s pets in the lobby or during the wine hour. They enjoy it.
“It makes them feel like they were home.”