Missing Fido when you’re on the road? You could stay at a pet-friendly hotel, or you could stay someplace where the pets are already part of the experience.
More and more hotels these days are allowing guests to bring pets with them when they travel. Some spots, however, are taking “pet-friendly” to a completely new level, offering homes to animals in need. But what is life like for these creatures once they leave behind the lives they know and step into the hospitality industry?
Guests visiting The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver inevitably meet 11-year-old Labrador Retriever Beau, a proud part of the larger chain’s canine ambassador team.
The Fairmont started bringing dogs into their lobby in the early 2000s to provide comfort to travelers missing their pets. Over the years, they have adopted several non-qualifying guide dogs from British Columbia Guide Dog Services. Guests can take the dogs for a walk, or simply give them tubby rubs in the lobby.
A Typical Day
As an older dog, “he’s quite happy just to lie on his bed,” says Debbie Wild, concierge and Beau’s owner. He may take a walk with guests, then spend the rest of his day “playing tug and going after toys at the odd time and eating snacks.”
Beau’s Most Memorable Story
When one of the hotel’s regular guests was hospitalized, Beau went to cheer her up. His visit was quite an event: “Everybody was running down the hallways to try and pet Beau, doctors and nurses alike, as well as patients.”
His Many Admirers
The canine has met celebrities like Celine Dion, Halle Berry, Cesar Millan, and Vice President Joe Biden. “Biden was one of [Beau’s] biggest fans and every time he came through the lobby he had to stop and pet [him].”
Cats have called the historic Algonquin Hotel home ever since the 1920s. “A cat walked in off the street, a stray, looking for food,” marketing and e-commerce manager Nicholas Sciammarella shares. Owner Frank Case was an animal lover, so he “fed it and invited it to stay in the hotel.”
Since then, The Algonquin has been home to 11 rescue cats, the most recent being Matilda, a purebred ragdoll. As the “Directfur of Guest Purrlations,” Matilda maintains a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, yet still finds plenty of time for naps. According to chief cat officer Alice de Almeida, “She’s the only one who gets paid to sleep on the job.”
A Typical Day
Almeida says Matilda spends her days “eating, napping, napping, eating. Getting up, having a couple treats, and then she might sit at the desk for a while and greet some guests. Then she sniffs the luggage to make sure we’re all safe.”
“Dried fish flakes, the bonito flakes from Japan.”
Matilda Gives Back
Each August The Algonquin holds a fundraiser — and feline fashion show — in Matilda’s honor. Proceeds go to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, which works with over 150 shelters in New York City.
Known for its peaceful setting, The Ojai Valley Inn and Spa offers guests the chance to commune with nature — thanks especially to its resident birds. Annie, an African Grey Parrot, came to live at Ojai in 2005; Casper the Australian Cockatoo followed a few years later in 2008.
The birds are well loved at the inn. Caretaker Kate Kohagen notes that local residents even walk their dogs on the property so they can see them. “Casper can pant, bark, and whine like the dogs, so he gets a lot of dog visitors.”
A Typical Day
“Casper spends a lot of his time singing with the guests.” Annie is more reserved, preferring to observe her surroundings from a perch at the top of the aviary.
“Annie says ‘love you’ back to me, and then she meows, and occasionally she barks.” Casper is great at mimicry, and “he loves to talk and learn new words.”
Caring for Their Birds
When Casper recently began to show signs of stress, the inn partnered with Kohagen and her animal sanctuary, The Ranch. “They sent him to us so that we can play with him and give him a break.” Casper seems to be enjoying his vacation. “He meets pigs, and donkeys, and ducks, and chickens. [It’s] been hysterical to watch him discover other animals.”
[Lead photo: Jonathan D. Woods/msnbc.com]