Luxury Hotels for Pets (and Their People)

pet hotels

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Miami

Americans love their pets, and when they go on vacation, they want their dogs and cats to have a holiday, too -- often at five-star pet hotels. Last year, Americans spent more than $45 billion on their pets -- not just on necessities like food and vet care -- but also on luxuries like jeweled collars and designer dog beds.

So is it any wonder that we now have a new breed of pet boarding facilities that bear no resemblance to plain, old-fashioned kennels?

The Family Pet Resort in Newtown Square, PA promises "all the services you would expect from a five-star resort including room service, maid service, soothing music and clean & comfortable climate-controlled suites."

During the day, there are group play sessions and private play sessions with balls, Frisbees, tunnels, and agility equipment, as well as homemade peanut butter treats. At night, there is a tuck-In session with a belly rub and a bedtime story to soothe the dog, and email updates to calm the overprotective owner.

When Boarding Your Pet:

• Make sure your pet is current with vaccinations such as rabies, distemper, and bordatella (kennel cough); many facilities require documentation, so make sure you plan ahead.

• Aggressive dogs may not be welcome, and some places might deny any pets that haven't been neutered.

• Help your pet to feel at home by packing their favorite toy or blanket.

• If your pet has digestive issues, think ahead and send along any special food they eat.

• If your pet is on any medication, include detailed instructions on how to administer it. For example, if Fluffy will only take his pills when they're wrapped in cheese, be sure to mention it.
Cats are catered to as well, with "peaceful and private luxury condos [that] have calming music piped in to create a soothing, spa-like environment." Luxury Suites for dogs are just $29 a night, Kitty Condos are $34 a night, and also available are "Ultra Luxury Vacation Villas that include TVs and...Oversized Family Suites for families with multiple pets."

People drive for miles and miles to leave their animal companions at the Olde Towne Pet Resort in Springfield, VA. The 27,000 square-foot facility boasts 183 canine suites sized from 20 to 60 square feet and is equipped with windows and skylights, floor drains, automatic drinking water fountains, and plush dog beds. The eight-foot by seven-foot Luxury Suites have TVs, DVD players and cyber cams so you can check on Fido from wherever you are.

Grooming options range from fanciful to practical, with aromatherapy, honeysuckle-jasmine shampoo and conditioner, and hot oil treatments, as well as de-skunking and tar removal. While three walks a day are included in boarding costs ($60-$110 a night for dogs, $30-$50 for cats, depending on accommodation), there is also an a la carte menu of exercise and play options, including Cardio Jog, Pilates for Pooches, Water Workout and Lap Swim, and Iron Dog Training. For a few dollars more, your pampered pet can also have a vacation photo and ride home in a limousine.

On the scenic north shore of Lake Tahoe, DogGoneCrazy is like summer camp for dogs (and cats too). Most dogs quickly fall in with the routine of scheduled play times, nap times and optional nature hikes -- in fact, they thrive on structure. They also thrive on the fresh, healthy dog cookies made daily in the bakery. In-house baker Evelyne Sanchez can even make treats to order for dogs with special diets or food allergies. You can see how happily tired they are with pictures that are posted daily on the DogGoneCrazy website.

At Far Fetched Acres, dog trainer Colleen Safford gives pavement-weary New York City dogs a vacation in the country. She started out with a dog walking and training service in town, and after buying a country house in the beautiful Hudson Valley, it wasn't long before her clients began to tag along. Now, a newly constructed 2,000-square-foot carriage house serves as an indoor play and nap area.

Boarding at Far Fetched Acres is $65 a night with a $10 surcharge on holidays; they do offer free pick-up and delivery to Manhattan on Mondays and Thursdays. With an average of about 10 guests at a time (up to about 20 during the holiday season), each dog gets plenty of personal attention -- with no surcharge for cuddling.

pet hotels

Las Ventanas

Talking about some of the pampering services offered for dogs, Safford chuckles. "Some things really cater more to humans -- skip the blueberry facial. Luxury from a dog's point of view is having enough space to run around and lots of things to sniff."

The long list of regulars at Far Fetched Acres means that dogs get to know each other,so when they arrive they're immediately among old friends -- the best way to spend a vacation.

For some pet owners, the perfect vacation is one where they can bring their best friends along. According to the Travel Industry Association (TIA), over 29 million U.S. adults have traveled with a pet in the last three years. Paris Hilton and her pals may have opened the door for tote-bag-sized dogs, but now a growing number of top resorts are welcoming pets of all sizes.

You might even run into a celebutante or two at Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, at the tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. While this Five-Diamond retreat is eminently drive-able from Southern California, many Hollywood-types like their dogs to travel in the comfort of their private jets, which can land at San Jose del Cabo International Airport, only 20 minutes away.

Some of Las Ventanas' 71 suites offer private pools, rooftop terraces, and even Spa Suites with private treatment rooms; all feature butler service, spacious living areas, wood-burning fireplaces and splendid views of the sea, golf course, or sand and desert gardens. To accommodate its four-legged visitors, Las Ventanas has designed a portable Pet Cabana, which can be set in the suite or brought to the pool or beach for shade.

Las Ventanas is known for its excellent seafood, cooked over a wood fire at the Sea Grill, but there's hardly any need for a doggy bag, as the "Canine Delights" menu offers everything from the Rin Tin Tin (braised beef short ribs with farro risotto and gravy) to a"Ruff" con Pollo (chicken breast with rice and tomato). On the "Feline Delights" menu: the Claw Cleaner (albacore tuna, chopped egg and sour cream), Kitty Captain's Plate (scrambled eggs and poached salmon), and Tomcat's Favorite (a selection of seafood).

For animals on special diets or who simply crave a particular food, the chef will prepare made-to-order dishes. All pet entrees are regally served in metal bowls encrusted with faux gemstones, with bone-shaped placemats for dogs and kitty-design placemats for cats.

Perhaps the greatest luxury: You can sleep as late as you want, as resort staff will walk your pet at any time, either along the fine sand beach or in the flowering desert countryside. Summer rates of $500 a night apply through September, and there is a $50 flat fee for each pet (not per night).

Topnotch Resort and Spa in Stowe, Vermont has equal appeal for people and pooches. Set on 120 verdant acres, Topnotch rates four diamonds from AAA and has won awards for its skiing, tennis and spa. Topnotch has 68 guest rooms and suites as well as 40 luxurious one- to three- bedroom homes. As is the case at most pet-friendly properties, pets are welcome in select guest rooms and suites. Topnotch makes puppies feel at home with Pet Welcome Baskets stuffed with organic doggie treats from Robbie Dawg, bottled water and a special keepsake water bowl. Your pet will also have his own special "Aero Paws" inflatable dog bed by AeroBeds, wrapped in a soft fleece cover. Hiking in Vermont's Green Mountains is an activity best enjoyed with your faithful companion, but afterward a visit to the 35,000 square-foot Spa at Topnotch might appeal. Your little friend can also unwind with an in-room Rover Reiki massage treatment ($60 for 25 minutes). A Deluxe Double room starts at $195 a night (up to $395 in October leaf season).

pet hotels

Nemacolin Wooflands, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Set on 2,000 acres in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort offers an array of vacation possibilities for you and your pet. Six lodging options for people include the AAA Five-Diamond Falling Rock and the Maggie Valley RV Park, as well as townhouses and luxury homes. Pets under 30 pounds can stay in your room ($150 per stay), and larger animals can be boarded at Nemacolin Wooflands, the full-service grooming, training and amusement center right on the property.

This unique arrangement allows everyone to fully enjoy everything a vacation at Nemacolin has to offer: golf, spa, fishing, horseback riding, as well as a full slate of winter sports -- including dog sledding. Meanwhile, dogs and cats can opt for the a la carte services offered at Nemacolin Wooflands including swimming, nature hikes, ball play, movie night (with popcorn) or the ice cream social.

Overnight rates start at $309 for people, $15 for cats (with discounts for multiple cats), and $27 for dogs up to 30 pounds. Luxury Suites are available for dogs at $50 a night, and for people at $699 a night.

For the pet-friendliest destination in the country, Miami rivals Los Angeles, with a wealth of four- and five-star hotels that welcome furry guests, including Sofitel Miami, the Fontainebleau Resort, Loews Miami Beach, The Tides Hotel, Four Seasons Miami, Ritz-Carlton South Beach, the Mandarin Oriental Miami and the EPIC Hotel.

Like many pet-friendly hotels, Mandarin Oriental Miami welcomes animals under 25 pounds. To help keep your pet petite, the hotel chef prepares meals that are fortified with the protein, vitamins and minerals that pets need and do not contain any added sugar, artificial flavors or color. Tail-Waggin' Turkey ($9.99) blends tender ground turkey, brown rice, creamy yogurt, carrots, peas, beans, crushed tomatoes, organic flax seed, olive oil and sea salt.

The little nippers need exercise to stay svelte, so the Mandarin Oriental offers a Doggie Boot Camp with a certified dog trainer -- either a simple Play Date ($70 for every 45 minutes) or a more intense Training Date ($90 an hour). Rates at the Mandarin Oriental start at $249 a night and go up (way up) from there.

The 54-story, elliptical-shaped high-rise EPIC Hotel, like all Kimpton Hotels, accepts any number of pets (including birds) without size or weight restrictions for no extra charge. Many Kimpton Hotels even have a resident Director of Pet Relations (canine variety) for pet-less travelers to socialize with. When you see bowls of food and water placed in the lobby, you know that pets truly are welcome.

The HosPETality Program offers cozy beds, bowls, leashes, plastic bags and VIP (Very Important Pet) amenities to all registered pets. Pet-sitting, walking, grooming, and massage can be arranged through the concierge. Rates start at $229 a night.

A dog's life at any of these places is pretty dog-gone good.

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