There is a magnet hanging on the fridge in the kitchen in the house of people I love that says “A house is not a home without a cat.” As an avowed dog person, I prefer my pet hair spread uniformly throughout the house rather than coughed up in balls. I disagree with the wisdom of housing an animal that leaves sacrificial “presents” on the doorstep, but we can agree to disagree.
I do think a pet makes a home livelier and cozier and is generally a nice addition to a family. Neither are hotels immune to the charms of the furry kind. Capitalizing on a human tendency to fall prey to the liquid eyes of love on four paws, some hotels have hired animals as part of their hospitality team. To that, we helplessly say “awww!”
The leader of the pack (yeah,I went there) when it comes to animal companionship has got to be the American boutique hotel chain, Kimpton Hotels. From Charlie the Bichon at the Monaco in Alexandria, Virginia, who stars in his own YouTube video, to Maverick, the muffin-loving 10-year old Chocolate Lab at Hotel Palomar in San Francisco, Kimpton knows animals! With one of the most liberal pet policies in the business (any animal who can fit through the doors is welcome, at no extra cost!) it isn’t just the working animals that receive posh treatment. Kimpton is also justifiably proud of their “Guppy Love” program that supplies temporary companionship in the form of goldfish to lonely guests. Watch for their Facebook contest in November where guests can win a free night by posting their favourite pictures of their pet.
As far as hospitality goes, Fairmont Hotels are rarely outdone, and the business of Pet Relations is no exception! The Fairmont’s Canine Ambassador program is a benchmark in animal amenablity. Many of the landmark hotels in the chain are home to four-footed hosts. Lots of the celebrities staying with the Hotel Vancouver take the time to scratch the ears of Mavis and Beau, the golden Labrador dyad who call the prestigious hotel home. They especially love when kids take them for a walk around the neighborhood. One of the newest additions to the Canine Ambassador family is Marc, who has found a place at the esteemed Chateau Lake Louise, and never looked back!
Just outside Seattle at the Woodmark Hotel on Carillon Point in Kirkland, Washington, you can find Woody Meg holding court. During the summer everyone is invited to join her at monthly “Yappier Hours” when the lawn outside the Beach Cafe is open to canine guests and their humans. Woody Meg’s position as Director of Barketing is part of the Woodmark’s policy of pet friendliness.
Back on our side of the border, you can find Dave, at the Sidney Pier Hotel in Sidney on Vancouver Island. Dear old Dave is heading towards retirement and has cut back on his hours as of late. Trained to be a BC Guide Dog, Dave flunked his finals and instead found work at the hotel as Canine Ambassador and Resident Muffin Thief.
Several California hotels are home to hosts of the canid persuasion. As one might expect from the dogs of La-La Land, they have learned to use the social media to their advantage! The aptly named Hotel Rex in San Francisco was home to Maximo Pug Abenoja, who retired last year at the ripe old age of 13, but loved to post pictures of himself posing with guests. Sadie is the Chihuahua doyenne of the Cypress Inn at Carmel-by-the-Sea and stars in some of their (cutest) marketing. Bella, a sweet little Boston Terrier, who won a Facebook contest to become the face of Le Parc Suite hotel in West Hollywood welcomes guests of four paws with a bottle of Bowser Beer, a brew for dogs! And Sofie the maltipoo at L’Auberge de la Mar in San Diego uses her Facebook page to advertise shelter dogs looking for forever homes.
Of course it isn’t only dogs who have found jobs in the hospitality industry.
Mathilda the Ragdoll is the latest cat deigning to preside over the fabled Algonquin Hotel, Autograph Collection in New York City. An Algonquin cat tradition started in the 1930’s when a stray eventually christened Hamlet wandered into the hotel in search of food and a cozy spot. Since then, each of the seven male cats have been known as Hamlet, and each of the three females have been Mathilda. Mathilda III has reigned happily as the “Algonqueen” since being adopted from the shelter in 2010 and maintains contact with her legions of fans on social media and via email.
A newbie to the world of hotel pets is Kleopatre, a beautiful Birmin feline who, at the end of July, 2014 joined Fa-Raon at the storied Le Bristol in Paris. These cats have achieved celebrity status in their own right, being bestowed with gifts from luxury brand Maison Goyard and even getting their own room, designed and decorated by renowned graffiti artist Renk.
Rounding out the international feline contingent in luxury hotels are two more lovely (even I’ll admit it!) cats I want to mention because of their charming foibles. First: Cookie, who makes her home at Le Sereno in St. Barths. The Traveller Made website gently warns that she likes to surprise guests in their rooms! Secondly: Carmen, a cat after my own heart, whose favourite spot is the elegant bar of Le Negresco on the French Riviera in Nice. Well-heeled kitties indeed!
While my own dogs have fallen from favour in our house since the advent of children, I still go a little cuckoo for other people’s dogs, and I have long held that dog lovers are inherently good. A hotel that employs an animal on the team seems to me to be a place that strives to go the extra mile, saying “Make yourself at home, we have done all we can to make you welcome!’