On a recent trip I organized with a friend, we didn’t see eye to eye. He wanted to lie by the pool all day, and I wanted to explore. He was on a budget for restaurants, and I wanted to splurge. He wanted to switch hotels when I thought ours was perfectly fine. It was when he proceeded to get blitzed by 9 P.M. every night that I couldn’t help but think: man, I wish I brought Ruby instead.
Ruby is my three-year-old, ten-pound Shih Tzu who frequently travels with me throughout the continent. She has stayed at more luxury hotels than half of my friends, and, like most pets, she makes the perfect travel companion. When I roll out my suitcase, her tail furiously wags knowing she’s going somewhere exotic and will be treat- ed like royalty when we arrive.
Trips are twice as exciting with my pet in tow, and I can’t say I’m the only one who thinks this way. According to Market Research, 32 percent of pet owners take their pets on trips two nights or more. That’s almost half of the 80 million families in America that own pets. Pet travel is unarguably on the rise, and it’s only becoming more comfortable for travelers to bring their pooches along for vacation. In a competitive market, hotels have been increasingly offering solid pet programs, and more hotels continue to accept furry guests in places you would never expect (a good example is Las Vegas, where hotels were notorious for never allowing pets but are steadily changing their rules with the citywide PetStay program). Nowadays, a hotel that is not pet-friendly is like a hotel that still charges for Wi-Fi: the public has expectations.
Not only are pets traveling more regularly, they’re also document- ing their trips on social media, which has helped reinforce the demand for pets on vacation. Pet influencers, many with millions of followers, are snapping pet selfies in various places, from national parks, iconic city streets, and luxury resorts to airplanes (JetBlue, one of the pet-friendliest airlines, recently held an event exclusively with pet influencers). Even Ruby has her own Twitter (@pupinparadise) where fans can follow her adventures at hotels and destinations. While her followers see her get seriously spoiled, I find my trips are even more memorable as a pet owner. There’s been count- less, vivid moments with Ruby. At W Vieques, the staff brought out a colorful treat with candles for her second birthday. At Indigo Anaheim, Ruby and I both were given breakfast tickets for a scrumptious meal. At Rosewood Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Ruby took her first kayak through the mangroves.
Across the continent, hundreds of hotels are exceeding expectations when it comes to four-legged companions, easily swaying my decision when booking pet-friendly accommodations. Ruby and I have experienced exceptional pet programs, though not all hotels are created equal. Many hotels stand out for services and amenities that go beyond a dog bowl and a treat upon check-in, ultimately demonstrating they believe pets are part of the family, and need to be pampered. Among the amazing places that love furry guests, here are the best pet-friendly hotels where your pup may just have a better vacation than you.
Ritz-Carlton Battery Park
and Ritz-Carlton Central Park
New York City, New York
Plenty of hotels in New York City tout being pet-friendly. While they accept pets and offer basic amenities (like dog bowls, treats, and a dog bed), the irony is that many of these hotels (as luxurious as they come) aren’t the best spots for your pooch. High-rise buildings prompt cramped elevators, and locations in the concrete jungle are often more than ten blocks to any green space for dogs to relieve themselves. At many of these hotels, you need to hop in a taxi to get to the nearest park. Thankfully, both Ritz-Carltons in New York City are truly pet-friendly when it comes to services, amenities, and location. Both five-star properties (Battery Park and Central Park) are mere steps from sprawling, iconic parks, that allow easier, convenient access for pet owners. Both hotels also go above and beyond with plenty of nice surprises. Battery Park offers amenities that include custom-made robes, a bottle of Barkundy (a dog wine), and special pet-themed turn-down amenities for discerning guests who like to pamper their pooch. When Ruby and I stayed at Ritz-Carlton Central Park last year, I was excited to find a framed photo of Ruby on the bedside table provided by the pet butler. The hotel also features its own branded, Ritz-Carlton Central Park Luscious Liver dog treats that proved to be a tasty treat for my pup. Amenities like these are reflective of a hotel’s passion for pets and, thankfully, both Ritz Carltons set the standard for unforgettable pet vacations. Ritz-Carlton Battery Park, 2 West Street, Tel: 212-344-0800. Ritz-Carlton Central Park, 50 Central Park, Tel: 212-308-9100. www.ritzcarlton.com
Kimpton is undeniably the most pet-friendly hotel chain on the planet. Pets have been accepted at all properties since it was founded in 1981 (the owner, Bill Kimpton, was a pet owner and lover from the get go), a time when virtually no hotel allowed pets other than serv- ice animals. To this day, there are no pet fees at Kimpton hotels, and almost any pet that can fit through the door (from birds to pigs) are welcome. Each Kimpton hotel likes to flaunt their trademark and sig- nature pet services, and Monaco Alexandria is one of the leading hotels in the company. In Old Town Alexandria just outside of Washington D.C., (where it’s said one out of every four residents is a dog), Monaco Alexandria, which just received a multi-million renovation, offers plush pet beds, a concierge list of pet-friendly restaurants, boutiques, and attractions, and plenty of treats. While it’s not uncommon to see pets with their owners at its signature happy hour in the hotel’s charming brick-lined courtyard, Halloween is a busy time for humans and animals alike. Monaco hosts its annual Doggy Howloween Costume Contest where pooches are dressed up in adorable outfits. The hotel is so pet-friendly that there are dedicated floors for non-pet-toting guests! 480 King Street, Tel: 703-549-6080. www.monaco-alexandria.com