If you’re thinking of taking your pets along on your next vacation, you’re not alone. More and more families are choosing to include their four-legged friends in travel plans, and luxury hotels are taking notice. Eco-friendly hotels may be particularly eager to accommodate this interest, since their clients are more likely than most to be devoted animal lovers. In many cases, green hotels not only permit pets, but also really roll out the red carpet for them with a variety of special services and amenities.
One such enterprise is the Kimpton chain of hotels, with over forty locations throughout the United States. Although each hotel is unique, they all share a commitment to personalized, responsible luxury. As company representative Steve Pinetti put it, “one of the wonderful things about Kimpton is your ability to maintain your lifestyle while traveling.” That philosophy applies whether it means recycling and using environmental products, enjoying fine organic dining, or including animal companions in your plans.
Kimpton hotels definitely distinguish themselves in terms of environmental luxury, but their pet programs are even more pioneering. While services vary somewhat by location, all types of pets are honored guests throughout the chain. According to Pinetti, they have had the chance to welcome a lemur, an iguana, a whole flock of penguins and a small bear, as well as the more common cats and dogs.
VIP (Very Important Pet) packages include such items as beds, bowls, treats and toys. Special pet-friendly services are also available, ranging from dog walking and local travel planning assistance to furry greeters and even appointments with a pet psychic in one location. There is no extra charge for bringing a pet to a Kimpton hotel, where the price of a night’s stay generally ranges between $150 and $300.
Since the green and pet-friendly markets are still growing quickly, several promising chains are just getting started. Element, a lower key but equally luxurious green hotel brand by Westin, recently opened its first location in Lexington, Massachusetts. The Element atmosphere is designed around clean, flowing lines inspired by the natural world, and guests enjoy the flexibility to customize their own environments. Special amenities aimed at deep relaxation abound, from designer mattresses to “Restore” pantries offering a variety of healthy and unusual convenience foods.
The Element hotels are also deeply committed to environmental sustainability, and express this commitment through design incorporating recycled and other green materials, energy efficient appliances and lights, and elimination of the disposable items often associated with hotel stays. This commitment also extends to cats and dogs less than 40 pounds, who are welcomed at Element with comfortable beds, bowls, and other convenience items. These items are included in the cost of the stay, which is generally between $100 and $400.
In case you’re not headed to Massachusetts, you can still plan ahead because the Element chain is rapidly expanding. Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada and Irving, Texas will be open by the end of the year, and many more locations throughout the United States are slated for 2009.
As more and more luxury hotels begin catering to green consumers large and small, travelers with pets should have no trouble finding appropriate accommodations. But if, for whatever reason, you have to leave your best friend at home, you’ve got one more reason to check out the Kimpton chain--a program called “Guppy Love” allows hotel guests to check out a resident goldfish for the duration of their stays. Sure, it’s not quite the same, but apparently people enjoy the experience. “Having a living entity in your room with you helps reduce a little of the stress that’s associated with travel,” says Pinetti.
By Laura Gyre