Thursday, January 31, 2008

Have Pet, Will Travel

Hoping to travel soon with your pet? Don't do so without checking out, which lists over 30,000 hotels and other accommodations that allow pets.

"When we first started 10 years ago, it was nearly impossible to find a place that allowed pets," said Jerry Hatfield, who runs the site for the Pet Travel Store of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Then, as major hotel chains realized they were missing a huge part of the market, it exploded."

Now, you'd have a difficult time finding a hotel that doesn't accept the family dog or cat. In fact, the competition to lure guests and their pets has almost become a dogfight as hotels try to one-up each other:

Loews Hotels offers a learning program at several properties, where dogs can take singing lessons and cut a CD in Nashville, take a surfing lesson in Coronado Calif., or — for city dogs — go on an off-leash guided hike in Denver.

The Benjamin Hotel in New York provides dog bathrobes, a choice of orthopedic beds and a consultation with a pet psychic.

• At the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, dogs can submit to massage therapy — from therapeutic Swedish to full-body relaxation — in the hotel's "Privileged Pup" program.

"I've had a couple of people snicker," said Liza Kubik, a spokeswoman for the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, Fla., "but we have so many more people who appreciate the fact we're offering a treatment like this to enhance the well-being of not only their pet but their overall experience at our resort."

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