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Travel & Leisure
updated 9/7/2011 7:49:46 PM ET 2011-09-07T23:49:46

Gunny, a devoted Peninsula Beverly Hills guest, often visits the posh hotel, and the staff joyously greets him as he strides along the lobby’s marble floor. Retiring to his room, Gunny finds a specially monogrammed towel beside his bed and sits down to a grilled New York sirloin and scrambled eggs with aged Tillamook cheddar on bone china. And when he needs styling, the hotel’s Rolls Royce shuttles him to the salon.

All pretty normal for a 5-star hotel—except Gunny is a golden retriever. “Like their owners, pets should have a chance to get away from their normal routine,” said the hotel’s head concierge, James Little.

It’s not uncommon for a hotel to be pet-friendly these days. “America is more pet obsessed than ever,” said Andrea Arden, pet expert for the Today Show. “We see them as part as part of the family.” But some luxury properties go to such extremes to cater to pets that the line between man and man’s best friend is a bit, well, fuzzy.

Pet bathrobes, pet massages, and pet treadmills are becoming practically de rigueur at five-star hotels these days. Vermont’s Spa at Topnotch, for example, has doggy Reiki. Hotels are also competing for Fido’s affection with food. The Mandarin Oriental, Miami offers grilled beef tenderloin, while Los Cabos’ Las Ventanas al Paraíso features made-to-order dishes for pets with special dietary needs.

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The list of extras doesn’t stop with food, especially for chains like Loews, which has taken pet pleasing to new heights. When the surf’s up at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, in California, pups can join Su’ruff Camp, where poodles and bulldogs alike can take a shot at catching a wave. And if you’ve dreamed of your pup becoming the next Britney Spears, the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville offers voice-coaching lessons and the chance to cut a CD.

So what gives? Aren’t we recovering from a recession? “With the economy in bad shape, people cut back on their own luxuries, but not on their pets,” explains Arden. “For many, indulging their pet is more rewarding than indulging themselves.”

But some of these programs are focused on giving back as well. The Hotel Indigo Atlanta-Midtown donated $1 from each signature drink ordered during its “Canine Cocktail Hours” this spring to help a local dog park. The hotel even invited the Atlanta Humane Society to bring four-legged friends to the event to encourage adoptions.

Some of these pets may even become hotel guests. “There’s nothing like when you’ve had a bad day and you come home to your dog smiling and beaming unconditional love,” says Peninsula Beverly Hills concierge James Little. “Why shouldn’t you have that when you’re in a hotel?”

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