The pet-owning populous has spoken: When it's vacation time, no four-legged family member will be left behind. According to a U.S. Travel Association survey, 18 percent of leisure travelers say they have taken their pets on a trip this past year. But in the same way that it's no fun for a child to be the only kid at a hotel, you don't want your pet to feel out of place.
Fear not. There's a new breed of hotel staffers — the pets on the payroll. Although these animals-in-residence are fairly pampered and often enjoy celebritylike status, they have a job to do: amping up guest relations and rolling out a new kind of (stain-resistant) red carpet.
1. Chance, the Chocolate Labrador
Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Mont.
Dog Director of Operations may sound like an office job, but Chance, a chocolate Labrador who shadows the human Director of Operations, gets his snout into a little bit of everything at the . While Chance is always a gentleman to guests of this cattle ranch, his animal instincts are unleashed when he assists on quail hunts. Since the 37,000-acre property is a lot for one pooch to patrol, Chance has two canine co-workers — Sissy, a mixed-breed cattle dog, and Emma, a haughty pug who works the counter at the Paws Up General Store (a.k.a. P.U.G.S.).
Petiquette: This canine-centric resort is no place for a feline, but dogs are outfitted with a Paws Up collar and leash, a bed for indoor snoozing, and a kennel for sleeping under the stars. Pooches can stay in a few of the 28 log cabins (depending on the number of both two- and four-legged guests), but not in the resort's 18 luxurious, butler-serviced tents. During the hotel's annual Wine & Bitch Weekend, which is held in the spring, there are gourmet eats for pets and people, as well as wellness seminars, and possibly the chance to chase some tail.
Tel: 406 244 5200
Cabins start at $805, plus $50 per dog per night
2. Matilda, the Ragdoll Cat
The Algonquin Hotel, New York City
Matilda, the 15-year-old Ragdoll cat who resides at the 174-room literary landmark in , may be the Lady Gaga of her species. Her annual birthday party (August 11) is the kitty equivalent of Truman Capote's Black and White Ball, and usually benefits one of Matilda's favorite animal rescue charities (in honor of the original Algonquin cat, Hamlet, who wandered in from the streets in the late 1930s). Although this blue-eyed beauty favors human guests and, truth be told, can sometimes be a little aloof around furry ones, she never ignores her fans: With the help of her human assistant, Alice De Almeida, Matilda checks her e-mail compulsively, updates , and even sends out .
Petiquette: The Algonquin Loves Pets Program includes a "purrrsonalized" welcome letter for cats and dogs and an insider's guide to pampering your pet Matilda-style in New York City. Each pet's room is prepped with food and water bowls, floor mats, a litter box, and other essentials. With a little advance notice, the hotel concierge can arrange for specialty foods, favorite toys, grooming appointments, and pet nannies, so neither you nor your pet needs to lift a paw during your stay.
New York City
Tel: 212 840 6800
Rooms start at $329; there is no additional charge for pets
3. Bosco, the Cocker Spaniel
FireSky, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Bosco was once a repeat guest at downtown 's , and, as the story goes, he became such a beloved party animal at this 204-room hotel that he was offered a job: Director of Pet Relations. As a cocker spaniel, Bosco sometimes feels a little conventional for this funky desert retreat's pop art colors and New Age lodge decor, but he's eager to help guests get their chill on by hosting a daily happy hour for pets and their people in the lobby bar.
Petiquette: The egalitarian FireSky welcomes cats, dogs, and even pot-bellied pigs, although only in one of the resort's five buildings (so guests with allergies can keep their distance). The resort's Bone Appetit package includes a dog walker twice daily and a special "doggy beer," called Bosco Brew, to help your pooch unwind. As at many of FireSky's sister properties in the , loaner goldfish are available at the front desk — but aren't recommended for guests with a cat in tow.
Tel: 480 945 7666
Rooms start at $199; there is no additional charge for pets; Bone Appetit package $209
4. Catie Copley, the Labrador Retriever
The Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston
Catie Copley has her paws full as the Canine Ambassador at 's hotel. This sweet-natured Labrador retriever is always happy to show off her guide dog training on sightseeing walks (Beacon Hill, , and the are nearby), as long as she's back in time for her "Dog Day Afternoons," when she mingles with business guests on a break from their meetings. The concierge at the hotel's St. James entrance, who helps Catie keep her schedule, also makes sure she has time for "Reading with Catie" sessions at local schools and libraries. Seems that the only thing that Catie can't do is read the two books in which she stars.
Petiquette: Cats and dogs of all sizes can make the 383-room Fairmont Copley Plaza their second home and accompany their people everywhere except in the restaurants and bars. Pet beds, bowls, and treats are standard pet amenities, but book the Canine Adventure package and you'll get a newly renovated guest room, a walk with Catie, a pawtographed copy of her newest book, "Catie Copley's Great Escape (to Canada!)", and, though it's hardly the same, a Catie stuffed toy to take home.
Tel: 617 267 5300
Rooms start at $229, plus $25 per pet per night; Canine Adventure package $269
5. Thelma & Louise, Guyana Toucanets
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort, Palm Desert, Calif.
A little squawking is common in a hotel lobby, but usually, it's over the bill. Not so at the 884-room near , where Thelma and Louise, a pair of Guyana toucanets, lead the chorus of 13 birds who hang out in the lobby. Just as people come to this tropical oasis for sanctuary, so do migrating birds: Depending on the time of year, you might see six species of ducks, Canada geese, coots, egrets, and green heron. A flock of about 30 Chilean flamingos have been sticking around all year, and a chick, named Mireya, hatched on the property in August 2010. But it's the smallest birds who are the stars — carefully placed feeders attract hundreds of hummingbirds to the grounds.
Petiquette: Given how delicate these avian species are, bird lovers will understand why dogs and cats aren't allowed at this hotel. But you can add to your own menagerie by purchasing a Cloud Dew Drop hummingbird feeder from the hotel, which will attract a mesmerizing spectacle at home.
Palm Desert, Calif.
Tel: 760 341 2211
Rooms start at $139
6. Indie, the Jack Russell Terrier
Hotel Indigo Midtown, Atlanta
As the sidekick of general manager Gabriele Webster at the budget-friendly on 's Peachtree strip, Indie, a Jack Russell terrier, greets guests and hosts the Canine Cocktail Party (the doggy equivalent of the hottest club in town) every Tuesday between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Pet-less guests looking for that special someone might get lucky since the Atlanta Humane Society often attends with dogs and cats looking for good homes. If that doesn't work out, you can still drink for a good cause — one dollar from every Greyhound, Salty Dog, and Yellow Lab cocktail supports local animal rescue charities.
Petiquette: Both cats and dogs can join the party at the 140-room Hotel Indigo. If your dog needs to freshen up before dinner — a pet menu of sirloin steak, grilled chicken, and bottled water is available on the patio of the hotel's popular restaurant, the Golden Bean — Indie suggests the self-service dog wash ($15) at nearby .
Tel: 404 874 9200
Rooms start at $109; there is no additional charge for pets
7. Garbanzo, the English Bulldog
The London West Hollywood Hotel, West Hollywood, Calif.
Garbanzo, a muscular fellow with a distinctive British swagger, looks like he belongs in a Guy Ritchie movie, but instead, the English bulldog greets guests alongside the 's bellmen on Fridays and is always happy to crash a hotel party or special event (sometimes wearing a bow tie or plaid vest). The 200 suites at this Anglophile boutique hotel overlooking 's Sunset Strip have such gorgeous, mod-Hollywood Regency interiors, it's a bit of shock that they take dogs at all, but of course, no one loves dogs more than the English.
Petiquette: Pooches under 30 pounds can hang out with their owners in their rooms, in the lobby, and on the stylish lawns of the Hampton Courtyard. If your canine companion turns up her snout at so-called dog food, book the Pamper Your Pooch package, which includes a Gordon Ramsay pet menu with dishes such as fresh chicken with brown rice, potatoes, and eggs, plus a special turndown treat on the dog's bed each evening.
West Hollywood, Calif.
Tel: 310 854 1111
Rooms $279; pets' fee $100 plus $20 per night; Pamper Your Pooch package $339
8. Papyrus, the Fat Cat
The Guanahani Resort & Spa, St. Barths
It's not easy being a cat in the Caribbean, where there are more strays than people to care for them, but fate has been kind to Papyrus, the reigning fat cat at the on . In keeping with the laissez-faire vibe that prevails on this jet-set island, Papyrus and his 14 feline cohorts have free reign among the resort's 68 candy-colored bungalows (and in them, too, if both you and the cat are willing). You'll also spot them sauntering around the beach, pool, and landscaped gardens and in the two restaurants, but don't worry — the felines are well fed, so they won't join you at the table unless they're invited.
Petiquette: Cats and small dogs can vacation at the Guanahani — and since the hotel is closed for renovations through December 15, 2010, you'll have time to get your pet's microchip, rabies shots, and passport in order. Should your domesticated creature fall madly in love with one of the resort's bohemian brood, rest assured that they are under a vet's care, up-to-date with shots, and ready to be whisked away to a new life in the U.S.
Tel: 800 216 3774
Rooms start at $470; there is no additional charge for pets
9. Wendy, the Border Collie
Keswick Hall, Charlottesville, Va.
True to her nature to herd, Wendy, a border collie, ensures that human and furry guests are welcomed into the pack at . This 600-acre resort at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, is in the heart of hunt country. And no one loves a hunt more than Wendy, who earns her keep as the official duck and goose re-locator. There's also a spa, an Arnold Palmer–designed golf course, and a pool in case the only hunt you enjoy is during a sale at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Petiquette: Those with dogs in tow won't feel compromised at Keswick Hall. The pet program includes select accommodations in this 48-room former private mansion; a butler is available for dog walking; and although your four-legged lady or gentleman is not allowed in the restaurants or bars, the hound room service menu, which includes filet mignon, is served on china.
Tel: 434 979 3440
Rooms $395, plus $75 per dog per stay