The Inquisitive Traveler
Take your pet with you
By Patty Burness
Travelers with pets are a hot issue for the hotel industry, especially because people don’t want to leave their companions at home. Hotels have seized the chance to support the human-animal bond and their own bottom line at the same time. It’s a great marketing strategy. But it goes beyond marketing; in fact, many employees at these hotels are serious pet lovers, too – you can even meet their animal friends at properties throughout the City.
A recent review of pet-friendly policies at some of San Francisco’s boutique hotels found that regulations run the gamut from “dogs only” to “any kind of pet” to “dog bowls and treats in the room,” not to mention recommendations for nearby pet-friendly parks, stores and fire hydrants. For this report, policies at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Joie de Vivre Hospitality and Personality Hotels were reviewed (service animals aren’t regulated). Let’s take a closer look:
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants initiated their pet-friendly policy by accident. In 1981, company founder Bill Kimpton and his dog, Chianti, were regulars at the front desk of his first hotel. Today, Kimpton is a leader in this burgeoning field with a policy that allows any kind of animal, without weight or breed restrictions (a Bengal tiger cub once stayed), and doesn’t require a deposit at check-in. Guests sign a Pet Agreement that delineates their responsibilities including damage liability. Many Kimpton hotels even have a director of pet relations. Left to the decision of the general manager, the pet of a front-desk employee sometimes takes on this prestigious position.
Amenities include access to the Pet Assure health care program, which includes discounts at participating veterinarians and pet-related merchants; “Yappy Hours”; and a guide to pet-friendly restaurants, shops and other local destinations. Dog walking, massages and grooming services are outsourced and start at $15. For guests without a pet, don’t worry – simply stay at a Kimpton property that offers “Guppy Love” and enjoy your own goldfish for the duration of your stay. The pet program varies from hotel to hotel; check the Web site prior to making reservations (www.kimptonhotels.com).
Begun in 1998 at the Laurel Inn, the pet-friendly policy at Joie de Vivre Hotels applies primarily to dogs (with a two-dog maximum). Guests are encouraged to call ahead if they have a different kind of pet (a ferret and a snake have visited). Of the 16 properties in San Francisco, 10 are pet friendly (decisions are made by the general manager and approved by the property owner).
Upon arrival, guests complete a form outlining their responsibilities and liabilities. Joie de Vivre does not require a deposit, and there is no weight limit. Welcome amenities consist of balls, bowls, toys, beds, and biscuits. Each hotel has a unique “Joy of Life” guide with insider tips on shopping, sightseeing and restaurants that allow pets. For an additional cost, usually starting at $15, guests can arrange for dog walkers, sitters and groomers. Each participating hotel is slightly different, so check for specifics at www.jdvhotels.com.
Personality Hotels implemented their pet policies about six years ago to take advantage of the surge of guests who travel with their pets (only dogs are allowed here). At check-in, guests complete a form assuming responsibility for their pet and pay a $25 nonrefundable cleaning deposit. Room size is dependent upon a dog’s weight, as are the number of dogs allowed. Dogs can stay in the rooms alone as long as there are no complaints from other guests.
A “Dog Gone Personality” package is available and consists of a donation to the San Francisco SPCA, deluxe accommodations, discounts at a nearby pet boutique, and various goodies for your dog. If you don’t choose this package, at check-in you’ll receive a biodegradable, scented poop bag and a walking map of Union Square with pet-friendly restaurants, shops and fire hydrants clearly labeled. Today, Tallulah, an employee’s French bulldog, is the company’s mascot and graces the Web site. She is available real time to be with pet guests, but Tallulah gets busy, so make arrangements ahead of time. Costs start at $20. For more information on hotel specifics, check www.personalityhotels.com.
With all of the options available at hotels today, there’s no reason to leave home without your pet. Be together and share the fun.
Kimpton Hotels: over 50 locations nationwide, 800-546-7866, www.kimptonhotels.com
Joie de Vivre Hotels: 35 locations statewide, 800-738-7477, jdvhotels.com
Personality Hotels: 7 locations citywide, 800-553-1900, www.personalityhotels.com
Patty Burness is the travel writer for Northside San Francisco. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.