Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Taking Your Pets on the Road: Ten Pet-Friendly Accommodations

January 4, 2010, 11:46 am

More than 75 percent of Americans would take their pet on every vacation -- if only they could -- a recent survey by the American Automobile Association and Best Western International found. Not only that, almost 30 percent of traveling pet-owners said they would choose their pets over their significant others as a traveling companion -- if only they could.

But more than half of those traveling pet-owners said it was difficult to find pet-friendly accommodations. And since almost 75 percent of pet-inclusive vacations involve visiting friends or family, there’s often more at stake than just fun getaways.

Although it’s fashionable for establishments to bill themselves as “pet-friendly,” some are more pet-friendly than others. For instance, some will not accept felines, or dogs over a certain weight. Some establishments limit how many pets can be lodged in a room, or charge additional fees for or deposits for accommodating pets.

Some hotels don’t allow pets on the beds, and provide pet beds instead. Some hotels don’t permit guests to leave pets unattended; some do for short periods; and some even provide a pet-sitting service.

The Motel 6 chain -- which claims to be the first hotel chain to allow pets -- doesn’t charge a fee, but limits the guests to one pet per room and forbids pets to be left unattended. If they are, management will not allow housekeeping to enter the room. Pets must be leashed when outside the room.

National parks can be tricky, with some enforcing contradictory rules. Yellowstone National Park allows pets in its cabins, but not on its trails. The Grand Canyon allows pets on its upper trails, but not in its hotels. Animals have to be boarded in the canyon’s kennel.

Though pet policies can be found on hotel or pet travel web sites, the information can be incomplete or outdated. Hotels may alter their pet policies from one month to the next, so make sure their pet-friendly policy is still in place before toting the pet along.

For instance, Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa, in Lake Tahoe, Nev., pet-friendly since May 2006, had an exceedingly pet-friendly policy, but revoked it due to abuse -- of the hotel.

“We discontinued the policy after a string of incidents of pets running wild in the casino and hotel, and causing property damage,” Mike Donovan, director of marketing, told Zootoo.

“Some people didn’t tell us they were checking in with pets,” said Donovan, “so we had pets on non-pet floors, barking in the middle of the night, being left in halls and going to the bathroom throughout the hotel. The policies just got abused.”

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for guests to sneak their pets into a hotel or motel: More than a third of pet-owners responding to the AAA survey admitted to the stealthy practice.

“We hate to draw a hard line with the guests,” Donovan said, “but if it affects the other guests’ experience, we must.”

And other guests‘ experiences are affected, according to the AAA.

More than 75 percent of travelers fumed over owners who did not clean up after pets, 53 percent over constantly barking dogs, 45 percent over aggressive dogs, 42 percent over unleashed pets, and 30 percent over pets relieving themselves inside.

But drawing a line in the sand is hard for many in the hospitality industry.

The Pine Chalet, in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, had a two-pet maximum to a cabin. But two years ago, the chalet let a family bring its five tiny shelties. “We made a rare exception in this case,” owner Peter Davini told Zootoo. “We normally only allow two pets, but, we figured, approximately five shelties make up one Lab.”

After that, word spread. “People were expecting to bring a small zoo in,” Davini said. “We’re really pet-friendly, but we’re not a kennel.” The chalet has since returned to its two-animals-per-cabin limit.

Pet Friendly Accommodations

1. All sizes and pets are welcome for a $20 fee at the Hotel Aspen, in Aspen, Colorado. Some rooms have porches for canine romping, and there’s a hiking trail nearby for pets and their owners. But, if management considers a dog too “noisy,” it will be removed to the front office, with the owners charged a $20 per hour sitting fee.


2. All sizes of cats and dogs are welcome for a fee of $25 at the Portofino Bay Hotel, Orlando, Florida, near Universal Studios. Not only do animals receive a treat at check-in, but their owners can order for them from their own room-service menu. Steep discount in winter months. (407-503-1000)

The Esa Orlando-Universal Studios, also in Orlando, Fla., allows one pet in each guest room, but restricts some animals by weight, size and breed. The hotel, which is designed especially for longer stays with fully equipped kitchens, charges pet owners a $25 per day non-refundable cleaning fee for the first six days. Steep discounts are available in winter months. (407-351-1788)

3. Tahoe Sierra Pines Condominiums, one block from Lake Tahoe in Incline Village, Nevada, requires a $100 refundable deposit. Only dogs are welcome, although they can be any size. And, they have to be “well mannered.” The Pines also provides access to a private beach that permits dogs fall through spring. Dogs cannot be left unattended for long periods and are not allowed on the furniture. The Pines provides dog beds, as well as bowls, clean-up baggies, and even dog towels for muddy paws. (775-832-4646)

4. Johnson's Motel & Cottages, a ski and fly-fishing destination at Twin Mountain, New Hampshire, allows two pets per room, charges a $10 fee per night per pet, welcomes all sized pets with treats and theme bandanas at check-in. Pets can’t be too noisy, though, and owners must clean up after them. There’s a trail nearby for romps. (603-846-5561)

Any size pets are welcome at Fieldstone Country Inn, also in Twin Mountain, New Hampshire, and there’s no fee. Pets cannot be left unattended in the room, but the hotel provides pet sitting, if arranged ahead of time. Pets are not allowed in common rooms. But chances are one would want the pooch along for the hiking and cross-country skiing. (603-846-5646).

5. All pets and sizes are welcome at the Puffin Inn, in Anchorage, Alaska,. The hotel, which allows two pets per room, charges a $50 refundable deposit. The Puffin Inn also has a small yard for romping and dog treats at the front desk.

For an additional fee, there’s the “Pet Friendly Lodging Package,” which includes collapsible water and food bins, treats and toys, doggie bags, foldable dog food mats, “a green area outside for your pet’s needs,” and complimentary breakfast for “Fido’s or Fluffy’s owner.” (907-243-4044)

6. The upscale Serrano Hotel, in San Francisco, California, offers a “Pet Palace Package,” which includes deluxe accommodations for both human and pet, “designer” mineral water; dental doggy biscuits; and “after-dinner disposable clean-up bags.”

The hotel has a stock of gourmet lamb & rice dog food, leashes, and rawhide fetch-it sticks. In keeping with the hotel‘s “fun and games” theme, pet owners are challenged to a hand of Twenty-One upon arrival. If the pet owner wins, she or he receives a prize. If the house wins, the hotel asks for a $5 donation for the San Francisco SPCA. (866-289-6561)

7. The Pine Chalet, in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin., welcomes all sizes and pets, and limits two pets to a room. The chalet doesn’t charge a fee, and provides food bowls. Pooches gain access via doggie doors to an outside fenced-in dog run. There is also a 6 ft. by 6 ft. indoor kennel on the lower level. (608-635-2833)

All-sized pets are welcome at the Baker's Sunset Bay Resort, also in Wisconsin Dells for a $10 fee. Canines receive doggie treats upon arrival. (800-435-6515)

8. Finding pet-friendly accommodations in The Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming is a tricky matter, as there are strict rules governing pet travel within the park itself. Although some of the cabins that welcome dogs are within walking distance of Old Faithful, pets are not allowed on the trails themselves. (There are some dog-friendly hiking trails in the nearby Shoshone National Forest.)

Dogs are allowed in parking areas and within 100 feet of roads, so it’s still possible to take in sites such as Old Faithful from a distance. Dogs are allowed on the Yellowstone campgrounds.

Big Moose Resort, in Cooke City, Montana, seven miles east of the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park, welcomes pets. There’s plenty of running room for pets between the spaciously laid-out cabins. Pets cannot be left unattended. And there’s a $25 minimum charge for “pet incidents.” (406-838-2393)

9. Grand Canyon National Park, on the other hand, permits leashed pets on South Rim trails in the developed areas of the park, and various campgrounds and trailer parks. But pets are not permitted in park hotel rooms below the rim or in any guestrooms of the park lodges.

To that end, a kennel is available at the South Rim. The kennel accepts only dogs and cats, and reservations are recommended, especially during the holiday seasons. Pets are accepted for day or overnight boarding, food included. Kennel rates range from day boarding of a cat for the day for $11, to boarding a 50-lb. dog overnight for $20. (928-638-0534).

10. The highly rated Best Western Eden Resort Inn & Suites in Hershey, Pennsylvania, allows pets under 35 pounds in specific rooms. The hotel charges a pet fee of $15 per day, and reservations are required. But many of the amusement parks nearby will not allow non-service dogs. (717-569-6444).