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Traveling With VIPS (Very Important Pets)
La Jollans Carrol and Don Russell reflect a growing travel trend: unwilling to leave their adorable Maltese at home, the avid globetrotters have learned the ins-and-outs of taking Keli with them.
“It takes time to get comfortable with the idea,” Don tells me, “but it’s worked out really well for us.”
They experimented with a few domestic trips before flying to France, where they all had a great time staying at Le Méridien Montparnasse, dining in the city’s wonderful restaurants, and shopping in chic boutiques. Keli also rode the Paris Metro and loved walking along the Left Bank.
The Russells’ VIP was welcome in most restaurants — in fact, one maitre d’ in Mont Saint Michel insisted they take her out of her carrier and brought her a bowl of water. Keli’s favorite hotel was the Trianon Palace in the village of Versailles, where she enjoyed watching a nearby flock of sheep from the balcony and didn’t seem to mind that she wasn’t allowed in the palace.
The Russells prefer American Airlines for domestic trips and flew Air France to Paris. Carrol pointed out that each carrier has its own regulations and that compliance is critical. They highly recommend the Sherpa Pet Group Web site, which includes the policies of 115 airlines ranging from Aer Arann to WestJet. (www.sherpapet.com/travel)
Sherpa also has a money-back Guaranteed on Board program that ensures your pet carrier will meet airline regulations and you won’t be turned away at the gate. The durable soft carriers for small dogs or cats fit under airline seats. Sherpa even offers carriers specifically designed to meet the requirements of certain airlines. (www.sherpapetgroup.com/guaranteed_on_board)
It’s also very important to be aware of the regulations for traveling with pets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides information on the requirements of various foreign countries and U.S. states. France requires a European microchip for “dogs, cats, and ferrets.” (Ferrets? Really?) Hawaii imposes a quarantine of up to five days for newly-arrived pets. (www.aphis.usda.gov/regulations/vs/iregs/animals)
The Russells also consult Keli’s doctor at La Jolla Veterinary Hospital, where the staff research international and state regulations on a case-by-case basis, provide ID chips, and supply required vaccinations.
Many experts suggest that if your pet is too big for an under-seat carrier and you are flying to your destination, it’s best to leave him or her at home. That’s why Moses, Keli’s black lab roommate, doesn’t go on vacation with the rest of the family — unless it’s a road trip.
Edie Jarolim, author of Am I Boring My Dog? (Alpha/Penguin, 2009), also points out that many hotels listed as “pet-friendly,” actually have weight limits that preclude large pets. Before checking in, it’s important to clarify what size animal is allowed and what fees will apply. She travels with Frankie, her ten-pound Terrier mix, and advises that Loews and Kimpton hotels have the most liberal pet policies. By the way, Jarolim’s blog is both very entertaining and informative. (www.willmydoghateme.com)
If you’ve never traveled with a pet, Loews Coronado Bay Resort would be a good first experience. The Loews Loves Pets program applies to any domesticated household pet, regardless of weight or breed. Room service includes roasted salmon for fussy felines and grilled filet and rice for canines. You and your dog could learn to surf at the hotel’s Su’ruff Camp, while kitty enjoys in-room amenities including toys, catnip, and a scratching pole. (www.loewshotels.com)
When you’re ready to venture further afield, Carmel has plenty of pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, shops, and galleries. In addition, dogs can run freely on the community’s mile-long beach. At the Cypress Inn, man’s best friend is provided blankets, beds, bowls, and biscuits. The Forge in The Forest restaurant offers a Dog Pound menu (as well as great food for humans), and at Porta Bella waiters bring pups water in a Champagne bucket. (www.seemonterey.com)
In Oregon, adventurous dogs and their people raft the Rogue River Canyon and camp riverside on a three-day Paddles and Paws program offered by Rogue Wilderness Adventures. Life jackets are provided for dogs, as well as humans. (www.wildrogue.com)
In Washington’s beautiful Woodinville Wine Country, 25 minutes from Seattle, Ruthie the “Am-Basset-Dor” greets guests when they arrive at Willows Lodge. Here, doggie bed turndown service includes a rawhide pillow treat. (www.willowslodge.com)
North of the border, “K9 Ambassadors” Mavis and Beau welcome guests to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. These Labrador Retrievers have personally taste-tested the hotel’s Pet Menu, and they think VIP Keli would really like the “turkey-and-spinach paw stickers.” (www.fairmont.com) ELIZABETH HANSEN
In the U.S., pets are not allowed in most restaurants, museums, stores, and many other places, but that doesn’t have to hamper your activities. The Sittercity Web site provides reliable pet sitters that will entertain your cat or dog while you are out. (www.sittercity.com)
While most European countries are quite pet-friendly, the Middle East and Asia do not welcome cats and dogs.
The Dog Jaunt blog is chockablock with valuable information for anyone contemplating traveling with a small dog. Author Mary Alice Pompitius is “mom” to Chloe, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. (www.dogjaunt.com)
To see The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s canine duo in action, take a look at this video: www.youtube.com/fairmonthotels#p/u/2/ePhjmWpdcfQ
More Pet-friendly Hotels:
Atlanta: At Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar, Brady — the Director of Pet Relations — is a handsome mix of Golden Retriever, Australian Shepherd, and Border Collie. (www.hotelpalomar-atlantamidtown.com)
Beverly Hills: The Beverly Hills Hotel’s Canine Connoisseur Program includes homemade doggie cookies with the pet’s name in frosting. (www.beverlyhillshotel.com)
Boston: Keli likes the Sheraton Boston Hotel in Back Bay. Another good choice is XV Beacon, where Heidi — a Burmese Mountain Dog — is the “resident spokesdog.” (www.sheratonbostonhotel.com, www.xvbeacon.com)
Denver: The book Canine Colorado named Hotel Teatro “The Best Hotel in Colorado.” (www.hotelteatro.com)
Los Cabos: Las Ventanas al Paraiso offers furry friends jet-lag relieving massages and portable pet cabañas. (www.lasventanas.com)
Mammoth: The Westin Monache Resort offers complimentary Westin Heavenly Dog Beds and food bowls with mat. (www.westin.com/mammoth)
Montana: At The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, dogs are welcome in vacation homes and can hike leashed across the property’s 37,000 acres, which include a portion of the Blackfoot River. Afterwards, pooped pooches can relax with a doggie massage at the resort’s Spa Town. (www.pawsup.com)
New York: The Sherry-Netherland is ideally located right across from Central Park. The Waldorf-Astoria offers a Canine Culinary room service menu that includes German Shepard’s pie. (www.sherrynetherland.com, www.waldorfnewyork.com)
Palm Springs Desert Resorts: La Quinta Resort & Club offers expanses of grassy grounds, paradise for pets, as well as private walled patios and organic pet treats. (www.laquintaresort.com)
Rhode Island: Schmitty the Weather Dog, a Yorkshire Terrier, delivers reports on ABC TV with meteorologist Ron Trotta from the Hyatt Regency Newport Resort & Spa. (www.schmittytheweatherdog.com, www.newport.hyatt.com)
Rome: At the Rome Cavalieri, personalized cashmere doggie sweaters can be ordered with the pet’s names in rhinestones, and meals are served in Gucci dog bowls. (www.romecavalieri.com)
Versailles: Keli enjoys the Trianon Palace. (www.trianonpalace.com)
Washington, D.C.: The Park Hyatt’s “Paws in the Park” package includes a copy of First Dogs: American Presidents and their Best Friends.