By Donna M. Owens, For The Baltimore Sun
9:25 AM EST, February 11, 2013
When the 137th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show arrives in New York City next week, even the small breeds will be living large.
That's because pet travel is booming across the United States, with more travelers than ever taking along their four-legged friends on vacations near and far.
Dogs and cats that in the past might have been confined to carriers or hidden in the hotel bathroom are instead getting the five-star treatment as they strut to their luxury accommodations.
Nowhere is this trend more evident than at the gathering of well-traveled purebreds participating in "America's Dog Show," to be held Monday and Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Organizers say this year's show will feature 3,200 dogs — the largest number to date — competing for the coveted Best in Show title.
Many of the pampered pooches are lodging at the Affinia Manhattan, where the official hotel of the show is rolling out the red carpet.
The hotel is providing a sneak peek of its Happy Tails program, which includes a plush dog bed and chew toys, customized treats, puppy stairs and a dog bowl. On one of its spacious terrace suites, four-legged guests will find the complimentary Happy Tails Suite, where dogs can maintain their fitness regimen on motorized pet treadmills.
During downtime, Affinia Manhattan's guest dogs can practice their winning poses at a photo session with a step and repeat, filled with entertaining props.
Additionally, guests of the Westminster Kennel Club can treat their pooches to the Doggie Delights menu at Niles New York City, the hotel's onsite restaurant.The menu includes sauteed beef tips, a 6-ounce sliced steak and 3-ounce grilled steak. Guests can also add a donation to the Humane Society of New York onto their hotel bill.
The show dogs are a special group, but there are plenty of places where your favorite furry friends can be a part of your travel adventures.
For instance, Hotel Monaco, which offers boutique accommodations in downtown Baltimore, is pet-friendly. "We accept any number of pets without size or weight restrictions and for no extra charge," says a spokeswoman.
As soon as one enters the hotel, there are bowls at the front door with fresh water and dog food. An onsite pet concierge can provide a bevy of amenities. They include dog walking, name tags with hotel information and leashes, dog and cat day care, grooming services, gourmet treats at turndown, information about local dog-friendly parks and even emergency veterinarians.
In addition, any guests who are not able to travel with their pets and are missing them, may request that a goldfish be brought to their room to keep them company while traveling.
On the Eastern Shore in the town of St. Michaels, Five Gables Inn & Spa features 20 rooms and suites, each individually decorated in an elegant style featuring working gas fireplaces, antique furnishings, Jane Wilner toile linens, Frette towels and down comforters.
Some rooms have private porches or balconies, and four rooms are pet-friendly, according to co-owner Bonnie Booth, who runs the property with husband John.
Each dog receives use of a dog bed, special fuzzy toy and a treat.
Last but not least, the inn has onsite shopping, including Flying Fred's Gifts for Pets — a boutique that offers unusual gifts for pets and pet lovers alike. Pets are welcome and treats are free.
At the Tides Inn, which offers upscale lodging on the Chesapeake Bay in Irvington, Va., owners have designated a wing of the hotel as pet-friendly.
Ground-level rooms in the Garden House wing are set with sliding glass doors that open to a grassy lawn that pet guests find soft on the paws and fun to roll around in.
The resort has wide open spaces where guests and their pets can run around together as well as play in the Frisbee golf course, parks, vineyards and nature areas that are just a short drive or complimentary bike ride away.
If Fido is a city dog, the Tides Inn is like a doggie nature camp.
With the Tides Inn's Pampered Paws Program, four-legged guests can expect to be treated to a supply of waste bags, a special door hanger to alert staff to your pet's presence, a resort map with marked doggie relief stations, as well as pet sitting and grooming available through the resort's concierge.
Pets are also welcome to join their owners for dinner at the Chesapeake Club's outdoor seating or take a swim in the bay.
"Our staff gets to know pet guest's likes and dislikes and their names, adding that true personal touch. Most of us and so many residents of the Northern Neck are animal lovers, and it shines through at the resort," says Gordon Slatford, the hotel's general manager.
Slatford says the market for pet travel continues to expand.
"Solo travelers are a growing market, and we see that these travelers like to bring pets as companions," says Slatford. This is especially true of destinations where travelers arrive by car.
"Drive-market destinations make it easy to bring pets along for a trip, as they make great car confidants, are comforting, familiar and help reduce stress level," he says.
Slatford notes that hotels are finding that guests want to include their pets in all aspects of their lives. "Pets are even being included in weddings, and they oftentimes steal the show," he says.
If you go
Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday-Tuesday, New York City. For schedule and ticket information, go to westminsterkennelclub.org.
Affinia Manhattan, 371 Seventh Ave., New York, 866-246-2203, affinia.com. Rates start at $169 per night, double occupancy, through Feb. 28. There is a pet fee of $75 per dog.
Hotel Monaco Baltimore, 2 N. Charles St., Baltimore, 443-692-6170.There are no weight restrictions or additional fees for pets. A pet concierge offers grooming, gourmet treats, and a map for dog walking and dog-friendly parks. In-room pet bed and food dishes are also provided.
Five Gables Inn & Spa, 209 North Talbot St., St. Michaels, 877-466-0100, fivegables.com. There is a charge of $50 per stay for pets. While unattended, they must be crated. Only one dog per room is allowed, and it must weigh less than 75 pounds and be over a year old.
Tides Inn, 480 King Carter Drive, Irvington, Va., 804-438-5000, tidesinn.com. The pet fee is $35 per animal. No more than two pets per room are allowed. Pet-friendly rooms include bed, water bowl and treats. Pet sitting and grooming is also available. Pets are not allowed in some public spaces, including the pool and restaurants.
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