Ho­tels ex­pand ameni­ties and costs for pets

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - TRAVEL - By Sue Man­ning Benny loves to travel.

LOS AN­GE­LES — Hav­ing an 80-pound Labradoo­dle as a travel buddy means B.L. Och­man can quickly sep­a­rate the ho­tels that love dogs from those that just put up with them.

A bed and break­fast she vis­ited north of New York City wouldn’t let her pooch, Benny, trot around in the main house. Och­man, a Man­hat­tan In­ter­net strate­gist, has since dis­cov­ered Au­drey’s Farm­house, a B&B in Wal­lkill, N.Y., that caters to dogs and doesn’t charge pet fees that can top hun­dreds of dol­lars.

“Dog-friendly means your dog is wel­come,” she said. “If the dog is wel­come, he shouldn’t cost ex­tra money. Of course, I am a dog owner, not an innkeeper.”

Ho­tels rang­ing from ma­jor chains to small out­posts are cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the wave of trav­ellers who bring along their dogs, some by charg­ing for perks that pam­per pets and oth­ers by ex­pand­ing fees. What started as a ba­sic, one-time pet fee has blos­somed into a per-night charge at many places and costs that can to­tal hun­dreds.

Some prop­er­ties of­fer ameni­ties from patches of grass to chew toys, designer bowls and in-room mas­sages — usu­ally for an ad­di­tional price — while oth­ers sim­ply levy clean­ing fees, whether your dog makes a mess or not. Those ho­tels of­ten don’t of­fer ex­tras or per­mis­sion for pooches over a cer­tain weight, lock­ing out larger pets like Och­man’s.

“There is a huge dif­fer­ence be­tween pet-tol­er­ant and pet-wel­com­ing,” said Carol Bryant, a pet-in­dus­try public re­la­tions strate­gist from Forty Fort, Penn.

She’s been trav­el­ling with dogs for decades and says ho­tels that sim­ply tol­er­ate an­i­mals don’t of­fer ser­vices such as bowls and beds, so dogs might be sleep­ing on thin car­pet­ing.

Perks such as or­ganic treats usu­ally cost more, but, “I never for­get when busi­nesses ex­tend them­selves to my dog,” Bryant said. “Does my dog know? Prob­a­bly not, but I do. And I do the spend­ing.”

Ho­tels charge a range of prices for pets. More than 120 Dou­ble­Tree by Hil­ton ho­tels in the U.S. charge a max­i­mum $75 non-re­fund­able fee used for clean­ing, said Maggie Gid­dens, direc­tor of public re­la­tions for the ho­tels.

Many chains charge dif­fer­ently by city. In San Fran­cisco, flat fees are com­mon, with the Radisson charg­ing $75; the Mar­riott, $50 to $100; Hol­i­day Inn, $75; and the Hy­att, $100, re­ports petswel­come.com, a pet-travel-ser­vices web­site. But the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal re­quires $50 a night there.

Many prop­er­ties have no fees, in­clud­ing Mo­tel 6, Stu­dio 6, Red Roof Inn, La Quinta and Kimp­ton, which has 67 ho­tels na­tion­wide, said Cindy Dahlen, mar­ket­ing direc­tor for the New York­based petswel­come.com.

Oth­ers charge per night, in­clud­ing Rode­way Inn and Westin ho­tels at $10$15; Best West­ern and Trav­elodge at $20; and Ex­tended Stay Amer­ica at $25.

Bryant said the high­est fee she’s faced was a one-time $250 clean­ing charge at the Trump SoHo New York. Dogs stay­ing at the luxury ho­tel also have to be un­der 25 pounds.

Other pet poli­cies, which ex­clude ser­vice dogs, vary by ho­tel and can in­clude:

Rooms on des­ig­nated floors, al­low­ing other cus­tomers to avoid pet dan­der.

Re­strict­ing dogs from get­ting on fur­ni­ture in rooms and lob­bies. When dogs must be leashed. Where they can go on the prop­erty. Bans on cer­tain breeds, which gen­er­ally match the city’s laws.

For Och­man, bed and break­fasts beat out ho­tels, be­cause they’re more dis­tinc­tive and usu­ally have fewer re­stric­tions on pets.

“Peo­ple ap­proach travel in dif­fer­ent ways,” she said. “We are just look­ing for a pretty place where we can re­lax and take the dogs.”

DO­MINIQUE MIL­BANK / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

B.L. Och­man and her dog, Benny, an 80-pound labradoo­dle in New York’s Cen­tral Park.

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