As a hotel career executive, I've worked for multinational hospitality firms such as Marriott Hotels & Resorts and others over the years. During that time, I’ve seen a lot of upgrades to amenity packages. From the early days of mini bars and a mint on your pillow to spa treatments, today’s hoteliers are constantly on the look-out for offerings that will distinguish them from their competition. A new twist to lure guests to hostelries involve commoditizing animals. Since the engagement with animals has proven to enhance mental health, hoteliers are adding dogs and cats to their amenity programs, in addition to some other very unique mascots, such as tortoises, birds, donkeys, deer, goldfish and even bees.
Sunshine and Chance are the resident macaws at the Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach. These two exotic birds are usually featured poolside, where they greet visiting guests with hello’s in English and Spanish. With the hotel’s “Nature & Nurture” two-night package for $900, guests receive two spa treatments at the Aveda Spa, daily breakfast and yoga classes in the picture-perfect setting of the tropical gardens. And of course, stuffed-animal replicas of the Sunshine and Chance are available in the hotel gift shop for those who’d like bring home their special amenity memory.
Donkeys, Deer & Felines . . .
Guests can get up close and personal at the Sandos Carcol Eco Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. With their Animal Keepers Program, on-site veterinarians lead guest interactions with endangered and rescued animals, including feeding and bathing donkeys and white-tailed deer. The resort also includes a Cat Café, where guests can make new feline friends. Rooms are available with a minimum 30 percent discount through June ($217 a night versus $356 a night).
Buster Brown, a wire-haired fox terrier, is the official greeter at Craddock Terry Hotel, a boutique property located transformed from a shoe factory in Lynchburg, Va. But his real specialty is he also serves as a canine tour guide. Animal-loving guests will love the fact this hypoallergenic dog will accompany them on walks or runs while exploring Lynchburg.
Tortoises & Horses
Oil Nut Bay resort in Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands is another resort that offers the chance to connect with rescued animals. Six red-footed tortoises and five Paso Fino horses were rescued and given a protected home on property. With the help of the hotel’s caretaker, guests can feed and engage with the tortoises and the horses. A discount is currently on offer with the “Spring Into Serenity” package, a five-night stay with a couple’s massage, yoga and stand-up paddleboard sessions for $6,640 (versus regular cost of $7,304).
What’s that buzz?
Michael Pace, GM at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco, said he works with a local beekeeper to maintain hives at his property, which is now part of a larger effort by seven San Francisco hotels called the “Urban Bee and Herb Garden Project.”
Pace said beekeeping are beneficial for some of the hotel’s signature dishes and cocktails. The hives have also become a point of interest for guests.
“I make sure to take employees up in small groups to educate them in what we have, and that helps them to talk to guests about (the bees),” Pace said. “We’ve had guests begin asking about tours, so we want to set those up with a little more infrastructure around safety.”
Since honeybees are endangered, sustainability initiatives like this are being added at many other hotels throughout the country. The Clift currently has 800,000 honeybees on property.
Pet-Friendly & Fish to boot . . .
While some hotels don’t feature animal mascots, they will go all out to accommodate those who like to travel with their pets. The Roxy Hotel in Tribeca, New York welcomes their guest’s four-legged friends with first-class service. When calling in advance, the hotel will provide guests will organic treats from Bocce’s Bakery, bedding, water bowls and doggy bags.
The Roxy’s sister property, The Soho Grand, is within short walking distance, where they feature a dog park open to all The Roxy Hotel guests. Complete with fire hydrant water stations, bespoke benches, pups go dog-wild for it.
For those that want to get their ‘zen’ on, think about asking for a goldfish to be sent to your room. Attractive bowls of these colorful tropical fish can be provided for the duration of one’s stay on request, at no additional charge.
Does your favorite hotel feature pets as amenities?
These types of hotel amenities are not widely known. Have you visited a hotel or bed and breakfast that includes pets as part of their amenity package offering? If so, please comment below for our readers who might like to book a guest room at one of these unique lodging establishments in the future. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.