Five stars from Fido: Jet-setting dogs get ‘VIP’ treatment when travelling

One Vancouver hotel offers welcome mat, bowls of bottled water, menu with prime rib bones and gravy

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s canine ambassadors Ella (left) and Ellie. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Fairmont Vancouver)

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s canine ambassadors Ella (left) and Ellie. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Fairmont Vancouver)

When heading out on vacation, Bianca Kapteyn often had difficulty finding a hotel that would accommodate one special family member — her wheaten terrier, Otis.

Kapteyn couldn’t stand the thought of leaving Otis behind in Toronto, so she brought the dog along on her travels. But she said some hotels didn’t allow dogs, while others charged a fee for Otis to even be allowed in the room.

While Otis has since died, Kapteyn, who writes about dogs and society online, said she’s noticed a shift in the hospitality industry to offer four-legged guests the same five-star treatment as their owners.

“I think it’s more acceptable that dogs or companion animals are part of the family dynamic,” she said. “It is now a standard practice with most hotels that they will provide treats with the bed-turn service, designer water, bones, beds and also (assistance from) the concierge.”

Hotels across Canada are courting furry travellers by offering luxe amenities ranging from customized bedding, canine room service, pet-sitting and souvenirs from their stay.

READ MORE: Puppy, deemed ‘too friendly’ to be guide dog, becomes B.C. hotel greeter

Many Fairmont Hotels welcome pets for a fee of $50 per night, while owners may face extra charges for cleaning costs or violating policies about leaving pets unattended in the room.

At the chain’s Vancouver location, perks include a welcome mat in the room, bowls with bottled water, specialty treats, a brochure of pet-friendly activities and a special in-room menu featuring such delicacies as prime rib bones with gravy lacquer for $12.

The hotel even has a pair of Labradors, Ella and Ellie, who welcome humans and pets alike.

“We probably have, at one time, a dozen dogs in the hotel,” said Fairmont Gold Manager Darren Klingbeil, who attributed this wave of jet-setting pets to changes airlines have made to expedite pet travel, as well as the rise of emotional-support animals.

Emma Hutchinson, a sales ambassador at The Loden in Vancouver, said the city itself has become more pet-friendly with its walking paths, parks and increasing number of establishments that allow dogs.

“It’s like having a child,” said Hutchinson. “They just want their dog to be treated like a VIP.”

Hutchinson said the hotel’s staff aims to go above and beyond in greeting canine guests by name, which is also written on a door hanger as part of a welcome package with a dog lifestyle magazine and a Loden leash.

It faces stiff competition from the Opus Vancouver in Yaletown, which boasts a “Bow-Wow Butler” who can arrange grooming, nail trimming and even a cake from a local canine-centric bakery.

In Montreal, the Loews Hotel Vogue accepts both cats and dogs for a $25 fee, providing pet-sitting and walking services so guests can explore the city freely.

RELATED: Dog people sing more, cat people more talkative, new study finds

For more adventurous animals, there’s also Storeytown Cottages, about a one-hour drive southeast of Miramichi, N.B., where pooches can float down the river in a customized tube with an insert to protect against claw-induced punctures.

After a hike in Whistler, canine guests at the Four Seasons can lounge in customized beds, including one that offers orthopedic support, and others that are shaped like a pineapple or a tent. They can also mingle at the “patio kennel,” while their owners sip drinks nearby.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

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