Why Not Take Your Best Friend Along?

Want some action or adventure?  Or are you in the mood to be pampered and spa-d?

Here are the spas, resorts, a château or two, and cruises you can enjoy with your dog…

A small hotel in a Midwest town received a letter from a vacationer who asked if his dog would be allowed to stay in the room.

“I’ve been operating this hotel for many years. In all that time I’ve never had a dog burn cigarette holes in the bedding or the furniture. I’ve never had a dog turn the television up too loud or get drunk. I’ve never had a dog steal towels or silverware or take pictures off the walls. I’ve never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly. I’ve never had a dog get in a fight and break up the furniture. And I’ve never had a dog run out on a hotel bill. Yes, your pet is welcome at my hotel, and if your dog will vouch for you, you can stay here, too.”


They are our best friends, so why not take them along?

Your pooch is great company.  Who needs loneliness?  Who needs angst?  Remember John Steinback’s observation in Travels with Charley about his black poodle who could seem to sense when he was being left behind:  “He paces and worries and whines and goes into a state of mild hysteria…”  Be kind.  Be selfish. Be good to yourself. Vacation together.

So, let’s travel!!

We’ll focus on the U.S. and Canada.


Don’t get excited, Backrub, these spas are the human type—you’re just allowed for the company and a little pampering.  But don’t let that tail droop: your “spa”—the luxurious kennel—is explored  with delectable results later on.

The spas listed here are dog-friendly and allow you the best of both worlds: karmic comfort and canine company.  Policies change, so call ahead for details.

Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Texas

713 650-1300 or 800 332-3442 has the usual people packages—Spa Day, Beauty Day, Revitalizer—and, although your pup can’t get a massage, he’s treated quite nicely, thank you: a welcome gift, in-room food and water bowls, pet sitting, and dog walking. A park is across the street.

Marriott’s Camelback Inn, Resort,

Golf Club & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona 800 24-CAMEL is a five-star resort on 125 acres.  Dogs are treated nobly by the staff.

Lake Austin Spa Resort  in Austin, Texas

512 266-4364 is also luxurious and doggie-friendly.  Be sure to notify the spa since they prefer the dogs to be in the 35-pound range.

The Peaks Resort & Spa  in Telluride, Colorado

800 789-2220 is a dog-happy spa in a pooch-friendly town. Pet fees and regulations exist, but dogs are welcome.

Topnotch at Stowe Resort and Spa at Stowe, Vermont

800 451-8686 permits dogs in the hotel, not the condos.  Call ahead.

Safety Harbor

Resort & Spa near Tampa, Florida

888 237-8772 provides ground-floor rooms for easy access, limits dogs to 30 pounds with a $30 fee.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

800 422-2736 arranges for your dog to be boarded “a short walk away” and you can hike with Backpacker during the

day on the trails of the 1,000 acre property.

The concierge at each of these spas is aware of local dog groomers and day kennels to give your neglected dog some

tender love and care

while you are being spa-ed into oblivion.

And, yes, alas, a couple of day spas specifically for Prince and Princess do actually exist:

The New York Dog Spa and Hotel

212 243-1199 is Manhattan’s 8,500- square-foot full service hotel and spa for dogs. Offers boarding, day care, grooming and veterinary services in a clean and safe facility. Massages, hot oil baths, “peticure,” early morning pickup and drop-off and  gift shop. Day care starts at $23 a day and boarding at $42.

Honeymoon—Me and You

and a Dog Named Boo…

What if you fall in love (with a human) and wish to tie the connubial knot?  Do you desert your Best Dog or Mutt of Honor?  Do you leave him or her at home?  Do you forsake this friendship for your betrothed?  No way.

Hey, why not share the love?  How about a honeymoon for three? Bring your canine ring bearer.

In Sunny Florida try the new:

Turtle Beach Resort

941 349-4554 on Siesta Key, Sarasota.

Quality Suites Hotel

on the East Coast 800 876-4222.

Casa Alante’s gardens

In Key West, a very dog-friendly location, find the gazebo in Casa Alante’s gardens 800 688-3942 for a  idyllic ceremony.

In Santa Fe visit the:

Inn of the Anasazi

(800 688-8100)

Hotel Santa Fe’s Love and Romance Package 505 982-1200.

For a unique twist on the elevating experience, call Fairlee’s Silver Maple Lodge in Vermont 800 666-1946 and rise above it all: a one-hour champagne balloon flight, while Mountain Dog is happy with his feet on the ground.

Courtyard B&B in San Andreas

209 754-1518 (is this place good to a fault?), California from The California Dog Lover’s Companion–800 FOG-HORN;

Panorama Point in Golden, Colorado

303 582-3707.    Châteaux

Okay, everyone has done the resort bit, but how many of the pampered and regal few have taken their princely puppy partners to a real château, huh?  The options exist, but only in Canada.

Château Whistler Resort

604 938-8000 is 90 miles north of Vancouver, B.C. at the base of Blackcomb Mountain with a vertical mile of skiing. A weekend package includes: a Friday night welcome reception for you and your dog, a welcome package from Canine Equipment, a choice of three workshops or guided hikes, one free pampering bath for your pooch (including a spritz of doggie cologne), a photograph with your alpine canine, and a dog costume party. Explore Whistler’s hiking trails and dog beaches with knowledgeable guides.

The Château Montebello

819 423-6341 is a “log castle” nestled in a charming forest on the banks of the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Montreal.  Built in 1930 as an elite retreat for humans, it went public in 1970.  The spacious grounds feature walking and biking trails, outdoor playgrounds, and indoor game rooms welcome your dog. Beds, pillows and bowls are provided for weary Romper.

The Hotel Vancouver

604 684-3131 offers grooming, vets, pet walking and sitting (see the PETicular Traveler’s Guide) and in-room amenities to please your doggie:  sleeping mat, food and water dishes (bottled water, of course), treats, and a toy.

Canadian Pacific Hotels have more historic hotels including Château Lake Louise, Château Laurier, The Empress, Banff Springs, the Royal York, The Algonquin, and The Palliser

800 441-1414 or

www.cphotels.ca. Dog

visits seem to average about $20 per night.

Floating On the Water:  Cruises and Boating The options aren’t great in the cruise category. The one ocean liner allowing pets  doesn’t offer a wide array of dog-fun activities.

The QE2

800 528-6273 permits dogs, cats and birds on board up to two pets per passenger, but only on transatlantic journeys.  Significantly, however, the pets are not allowed in the cabins.  The kennel is on the sun deck, which is equipped with an exercise-run (with fire hydrants). They are attended to around the clock, and dogs are walked daily. Your pampered pet can chase sea gulls, water ski, or fish—just kidding. The charges are $500 for a dog ($300 for your cat, and your bird floats for $200). Don’t forget—you have to pay, also.

Okay, this might be a bit too pricey.  So why not settle for a more mundane boat ride with your pup? DogFriendly.com

featured some creative boating ideas in California (May, 1999).  If you dream of ferrying with Lifevest, San Francisco has ferries, Red & White Fleet, that take you and your pooch on a 20— minute cruise to Tiburon, where you can disembark and stroll and eat in the “quaint bayside town.”  Down the coast, the

Fun Boat Company (near Newport Beach) offers narrated trips of the harbor and Lido Island from 45 to 90 minutes.

If you wish to rent a power or pontoon boat, try Big Bear Lake, Downtown Boat Rentals in San Diego, Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Keys Boat Rentals or Catch a Canoe in Mendocino. If you travel to a lake region, whether Minnesota, Michigan or the Rockies, call ahead and ask.

New York’s Finger Lakes is a great place to vacation with Innertube if boating, swimming and fishing are activities you chose to pursue. The lakes and trails are dog-friendly, as are an ample number of hotels, inns and B & Bs.  Additional attractions include several wineries, NASCAR racing (Watkins Glen) and Corning Glass.  Call the Finger Lakes Association 800 KIT 4 FUN or the Seneca County Tourism office 800 732-1848.

Or—and now we’re stretching this agua thing a bit—watch whales with your discerning dog.  From December through April, gray whales migrate down to Mexico,  Mendocino and Pacific Grove offer land sightings, and the Fun Zone Boat Company in Balboa allows well-behaved dogs  on their boat tours.

Snow:  Skiing, Skijoring, and Sledding

Snow.  Cold.  Wind.  Ice.  Do dogs really want this?  Do you?  So bundle up. And why not journey with Snowshoe to the majestic mountains?  He can chew on your skis the entire drive and fetch your crutches later.  Think how much he’d enjoy watching you take a face plant in the snow, thinking you’re sniffing, just like him.  Sit by the fireplace and watch the ski bunnies hop over to Schluss in his apres-ski doggie jacket.  DogGone, DogFriendly.com and Petsmart.com all offer lists and advice on places to go (Colorado, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, New York, Canada).

The Green Mountain Inn at historic Stowe, Vermont 800 253-7302 is an elegant 78-room resort which has welcomed dogs for all of its 160— year existence.  Dogs, 50 pounds or less, are $10 per day and are given treats and the pleasure of a six-mile recreation trail.

Killington, Vermont,

offers the Killington Ski Resort 802 422-3333 and the Cortina Inn 800 451-6108, both pet-friendly with a modest pet fee.  Pet-sitters, first floor rooms with convenient back doors and fresh biscuits are available.

Sun Valley, Idaho, is another charming and majestic resort area which is dog-accommodating. Over 200 kilometers of  cross-country skiing trails weave through the area with dog trails so Snowshoe can keep up. A wacky annual charity event “the Paw and Pull Race” in mid-March with theme-costumed dogs pulling owners on skis draws participants from all over the U.S.

A luxury ski stay in Colorado with Skipole starts at The Lodge and Spa at Breckenridge.  The pup is an extra $25 per day and is catered to.  Trails are available for hiking and cross-country skiing.  Vail and Aspen have year-round activities for you and Snowpeak.  Canine Colorado is a comprehensive guide to the outdoor possibilities.

Snow King Resort

in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

800 522-KING is near Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.  Over 200 hotel rooms and suites and 50 condominiums are available.

In Canada, about an hour west of Calgary,

The Lodge at Kananaskis another dog-friendly Canadian Pacific hotel offers a 1,544 square mile winter playground for you and Goggles.  A fully-equipped winter resort with all the snow activities for you and your winterized canine companion.

In California, from Lake Tahoe to Big Bear Lake, plenty of snow sports exist from snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and dog-sledding that’s why you bring him! Then there is skijoring, a Norwegian sport where the cross-country skier is connected to his dog by a bungee cord, and Fido pulls the master.

Obviously we are not engaging poodles in this gambit.  The Skijor Association (e-mail at brockra@alaska.net, or P.O. Box 240573, Anchorage, Alaska 99524) recommends at least a 55 pound pet.


This one is pretty simple.  Pick that seaside area you wish to call home for a week or two and search the beach possibilities.  Florida take a look at

The Florida Dog Lover’s Companion and California are dog-friendly and many of the web sites referred to have information on local beaches for SurferDog to roam Petswelcome.com, Takeyourpet.com and DogFriendly.com will all be helpful.

Additionally, call the local Parks Department, Chamber of commerce or Tourist Bureau for information.

Luxury Kennels

Now let’s be realistic.  If  Resorto is as intelligent and choosy as your teenager is (and he is), he may not want to go cavorting around with you when he could be enjoying a stay with a bunch of his barking buddies.  Why go to a Florida time-share condo when he has his own resort catering to canines?  He may cry out to you for a chance to spend some quality time at a canine kennel.  And, oh, does he have choices! From New York to Los Angeles, Atlanta to St. Louis, Texas to Tucson, the luxury options abound.  Elite, effete, they’re all a treat. Let’s go east to west:

How about Alternative Pet Care Resort and Doggie Camp 888 505-DOGS, serving traveling Manhattanites?  For a mere $35 per night, your very special creature will be picked up in a chauffeured van and whisked to the affluent suburbs for a country stay in a refurbished mansion outfitted with 12 distinctive doggie bedrooms, four suites, and two play lounges.  Yes, Sniffles has his own room with a deluxe doggie bed.  Music?  Pick a CD.  A little lonely?  Pooch behavior therapists specializing in separation anxiety (and senior and physically challenged dogs) are part of the team that guarantees your dog’s contentment.  A customized menu, doggie snacks, bathing, manicures, massages, vitamin programs, agility training and conditioning are all part of the puppy package.  During the day, one-on-one attention is given each dog as it frolics around the fenced acreage.

Who needs you?

In Metropolitan Atlanta where an Atlanta Journal-Constitution spring survey revealed that 60% of the population own pets and 71% of those own dogs, several tony boarding kennels pamper the deserving pooch. The prices range from $15 for your basic air conditioned, music-filled, and sky-lit room to $80 per night–depending on the add-on luxuries: Does Fluffy need a private suite with a phone and TV?  Or a massage and extra walks with a private trainer?  How about swimming lessons in a dog bone-shaped pool, of course, or nature walks, or a workout with a tennis ball machine?  Or a birthday party?  Or a hayride?  Do you need a video?  Barking Hound Village

404 897-3422;

Cloud 9 Pet Resort 770 981-9512;

Pet Lodge

770 475-3455.

The luxury-suites-only pet hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, Kennelwood  Village 314 429-2100 features 31 suites that pamper the pup with large picture windows, comfy beds, TV, VCR, and the complete array of indoor and outdoor activities. Suites start at $23 a day.

Triple Crown Dog Academy 512 759-2275 outside of Austin, Texas has large, air-purified, indoor/outdoor runs with skylights.  The grounds are expansive 350 acres—yes, things are bigger in the Lone Star state and poochie studies with a professional trainer and learns to perform tricks and swim in one of five ponds. Smashing. Custom menus, snacks, classical music piped in at night, and an end-of-stay photo montage are all provided. Older or ill dogs have separate care.  All this from $16 a day.

In Tucson, Arizona,

PetsHotel Plus

520 323-2275 offers deluxe accommodations with all-indoor boarding, decorated private suites (fresh linens), cable TV and telephone.  Here, suites start at $25 a day, on weekdays.

In Los Angeles,

The Kennel Club 310 338-9166 has large theme-decorated cottages with a TV-VCR.  Add-on activities include the treadmill as part of the Weight Reduction program, massage, story time, have a “pupcorn” snack, Picnic in the Park and delightful menus.  Doggie delivery operates 24 hours. All this for a mere $18 to $55 a day (and night).

David Lihn has lived in Manhattan since his Columbia Law School days and travels extensively throughout the U.S. with his three-year old regal Beagle, Bagel.