Last week a longtime hotel GM provided first-hand testimony that dogs and their people make excellent guests. A few weeks before, I discussed — and got terrific feedback on — 9 Things that Make a Hotel Genuinely Pet Friendly.
Today I want to give an example of a place where Frankie and I stayed that had many stellar qualities but didn’t understand the pet friendly concept, which I see as a missed opportunity. I won’t name it, because everyone was well intentioned — and because we were invited to stay for free and dissing it would be most ungrateful of me.
A lovely seaside hotel in southern California, which was trying to promote its new pet-acceptance policy.
- Only dogs under 15 pounds were permitted.
- I had to sign an agreement promising my dog wouldn’t get up on the bed
- “Cleaning fees” were a nonrefundable $100 per night.
As part of the canine red carpet roll out, Frankie was gifted with a T-shirt and food and loaned a plush dog bed.
Sizeism: The logic behind the size cutoff eludes me. Are dogs less doggie because they’re diminutive? And if that’s the case, there shouldn’t be…
Disproportionate cleaning fees: How much would it actually cost to vacuum up hair or — atypically — the mess of a dog that weighs less than 15 pounds? Not $100 a night, I’d wager. In an upscale hotel like this one, I would imagine deep cleaning is part of the housekeeping routine.
Unnecessary goodies: Frankie wasn’t keen on the T-shirt and wasn’t permitted to eat the food, high quality though it was, because of his diabetes. And the purpose of the dog bed was to give Frankie a cushy place to sleep on the floor. Ha!
Cutesiness: Enclosed in the goodie basket was a flirty note to Frankie from the hotel’s canine “concierge,” a fluffy bichon. This was a sad waste of effort. Frankie can’t read and doesn’t have balls.
Arbitrary rules: As you can see from the picture, Frankie wasn’t having any of that “don’t get up on the bed” business. I’m fine with Frankie sleeping near me, and a hotel isn’t going to get me to exile him to the floor.
Staff that wasn’t trained to deal with pets: Everyone oohed and aahed over Frankie — naturally! — but some staff members were more hands on than they should have been. Case in point: When we were waiting for the valet to bring my car — all the parking was valet, otherwise there was no way I would have allowed anyone to enter my less-than-immaculate car — one of the guys at the bell desk bent down and rolled Frankie over on his back to give him a tummy rub.
If Frankie had wanted a tummy rub — which he never would from a stranger — he would have rolled over himself.
Luckily Frankie is not a biter or a submissive pee-er. He just looked at me pleadingly.
The whole thing happened quickly and I didn’t want to make the situation worse by getting upset, or even mentioning it. The guy meant no harm. He was just being playful with dogs — probably big dogs — in the only way he knew. He would have been horribly embarrassed and apologetic and Frankie wasn’t traumatized.
Nor was there any point in reporting the incident to anyone. It was clear to me that training staff how to deal with pets wasn’t on the hotel’s radar — as it should be if a hotel is to be genuinely pet friendly.
A wasted setting. We were less than two blocks away from the sea, which was a real draw for me. Not so much for Frankie, who thought the big waves were loud and scary and the sand unpleasantly sandy (perhaps I’ve never mentioned that he prefers sidewalks to grass; what an urban sophisticate!)
This place would be ideal for people with big, sea-loving pups. All the hotel would need to do to maintain cleanliness is install a shower/hose for dogs at a pet entryway. Pet owners are no more interested in having sand in their suitcases and bedding than hotels are.
Again, I don’t write this to criticize but to point out a missed opportunity. This is the type of place that would be perfect for celebrities — and their large pets (who would probably be better behaved than the people).
Note: Less than a year after our stay, the hotel is no longer promoting its pet friendly policies. There was nothing on its website mentioning dogs or canine concierges. I called and discovered that cleaning fees are slightly lower ($75) than before but the size restriction remains at 15 pounds.