We still may be feeling the after-effects of the Great Recession, but there’s one area that keeps growing, despite cutbacks in others: pet spending. So isn’t it logical to cater to Fido in an attempt to woo his master’s dollars?

Carol Bryant, social media and public relations director for the magazine Fido Friendly, told AdvisorOne that’s exactly what many in the travel industry are doing to attract travel dollars in a tough economy. Even though, says Bryant, there is a rise in dogs being surrendered to shelters, the flip side is that the money people are spending on their pets for clothing, food, toys, luxuries, and, yes, vacations, has nearly doubled.

She cites American Pet Products Association statistics that say that in 2004, Americans spent some $34 billion on their pets; in 2010 that had risen to nearly $48 billion. And some 70% of Americans, she adds, are now taking their pets with them when they travel.

That’s a huge segment of the market that can be targeted,” Bryant says, “and hotels, spas, and so forth are smart to get on board. So many of us treat pets as family members, and people don’t want to leave them behind in a kennel, so they travel with them.”

The magazine visited a number of luxury hotels and spas that not only accept, but cater to guests’ animal companions. Staff members and their pets visited to try out the facilities and see first-hand (or first-paw) just what was offered. The result was the Top 10 Luxe Hotels list, “luxury resorts [that] beckon Fido to come and get it!” Extraordinary services, poolside meals, and separate accommodations for larger pets were just some of the amenities they discovered.

Think personal turndown service—that would be the Nemacolin Woodlands, in Pennsylvania, which accepts dogs under 30 pounds in the room; dogs larger than that have their own adjoining resort, the Nemacolin Woodlands, which boasts doggie condos with butler service, TV, webcams, and Kuranda elevated beds.

Or special gourmet menus—Nemacolin has that, as do Keswick Hall in Keswick, Va., and the Grove Isle Hotel and Spa in Miami, which has an on-site chef for those special doggie dishes. The Little Nell in Aspen, Co., offers a puppy jet lag kit for altitude adjustment; the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Me. offers handmade cookies at turndown (dog biscuits on the pillow? Nothing so pedestrian!) and doggie massage, as does the Amalfi Hotel Chicago.

The ne plus ultra, however, has to be the Eventi in New York City, which offers the services of an acupuncturist through the concierge and hot and cold selections on its pet menu. Some, like the Nemacolin and the Little Nell, charge extra, or have restrictions on the size of pets; others welcome all, large and small, at no extra cost. But the Nemacolin also has a vet on premises 24/7. (See full list at end of story.)

Bryant adds that one hotel that wasn’t even included in Fido Friendly’s Top 10 list, INK48 in New York City, has just announced that it’s hiring a pet social director. If you (or a pet-loving client) are going to be traveling with your canine (or other animal) companion, she says it always makes sense to check with the hotel to see which services they offer.

“Some cater to the pet market but don’t advertise it,” she explains. And, of course, she adds, it’s always wise to check in advance in case any of those that do welcome pets have changed any of their requirements (extra deposits, pet size—some won’t accept dogs over 50 pounds—etc.).

Bryant also warns pet lovers to do their due diligence on airlines before heading out on vacation with Fido. Air travel with a pet can be fast and easy, or it can turn into a nightmare; it all depends on how much preparation the owner is willing to do and, of course, how pet-friendly the airline itself is. Fido Friendly plans an extensive examination of the airline industry in an upcoming issue that will evaluate various companies’ pet-friendly (or otherwise) capabilities.

So, is catering to a guest’s doggy companion worth the extra trouble? Bryant says one hotel manager pointed out some benefits not accrued to human guests: “Dogs don’t steal towels, and they don’t trash the rooms [the way human guests can].”

Perhaps advisors might want to consider a treat dispenser in the client consultation room, right next to the special water bowl just for clients’ pampered pets.



Room Rate

Pet Charge

Keswick Hall

Keswick, VA


$395-$970 per night

Nonrefundable fee of $75 per pet per stay

Nine Zero Hotel

Boston, MA


$145-$500 per night


Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Farmington, PA


$349 per night and up

$150 one-time non-refundable pet fee

L’Auberge de Sedona

Sedona, AZ


$224 per night and up

$35 per night per pet under 50 pounds, $50 per night per pet over 50 pounds

Grove Isle Hotel and Spa

Miami, FL


$209 per night and up

$75 one-time non-refundable pet fee

The Little Nell

(Recipient of AAA Five Diamond Award)

Aspen, CO


$340 per night and up

$125 initial fee plus $25 per each additional night for pet

Peninsula Beverly Hills

(Forbes Five Star Hotel)

Beverly Hills, CA


$555 per night and up

$35 per night per pet fee

Innby the Sea

(One of the first luxury hotels in the country to accept pets; Forbes Travelers designation as one of the world’s top 10 green hotels)

Cape Elizabeth, ME


Garden suites $239 per night and up


Amalfi Hotel Chicago

Chicago, IL


$135 and up


Eventi, a Kimpton Hotel

New York, NY


$209 and up