Doors opening for travelers with pets Animals: More motels, hotels, inns and airlines welcome dogs and cats -- but call first.

September 08, 1996|By Naedine Joy Hazell | Naedine Joy Hazell,HARTFORD COURANT

It used to be that if you heard growling or purring coming from the hotel room next to yours, you tried to ignore it -- maybe turned the TV volume up a bit.

If you gave it any thought at all, you probably didn't think the noises were from real animals. These days, as hotels and even inns strive to become more family-friendly, many are welcoming pets.

In 1994, a Travel Industry of America survey of 1,500 U.S. adults found that slightly less than 10 percent reported taking a pet (mostly dogs) on vacation.

"It's a nice niche market," says Wendy Ballard, publisher of DogGone, a 3-year-old newsletter that includes tips on traveling with the family dog.

DogGone is one of a growing number of publications and resources for people who want to travel with their pets.

Ballard said she started the bimonthly newsletter not long after her family got their beagle, Sparky -- now their roving reporter -- and realized the difficulties of traveling with a dog.

"We try to focus on destinations and what you can do with your pet when you are there -- hiking, parks, even restaurants with outdoor seating who'll allow your dog," Ballard said. "We try to sniff out all those kinds of things."

For example, DogGone found a Bark Park beach in Huntington Beach, Calif., and an outdoor cafe offering canine cuisine.

The May-June issue focused on pet-friendly dude ranches and dog-friendly destinations, including Gettysburg, Pa., Minnesota's Lake Superior shore and California's Point Isabel (a leash-free zone).

The Vero Beach, Fla., publication has a database of more than 23,000 pets-allowed motels, hotels, inns and resorts to help its 3,000 subscribers.

Most of those same hotels can be found in books devoted to traveling with pets. Among them is "Vacationing With Your Pet: Eileen's Directory of Pet-Friendly Lodging, United States & Canada" by Eileen Barish.

"I notice a lot more people traveling with pets, dogs in particular," said Barish, who published her directory two years ago and is working on state-by-state books on the same subject.

"I think, for one, that a lot of young couples are delaying having families and getting a dog instead. There are baby boomers who have an empty nest and miss having their kids around, and seniors are living much more active lives, and I think they like the safety and companionship of having a dog" while traveling, said Barish, who takes her golden retrievers, Rosie and Maxwell, everywhere.

Many pet owners have three chief pieces of advice: plan, plan, plan.

Call the hotels and airlines you will be using, and check if they allow dogs, and if they have any size restrictions, fees, rules or exercise areas.

The Motel 6 chain allows one small pet per room in most of its 760 properties nationwide. It reports that dogs are the most popular traveling companions, followed by cats.

"As Americans love their pets and often treat them as family, we're delighted to be in a position to make it easier for them to get away -- without having to worry about who's going to feed the cat or walk the dog," said Eric Studer, director of marketing services for Motel 6.

Barish said there are even some pet-friendly deluxe hotels.

"The Four Seasons chain of hotels has an excellent pet policy," she said. "Each hotel offers different amenities, including [pet food] room service and walking services, so it's available in major cities and at five-star hotels."

The hotels have adapted, in part, because they are more conscious of the needs of family travelers, Barish said. A travel industry survey found that one of the largest problems associated with family vacations is that children don't want to leave their pets behind, she said.

If you go...

Here are some resources for people who travel with their pets:

The Holiday Inn Hotel & Suite's Main Gate East: (800) 366-5437.

DogGone newsletter: (561) 569-8434 or (888) DOG-TRAVEL.

Motel 6: (800) 4MOTEL6.

"Vacationing With Your Pet:

Eileen's Directory of Pet-Friendly Lodging, United States & Canada," is published by Pet Friendly Publications, Scottsdale, Ariz., for $19.95. Call (800) 496-2665.

"Pets-R-Permitted Hotel, Motel, Kennel & Petsitter Directory." Send $11.95 to Pets-R-Permitted Sales, P.O. Box 3930-D, Torrance, Calif. 90510-3930, or call (800) 274-7297.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

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