HAPPY WANDERER – Inns with Animals


CONTRACOSTATIMES.COM April 10, 2009

I’VE NEVER understood the attraction of pet-friendly hotels. I go on vacation to get away from my pet.

OK, that’s not quite true — but I still wouldn’t bring my cat on a trip. Who would watch the house?

What I do enjoy are hotels with optional animals. The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, for instance, has twice daily duck marches from the luxurious lobby fountain to the elevator and up to the roof. It’s a spectacle that’s been part of the Peabody tradition for 75 years, and it draws such a crowd that the lobby bar is packed for a full hour before the grand Duckmaster makes his appearance.In the town of Gualala, the attraction is chickens. The MarVista Cottages feature a basket of fresh eggs on your doorstep each day, laid by the resident hens. Each egg is unique in its shape and hue, finely crafted by a bevy of ladies who spend their day hunting and pecking about the property.

But why settle for a few feathers, when you can have a whole menagerie? Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa in Southern Pennsylvania has 3,000 acres and a wild animal park on its property. They also have a gun range, so you can stroll past big game in the morning and pretend you’re shooting it in the afternoon.

Then there’s the concept of pet lending, an idea that’s popular at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. Guests of the well heeled resort can take a handsome yellow Lab for a walk, complete with dog biscuits and a leash. Would you expect any less from a posh Colorado ski property, where everyone who’s anyone is ski jouring? I don’t think so.And speaking of animals, the Talamore Golf Resort in North Carolina has llamas grazing along the fairways. They used to be used to carry golfer’s clubs, but apparently not enough players wanted to hire caddies who spit.

All these animal amenities are fine, but my favorites are the hotels that have cats. Probably the most famous is the elegant Algonquin Hotel in midtown Manhattan , where a prissy puss named Matilda holds court in the lobby. She’s become such a fixture, she gets mail from around the world.

Sadly, the best cat hotel in the bunch, the Historic Anderson House in Wabasha, Minn., just closed. A victim of the economic downturn, they were unique in their concept of offering rooms with or sans cats.

I know what you’re thinking. If I’d wanted a cat in my hotel room, I could have brought my own.

Fat chance. I’d never fit all her things in my carry on.

Have you got a favorite travel “tail”? Drop me a line at www.ginnyprior.com.

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