Tag: pet friendly
After perusing “The Privileged Pooch, Luxury Travel with Your Pet in Southern California,” I’ve decided if Ace and I ever run into author Maggie Espinosa and her dog, Marcel, on the road … they’re buying.
Unlike my Travels with Ace project, “The Privileged Pooch” – not to be confused with the fine pet boutique in Baltimore of the same name – is a guidebook that focuses on high end luxury travel with your pet.
“Now you can share Southern California’s celebrity lifestyle with your furry friend,” reads the summary on the back of the book. “The days of staying at substandard hotels and dining at drive-thru’s when traveling with the family pet are over.”
Not for me, they ain’t. But that’s not the point.
Espinosa’s point is that bringing a dog along on your trip no longer automatically relegates you to economy-level accommodations. And her book, provides plenty of examples, in highly readable form, of where you can stay, play and eat with your pet — in Palm Springs, Orange County, San Diego, Santa Barbara and greater Los Angeles.
High-end establishments are starting to wise up to the fact that about 10 million pets each year vacation with their owners — and that many of those owners are from the demographic at which tourism-related businesses commonly take aim.
“The Privileged Pooch” lists 69 hotels (not a Motel 6 among them), 55 restaurants, 56 dog-friendly activities and 38 “trendy shops” where you and your dog are welcome.
Espinosa has done some culling, weeding out those establishments that have too many restrictions or silly and unrealistic weight limits. (For the dogs, I mean. Southern California doesn’t have weight limits for people. Yet.)
She uses a rating system of one wag to four wags for pet friendliness — one being “pooches permitted,” four being “pooches paradise.”
At the latter, you might find such features as special puppy menus, a “togetherness massage” for you and your dog (at Casa Laguna Inn & Spa) or ”blueberry and plum pet facials” at a dog-friendly spa called The Healthy Spot.
Espinosa and her bichon frise, Marcel, tested all 69 hotels, and each section of the book, region by region, includes recommendations for everything from dog-friendly beaches to emergency veterinary care.
Our favorite example was the Doggie Bus in Tustin, which totes dogs and their humans to the beach at no charge. An Orange County man started providing the service not to get rich, but simply because he enjoyed doing it.
Now that’s dog-friendly.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: activities, animals, books, books on dogs, california, dog, dog books, dog friendly, dogs, guide, hotels, los angeles, luxury, maggie espinosa, marcel, orange county, palm springs, pampered, pet friendly, pets, pooch, privileged, privileged pooch, restaurants, san diego, santa barbara, shops, southern california, the privileged pooch, travel, traveling with dogs
You won’t see dogs playing poker — they’re banned from the gaming room floor — but one casino in Atlantic City has turned dog friendly, welcoming dogs into guest rooms and providing treats, food and water bowls and even a keepsake duffle bag.
Showboat has officially marked its territory as the only dog-friendly casino in Atlantic City.
The casino-hotel has set aside a collection of rooms in its New Orleans Tower to accommodate all kinds of canines.
“We’re thrilled to bring Pet Stay Atlantic City to our guests and provide the royal treatment to man’s best friend,” said Joe Domenico, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Showboat and Bally’s Atlantic City. “This initiative puts Showboat at the forefront of Atlantic City’s world-class offerings and will bring more customers to our casinos without having to leave their pets behind.”
A party to kick off the new program was held last week in Showboat’s Club Harlem.
The pet program is open to dogs only and allows a maximum of 2 dogs up to 50 pounds per room. There is a $40 fee per night for pets, but the fee will be waived during the first two weeks of the program’s launch.
Dogs are allowed in the hotel but are not permitted on the casino floor or in food and beverage areas, the spa or retail shops.
For more information, check the Showboat website.
(Photo: Courtesy of Showboat Casino)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: allowed, america, animals, atlantic city, casino, casinos, dog, dog friendly, dogs, fee, hotel, new jersey, pet friendly, pet stay, pets, road trip, rooms, showboat, tourism, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, weight limits
Lees-McRae College, located in the mountains of North Carolina, has designated its first pet-friendly dormitory, allowing students who live there to bring along their dogs, cats, birds, fish, ferrets, and hamsters.
With the opening of the Spring 2011 semester, Bentley Residence Hall went co-species.
“I am so excited that Lees-McRae College has joined the ranks of pet friendly colleges and universities. We love our pets and we recognize that students who are pet owners are generally responsible and caring individuals,” said Barry M. Buxton, president of the Presbyterian college. “We want to encourage pet adoption and awareness that all of God’s creatures are sacred.”
Students living in Bentley Hall are now allowed to bring their pets from home to school with them to live in their rooms. Under the new policy, qualifying students can have fish, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, birds, ferrets, cats and dogs under 40 pounds. (We’d argue dogs over 40 pounds are sacred, too.)
Previously, students were only allowed to have fish in residence hall rooms.
Under the new pet friendly policy, faculty and staff are also encouraged to bring their pets to campus.
“It is great to be able to have my two dogs for companionship while I am studying and doing homework in my room,” said student Lauren Lampley, owner of Shih Tzus Heidi and Buckley. “This responsibility also forces me to manage my time well enough to take care of them and make sure I make time to spend with them.”
The approved pets for the inaugural pet friendly program include a Boston Terrier, a small Labrador retriever, two Shih Tzus, a pomeranian/Chihuahua mix, a miniature dachshund, a Maine coon mix, a Siamese mix, a leopard gecko, a Dutch rabbit, two ferrets and two birds.
The new policy represents the latest in a trend toward colleges welcoming pets, noted Joshua Fried, director of Petside.com: “We know how much the companionship of a pet can benefit a college student, particularly in the form of stress-relief and as a remedy for homesickness.”
“Now I have two alarms,” one student joked. “When I ignore my alarm clock, my dog licks my face and my nose until I get up. She really cares about my education.”
Lees-McRae College, a four-year, co-educational liberal arts college, is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina in the town of Banner Elk.
(Photo courtesy of Lees-McCrae College)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 28th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: allowed, allows, animals, banner elk, bentley hall, birds, campus, cats, colleges, dog, dog friendly, dogs, dormitory, education, ferrets, gecko, guniea pigs, hamsters, lees-mcrae college, life, new, pet friendly, pets north carolina, policy, rabbit, stress, students, universities
Where I’d like to live and what I can afford are two different realms, two very different realms – a fact I bring up not because I’m the first person to experience that phenomenon, but because it is one of the reasons Ace and I are having difficulty settling down, even temporarily.
All I want is a small cabin or cottage — they being much more romantic than something called a house – away from the hubbub, with heat and electricity, perhaps on the water, with a view of said water, and maybe a porch, possibly a fireplace, and washer and dryer, either near a park or with a big backyard that Ace can romp in, for, say $700 a month.
I’m not set on that. I’d also settle for a huge artist’s loft, utilities included, under $800 a month, where I could spread out and tape notes to the walls and write brilliantly when I’m not at the neighboring dog park, or enjoying the downtown skyline of (insert city here) from my deck, or taking part in the thriving social scene and cultural activities within easy walking distance.
Am I asking too much?
Of course I am.
For those of you who haven’t been following the recent adventures of me and my dog Ace, allow me to summarize. Eight months ago, we hit the road to see some America — freeloading off friends and strangers, staying at cheap motels, spending a week on a boat, a month in a camper, a few nights in the car and in my tent. Part of the reason was to find ourselves, and find home. Part of it was to see if we could be vagabonds, roaming the country for the same amount we’d previously spent on rent and utilities at our rowhouse in Baltimore.
The trip gave me a deeper appreciation of my dog and my country; a better understanding of its faults (the country’s, Ace has none); and it confirmed my suspicion that most of the great places to live, scenic-beauty wise, have been co-opted by the rich. It also instilled in me — if it wasn’t already there — a thriftiness that, while mandated by my economic situation, borders on obsession.
I just can’t stand spending money on overpriced things, like gas, fancy restaurants, hotels, electricity and rent.
Arriving back in Baltimore, still unsure where home was, we were lucky enough to land in an empty house near the Inner Harbor that’s awaiting its new tenants — three soldiers returning from Afghanistan, expected to be back at end of February. It more than meets my needs and my budget, as it’s a friend’s house that’s costing me nothing. I, essentially, am squatting, with permission. But the clock is ticking.
So everyday, I visit Craigslist, most often “housing, sublets and temporary,” looking for a place to live for March, maybe April and May, maybe longer. I’m not limiting myself to the Baltimore area. I’ve also searched, on the Internet, the Eastern Shore, North Carolina, Delaware, Philadelphia and, on really cold days, Arizona.
My options are limited because I’m hesitant to sign up for a year’s lease and, of course, by my dog — but also by my cheapness. I will probably move to wherever I find the best deal.
For awhile, I thought I’d found it, in Wilmington, N.C. — a pet-friendly, two-bedroom home overlooking the woods on a quiet cul-de-sac close to Wrightsville Beach. At $695 a month.
I emailed about what sort of pet fees and restrictions might apply, and got a speedy response. The house was still available, and they allowed all dogs — except for for Rottweilers, Akitas, chows and pit bulls.
Ace — as some of you may know, and in answer to the question many of you have asked — is a mix of Rottweiler, Akita, chow and pit bull.
The next day I found affordable paradise again – a “cottage” in Ellicott City, Md., one that, from the pictures, looked just like what I was looking for. It was secluded, wooded, with two bedrooms and a porch, for only $700.
Again my inquiry was quickly answered:
“Thanks for your email and interest in renting my house..I am Banke Jur, the owner of the house you are making inquiry of. Actually I resided in the house with my family, my wife and my only daughter before and presently we have moved out due to my transfer from my work now in Warsaw,Poland. Presently my house is still available for rent for $700USD (rent already includes utilities). More so Now, i’m currently in the (West African) for an international Christian follower’s crusade …
“Await your urgent reply … please we are giving you all this based on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words, you know that we have not seen yet and only putting everything into Gods hands, so please do not let us down in this our property and God bless you more as you do this …
“The house is available for rent at the moment so you are free to move in as soon as you wish to. A Deposit of $500 (which happens to be the security deposit) is required before moving in. Arrangements on how to get the keys and other necessary documents delivered to you.”
Problem was, the same house was listed at $1,650 on a dozen other rental websites, including the Re/Max website, its official listing agency.
My findings thus far? What appears to be a dandy deal is often a sleazy scam. What appears too good to be true, generally is. And what I can afford seems to be a “sleeping room,” a roomate situation, or in a neighborhood that, while the house has been “rehabbed,” the neighbors, unfortunately, have not.
Searching Craigslist has given me some new pet peeves: ads that don’t include a price, address, or even neighborhood; ads for places that proclaim dog-friendliness, but limit that to dogs under 25 pounds; ads proclaiming dog-friendliness that turn out to charge an extra $100 a month for it (Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t “friendliness” you have to pay for generally called prostitution?); ads repeated so often as to make you scream; ads pretending to be offering a property that just funnel you into some other website, sucking up your time.
Not to mention they get no editing. There was one house whose owner boasted it was ”recently remolded.” Apparently the original mold wasn’t good enough.
Another ad on Baltimore’s Craigslist offered free rent for 2 months — on a farm, with pets and horses allowed — in exchange for “painting services that equal 40 hours/week.” I could do that. What I could not do, though, was pay the $3000 cash deposit they asked for.
I also came across this ”bachelor or bachelorette pad” at $875 a month, which features a built in bar, stripper pole, and, at least in the photos, what appear to be tools of restraint. I exercised some and didn’t seek more information.
There are plenty of ads for roomates. But at 57, I just can’t see moving in with a roomate, or two, or three. I thought some about this one in Canton, a shared rowhouse, for under $700 — three female roomates looking for a fourth of any gender. There were already some “mellow dogs” living there, according to the ad. Ace and I both fit into that category. While it did set me to humming the theme from “Three’s Company,” I didn’t make an inquiry — mainly because, as much as I’d try to be Jack Tripper, I’d come across as the token old coot. I am, come to think of it, a lot like Don Knotts/Mr. Furley on the inside, masked beneath the cool/sleepy exterior of Norman Fell/Mr. Roper. (Not that I actually watched that show.)
What all this is telling me is that humans, at least those on Craigslist, are not to be automatically trusted — that maybe newspaper classified ads, because people had to pay for them, were at least a bit more reliable, not to mention spam free.
It’s telling me too that that there should be a blacklist of landlords and insurers that unfairly blacklist entire breeds.
And, when I read between the lines, it’s telling me that maybe we’re not meant to settle down. Ace, I’m mostly convinced, wants to. Part of me does, too. But another part is saying that, if I invest in anything, it should be a home with wheels.
Maybe we should continue traveling the country, this time in an RV, Ace and me, perhaps with another zany sidekick – not Fran Drescher – simultaneously filming it for use as either reality show or sitcom.
You better hope I find a home, or you might have to watch it.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 27th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, akitas, animals, arizona, bachelor pad, bachelorette pad, baltimore, bans, breed restrictions, breeds, cabin, chows, cottage, craigslist, delaware, distrust, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, eastern shore, economy, freeloading, frugality, home, house, househunting, housing, income, insurance, landlords, lease, north carolina, pet fees, pet friendly, pets, pit bulls, prostitution, recreational vehicle, rent, rental, renting, roomates, rottweilers, rv, scams, settling, sharing, shelter, squatting, sublets, temporary, threes company, thriftiness, travels with ace, trust
In a way, this might not be the best time to sing the praises of Motel 6 – it being in the news now for leaving the light on for one Jared Lee Loughner.
Authorities say the Tucson man rented a room from America’s most affordable motel chain to plot the final steps of the horrific shooting spree that left six dead and 14 wounded, including U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords.
In another way, though, there’s probably no better time to stand up for a dependable, if imperfect, friend than when that friend is being tarnished with the broad brush of guilt by association.
A recent Washington Post story started out this way: “Room 411, a king-bed single in a dark and grimy Motel 6 near the railroad tracks on the western edge of Tucson, served as the staging ground for Jared Loughner’s series of pre-dawn errands before last Saturday’s shooting spree outside a suburban supermarket here.”
Pretty good writing, and — assuming it was really “dark and grimy” — nothing wrong with it, unless you’re Motel 6, in which case you find yourself, through no fault of your own, in the thick of a dark and grimy story you’d rather have no part of.
So I’m here — even though it has always been Tom Bodett’s job — to speak up for Motel 6, a topic on which I consider myself an authority. What makes me such an expert?
In the last eight months, my dog and I have stayed in Motel 6′s in Biloxi, Mississippi; New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Flagstaff, Holbrook, Yuma and Tucson, Arizona; Tucumcari and Albuquerque, New Mexico; Oklahoma City and Midwest City, Oklahoma; Lewisville, Dallas, Hunstville and Houston, Texas; Greensboro, Statesville and Raleigh, North Carolina; Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia.; New Cumberland, Pennsylvania; Niantic, Connecticut; Portland and Bangor, Maine; Syracuse, New York; Brattleboro, Vermont; Fargo, North Dakota; Billings and Butte, Montana; Spokane and Kirkland, Washington; Coos Bay, Oregon; Ukiah, Monterey, San Bernadino and Bakersfield, California; and Russellville, Arkansas.
Seventy nights in all.
Crime struck only twice, and only in the most minor of ways, both times in Texas when ohmidog! door magnets were removed from my Jeep — one in Lewisville, one in Huntsville. Then again, with a 130-pound dog at your side, folks tend to not mess with you.
During our 22,000 miles of travels, I poked a lot of fun at the chain, with its bare bones ambience, and near total lack of amentities. They’re not always in the greatest of neighborhoods. Their pools aren’t always pristine, or even open, or even there anymore. There are no ”continental” breakfasts, or in-room coffee makers at the Motel 6. You can walk to the lobby and serve yourself some, but it’s in tiny Sytrofoam cups that are empty by the time you get back to your room.
The quality varies widely from motel to motel, and the only consistency, chain-wide, is in the spartan furnishings and the tacky polyester bedspread. You get a small bar of Motel 6 soap, a couple of plastic disposable cups and, if you’re lucky, an ice bucket. I’ve gotten rooms without chairs, without hot water and, several times, with remote controls from which the batteries had been removed.
If there is a step that can be taken to conserve costs, Motel 6 has taken it.
And yet, as basic and humdrum as staying at the Motel 6 became for me (and maybe Ace, too), while there were nights I thought checking into another of its lookalike rooms would send me over the brink, I love Motel 6 — for two reasons.
It is consistently dog friendly, with no fees for pets and no restrictions on size or breeds. Most of the motel staff we encountered — with the exception of one employee who shrieked and ran away when encountering Ace — seem to like dogs. There were so many times that desk clerks passed him treats over the counter that Ace now jumps up and puts his front paws on any counter he encounters.
And it is consistently cheap — almost always under $50, often under $40, sometimes under $30.
On our trip, Motel 6 served as a huge comfort to me. Not the rooms, necessarily, but knowing it was there, in most towns, to take me in when others would turn me away because of my dog, or charge pet fees that nearly doubled the cost of a room, or just plain charge too much for our budget.
More important, it’s there for the growing masses who — foreclosed upon, laid off, or otherwise caught up in some bad luck — can get out of the cold for less than the cost of a tank of gasoline.
In a way, by not catering to the more upscale crowd, Motel 6 provides a public service — especially during the down economy. We met more than a few people who, with nowhere else to go, were calling their motel room home for now.
That Motel 6′s are more likely to be the scene of crime or other malfeasance is to be expected — in the same way poor neighborhoods have more problems than rich ones. People with criminal records and drug histories, people who are economically desperate or just plain desperate, end up there more often than, say, the Hilton.
Motel 6 deserves no blame or ridicule in connection with the shooting spree in Tucson. (Let’s save that for Sportsman’s Warehouse, where Loughner bought his Glock, and the Arizona lawmakers who have worked to make gunslinging so easy achievable in that state.)
I did a Google news search on Motel 6 earlier this week, and found most of the stories that popped up were, as I expected, about crimes: a man found bound and gagged inside a Motel 6 in Utah, an attempted robbery at a Motel 6 in Kansas, a man and woman arrested for using their Motel 6 room to print counterfeit money with an inkjet printer, a couple arrested with 2,000 illegally obtained pain and anti-anxiety pills at a Motel 6 in Alabama, a woman arrested on a prostitution charge after allegedly propositioning a plainclothes officer to join her in her Motel 6 room in Iowa.
Nobody’s sure how the monkeys ended up in South Florida. Some say they are descendants of those used in a Tarzan episode once filmed there; some believe they are descendants of monkeys bred for research that helped lead to a cure for polio.
In any case, at least two of the monkeys live behind the Dania Beach Motel 6, where motel visitors look forward to watching them come out each afternoon. I’m guessing the monkeys find the Motel 6 guests equally entertaining.
What’s great about Motel 6 is its total lack of snobbiness. Desk clerks don’t look down their noses at you, or crinkle it up when you have a dog along. If you have credit card or cash, you’re in, which is as it should be.
It’s not a motel’s job — at least one at the bargain basement level — to monitor or screen its customers.
For business that are selling guns, as opposed to a night on a mattress, there is more of an obligation to screen customers, or at least there should be, in my view.
Motels 6′s don’t kill people. Guns do. Any monkey knows that.
(Vervet photo by Joe Rimkus Jr. / Miami Herald)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amenities, america, animals dogs, basic, bedspread, budget, chain, crime, dog friendly, dog's country, dogscountry, economy, gabrielle giffords, guests, guilt by association, gun control, guns, housing, jared loughner, leave the light on for you, lodging, loughner, monkeys, motel 6, motels, neighborhoods, pet friendly, pets, praise, risk, road trip, safety, shooting, spare, spartan, spree, tom bodett, travel, travels with ace, tucson
Sweeping back through the south, we’ve crossed Tennessee and made it to North Carolina, this time without the benefit of what, back in the summer, was our favorite form of highway entertainment — looking for dogs in the kudzu.
The Vine That Ate the South is naked now, having lost its leaves for winter, leaving behind only long strands of clumped-together, spindly, bare vines. I can no longer see big green animals in the leaves, only stick figures, spider webs, spaghetti and road maps.
The kudzu will be back, though, in spring — and ready to spread as quickly as “adult superstores” have through Tennessee. There are a lot of “adult superstores” in the Volunteer State. Going down I-40, it seems like every other billboard is either touting an “adult superstore” or the fact that Jesus Saves.
After crossing the Mississippi River, we stopped outside of Memphis for a quick visit with my son, checking into a Best Western, where I had reserved a room online, after seeing it touted itself as dog-friendly.
Not until I arrived did I see that there were pet fees, according to a posting at the front desk – $15 for a dog between 5 and 20 pounds, $25 for dogs 20 to 40 pounds, and $35 for dogs 40 pounds and up.
I immediately squawked — I’ve become a bit more of a squawker in recent months – pointing out that I’d be paying almost as much for the dog as for me.
“How much does your dog weigh?” asked the desk clerk.
I thought about lying, but, having seen too many God billboards, couldn’t. Over 100 pounds, I said, adding that he’s much better behaved than a lot of 10 pound dogs, and pointing out that the whole charging by weight concept was ludicrous.
The desk clerk made a face like he’d swallowed something yukky and excused himself. Ten minutes later he was back, with a room assignment and news that they’d only charge me $25 for the dog.
Too tired to have any principles, and wanting to get off the road on New Year’s Eve, I accepted the discount and took the room. Then I seethed about the whole thing — especially the weight part — for a couple more hours.
Charging fees for dogs is not dog-friendly; its dog-greedy. I wonder how much damage dogs do to motel rooms across America, compared to that done by people.
Rather than pet fees, maybe motels should be looking at rock star fees — for they, if we’re going to stereotype, are famous for trashing rooms. Why not a fraternity boy fee? A student on spring break fee? A crying baby fee? A loud sex fee?
Only twice in our travels have we experienced loud sex — both times from the room next door. Ace and I did the only thing we could. We tilted our heads and looked at the wall the sounds were coming from, then turned up the TV.
Is that constitutional? Even prisons allow visitors.
Depite all the control being exercised in motels, or at least the one we stayed at, Tennessee, as a state, seems less successful at reigning in kudzu, or adult superstores. (Not that I have anything against adult superstores; it’s a free country, except at the particular Best Western we stayed in.)
As we passed through Tennessee, I stopped at several huge thickets of kudzu (and at no adult superstores, though I was wondering what exactly made them “super”).
I searched the bare vines for dog shapes, which some some of you may recall became a bit of an obsession for me over the summer, but I could find none.
Instead, all I could see in the withered and weepy vines were hunched over old witches, overworked peasants and evil motel desk clerks who charged exorbitant pet fees.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adult superstore, america, animals, best western, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, forms, god, i-40, Interstate 40, jesus, kudzu, kudzu dogs, lodging, motel, pet friendly, pets, road trip, shapes, south, tennessee, tourism, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, weed
Here’s the bad: Much as we’d have liked to stay in one of them, much as we are — in our own view — “hipsters,” Ace and I can’t even afford “Bohemian.”
“Minimalist,” it seems, is beyond our means.
We dropped in at the Ace Hotel in Seattle, where the chain got started, and checked out the one in Portland, where it’s now headquartered, but — even with the sliding scale it offers, with lower prices if you share a bathroom – it was out of our league.
So here, I’ve decided, is what America needs — a level of lodging slightly below Bohemian, but slightly above the YMCA, a motel chain that’s dog friendly and mostly free of germs, crawling bugs and psychos. Motel 6 probably comes closest – hopelessly unhip as it is.
The Ace Hotels, from what I saw of them, do minimalist much better, except for the price part. All four are in old buildings with rich histories, and the furnishings– from hotel to hotel and from room to room – are varied and eclectic, as opposed to going the cheap motel route of putting the same cookie-cutter formica furniture in every room across the nation.
Therein lies the difference between Bohemian and Institutional, and who wouldn’t rather spend the night in a place that makes you feel like a beatnik, as opposed to an inmate.
Depending on your own personal economic condition, Ace Hotels are worth checking into if you’re traveling to New York, Palm Springs, Portland or Seattle, because, on top of their dog friendliness, they have some character, which the big chains always lack.
There is another solution to this issue — this issue being getting accurate information on lodging that has character, and is both dog and wallet friendly — and it doesn’t involve chains at all. Instead it involves looking at the world through something other than a corporate lens.
There are some otherwise fine guide books and websites out there that can help one find dog-friendly hotels and motels. The problem is, most of them don’t make much effort to include the non-chains, the mom-and-pop, small independent motels — many of them dog friendly — that don’t charge exorbitant prices for a room. And still have character.
Perhaps it would be too much work for the guidemakers. Perhaps mom and pop aren’t Internet-savvy enough to get their establishments listed. In any case, the result is, from AAA to bringfido.com, the options presented are almost always the big boys — Motel 6, Super 8, Best Western, La Quinta, Holiday Inn, Sheraton, Hilton, Hyatt and on up the ladder of chains.
As a result, pup-friendly mom and pop — who are probably much more in need of the boost in business that comes with being known as dog-friendly – are ignored, because they own one motel instead of 500 of them.
Ranting aside, we stopped by the Ace Hotel in Seattle to take a look, and considered staying at the one in Portland. Both, in the parlance of the trade, are considered ”boutique” hotels — which is basically a term meaning it hasn’t grown into full chainhood yet and is still small enough to be charming
While both qualified for our hipster seal of approval, both were beyond our budget, even if we shared a bathroom.
The desk clerk at the Ace in Seattle explained that the name was chosen because aces can be both high and low, and the hotel strives to provide lodgings at both ends of the spectrum, as well as provide high quality at low price.
The hotel in Seattle is in a former Salvation Army halfway house located in the Belltown neighborhood. In Portland, the Ace moved into what was the Clyde Hotel, the lobby of which served as a setting for scene in the movie, “Drugstore Cowboy.” The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In Palm Springs, the Ace Hotel is in a converted Howard Johnson’s; and in New York it occupies the Breslin, a former single-room-occupancy hotel at the corner of 29th Street and Broadway. Transforming it meant displacing some longtime residents.
A New York Times review of the hotel called it “shabby chic” before snottily adding, ”a bit too redolent of the past.”
Ace Hotels got their start when Seattle native Alex Calderwood and some friends decided to create a hip yet minimalist hotel. The Ace Hotel in Seattle opened in 1999; and in 2007 they opened one in Portland.
Calderwood’s hipsterness went back even further than that. He used to throw warehouse parties for the grunge set, later moving up to hosting events for Microsoft. Today, he holds four Aces, and, at last report, had his sights set on a fifth.
Given that growth, I think it’s time the chain start considering some advertising, and perhaps a spokesdog. I have one in particular in mind, whose services can be obtained for a reasonable fee — a sliding scale even. I’ve got some other promotional ideas, too, such as complimentary slightly used flannel pajamas for all guests, and even a slogan to help get across the message that the hotels are dog friendly:
“We’ll leave the bowl out for you.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace hotel, affordability, alex calderwood, america, animals, bohemiam, chains, character, corporate, corporations, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, hipster, hotel, hotels, lodging, minimalist, motels, new york, palm springs, pet friendly, pets, portland, road trip, seattle, shabby chic, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
Seeking shelter in Saugerties, Ace and I opted for a KOA campground, just down the road from my grandparent’s old house.
This time though, rather than pitch the tent, we upgraded to a “Kozy Kabin,” which, while it didn’t require kopious amounts of kash, was priced slightly over our limit at $50-plus a night, plus a dog fee.
But it was pretty much perfect for our needs — those being something close to warmth, something soft to sleep on and a place for Ace to romp.
We opted for a one-room cabin and were assigned to K-8, which was right next door to K-9. The cabins don’t have plumbing, but they do have electricity, allowing me to recharge all the various devices I’m toting. The bathroom and showers were just 50 yards down a path. And we directly across from the fenced in dog park, which, while not huge, was filled with agility equipment.
And best of all we had not just a grill, but a fire pit, and a picnic table and a front porch swing — sturdy enough to hold us both.
The Saugerties Woodstock KOA was highly pet friendly; and its owners have two dogs of their own — a bulldog and a lab mix — who live there with them.
When they took over the campground, six years ago, only one cabin was open to dogs, but they’ve since changed the rules and now allow dogs in all of them. Squirrels and humans, they noted, have been responsible for much more damage than dogs have.
KOA’s pet policy permits dogs at all campgrounds, but not all of them allow dogs in the cabins.
KOA’s website advises that guests “check with the campground about its specific pet policies. Some don’t allow pets in Kamping Kabins, for example, or may have limited pet units. Others don’t accept particular breeds that insurance providers have identified as having a history of aggression.”
I opted for a can of green beans, combined with can of mushroom soup, topped with crumbled up crackers.
On night two, I cracked open my can of Spam, which made Ace perk up and led to a visit from the dog next door, named Micro, who was staying with his owner in a restored 1960 Airstream trailer.
Some KOA campgrounds are now offering guests the option to spend the night in Airstreams. The shiny silver trailers are being rented overnight at KOA’s in Santa Cruz, California; Bar Harbor, Maine; Key West, Florida; and Las Vegas.
We might have to give one a try.
Our cabin served us well, though, its space heater keeping us cozy at night. We built lots of campfires, made lots of coffee and made full use of the porch swing.
When the time came to move on, I decided that, rather than putting my sleeping bag and pillows back on rooftop carrier, I’d use them instead to cushion Ace’s ride a little more. He seemed to appreciate the fluffier ride, and it spared me the hassle of getting things out of and back into the rooftop carrier.
Even after buying a new carrier, I’ve noticed its contents are still getting wet. And that’s the last thing we want — now that we’re in a kolder klimate.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, cabins, campgrounds, camping, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, kabins, koa, kozy, kozy kabin, micro, new york, pet, pet friendly, pets, policy, road trip, saugerties, tents, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, woodstock
Heading north from Richmond, and doing our best to stay off I-95 (sorry, NPR), we stopped a Mexican restaurant called Nacho Mama’s — not be be confused with Baltimore’s — where Ace was brought the biggest bucket of water we’ve ever been served.
He was far more interested in the tortilla chips, though — at least until my pork enchiladas came. That’s when the serious salivation began.
Ace drooled some, too.
This is nacho Baltimore Nacho Mama’s, but, with two locations in the Richmond area, it’s serving up some pretty fine food, and both welcome dogs to their outdoor areas.
As soon as we sat down, my waiter, who has three pit bulls, brought out a big black bucket, halfway filled with water. My portion of food was equally generous, leaving me, once I polished it off, wanting a nice nap.
But instead we followed U.S. 301 up to Bowling Green, and state highway 2 into Fredericksburg, where we’d been offered overnight accommodations by an old college roomate with an even older dog. (You’ll meet Puck tomorrow.)
From there we kept to the backroads, stopping for the night in Waldorf, before reaching Baltimore Friday. Our first stop was Ace’s old stomping ground — Riverside Park — where Ace reunited with some old friends.
It was a little strange coming home to a place we no longer have a home.
But we’ll talk more about that Monday.
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, dining, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, mexican food, nacho mama's, ohmidog!, pet friendly, pets, restaurants, richmond, virginia
A snow skier.
A bear and a dog (not counting Ace).
Some eagles, a pink flamingo and a cactus.
They are all there on the Motel 6 bedspread — every Motel 6 bedspread (except at those Motel 6′s that have been remodeled, in a motif somewhere between Santa Fe chic and Homeless Shelter stark.)
Because I have stayed at so many — it being the only chain consistently cheap and dog friendly — the Motel 6 bedspread is now emblazoned, if not on my body, at least on my brain.
I am very, very weary of the Motel 6 bedspread, and I think, it being stuck in my mind like a bad song, it is influencing my dreams: The fisherman meets the snow skier and tells him this bedspread isn’t big enough for the both of them. The fisherman’s dog sits patiently as they argue. Eagles soar overhead. A pink flamingo wanders out from behind a cactus and, in John Waters’ voice, asks for directions. A bear comes out of his den and, in Tom Bodell’s voice, invites them all inside. They decline and pile into the pick up truck (also on the bedspread). The bear says, “We’ll leave the lights on for you.” But they are gone by then.
It is a dizzying sight. There is much going on atop the Motel 6 bedspread — perhaps a little too much. It’s about four shades of blue, with purple, pink, green, tan, red, yellow and orange. It is polyester; I’d guess 130 percent polyester. Luggage, your dog, and yourself all might slide off it if not careful. If there were a stain on it, you would never know; it would disappear amid all the colors and activity.
Weary, as I said, of that bedspread, and fearing I was falling into a routine — when this trip is all about avoiding that — I pulled into Hampton Roads, Virginia, which, like the Motel 6 bedspread, is a far too busy conglomeration, a confusing patchwork of individual towns.
I was determined to find something other than a Motel 6, maybe a cheap and independent motel. I must have stopped at five of them — being told at each that my dog wasn’t welcome. They had low weekly rates, likely hourly rates as well, but, empty and down at the heels as they appeared, each had a strict ban on dogs.
Frustrated, and getting a bit prickly, I got on the Internet and searched for dog friendly lodgings, but nearly all of them — except Motel 6 and La Quinta – charged pet fees, often in amounts that were more than the human fee, some as much as $125 for a single night.
I believe I went down every one of the roads in Hampton Roads – getting caught in traffic in many of them.
At a Motel 6 — where, because it was the weekend and because it’s beach season, the prices were jacked up to $59 a night.
We had planned to spend the weekend in the area, and perhaps hit the beach, but between a scheduling conflict, the prices and the dog-unfriendly vibe, we decided to move on.
We did see a nice big empty mansion on our way north — one that once belonged to a guy named Michael Vick — but that’s a story for tomorrow.
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, beach, bedpread, chesapeake, deposits, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, dreams, fees, hampton roads, lodging, motel 6, motels, non-refundable, norfolk, ohmidog!, pet friendly, pets, portsmouth, road trip, scenes, sleep, travel, traveling with dogs, virginia beach