Ruffin’ It: Hotels That Cater to Dogs

Step inside Arizona’s Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, and you’ll be surprised to meet the newest member of the hotel staff. Bixby, a yellow lab, is the resort’s dog ambassador, greeting guests as they enter the lobby. Some might say this resort has gone to the dogs!

The luxurious Fairmont brand, in recognition of the fact that people are increasingly vacationing with their furry friends in tow, is bending over backwards to make room for this new breed of traveler. Fairmont’s not alone. A growing number of hotels across the U.S. are catering to canines, offering everything from welcome goodie bags to enclosed dog runs. Some even have staff that will walk your dog while you’re out.

Yet even among hotel chains that claim to be pet-friendly, individual policies can vary. Some merely tolerate dogs, while others roll out the red carpet. Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego can set up dog surf lessons and offers an in-room dining menu (prepared by their chefs!) for pets.

Some hotels enforce weight limits and have rules about dogs being crated if guests are out of their rooms. Others charge a daily fee for pets or require a security deposit, while others (Red Roof Inn and Kimpton) charge nothing at all. For specific pet policies at hotels across the U.S., check out, a website loaded with information about pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and attractions.

Tips for Traveling With Dogs

Dog behaviorist Cesar Millan recommends dogs fast for at least six hours before travel. The American Kennel Club advises travellers to carry a recent picture of their pet in case they need help locating it. Since most owners have as many pictures of their dog on their phone as their kids and grandkids, that should be an easy one!

Melissa Halliburton, founder of and author of “Ruff Guide to the United States,” has these tips for traveling with your dog:

  • Exercise your dog before a long trip so Fido can rest while in transit.
  • On road trips, keep your dog hydrated and plan to make appropriate stops so your pooch can stretch his legs and do his business.
  • Bring vaccination records. Also, make sure your dog is wearing a tag with information about where you can be reached en route.
  • Bring familiar toys from home for comfort.
  • Download the BringFido app. It’s got info on more than 25,000 dog-friendly hotels, restaurants and attractions while on the road.
Dog surfing lessons offered through Loews Coronado Bay Resort. Photo courtesy of Loews Coronado Bay Resort
Dog surfing lessons offered through Loews Coronado Bay Resort. Photo courtesy of Loews Coronado Bay Resort

Dog-Friendly Hotels

Here are a few hotels considered to be dog friendly. Remember to call before booking for specifics.


Besides many of the hotels having dog ambassadors, guests are given a food and water dish, dog toy and resource list highlighting dog-friendly parks, al fresco restaurants, vets and other services. Some Fairmonts, like the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, will require dogs left alone in a guest room be crated. L.L. Bean makes a compact, easily portable crate that fits dogs up to 100 pounds.

Rates vary, but Fairmont Scottsdale Princess charges a pet fee of $25/day.

Best Western

The economical hotel chain did a study with AAA Travel and found more than 50 percent of travelers would like to vacation with their pets. They’ve responded to that demand by offering tips on traveling with your pet on their website, which also lists policies at different Best Western hotels.

Staybridge Suites

Staybridge Suites Gulf Shores. Photo courtesy of Andrea Guthmann
Staybridge Suites Gulf Shores. Photo courtesy of Andrea Guthmann

Another budget-friendly roadside hotel that prides itself on offering plenty of canine comforts is the Staybridge Suites brand. Each individual hotel has its own policies, but here’s how the Staybridge Suites near the Gulf Shores of Alabama will pamper your pooch: welcome doggie bag at check-in (bandana, chew toy and list of pet-friendly al fresco restaurants), gated outdoor dog run and jar of dog biscuits at the front desk. Bring your dog along to enjoy the fishing, nature trails, bird watching and nearby dog-friendly beaches with sugar-white sand and turquoise waters.

Want to hear live music at Lulu’s—sister of native son Jimmy Buffet—or enjoy fresh Gulf seafood at the elegant Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina or Shipp’s Harbour Grill? Staybridge staff will gladly take your dog out for a walk, free of charge, while you’re gone. No wonder more than half the guests at Staybridge Suites Gulf Shores have dogs! Dog-toting guests pay a $75 pet fee for up to six nights.

Mission Point Resort

Headed to Michigan this summer? Consider taking a trip back in time to car-free Mackinac Island. Dogs are welcome on the ferry. The island’s elegant Mission Point Resort recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation, and welcomes dogs of all sizes. Book the “Pooch Package” and you’ll get a water bowl, Frisbee and pet treats. Dogs are welcome in the lobby and outdoor areas, and all of the resort’s restaurants (except for the one fine dining spot) have patio spaces that welcome dogs. Expect to pay a $50 one-time pet fee.

Grand Traverse Resort

Dog Dreams Inn at Grand Traverse Resort, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Resort
Dog Dreams Inn at Grand Traverse Resort, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Grand Traverse Resort

Another popular Michigan getaway has come up with a unique solution for dog owners. Grand Traverse Resort doesn’t allow dogs to stay in the rooms. Instead, they have a dog-boarding facility on the property. Guests at Grand Traverse Resort can check their pooch into Dog Dreams Inn for $35 per day. The cage-free facility means dogs are free to roam the fenced-in outdoor play area and owners are welcome to stop in and check on their dog any time – that is if you can find the time between the pools, golf, spa treatments and fine dining offered on the resort’s 900 acres! When you’re ready for some serious exercise, race your dog down the sand dunes at nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A national park with 65 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan, it was voted the “most beautiful place in America” by ABC’s “Good Morning America” viewers in 2011.

Questions to Ask When Booking

  • Can the dog be left in the room unattended?
  • Are dogs allowed on the beach, pool, gardens or other public walking paths?
  • Are dogs welcome at outdoor patios and restaurants?

If you’re a dog owner, you know that pet-friendly places rule. No bones about it. Do your homework before you travel, so that you and your canine companion can peacefully enjoy the dog days of summer together. That includes thinking about whether your dog is fit to travel. If your pet is aggressive or overly shy, it’s best to leave it at home.

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