I was just in Seattle for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game weekend, and chose the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, which is withing walking distance of the Mariners’ home, T-Mobile Park, It also sits in the heart of the Downtown Waterfront district, an easy stroll from highlights such as the famous Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum, and much more. The hotel and location worked out great.
But what impressed me most was the dog park.
I have written extensively on pet travel and dog friendly hotels, and in recent years, with the dramatic growth in the rate of dog ownership in the United States, the large expansion of fractional private jet travel, the pandemic inspired surge in road tripping, and the way Americans increasingly treat their dogs like children (no judgement there, I absolutely do that with my two golden retrievers), “pet-friendly” has become a very big thing in the travel industry. Luxury hotels that previously did not welcome dogs have been forced to change by the demands of affluent travelers. I’ve interviewed top travel agents and hotel managers about this, and these days I get marketing pitches weekly (at least) from hotels with pet programs, often extensive ones. But not all “pet friendly” hotels are truly pet friendly, and many still only cater to small dogs, charge often quite high daily fees for adding a pet, hefty deposits, or have so many rules and fine print there’s nothing friendly about it.
That being said, there are many great and truly pet friendly standout hotels in this country (the luxury Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is probably my all-time favorite). But for the most part, exceptional pet programs remain the province of individual hotels, while there are far fewer higher-end pet-friendly brands or chains that frequent travelers can rely on wherever they go. Among these, standouts include Loews Hotels and the luxe Auberge Resorts and Montage brands, but all three have relatively few locations. For an upscale brand that is reliably – and completely – pet-friendly pretty much anywhere you go, it’s tough to beat Kimpton.
A tough lesson I learned while staying at a nice pet friendly hotel in New York’s Theater District is that in the urban setting, it is not enough for the hotel to welcome your dog, it also has to be someplace your dog wants to be when he or she goes outside, preferably with grass. In Manhattan, there are no hotels on Riverside Park, so if you are not on the very high rent Central Park South or Columbus Circle, you probably are a long way from any urban oasis that is not fenced off from Fido. So, the idea of a hotel in the middle of a Downtown area having its own fenced in, outdoor dog park, like the Monaco in Seattle, is a real eye opener. But it’s hardly the only one.
The Kimpton brand was dog friendly from the day it debuted more than three decades ago. The original location was in San Francisco, and as Kimpton’s corporate materials state: “The idea behind our first hotel was simple: a place one could stay that felt more like a beautiful, livable and stylish home than a big, impersonal hotel.”
That’s the case for dogs too (and pretty much any other pets you might bring). Unlike many competitors, Kimpton never has a charge for pets, there’s no deposit required, no size/weight limit and no limit on number of pets allowed. There’s a blackboard at the front desk with the names of pet guests in residence and your pet is always welcomed by name. Some hotels have their own canine Directors of Pet Relations to greet new friends and there are always welcome dog treats on hand. In case you forget something for your best friend, every Kimpton is in the “Forgot It? We’ve Got It!” program with essential pet items like water bowls, mats, doggie bags, etc., to use or borrow during your stay. All Kimpton properties offer a concierge list of local and nearby pet-friendly restaurants, parks, groomers and pet boutiques, while door hangers alert other hotel guests and staff that your cat, dog, or other beloved pet is in the room.
However, while Kimpton has always been a leader in this space, they have greatly expanded the number of destinations they serve, with more on the way (including midtown Manhattan, Denver, Reno, Salt Lake City, and Mexico City, plus several overseas). They are even expanding into the all-inclusive resort space with their first such effort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya next year.
At the same time, they keep adding dog friendly extras, and most recently launched a new first-of-its-kind partnership with Wag!, a digitally-based provider community of dog walking and pet sitting services. This gives guests and employees easy access to on-property walks and drop-in pet sitting at more than 65 Kimpton properties in the U.S. In addition, Kimpton guests get a complimentary month subscription of Wag! Premium with every stay.
Some individual properties go above and beyond brand standards with extras like the doggy park in Seattle. Another famous Kimpton fixture is its hosted Evening Social Hour, with a gathering featuring free wine or beer in the lobby, at every property every evening. These are meant for human guests, but increasingly, select hotels allow you to bring your dog.
Kimpton currently has about 80 locations worldwide, with a couple of dozen more under construction and planning. About three quarters of them are in North America, but the brand is in the Caribbean, Europe, Asia Pacific and Australia. There are lots of standouts, but for leisure travelers (business travelers don’t bring dogs as much) it’s notable that the brand is present in many desirable vacation destinations such as New Orleans, Bozeman, MT, Key West, Nashville, Palm Springs, San Diego, and Washington DC as well as most big cities. There are urban hotels, beach resorts, mountain resorts, spa properties and more.
Kimpton is now part of global hotel company IHG Hotels & Resorts and its IHG One Rewards loyalty program. IHG has 17 brands you can accumulate and use points at, the biggest of which is Holiday Inn (including Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza), but also top shelf luxury labels including InterContinental, Regent and Six Senses.
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