It’s unclear who wins the title of the oldest pet-friendly hotel on the Oregon coast, but at roughly 389 in dog years, Cannon Beach’s Hallmark Resort must certainly be in the running. And all because back in the 1940s, one dog had to, well, go.
“Legend has it our founders Bill and Georgie Hay were in Cannon Beach walking their dog and the dog ran up and peed on a For Sale sign,’ said Ric Rabourn, CEO and president of Hallmark Inns and Resorts. “They took that as a sign and that was the first property the Hays purchased. It’s been pet friendly since 1948. We hosted 20,000 pets company-wide last year in Newport and Cannon Beach.”
Pet-friendly hotels are nothing new, but the trend toward welcoming traveling four-legged friends has been growing in recent years, said Allison Keeney, global communications manager with Travel Oregon.
“A large part of that trend is because a growing number of pet owners consider pets a member of the family and are wanting to take them along,” Keeney said. “Since more people are wanting to bring furry friends, more lodgings are allowing it.”
The pandemic also played a role, she said. During the years when COVID changed our world, more people adopted pets, and since they worked remotely, they also traveled more and took their pets along.
Chris Hart, a commercial real estate lender based in Bellevue, Washington, guesses he’s been up and down the Oregon coast with his golden retrievers at least 150 times in the past 30 years, staying in hotels from Cannon Beach to Gold Beach. First, there was Buckley, who died in 2015, and now Charlie.
“When I would pull off the exit to go to Cannon Beach, both would start to whine and then, when we would get to the Hallmark, Buckley would walk in and go behind the front desk and press his nose on the door where they kept dog treats. He didn’t ask permission; he would just run back.”
Traveling nurse Kerry Phyillaier rarely travels anywhere without her golden retriever, Kaia, but it’s not easy. Because leaving a pet behind is a no-no, Phyillaier must find a dog sitter to care for her pup during her 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. shift and find pet-friendly restaurants for meals.
“It involves a lot of planning in advance,” Phyillaier said. “I’ve had great experiences. Most hotels that allow dogs aren’t ritzy. I don’t want a place that is super fancy, but I also avoid really cheap hotels because I don’t want paper thin walls in case she is going to be barking and I want to feel safe myself. I just want a place that is going to be really nice to my dog.”
Traveling with pets – and most lodgings generally define that as dogs or cats – means extra work for the traveler, but it’s also work for the hotel. Pet-friendly rooms often require more cleaning — many hotels set aside specific rooms for pets so people with pet allergies aren’t affected. They also offer additional amenities for four-legged friends, including bowls, treats, toys, protective sheets for the furniture and recommendations for pet sitters.
“Our pet-friendly rooms are the first that sell out,” said Patrick Nofield, president of Escape Lodging. “They take a little more maintenance, but they are probably some of the most spotless rooms you’ll see.”
Guests at the company’s lodgings, which include The Ocean Lodge and Inn at Cannon Beach, are asked to sign a pet contract, which talks about being conscientious, and not leaving pets unattended. “We make the pet the focus,” Nofield said. “The first thing you’ll see when you come into the lobby is a welcome sign with a dog bone and names of the pets that are staying with us. It’s really sweet.”
In addition to the usual extras, Escape Lodging offers pet stations outside for cleaning up after the beach visit. “Instead of being a burden we make it like you are the star of the show,” Nofield said. “Owners love the fact the pets are promoted.”
Traveling with a pet also means added expenses for the traveler, with many lodgings charging an added fee per night and sometimes per pet.
“We charge $25 per night,” said Hallmark’s Rabourn. “We’re probably spending at least $15 of that on stuff going into the rooms. It’s really to cover our actual costs. We give 5% of pet fees collected to the animal shelter in Newport and the Humane Society in Cannon Beach. By the time you figure in extra labor and the donation we make, it’s not a profit for us.”
While pet-friendly might mean more work for the hotel staff, there are rewards, too. Daniel Mathre, assistant manager at The Ocean Lodge, recalls Paddington, a mini schnauzer, who stayed at the hotel two or three times a year.
“One of my favorite things, every time he would pass the front desk, he would sit at my feet and watch the door while I scratched his back. He was so calm and well-mannered. This would happen multiple times a day. It was like him saying, ‘OK, time for a back rub.’ We always looked forward to our time together. Unfortunately, Paddington passed away in 2021 and he is very missed.”
With pet-friendly accommodations increasing, so are tips for travelers on how to travel safely – both for pets and people. Oregon State Parks offers a “Pawsitive” information site and both Travel Oregon and the Oregon Coast Visitors Association have websites dedicated to pet-friendly tips.
“We’re reminding folks when and where and how they need to be on a leash, sharing recommended spots where you should bring your dog and where you shouldn’t,” said Jim Beasley, global sales and marketing manager for Oregon Coast Visitors Association. “We’re also trying to help with messaging, trying to mitigate the negative impact of bringing critters on the beach. No. 1 always and forever is to keep them safe, keep them leashed … and keep yourself out of trouble.”
For more on pet-friendly travel, see:
— Lori Tobias, for The Oregonian/OregonLive