As we pulled away from The Kentucky Castle’s gates, I could sense right away it wouldn’t be the impressive castle towers, the incredible farm-to-table meals, or even the lush bedding we slept in that my son would remember from our time in Versailles, Kentucky. It was our first vacation as a family of four, and as my 3-year-old son began introducing his 3-month-old baby sister to his new favorite toy — a plush replica of the castle hotel’s miniature highland steer — I knew it would be the time he spent petting and playing with Tucker, The Kentucky Castle’s mascot, that would forever be the highlight of his time in Kentucky.
Animal mascots, like Tucker, have an amazing ability to enhance even the most spectacular hotels with an extra dose of personality and special sense of home. For instance, when guests check in to Crowne Plaza HY36 in Midtown Manhattan, they’re greeted by a 2-year-old black lab named Mayor. “Mayor is our Happiness Ambassador, and he spends most of his time during the day with our employees, always offering a wagging tail and bringing everyone joy, truly living up to his title,” said Mandy Wilson, director of sales and marketing for the pet-friendly Crowne Plaza HY36. “He joins us for a few events throughout the year and always participates with his contagious personality, constantly providing smiles to our team and our guests alike.”
Hotel pets come in all shapes and sizes and carry all kinds of job titles, from canine ambassador to resident feline, but regardless of their position, these animals play a big role in the guest experience.
At Viceroy Snowmass in Colorado, guests can join the hotel’s resident house dog, Vi, on a daily hike. The year-old Bernese Mountain Dog has become a fixture in more than just the hotel’s lobby since being introduced on National Pet Day. Four-legged and two-legged guests alike are greeted by her wagging tail, and guests booking the Viceroy’s VIP Pup Package receive a customized amenity bag with a leash, doggie bags and a house-made organic dog treat. Room service menus at the hotel even include dog treats, perfect for pets to enjoy near the grand fireplace … where you’ll often find Vi after a long day on the slopes.
Timberline Lodge in Oregon has housed resident St. Bernards since the hotel’s inception in 1937. Heidi and Bruno continue the legacy today, bringing guests along for adventures in the snow for leisurely hikes or snowshoe excursions with their handler. The tradition has become so beloved over the years, there is even a children’s book — Heidi’s Rose by Stephen Cosgrove — that highlights the true meaning of friendship, as taught by one of the dogs at Timberline Lodge.
Some hotel pets arrived alongside their humans during management changes, while others were grandfathered in through longstanding traditions … and then there are the pets that have become so iconic it’s nearly impossible to mention their respective hotels without a reference to their presence. Take The Peabody Memphis, for instance, where a team of ducks parades through the grounds like celebrities each day. The tradition began nearly 90 years ago, when the general manager placed live ducks in the hotel’s fountain as a joke after a hunting trip. A former circus trainer working at the hotel taught the ducks to march to the fountain, and to this day the ducks march to the lobby fountain at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.
Across the Atlantic, one fancy feline reached celebrity status after taking up residence in one of the world’s finest luxury properties, Le Bristol Paris. “The hotel’s former CEO adopted Fa-Raon [a white Birman cat with beautiful blue eyes] in 2010,” explained Jean-Marie Burlet, guests relation manager, Le Bristol Paris. “He wanted to highlight the family spirit of Le Bristol Paris and thought the cat would signal family friendliness. Sometimes travelers come for a long period of time, and they are away from their own home, so it is nice to have that ‘touch of comfort,’ thanks to an animal presence.”
Fa-Raon lived among the hotel’s 3-Michelin-starred kitchen, hotel garden and beauty salon until he retired from his role as feline resident in 2021 and handed the torch to his son, Socrate. Le Bristol is one of the most pet-friendly places in Paris, and Socrate and Fa-Raon have brought guests a new way to interact with the property. Burlet added, “Needless to say, Socrate is very popular among [the] hotel’s guests. Many of them hope to see him during their stay and are happy when he shows up. Our concierges team frequently receives drawings from children as well as gifts from our (regular) guests who love to spoil him. Socrate also inspired Le Bristol Paris’ chocolate factory teams as they created a cat-shaped Socrate chocolate filled with marshmallow.”
Just about every hotel pet gets more than enough attention they deserve — often in the form of belly rubs and gentle pats — but a few of these hospitality hounds rise to influencer status with their own social media following. Jack the Hotel Dog (@jackthehoteldog) is living the dream at The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Waikiki. This 2-year-old bulldog’s only role: making sure everyone is having a good time. Jack hosts his own events and books playdates daily with guests and their four-legged companions. He’s also the model for the hotel’s Instagram page as well as his own, where he has a loyal following of people eager to see him enjoying the hotel’s pet-friendly amenities, such as free “puppaccinos” at Banks Journal coffee shop and paddle and surf lessons with SUPDog Hawaii.
An Insta-famous feline in New York City boasts more than 5,000 followers on his Instagram page. Hamlet (@thealgonquincat) is the 12th-generation resident feline at The Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan. A true rags-to-riches story, Hamlet was rescued from a feral colony on Long Island before arriving at the hotel. Guests follow along on social media as he entertains guests at the hotel, attends fashion shows and lives his absolute best life as New York City’s most famous cat.
Some hotel pets aren’t in it for the belly rubs or the fame (although both tend to follow), like Hairy, the current dog-in- residence at Bobby Hotel in Nashville. The hotel partners with the Nashville Humane Association; the team selects and adopts a dog from the Humane Society before training him or her as an emo- tional support animal while at the hotel. After a year in residence, the dog is given up for adoption to a U.S. veteran in need. Hairy is well into his training, as he was welcomed in at 4 months old in June 2021, and has been under the guidance of premier dog-training expert Linda Gregg since he took his first steps into the vibrant lifestyle hotel. The program began in 2018, the same year the hotel first opened, when it welcomed Sascha, a loveable brown-and-black mixed-breed dog who wormed her way into the hearts of guests. Guests are encouraged to donate to the Humane Association and, of course, are always welcome to donate some love and attention to the very good boys and girls that take up residence in the hotel.
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