Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pets are Welcome: Travel Tips for Your Furry Friends

There’s a great scene in the excellent debut of FX’s original series “Fargo.” Billy Bob Thornton’s character Lorne Malvo tries to check into a local motel in the show’s fictional setting of Bemidji, Minn., and is amused by the run down property’s Pet Policy — pets are allowed but it is $10 dollars more for a dog or a cat. 

"What if I got a fish? Or what if I kept spiders or mice? What if I had bacteria?” Lorne asks, not sure that the motel’s Pet Policy of $10 more should be standard; it should depend on the animal.

While Lorne’s confusion on what constitutes a pet and the motel’s lack of established policy, and what actually constitutes a pet for that matter, is a bit silly. A good word to the wise — amateur entomologists should keep their bugs at home!

All kidding aside, it does illustrate a good example for hotel-bound pet enthusiasts — if you are traveling with a furry friend make sure to do your homework and figure out what options hotels have for you. Pet policies vary widely from dogs only, with no special pet services, to allowing a variety of animals complete with available pet beds, food bowls and even treats from the kitchen.

The Daniel has a Pet Policy and it lets you know exact guidelines for bringing a pet.

Here is what we say at The Daniel: 

We love animals! But, despite our unconditional love for pets, we are aware that many of our guests don’t share our love. Therefore, we do have a limited policy regarding your furry family members.

Pets are limited to dogs and cats. No other animals of any kind are permissible. We do have designated rooms that allow for pets, so you must inform us at the time of booking, as these rooms are subject to availability.

We require guests to sign a damage/pet waiver and make a $100 deposit, which will be returned after checkout if no damage occurs.

As the comfort and safety of our guests is of the utmost importance, pets must not bark or be aggressive; they must be trained and housebroken. Pets are not allowed in the spa, fitness or dining areas. Owners must not leave their pet unattended or leave the premises without their pet, unless prior approval has been made. Any pet or owners violating this policy will be asked to leave the hotel.

An AAA study found that 51 percent of American travelers would bring pets along on every vacation if they could, illustrating the demand for pet-friendly hotels.

The perhaps obvious number one concern for those wishing to travel with pets is actually finding pet-friendly accommodations. According to AAA, some of the things that matter the most include: finding places that accept pets (95 percent), learning about pet policies such as size limits and fees (49 percent) and getting details about available pet services (22 percent).

Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook” offers some other useful tips.

It is great when hotels, such as The Daniel, have such a clear Pet Policy, but not all do and sometimes it can be difficult to find out.

Increasingly, pet lovers are turning to pet-friendly websites and social media to find pet-friendly hotels, even more so than traditional visitors bureaus, newspaper travel sections, magazines and guidebooks.

Pet Hotels of America is one of the best websites to check out. The site hawks 25,000 pet-friendly hotels in the United States through a specific search engine and pet travel guides for popular U.S. travel destinations.

If anything, websites such as Pet Hotels of America can be a real help in highlighting what travelers need to consider when bringing along a pet.

The Daniel offers up a few more local travel tips to keep your pets happy:
  • Nearby grassy areas
  •  Neighborhood dog parks or pet friendly parks
  •  Groomers or pet day care
  • Local veterinarian
So, load up man’s best friend and head on out. With a little prep it can be a pet-friendly travel world out there. As far as bacteria goes, though, Fargo’s Lorne Malvo is probably out of luck.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hotel Amenities: What’s in Your Guest Room?

It’s not easy becoming part of Troca Hotels. Just ask some of the amenities lined up to vie for a coveted spot at one of our hotels. If you want to be part of the brand you had better bring your “A” game because we take the selection process seriously.

The fact of the matter is not just any amenity is going to end up at one of our hotels. No, to make the final cut, to earn that spot at one of our hotels, such as The Sofala 15°74 in Goa, India, or The Daniel 43°69 in Brunswick, Maine, you’ve got to have an interesting story, perform really well, and be a little different.

When guests check into a property within the Troca Hotels collection, they are not seeking cookie-cutter experiences. From the check in to check out, Troca Hotels are an experience — from caring and helpful staff, to creative interiors and artwork to guestrooms that are thoughtful and comfortable. Amenities, long overlooked as throwaway essentials, are a part of the details we care a lot about.

At Troca Hotels we are curators of our guests’ experiences. We are not shy about sharing our learned opinions about what will make their stays most enjoyable nor are we reticent to ask their opinions and learn from them. We are creating experiences for our guests by listening to their needs and then adapting to them. When it comes to amenities, that means lining them all up and digging in to figure out what our guests will appreciate and enjoy best and searching for the signs that convince us it should be part of the experience we offer.

There is no shortage of suitors: Float by William Roam, Aveda, Malin+Goetz, Philosophy, and C.O. Bigelow, to name a few.

The first part is the fun stuff — testing different lotions, and fragrances; eyeing the cool package and sleek design; stacking the different products up against each other, literally, to see how they compare. Our CEO's own viscosity index, which measured how watery a hand lotion is, added to the many hurdles faced by the competitors.

But that is hardly the end of the process.

Green, eco-friendly, sustainability these words are tossed around probably a bit too lightly nowadays by some, but not us. Our choice is not going to be just the perfect amenity on the face, but it is also going to be backed by a company that takes dedication to sustainability and the world we live in seriously.

In the selection process, the product is only part of the story and you can bet before we choose, we will study the whole story. We are buying the company not just the product.

Yes, we know that William Roam is aligned with 1% For The Planet and pledges one percent of all sales to environmental organizations.

We also know about Aveda’s Full Circle Recycling Program and that the company has partnered with g2 Revolution, a recycling innovations company, to provide product users a chance to return Aveda packaging and accessories not accepted by municipal curbside recycling programs to their Aveda Experience Centers.

And you can bet we are aware that Malin+Goetz founders Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz are dedicated animal lovers and have pledged to never test their products on animals. In addition, there is the company’s pretty cool Product Hounds section of its website, dedicated to their “customers’ best friends.”

It matters to us, because we know it matters to you.

So the amenities are overflowing right now in a race to the top of the Troca Hotels list.  We’re putting a lot of thought into what we present to you — when you use these products in our hotels, we hope you will see and feel that attention to detail. The winners of our selection process are to be announced soon — stay tuned.

We look forward to seeing you soon!