In an industry that is always looking to find better, smarter, exceptional ways to satisfy the ever-changing needs of guests, hotels are thinking beyond just the guest, hotel tech and food trends. They’re giving thought to man’s best friend, who of late doesn’t have to be left at home, stay in a kennel or cuddle up with Aunt Fiona – with the advent of pet-friendly establishments, Fido can now hop on board (or on to the bed) with travellers at hotels across the country.

Hiliois Gerber, General Manager at Home* Suite Hotel, Bristol in Rosebank, Johannesburg, a recent recipient of Afristay’s ‘Top Rated Pet-Friendly Accommodation’ award,  says that not only are they a pet-friendly hotel but they have taken the extra step of adopting a resident pooch named Hazel, to welcome guests home. “We rescued Hazel from Oscar’s Arc, an organisation close to our hearts, and she fitted right in from the get-go with staff and guests – she is truly part of the family, and even accompanies me on appointments!” enthuses Hiliois.

Pet-friendly policies vary for each establishment, but this unique feature will outline exactly the rules, for instance: the types of pet allowed, what rooms are allocated for this service, whether any restrictions apply – eg.  no aggressive dogs or barkers (or meow-ers); where your pet will sleep; pet items supplied by the hotel; pet rates; and doggie damage deposits.

The pet policy will also indicate whether the establishment offers any extra services or amenities to travelling pets and their owners, like doggie menus, pet-sitting or a walking service.   Hilois recommends checking with the hotel regarding their pet policy when making a booking. “That way you are informed and know exactly what to expect, what to bring and what the house rules are, when checking in yourself and your cuddly canine or frisky feline,” she advises.

Airports, too, have recognised the need to be comprehensive in their travel offering and services.  Pet Lounge, founded by BidAir Cargo in response to enquiries from pet owners and breeders, has identified the need for a suitable, compassionate, comfortable, hygienic and stress-free way of moving animals between airports within South Africa, which has proved to be very popular, given that more and more people are travelling with their pets.

It is pleasing to see that hotels the world over have recognised the necessity of being all-inclusive and this niche service is most definitely the ‘dog’s bollocks’ or perhaps the ‘cats meow’.

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