Want to head on vacation, but simply can't stand to be apart from Fifi or Fido? Not to worry - more and more hotels, recognizing their guests' penchant for animal companionship, have begun housing creatures both great and small.
Whether furry, finned or feathered, these innovative hotels' adorable ambassadors are sure to capture your heart and get you through any pet separation anxiety:
-Kristen McKenzie, HotelsCombined.com
For decades, a group of fine-feathered fowls have sauntered through the<a href="http://www.peabodymemphis.com/" target="_hplink"> Peabody Memphis’</a> lobby to splash about in the hotel’s marble fountain. Five North American mallards living in a “Royal Duck Palace” on the hotel’s rooftop have been trained since 1940 to make their way down the red-carpeted lobby and complete a now-famous “Duck March.” This quirky tradition, which began in 1940, has gone on to become a major tourism attraction drawing the likes of Michael Jordan, Don King, Nicholas Cage and Justin Timberlake – Oprah Winfrey has even served as an Honorary Duckmaster! Fun fact: Duck is not served anywhere on hotel premises, making the Peabody’s French eatery one of the only restaurants in the world not to offer it on their menu!
The upscale <a href="http://www.fairmont.com/" target="_hplink">Fairmont Hotels and Resorts</a> chain has gone to the dogs – literally. The franchise is famous for its Canine Ambassador program, which boasts 11 doggie guest service representatives at its properties across the globe. The responsibilities of these four-legged hotel residents include accompanying guests on walks and greeting visitors with a friendly wag of the tail. The Fairmont’s canine crew includes Monte, Jordy and Santol in Quebec, Edie (named after Andy Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick) in Pittsburgh, sisters Tusker and Grammy in Kenya, Marcus in Lake Louise, Zeus in Sonoma, Smudge at Scotland’s Fairmont St. Andrews, Catie in Boston and pals Mavis and Beau in Vancouver. Fun fact: Many of the pups were initially trained by the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind and other non-profits. PHOTO: Marcus (or Mark as he prefers to be called by his friends) from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
For guests seeking more of a strong, silent type of companion, <a href="http://www.kimptonhotels.com/" target="_hplink">Kimpton Hotels</a> has created the “Guppy Love” initiative – upon request, a live goldfish can be brought to stay and swim about in your room overnight. Don’t have the most responsible track record with pets? Not to worry, hotel staff will take care of daily feedings and care so you won’t have to ever face the prospect of a floating fish when returning to your room after a long day of sightseeing. Fun fact: Kimpton offers a variety of other quirky animal programs including four-legged directors of pet relations, pet psychics, doggy happy hour and pet spa services.
Located just outside of Nairobi, Kenya, the acclaimed <a href="http://giraffemanor.com/" target="_hplink">Giraffe Manor </a>boasts a surrounding 140-acre property that includes not only roaming giraffes, but also warthogs, bushbuck and 180 bird species. The hotel’s giraffes are known to poke their head through property windows and might just vie for some of your grub at dinnertime or stop by to say hello while you’re getting ready for bed! Fun fact: The giraffes at the manor can grow up to more than 16ft tall, weigh two tons and have a life expectancy of up to 30 years!
Miniature donkeys Fred and Ed have long been a favourite fixture of this <a href="http://www.highhamptoninn.com/" target="_hplink">North Carolina inn and country club</a>. The duo provides hayrides for younger guests throughout the summer months and visitors are free to treat the adorable pair to a snack of carrots and apples, readily available from the hotel kitchen. Fun fact: The hotel recently added llamas to the property, which carry picnic baskets, blankets and provisions for guests taking a hike around the scenic region. Golfers can also request to have a llama as their caddy!
The purr-fectly fabulous Matilda has the run of New York’s iconic <a href="http://www.algonquinhotel.com/" target="_hplink">Algonquin Hotel</a> and enjoys greeting guests as they make their way through the lobby. Possibly the most famous kitty out there, this blue-eyed beauty has her own Twitter account (@algonqueen) and Facebook page with over 5,000 fans! She’s a spoiled lady of leisure as well – the hotel throws Matilda an annual birthday party each year featuring cocktails, cake, celebrities and naturally, a cat fashion show. Fun fact: The Algonquin has kept a cat in residence since the 1930s; the current Matilda is the third of her name.
A pack of elephants roam the<a href="http://www.fourseasons.com/" target="_hplink"> Four Season’s</a> Northern Thailand residence, providing guest rides and educational workshops. The pachyderm posse includes 30-something Pang Puang Phet, (Bunch of Diamonds) whose owners donated her to the hotel when they could no longer afford to keep her, teenager Pang Yuki (Snow), who has played in two of the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournaments, 40-year-old Pang Boun Ma (To Bring Merit), who was neglected and abused while owned by a logging company, and Pang Tongkam (Golden Girl), the eldest of the group at 48 years of age. Fun fact: The hotel has a special “Elephant Whisperer” program that includes hands-on participation in elephant research, one-on-one time with an elephant vet to observe the elephants’ feeding and daily check-up and dinner for two surrounded by the gentle giants themselves.
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