Similarly, hotels around the globe are divided into those which happily accommodate dogs and other pets, along with their owners who can’t leave Fido at home or board him in kennels, and those which side with people who think canines should be banned from hotels except maybe for guide dogs for the blind.

There are extremes on both sides.

Take the five-star, 326-room Mandarin Oriental in Miami, Florida, where guests dogs are offered a range of services matching those for their owners and make their pampered pooches truly believe that man is their best friend.

To begin with, each doggy guest is presented with a golden Mandarin Oriental collar tag, to keep.

Then there’s a plush pet bed with turndown service, a bone-shaped place-mat for food and drink, bowls filled with special food treats and bottled water; the in-room menu includes Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Grilled Organic Chicken Breast and “gourmet desserts”.

Also available as optional extras: a beauty treatment day with an exclusive pet groomer, special doggie bathrobes and shirts, and doggie-sitting.

That’s just indoors.

Outside, they enjoy entertainment and exercise at the Doggie Boot Camp for which the guests, with a certified dog trainer, can reserve a Play Date or a Training Date for the pet, while there’s a complimentary once-daily pet-walking service.

The Play Date is “geared for dogs that need some good, old-fashioned fun doing what they love to do” – walking on a leash down a special 2km-long trail, running, and playing as well as meeting other pets and people, according to a hotel spokesperson.

The Training Date gives guests some “quality time” with their pets and also professional advice to show them how to walk dogs with leashes properly and to correct such problems as excessive barking and jumping, or not being truly housebroken.

Regarding the last-named, a fee of $US100 ($A150) is added to the guest’s account if “special deep-cleaning of the room” is deemed necessary.

As part of the pets-stay deal, the guest checking-in also is required to pay a $US200 ($A300) deposit of which half is returned at checkout “provided the room is in order”.

The Mandarin Oriental sums up: “Pets are welcome in public areas of the hotel (excluding restaurants and the spa) and in the guest rooms and suites.”

But that’s not the case in many other world hotels.

For example, the world’s biggest group Accor has a policy that dogs and other pets are not normally allowed in hotels for health and safety reasons.

Exceptions are made in the case of guide dogs, and where the accommodation includes villas with separate gardens, or by prior arrangement in exceptional circumstances – “but in the main, because of other guests, we don’t encourage this”, Accor says.

In Australia, details of dog-friendly hotels are available on websitehttp://dogfriendly.com/server/travelguides/world/worldcountryAustralia/shtml

Arguably Sydney’s best example is the Hughenden in the eastern suburb of Woollahra, which vows to make pets as comfortable as possible, in “tiled (carpetless) rooms” with a private courtyard or glass atrium, also in special areas of Quaifes Restaurant where they can dine with their masters.

Specialist dog-walkers and washers are available; or owners can walk their pets around on leads and let them play in run-free areas, also attend weddings and other occasions in the hotel’s Civil Ceremony Rooms.

But the Hughenden (www.hughendenhotel.com.au) is careful, too.

As well as paying a pet fee of $20 a day, pet owners must sign a form in which they agree to take responsibility for any personal injury or damage caused by the animal.

Among other conditions never leave the pet unattended – if this happens, and the owner cannot be located within 30 minutes, “Animal Control” is called in and the owner faces a possible $150 “handling charge”.

Any disturbance or damaged caused by the pet and the owner will be asked to arrange for it to be housed elsewhere, with the cost of any damage or extra cleaning be added to the guest’s bill.

AAP – Originally Posted December 2008 – Austrailia

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