When booking a room, it may not occur to travelers to ask whether a hotel has pets. Yet interaction with animals can improve mental health, and has been shown to ease depression. Some hotels are luring customers with mascots, and not just dogs, but also birds, cats, tortoises and even donkeys.
Buster Brown, a wire-haired fox terrier, is not only the official greeter at Craddock Terry Hotel, a boutique property in a former shoe factory in Lynchburg, Va. He can also serve as a canine tour guide. Animal-loving guests can take the hypoallergenic dog on walks or runs while exploring Lynchburg. The hotel is offering a stay-longer deal: Guests who book five nights receive a discounted nightly rate of $129 (versus $199 a night).
Sunshine and Chance are the resident macaws at the Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach. These two colourful birds can be found poolside, where they entertain guests by saying hello in English and Spanish or greeting staff members by name. The hotel is offering a “Nature & Nurture” two-night package for $900 that includes two spa treatments at the Aveda Spa, daily breakfast and yoga classes set in tropical gardens. Stuffed-animal replicas of the mascots are available in the hotel gift shop.
Even more animal interaction is possible with the Animal Keepers Program at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Three on-site veterinarians lead guest interactions with endangered and rescued animals, including feeding and bathing donkeys, white-tailed deer and macaws. This resort also has a Cat Café, where guests can make new feline friends. Rooms are available with a minimum 30 percent discount through June ($217 a night versus $356 a night).
Oil Nut Bay resort in Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands also offers the chance to connect with rescued animals. Six red-footed tortoises and five Paso Fino horses were rescued and given a protected home on property. With the help of the hotel’s caretaker, guests can feed and interact with the tortoises and the horses. A discount is currently on offer with the “Spring Into Serenity” package, a five-night stay with a couple’s massage, yoga and stand-up paddleboard sessions for $6,640 (versus regular cost of $7,304).