Meet Our Favorite Hotel Pets
From rescue pups and fluffy cats to talkative parrots and a family of penguins, adorable animals are doing double duty at hotels around the country. Not only do they make guests smile with free cuddles, many of them are also hotel "employees," fulfilling duties like leading guests on hikes, ringing the bell at the front desk, and leading philanthropic efforts in their communities. An added bonus? Research shows pets can help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness and isolation, which is good for hotel staff and guests alike. Get to know some of the cutest hotel pets out there, guaranteed to put a smile on your face the moment they greet you.
Oreo at the Armstrong Hotel: Fort Collins, Colorado
(Courtesy the Armstrong Hotel)
The grand hostess of the Armstrong Hotel (thearmstronghotel.com), a historic property in Fort Collins that will reopen this April following a renovation, can often be found curled up in a window seat in the lobby or stretched out on the front desk. Adopted as a kitten 14 years ago, majestic Oreo is as popular with hotel guests as she is with locals. She has many friends who live in the area and come to visit her each week, and as such, she’s developed a few tricks to keep them entertained, like raising her paw for a high-five (for treats, of course). During winters in Colorado, Oreo tends to get a little stir crazy; come spring, you can find her sprawled out on the sidewalk enjoying the sunshine, much to the delight of Mugs Coffee Lounge visitors next door.
Sasha at Bobby Hotel: Nashville, Tennessee
(Courtesy Bobby Hotel)
Adopted from a local shelter, Sasha arrived at the Bobby Hotel (bobbyhotel.com) in Nashville when it opened in April 2018. As the resident hotel dog (not to mention Instagram star, @ahoteldog), she takes her welcoming duties very seriously—greeting guests as they enter the lobby, playing fetch, and ringing her own gold bellman's bell. Though she’s been in her "forever home" less than a year, she’s already doing her part to give back to other animals who need rescuing: Towels in each guest room embroidered with Sasha’s face are available for purchase, with all proceeds going to the Country Road Animal Rescue, from which she was adopted. She was overjoyed to accompany the hotel team in bringing the shelter a check—along with much-needed items like dog beds, toys and food—after the holidays last year.
Sunshine and Chance at The Palms Hotel & Spa: Miami Beach, Florida
(Courtesy the Palms Hotel & Spa)
These two birds might be the longest-standing residents of the Palms Hotel & Spa (thepalmshotel.com) in Miami Beach. Macaw parrots Sunshine, 18, and Chance, 29, first arrived at the resort as rescue animals 16 years ago, and have since become the property’s sociable mascots. They spend their days in the shade of the Little Gazebo, engaging in friendly conversation (Sunshine often says, “Hola!” in response to a greeting) and posing for selfies with guests passing by on their way for a swim. On at least one occasion, their proximity to the pool has led to the parrots engaging in a game of Marco Polo with kids, chiming in with a “polo!” call of their own. The lovable duo plan on enjoying many more years at the Palms, as the average life expectancy of macaws is about 50 years.
Oreo, Nahu, Buddah, Zen, Mai, Tai, and Momi at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa: Maui, Hawaii
(Courtesy Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa)
You might not expect to find penguins in Hawaii, but this unlikely group is living their best life in the tropical climate at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa (hyatt.com). African black-footed penguins, an endangered species, began their tenure on the island in 1985, when the wildlife team at the property rescued George, Waddles, and Oreo. The only remaining resident is Oreo—he’s outlived the average life expectancy of his species (roughly 10 to 20 years in the wild or 30 in captivity), though he now has a large ʻohana --that's Hawaiian for family--to keep him company. Guests can visit them any time in the atrium lobby, though the 9:30 a.m. feedings are a must-see. (Just watch out for Buddah, the bossy one). The resort also has parrots, swans, flamingos, ducks, and African-crowned cranes on the property and offers wildlife tours around the grounds three times a week.
Katie and Betsy at the Betsy Hotel: South Beach, Florida
(Courtesy the Betsy Hotel)
Brought to their home at the Betsy Hotel (thebetsyhotel.com) as puppies by their owners, the Plutzik family, these beautiful golden retrievers (Katie, 14, and Betsy, 3) have become a bedrock of the community there. Officially dubbed Canine Executive Officers, the pair can almost always be found hanging out in the corner of the lobby, especially on Friday afternoons, when they engage with guests during a formal meet-and-greet called “CEO Cocktails with Katie and Betsy.” Both dogs keep a busy social calendar, making regular appearances at corporate meetings the hotel hosts, as well as philanthropic events around the community. Older and wiser, Katie is quite the muse; she even inspired a poem by award-winning poet Gerald Stern when he was a guest at the hotel.
Hamlet at the Algonquin Hotel: New York City
(Courtesy Algonquin Hotel)
Though he’s been at New York City's Algonquin Hotel (algonquinhotel.com) for less than two years, this calm, playful ginger is already a celebrity, surveying the lobby's happenings from his "treehouse” perch atop the front desk. He particularly delights guests when he hops down for a personal greeting while they’re checking in. For a feline, he’s quite the patient little guy, allowing children to pet him, going nose-to-nose with visiting dogs, and occasionally flopping over for a belly rub. But it's not all play: Hamlet puts in long hours as the official DirectFurr of Public Relations for the hotel, a role that includes cohosting an annual cat fashion show for charity in August. Lucky for him, he’s handsomely rewarded for his work—guests frequently send him gifts like cards and toys.
Cupcake at Salamander Resort and Spa: Middleburg, Virginia
(Courtesy Salamander Resort & Spa)
She's only 32 inches tall, but what this miniature pony lacks in size, she more than makes up for in personality. As the equine ambassador for Salamander Resort & Spa (salamanderresort.com) in Middleburg, which has an on-site equestrian center, she’s a star and she knows it. Find her in the lobby Friday and Saturday afternoons, clad in a blue rhinestone halter to welcome guests to the hotel. That’s only the start of her responsibilities, however: She’s in high demand for appearances at conferences and birthday parties (complete with custom cupcakes from the in-house pastry team) held on the property, and she even visits individual guest rooms upon request. In keeping with her diva status, Cupcake has a diva-caliber wardrobe for every occasion—think: red, white, and blue tutus for the Fourth of July, shamrock barrettes for St. Patrick’s Day, and red bows for Christmas.
Mr. Nutkin at Deer Path Inn: Lake Forest, Illinois
(Courtesy Deer Path Inn)
Deer Path Inn (deerpathinn.com) has celebrated the legend of its resident squirrel for nearly 90 years, since the English-inspired manor first opened in Lake Forest. (Don’t worry, the little guy stays outside, though squirrel figurines are scattered throughout the interiors in his honor). Adventurous, curious, and amiable, the current Mr. Nutkin often greets guests at the entrance, standing guard like a British soldier. He's so well-known throughout the community that locals pop by in the hopes of spotting him through the windows of the English Room during afternoon tea service. “His warm and fuzzy presence completes the Deer Path Inn family,” says innkeeper Matt Barba. Notorious for having a full belly, especially in preparation for a Chicago winter, Mr. Nutkin once inspired a turndown snack of chocolate acorns.
Zoey at Cloud Camp: Colorado Springs, Colorado
(Courtesy Cloud Camp)
Ever since she arrived at Cloud Camp (broadmore.com/cloud-camp), a lodge perched 3,000 feet above The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, in summer 2017, 6-year-old Zoey has started her day at 5:00 a.m. Her duties begin with the raising of the flag, followed by leading guests on hikes and welcoming visitors. Trained as a bird dog, she’s incredibly obedient, yet also very nurturing. Zoe once showed her softer side when a woman who was terrified of dogs arrived at the lodge; sensing that she needed special attention, the sweet pup spent time with her each day, gently helping her overcome her fear. The woman called it a life-changing experience, says Cloud Camp staff. When she’s not on duty, Zoey’s been known to mingle with royals. She once had her photo taken with the Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps of Belgium, the great-great-granddaughter of hotel's founders.
Hotel We Love: CityFlatsHotel, Grand Rapids, Michigan
There are “green” hotels and then there’s CityFlatsHotel. This Grand Rapids hotel, located smack in the middle of downtown, is as smart and environmentally minded as it is visually stunning and all-around cool. Here’s what to expect when you check in. The Story The City Flats in Grand Rapids is the second of three locations opened by Charter House Innovations, a furniture company based in Holland, Michigan. They retrofitted the hotel into a circa 1874 office building with a façade that stands as one of Grand Rapids’ earliest examples of a terra cotta frontage. With lobby countertops made of recycled glass and concrete, wood fixtures around the eatery and front desk made from panels reclaimed during the building process, and preservation of the brick walls built in 1874, CHI was so committed to ensuring a low environmental impact that the building earned LEED Gold certification. Most of the furniture in the rooms, like the bed frames and seating, as well as the lobby furniture, was design by and built at CHI. The Quarters With apologies to Forrest Gump, we tell you that City Flats’ rooms are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Each of the 48 rooms is individually designed with its own distinct paint, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and lighting. That’s all par for the course when a design house is calling the shots. What does stay the same throughout, however, are the eco-minded touches, like cork floors, bamboo bedding, locally manufactured beds, and energy-efficient heating and cooling units that are sensor-operated, so they turn down when the room is unoccupied. There are five options for room sizes, like single queen and single king, plus a junior suite and a luxe master suite. The Neighborhood If location is what you're after, make this your pick. The hotel is surrounded by a cute coffee shop, a fast-casual Middle Eastern restaurant, and a hodgepodge of other eateries and cafes. It's a quick scoot to Ionia Street, a thoroughfare lined with brewpubs and other restaurants. A 10-minute walk down the road takes you to City Market, a locally minded food hall. And all that's to say nothing of the hotel's illustrious neighbor, the world-class Grand Rapids Art Museum. It's an excellent base camp for culture vultures of all stripes, as the Gerald Ford Museum and the kid-friendly Public Museum are about a 15-minute walk away across the Grand River. The Food The coffee's always on at CityBru Coffee, the coffee bar at the front desk that also features a concession selection, includes granola bars made by the owner. But the real attraction here—for guests and locals alike—is CitySen (pronounced: city scene) Lounge, the lobby eatery opened for lunch and dinner every day with the exception of Sunday, when it opens at 4 p.m. Happy hour is a daily event here, with bites like bacon maple brussels sprouts, arranccini, and tacos topping off at $6. There are drinks specials, too. All the Rest Like the bed? The linens? You can buy it through Charter House Innovations website (gotochi.com). Rates & Deets Starting at $169 CityFlatsHotel83 Monroe Center St. NWGrand Rapids, Michigan(616)608-1720 \\ cityflatshotel.com/location/grandrapids/
Oakland Is the Bay Area’s New Style Capital
Visitors to Northern California’s Bay Area have a legendary array of sights to see and experiences to savor, from the natural beauty of Marin County to the cultural cornucopia of Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and other communities. But lately, we’ve noticed that Oakland in particular is setting itself apart when it comes to attracting fashion-forward shoppers. The city of Oakland itself has taken notice of its stylish status as well, launching a new Oakland Style digital fashion guide to help visitors and locals explore Oakland-based apparel and accessories. Unique Local Style With Meaning Shoppers in the know are attracted to Oakland’s style scene not only because the clothing and accessories are original and beautiful but also because Oakland style often holds deeper meaning, reflecting local history (black berets are just one example), popular culture (remember MC Hammer’s parachute pants?) and even politics. Oakland’s Sherri McMullen styled iconic looks for Michelle Obama; Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B. launched the Dope Era fashion brand; Oakland native and NFL player Marshawn Lynch created Beastmode, an “athleisure” brand; and local Viscera crafts unique jewelry using a 3D printer. We love how Oakland-inspired clothing brand Oaklandish pursues a mission to spread “local love”: with local-pride T-shirts and accessories and by creating quality jobs for inner-city locals. And we applaud vintager clothing boutique Regina’s Door for serving as a sanctuary for homeless youth, young creatives, and survivors of sex trafficking. A Handy Guide for Visitors and Locals Oakland Style (visitoakland.com/style) highlights five distinct local fashion styles: Town Pride, Vintage and Consignment, A Night on The Town, Elevated Style and Lakeside Lounging. “We are excited to launch the Oakland Style campaign, and to promote shopping at local Oakland businesses to visitors and locals alike,” says Mark Everton, CEO of Visit Oakland. “Oakland’s diverse makers and business owners are what make our city unique, and we are thrilled to highlight their creative products in our digital fashion guide.” Put Oakland on Your California Must-See ListOakland is always a good idea, whether you’re visiting for its stylish clothing or for its other ample charms, including great food, the unique urban parkland around Lake Merritt, and the exceptional Oakland Museum of California, which combines art, history, and science in a user-friendly environment. Oakland is an easy day trip across the bay from (the significantly more expensive) San Francisco and a must-stop for anyone exploring Northern California.
Discover This Gorgeous Corner of Washington State Before Everybody Else Does
We love introducing you to places you've possibly never heard of. Today, we’re giving away a big secret. (Just don’t tell everybody, okay?) There’s a little corner of Northeast Washington State that boasts hundreds of thousands of acres of public land, including trails for hiking and cycling, lakes for paddling and swimming, and mountains to inspire you whether you choose to climb or enjoy the occasional sightings of native grizzly, black bears, cougars, bald eagles, and the last remaining herd of caribou in the U.S. The best part? You’ve probably never heard of Ferry County, WA, the town of Republic, or the Colville National Forest and other nearby public lands, and neither have hundreds of thousands of other travelers. That relative anonymity, of course, poses both a challenge and an opportunity for the people who live and work in Ferry County, about a 2.5-hour drive from Spokane and a 5-hour drive from the Seattle area. The area's inaugural Get Out Fest will put the region on travelers' maps. Meet the Get Out Fest From June 27 to 30, nature-loving travelers will be discovering all that the Ferry County region has to offer when the Get Out Fest makes its debut. The goal of this inaugural event is to raise awareness of the area’s opportunities for outdoor recreation and to offer tons of outdoor activities that won’t break the bank. What to Expect at the Get Out Fest First of all: $5 admission (what part of $5 admission don’t you like?) when you register in advance, $10 at the gate. Kids under 18 get in for free. Festival participants can head to the Ferry County Fairground for an array of activities. Outdoor specialists REI will offer mountain bike rides on the Kettle Crest, a guided hike along a section of the Pacific Northwest Trail, a 25-foot climbing wall, skateboarding activities, a fishing derby, and a fossil hunt. There will be outdoor movies, food, local libations (sponsored by Rainier Beer, Latta Wines, Kind Stranger Wines, and Sleight of Hand Cellars), and live music from The Cave Singers, a Seattle band. Runners may want to lace up for a half-marathon along the gorgeous Ferry County Rail Trail ($45), or the less challenging but no less beautiful 5k ($30). Local Lodging Camping costs $20 for a tent and $30 for an RV. Airbnb rentals in the area start at under $100/night. Marquee Names For an undiscovered corner of the Evergreen State, Ferry County’s festival has some very cool partners. Maybe you’ve heard of Washington’s very own Pearl Jam? The band donated a guitar that will be auctioned online to offset costs of the festival. REI Spokane will be provide free watersport rentals (kayaks and paddleboards), and the Spokane climbing gym Wild Walls and the Washington Trails Association will be onsite lending their expertise and inspiration. Learn More Learn more and book your weekend at the festival at getoutfest.com. And for a fascinating look at the years of planning that went into this inaugural Get Out Fest, read Eli Francovich’s article in The Spokesman-Review, which first put the Get Out Fest on our radar.
Just Two Hours a Week in Nature Could Change Your Life
The news that there are positive health benefits to spending just two hours in nature per week should inspire people to get travelling more to woodlands, beaches and parks. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports has found that spending two hours per week in the natural world gives a positive boost to mental and physical well-being. Based on interviews with around 20,000 people in England, those who reported spending 120 minutes in nature in the previous week had consistently higher levels of both health and well-being than those who spent less than that. One Long Walk or Several Short Walks Are Sufficient The results indicated that it did not matter whether the two hours of contact a week was achieved in one long stint or several shorter ones. This is good news because while some people may prefer long walks at the weekend in locations further from home, others may prefer regular shorter visits to parks or beaches in their local area. Most People Don’t Spend Enough Time in Nature The findings indicated that only one in three people who had spent at least two hours in the natural world in the previous week said they felt dissatisfied, while just one in seven reported poor health. By contrast, close to half of those who spent little or no time in parks, beaches or woods in the past seven days reported low levels of life satisfaction. One in four of these people said they were in poor health. The researchers found that the results were consistent across ages, sexes and residential areas, and even among those with long-standing illnesses or disabilities. The other interesting fact was that there is no need to spend huge amounts of times to get the benefits, as the positive impact levels off, so the people in the study didn’t report increased benefits if they exceeded two hours in the wild. To read the full study in Scientific Reports, please click here.