Contributed by Cella Nelson

There’s been a seemingly overnight boom in pet friendly hotels and resorts. Thanks to this trend there’s no longer any need to agonize about leaving your pet out of your family travel plans.  A Google search will unearth a never ending list of holiday hot spots all touting their willingness to accommodate your precious pooch and in some cases, your cat.

Countless hotels and resorts across the US openly advertise their acceptance of pets.   Marriott hotel says “Bring your cat or dog to one of more than 1,600 pet-friendly hotels on your next vacation or business trip.  At Marriott, pets are treated to the same outstanding service as human guests.”  Choice Hotels says “We understand that your pet is part of the family, so we say bring them along!  We have more than 2,500 pet-friendly hotels where your pets can stay with you.”  Hilton Hotels & Resorts says, “Hilton focuses on providing a hassle-free and inspired experience for the world’s travelers – and for many travelers, being able to include a four-legged friend is critical to achieving a relaxed and productive stay.”

Many people consider pets as an integral part of the family.  The American Veterinary Medical Association states that pets have taken the place of children in our lives as the percentage of U.S. families with pets is double that of U.S. families with children.  It’s no surprise that according to the American Pet Products Association, pet owners spent an estimated $63 billion last year on care and pampering, almost quadruple the amount spent in 1994.

According to Consumer Reports, “It makes good business sense for hotels to recognize that pets are part of the family.  People who bring their pets tend to stay longer and spend more.  One reason guests spend more is that, unlike children, pets usually don’t stay free. Many hotels charge about $25 a night, others far more.  You might also have to put down a refundable deposit and accept financial liability for any damage your pet causes.”
Who loves you, baby?
But we wanted to find out which vacation spots within the Southeast region are really going out of their way to accommodate our furry friends.  Here are some of our favorites.

Loews Hotels

All Loews Hotels proudly offer a Loews Loves Pet Program.  Upon check-in, your furry family member will be greeted with a name tag, a bowl and treats.  If you have forgotten items to make your pet comfortable, the hotel can lend pet beds, pet mats, litter boxes, scratching posts and other necessities.  Gourmet room service with vet-approved pet (cat and dog) menus are available, or if prefer, the hotel will provide a list of pet friendly restaurants nearby.
Loews also provides dog-walking routes, pet sitting and pet walking services.
There is a limit of two (2) per room; proof of up-to-date vaccinations is required. Fees are approximately $25 but vary by hotel. Loews hotels are nationwide.  Within the Southeast they can be found in the following cities: Atlanta, Louisiana, Miami, Nashville and Orlando.

Kimpton Hotels

Kimpton is a boutique hotel chain that has a very interesting pet policy–all breeds of animals are accepted!  Furry or scaled – you name it! There are no size or weight restrictions and what’s even more surprising is that there is no pet deposit.
Their amenities include pet beds, dining bowls, special treats and a list of nearby pet-friendly businesses.  Pet sitting and pet massages are available at some of their hotels, and pets are welcome to the nightly wine reception.  You can also borrow a live goldfish to keep in your room during your stay!
Kimpton has 59 properties throughout the U.S.  They have six hotels in the Southeast with two new ones coming soon in Tampa and Charlotte.

TradeWinds Islands Resorts  St. Pete Beach, FL

TradeWinds Islands Resorts features 48 rooms which are all pet friendly.  Your pet will delight with the leash-free pet play zone complete with fire hydrants, a drinking fountain for dogs and an area to take photos with your pet.
You can relax with your best friend in a hammock, take a walk along a waterway or you can wash your pet at the rinse and drying station.  A Doggie Accessory Center provides bowls, leashes, toys and towels.  Order room service from the dog specialty menu with fare such as Mutt Meat Loaf and Kitty Kasserolle.  Weight limit is 80lbs and two pets are allowed per room. The pet fee $30.

Barkwells Mills River, NC

(20 minutes outside Asheville)
Barkwells is the pet lover’s vacation retreat nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  They have 8 dog-friendly luxury vacation cabins, each with a dog door leading out to a fenced yard.  has a dog door leading out to a fenced yard.  Cabin furnishings include dog bowls, dog beds and dog towels for use after a swim in the dog pond.  Dogs of all sizes are welcome at Barkwells with a fully refundable $100 pet deposit and a $25 non-refundable fee per dog if there are more than two dogs in a cabin.
According to Travel & Leisure, “Barkwells is perhaps one of the best places on the planet to take your four-legged companion.  It is located outside of Asheville, where the all-cottage resort was built with dogs in mind. Your pup can roam freely from his own door in each of the property’s eight one- and two-bedroom cabins, which have gated porches and fenced-in yards. Acres of grass, a pond stocked with fish, and farm animals like chickens and goats, will keep him (and all of his new friends) entertained for days.”

Yes, you can take Fido and Kitty along.

These accommodations are just some of our favorites, but you can easily find fantastic vacations that include all family members with unique and fun amenities such as pet yoga, doggie reiki, monogrammed towels, pet bathrobes, pet treadmills and made-to-order dishes that suit special dietary needs.  Hotels and resorts are competing for your pet’s attention.  However, be careful to ask for pet policies before you travel.  Some hotels need your vet to fax records to them before you arrive.  Also, there are sometimes fines for animals that are noisy. Bring vet records with you and ensure that your pet has tags with its name and current phone details.
“Have fun on your next holiday with all your furry and non-furry family members.”

Cella Nelson is the owner of Georgia Horseback ( and a Volunteer/Marketing Coordinator at Save the Horses (