Luxury hotels are reaching out to a whole new breed of clients. The "Today" show's Mike Leonard shares this report about new vacation trends for pet lovers:
Changing times bring changing expectations, especially in the hotel industry where a new type of customer counts on a new level of service. At the Loews Coronado Bay Resort just outside of San Diego general manager Kathleen Cochran answers those demands on a daily basis.
"We constantly have to look for bigger, better, more fun, unique ways to entertain our guests," says Cochran.
By throwing them another bone, so to speak. Not that these pampered guests would settle for a bone.
"Well, it looks like we have some smoked salmon and some steak," she says.
A gourmet room service treat served — not to hotel guests Art and Bonny Popick — but to their dog Raider, who can be excused for chowing down in a hurry lest he miss his scheduled spa treatment. Crummy looking dog nails simply don't cut it in these surroundings.
Goodbye kennel… hello luxury hotel, where pets are not just welcomed by the Loews chain, they are welcomed with open arms, and with a stocked goodie bag that, in this case, included a bandana and board shorts. Why would a dog like Raider need a surfer style bathing suit?
For his surfing lesson. Although Raider, like most other dogs, is confident enough to bare it all, the shorts are a gimmick to promote a new Loews program, tailored to each hotel's location, called "Learning Vacations for Pets." Why leave Fido at home when you can check him into a swanky hotel and then teach him to hang?
"You know we're not trying to set any wave height records with the dog. It's just about having a good time," says one instructor.
I have to admit that it's painful for me to watch a dog surf because surfing is one of the two things in life I wish I could have experienced. What's the other thing? I always wanted to cut a record. And if I were a dog staying at the Loews Vanderbilt hotel in Nashville… I could.
Called "The Hound of Music" program this pet learning vacation includes a limo ride to a recording studio and a barking session... The best of which are changed in pitch, matched to a piano track and then burned onto a CD. On this day the singing star, Powder, along with his fawning entourage, was then taken back to the hotel for a massage all in the spirit of what Powder's owners, George and Lydia Armistead, maintain is good clean fun. And it if looks goofy…
"I think goofy is good today. I think we all have a tendency to take ourselves a little too seriously and why not loosen up and have some fun and do it with someone who loves you back," says Lydia Armistead.
"I think those that travel with their pets want to go somewhere where they feel comfortable and they know their pet won't be treated any differently," says Tom Negri, general manager, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.
Sweet music to the well heeled.