Lodging just for dogs? What about me?
The new trends in customer service are going a tad too far, particularly in the hotel arena.I’ve never been one to spend money in pricey hotels – OK, even cheap ones. But this aging thing makes it more and more difficult to get a good night’s sleep in the car parked on the side of the road. The ground has become harder in recent years, as many of my camping friends will attest. And friends aren’t quite as willing to let you crash on their couches as they were in our partying days.So after years of camping, parking and crashing, I’m increasingly finding myself spending good hard-earned money to sleep in a hotel bed.Things have changed. No longer are the late-night check-in clerks surly and hungover. They’re attentive and cheerful, which makes me wonder what they put in those late-night coffee pots.The housekeeping staff doesn’t barge in on you at the ungodly hour of 10 a.m.
I’ve been surprised to find that hotels these days come with little perks to get you to choose them over all their competitors. I don’t think however, that I will ever get over waking up to find chocolate smeared all over my face. Just what do they expect us to do with those little mint chocolates they leave on the pillows?And it’s not just chocolates.A few years back, I stayed in a posh ski resort where the employees actually help people into their ski boots and carry their skis to the lift. There was a full bar in the hotel room. Dinner featured entertainment – good entertainment, the kind that doesn’t involve entertainers interrupting your every bite. Employees appeared from the woodwork with heated towels as you got out of the pool.But now all that customer service has gone to the dogs, and I’m none too happy about it, primarily because I don’t own a dog. That, apparently, is not a problem. If you forgot and left your own dog/cat/gerbil/wombat at home, or if you’re like me and don’t own one, the hoteliers will provide you with one of theirs.Yup. More and more hotels allow you to bring your entire menagerie along with you on vacation – and you don’t have to tie Kitty up on the back deck for the night.
They do this because, if they don’t, someone else will, and you know how pet owners are. (Reader Alert! Please don’t send me angry letters telling me how your ferret/hedgehog/fish/chinchilla is like a baby to you and how leaving it behind while you enjoy a week on the beach would be tantamount to child abuse! I am perfectly aware of that, you twisted souls!)Instead of heated towels for yourself, you can special-order heated dog beds for Fido. If Fido ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.Instead of tap water, Fluffy can have chilled spring water. Or better yet, chilled spring water that pours over rocks like a waterfall. Aerated, chilled spring water.Gourmet dog biscuits, meaty soup bones, pigs’ ears – they’re there for the taking. Plush doggie robes, flannel booties for outdoor wear, SPF 45 for susceptible dog noses …There are even resorts designed just for dogs, with acreage of lawns on which to run, ponds in which to swim and toys galore over which to fight.”Dog Camp is not a kennel where you drop your dog off while you go on vacation,” one ad reads. “It is a planned group event where everyone brings their dog and the majority of the itinerary revolves around dog-friendly activities you and your pooch can participate in together. Some dog lovers come to let their pooch socialize with other four-legged friends, some to teach their dog a new trick or a new sport, and some just to give their dog a chance to be a dog on a perfect ‘just for dogs’ getaway.
Some activities include – Reader Alert! This is for Reals! – agility and flyball classes, obedience training, games, tricks, swimming, hiking and massage.Wait; it gets better.Many camps even offer painting, dancing and costume parties.That might not be a bad thing. I think the next hotel I visit, I’m going to dress up as a dog.I’m first in line for a gourmet meal and massage.Jane Stebbins writes a Wednesday column. She can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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