Fairmont Hotels

Miss Spot? Check into a hotel with a loaner pet

Love your pet but can’t take it along with you when you travel? Then consider staying at a hotel that will loan you a dog, a cat or a fish. Here’s a story I put together for CNBC Road Warrior:

Beau and Mavis Fairmont


Fluffy pillows might make hotel guests feel welcome, but sometimes face time with a floppy-eared mutt is what a road warrior might be craving.

That’s why the Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah, offers the Pound Puppy Hike, a complimentary amenity that matches guests with a puppy or dog from a local shelter for hikes on scenic trails in the area. “We know that busy executives are visiting the property to recharge and disconnect yet stay active and not sit around,” said resort general manager Tracey Welsh.

The Humane Society of the United States estimated in 2012 that there were pets in 62 percent of American households, so in Aspen, Colorado, guests missing their own pets are pointed to the Aspen Animal Shelter, which welcomes short-term volunteers and charges no fee to loan dogs for in-town walks or day-long hikes.

“The outings provide exercise and socialization for the dogs and often lead to successful adoptions,” said Aspen Animal Shelter director Seth Sachson.

Some pet-friendly Aspen hotels, such as The Little Nell and the Mountain House Lodge, waive pet fees that can reach $125 per stay for guests that invite lucky shelter dogs to spend the night. And both The Little Nell and the Hotel Jerome provide shuttle service to and from the shelter, said Sachson.

Friendly “canine ambassadors” greet guests at eight North American Fairmont hotels and many of those dogs can be booked for walks or runs around town. At the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, it is Mavis and Beau, while at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, the concierge has a special appointment book for walks or runs with the very popular Catie and Carly.

In addition to being a bonus for younger guests (and their parents), “the program results in higher guest satisfaction and more personalized guest experiences, while positioning the hotels as unique and distinctive in their respective destinations,” said Hadley Schroll, a spokeswoman for FRHI Hotels & Resorts, which owns the Fairmont brand.

While offering loaner dogs, like loaner sports equipment, may give a hotel a leg up on its competition, “even programs with the best intentions are still objectifying animals” and putting some at risk, said Lisa Marcotte, business development manager for pet insurance provider Trupanion. “Those who have no commitment to an animal are less inclined to care for them properly or keep them from injuring people and damaging property,” she said.

There’s no need to worry about personal injury with Maya, Louie or George, the kitties that will sleep in a guest room for no charge at the Vintage Inn in Yountville, Calif., or with the free loaner goldfish offered through the “Guppy Love” program at Kimpton Hotels.


The program started in 1997 when the Hotel Monaco Seattle (part of the Kimpton collection) added a goldfish companion to the in-room dining menu. “It was an option at the bottom of the menu where guests could order it for $5 and we would often surprise VIP guests with a goldfish upon arrival as a fun amenity,” said hotel spokeswoman Melanie Blair.

Instead of cashing in on what became a very popular demand, the hotel decided to make the loaner fish amenity complimentary for all guests and, eventually, so did all 61 Kimpton hotels.

And while no fish rental fees are collected, the goldfish seem to be earning their keep.

“While we initially chose the Monaco for its location, and for the wine hour, we now choose it because of the goldfish,” said Liz Phillips, a middle school teacher from Portland, Ore. whose family stays at the Hotel Monaco Seattle each Thanksgiving.

“The first year, we walked into the hotel room to find two fish bowls housing two huge goldfish with a note saying that the fish were named “Bella” and “Gabbie,” the names of our own children. Our kids were thrilled and after that that experience there was no way we could ever stay anywhere else.

Bee farming at O’Hare Airport

Bee farmers seem to be busy as their bees these days, setting up beehives on hotel rooftops and, now, at some U.S. airports.

A growing number of Fairmont Hotels in North America, including the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto and the Fairmont Vancouver Airport have their own hives and honey-producing bees.

Close to a dozen airports in Germany host bee hives and monitor them for signs of pollution caused by air traffic.

Now comes word that Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is hosting 33 hives belonging to Sweet Beginnings, a non-profit group that helps ex-offenders and others find permanent jobs.

The group hopes to set up hives next at Midway Airport and eventually sell the airport-made honey at shops inside the airport.


Airports employ nibble fish and honeybees

Forget the backrub. There’s now a fish pedicure spa at London’s busy Stansted Airport.


In a new airport offering, travelers can put their bare feet into aquariums filled with Garra Rufa or ‘doctor fish’ and let the fish nibble away at the dead skin.


This is in the news because it’s the first fish spa at a London airport, but it’s not the first airport fish spa.

A branch of Refresh Bodyworks at Singapore’s Changi Airport also offers passengers the opportunity to have their feet “polished” by fish.


The nibbling fish aren’t the only animals being put to work at airports.

In Germany, bees will help monitor the air quality around the new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (BBI), which is being built on the grounds of Schoenefeld Airport.

According to a statement from the airport, honey, honeycombs and bees belonging to beekeepers in the region will be monitored for signs of pollution caused by air traffic.

This isn’t the first airport to enlist bees. According to a June, 2010 article in the NYT, there are also bees on duty at Dusseldorf International and seven other German airports.

And while we’re buzzing about bees:

More than a dozen Fairmont Hotels in Canada, the US and other countries also have bees on duty.

Most have rooftop hives, but the Fairmont Vancouver Airport has 24 colonies at McDonald Beach Park, five minutes from the airport. The hotels use the harvested honey in everything from cocktails and special restaurant dishes to soap and honey sticks.

In my neck of the woods, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle is just now getting five rooftop hives and the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. is getting 10.


Travel tidbits: bikes & air passenger rights for travelers in Canada

As part of a growing eco-effort, guests staying at Fairmont Hotels across Canada will now be able to take advantage of a cool new amenity:  complimentary use of BMW cruise bikes. The hotels even promise to keep some child-sized bikes in stock.

Of course, they can’t have enough bikes for everyone, so priority will be given to members of the Fairmont President’s Club. (Joining that club is free and in addition to putting you at the front of the bike-line, you’ll also get free high-speed Internet access and some other benefits.)

bike-wheelsAnd speaking of Canada, stay tuned for more details about a proposed new passenger bill of rights that Air Canada and other Canadian airlines are putting forth in hopes of avoiding a new round of government regulations.  Submitted to the Canadian Transportation Agency as a set of proposed “airline tariffs” the new rules spell out, for example,  how the airlines will handle delayed luggage and what will be done for passengers whose flights are delayed, cancelled, or overbooked.