Dog traveler

Fido in First Class? Better believe it!

About 21 percent of the estimated 45 million pet owners in the US bring their furry friends with them when they travel, according to the American Pet Products Association. The popularity of pet travel has inspired a whole industry dedicated to well-heeled travelers and their ultra-pampered pets.

Think about the last time you were in an airport: How many dogs did you see scurrying though the terminal with their owners? Probably quite a few. These days, at least 18 percent of people bring their pets on trips, according to study by the U.S. Travel Association.

The travel industry has responded to this growing trend with dollar signs in their eyes. Airlines, hotels and even spas now have services designed specifically for pets, according to Kelly E. Carter, former USA Today travel reporter and founder of

"[It used to be] extremely rare to see anyone else on an airplane or at a hotel with their pet. Now it's customary to see someone with their pet going through airport security or someone walking their dog through the lobby of a fancy hotel," Carter said after launching her website earlier this year.

Just how lavish are these pet-centric services? Luxury travelers feel that money is no object -- for them or their pets.

Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

When was the last time you had a proper massage? Well, you might be jealous to find out that the oceanfront Esperanza Resort offers luxury travelers — human and four-legged — the option of spa services. The resort offers each pet a 30-minute complimentary massage, along with a plush bed, toys and beachside pet walking.

THEhotel at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is known for gambling and excess, but what can your pets do while you're out blowing your savings? THEhotel at Mandalay Bay has Fido covered with their special concierge services that include a special welcome letter, treats, waste bags and eco-friendly food and water bowls. Outside, there's a special dog area known as "Barking Lot Lane" and dog-walking services while you're out.

"Our research showed that there was a shortage of options in the Las Vegas market that allowed guests to travel with their pets, while also enjoying a luxury hotel experience," Didya Bowser, executive director of hotel operations at THEhotel, told "We feel that THEhotel at Mandalay Bay creates the perfect opportunity for guests to travel with their pampered pups, not only because of our convenient access and spacious suites, but also because of our non-gaming, non-smoking environment."

Oh, and don't forget the specialized pet menu ranging from $9 to $17, with meals that include a Canine Chop dish made of a 4-ounce seared beef tenderloin with blanched carrots and white rice.

W Hotels in Los Angeles, California and Chicago

The W Hotels in Chicago and the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles offer special perks for pets like a free pet toy at check-in, custom bed and a "special treat at turndown." The Fido pet menu at these W hotels include appetizers and sweets like Hank's apple crunch cakes made with quinoa ($9), Milo's chopped veggie and chicken salad ($9) made with poached chicken and veggies, and Knuckle's frozen POP! made with organic yogurt and fruit ($8). Entrees include Chaplin and Costello's "Roaring" Burger (ground lean lamb, $12), Stella's "Mutt'za" balls made with organic chicken and free-range eggs ($10) and Pepper's seafood goulash made with ground salmon and kale ($12).

Hungry catLas Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, Mexico

Las Ventanas takes the pampered pet experience to a new level, with both a specialized pet menu and cooked-to-order meals for canines and felines, served on fine dinnerware made with faux gemstones, and placemats for cats and dogs.

The "Feline Delights" menu includes the Claw Cleaner (albacore tuna, chopped egg and sour cream); a Kitty captain's plate with scrambled eggs and poached salmon; and Tomcat's Favorite, made with a selection of fine seafood.

Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix

The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix asks guests to fill out a pet profile that outlines the dietary needs and preferences of their pets. The Biltmore offers a special pet room service menu that includes cuisine we'd actually eat like the Zen Yo, a hearty vegetable stir-fry with poached eggs and steamed brown rice, designed to help pets adjust to the arid Arizona climate.

Also on the menu? Kojo's dirty rice with beef,  made of grilled tenderloin of beef with Grade A eggs and Japanese brown rice; and Sylvester's seared salmon, made with seasoned Alaskan salmon. The Biltmore even serves the meals with their own brand of bottled water.

Loews Hotels

Loews Hotels around the world have gained a reputation as one of the most pet-friendly destinations in the travel industry. At check-in, all pets get their own pet tag, bowl and treat, as well as a brochure that describes their "Loews Loves Pets" menu along with other guest services, including dog and cat toys designed in the vein of Disney's Lady and the Tramp, and leashes, collars, rawhide bones, catnip, scratching posts, litter boxes and pooper scoopers.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pampered pet services at hotels and resorts around the world. Where have you seen special services for pooches and kitties while on vacation?

More tips for traveling with pets

How to make traveling simple with a pet
Top 5 Pet-friendly global hotel chains
Top 5 Pet-friendly airlines



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