Vacationing With Your Pet

Anthony Melchiorri

Anthony Melchiorri, star of Hotel Impossible, offers insider tips on staying in hotels with pets. Photo courtesy of the Travel Channel

Hotel Impossible star shares tips to make hotel stays possible

By Eve Becker

In the Travel Channel’s new series Hotel Impossible, Anthony Melchiorri is the hotel “fixer.” He swoops in, uncovers the flaws in a struggling hotel, and quickly whips it into shape.

In filming the series, which premiered in April, Melchiorri has not yet encountered any animal-related issues in the hotels he has worked with. “But my nickname is ‘Pit Bull,’ so if you ask them, they’ve had a Pit Bull in their hotel,” Melchiorri laughs.

Given the popularity of people traveling with pets, hotels are increasingly adopting pet policies. Many hotels cater to pets, just as they cater to their guests, he says.

“It used to be that people would walk in the back door with their pet. Nowadays, when you walk in a hotel with a pet, you’re a celebrity,” he says. Some hotels not only welcome your pet, but pamper them with a room service menu, pet beds, special treats, pet toys, and a concierge who is dialed in to the animal scene.

At the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, where Melchiorri was general manager, Matilda the cat was the star. The storied hotel has an 80-year history of having Matilda the cat (or more accurately, a succession of cats named Matilda) as its mascot. “She sits in the middle of the lobby like a queen. Everybody who checks in pets Matilda,” Melchiorri says. Every year, Matilda is feted with a lavish birthday celebration and is host to a star-studded feline fashion show.

When the Algonquin needed to close in 2004 for renovations, Melchiorri spun the announcement: Matilda was going on vacation so the hotel needed to close. He held a press event where Matilda was whisked off to her vacation in a Rolls-Royce convertible while cameras snapped.

Despite being in the hotel business, Melchiorri does not travel with his dog Sandy, a 17-year-old Yellow Lab/White Shepherd mix. Sandy is a beloved companion to Melchiorri’s three daughters, a 9-year-old and 12-year-old twins. “Before the girls came, she was our daughter,” Melchiorri says. “Sandy has brought a lot of love into our lives.”

Melchiorri’s insider tips for staying in hotels with pets:
• Check out the hotel’s pet policy on its website. Pet-friendly hotels typically have something on their website marketing to the animal lover. If a hotel only mentions pets in tiny print, then they may not embrace pets. Call the hotel to judge if they truly welcome pets. You want to go to a hotel that as soon as you walk in and the bellman greets you, they’re going to greet your pet and give him a bone.

• Follow the pet policy. Check the policy for size restrictions and number of pets allowed in the room. Be aware that most hotels have a cleaning charge of $25 to $125, depending on the size of the animal. Don’t try to sneak your pet into the hotel.

• When you need to leave your pet alone in your hotel room, keep your pet in a crate. The housekeeper may not love your pet as much as you do, and some of the housekeepers may be petrified of animals. If your dog doesn’t do well in a crate, make babysitting arrangements through a doggie daycare or dog walking service.

• If your pet has a potty accident, call housekeeping to clean up with appropriate cleaning products. Keep the cleaning to the professionals. Don’t clean it yourself, and don’t use the towels in the room. Just call housekeeping —no harm, no foul. They will be more than happy to clean up after your pet, as long as you let them know. They don’t want another guest to experience something that they shouldn’t experience.

• If the bellman walks your dog, take care of the bellman. The typical rate is $5 for every 10 minutes. Melchiorri insists that all his bellmen have bones in their pockets. They will not only give your dog a bone, but they will give any dog who walks past the hotel a bone—a true mark of a pet-friendly hotel.

• On flip side, don’t ask another hotel guest to walk your dog. Sometimes guests become friendly with each other and ask a new acquaintance to walk their dog. It’s a bad idea. You wouldn’t give your child to a stranger—don’t give your pet to a stranger.

• Call the hotel in advance and let them know if you have specific needs. A hotel should treat your pets the way they treat you. Tell the hotel about your pet before you arrive. Let the hotel staff know your pet’s likes. They make accommodations for your taste, so they’ll make accommodations for your pet’s tastes.

Check out Hotel Impossible on TravelChannel.com

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