Saturday, 20 June 2009

British travellers refuse to part with pampered pets

Bookings from Britons wanting to holiday with their dogs are up by 150 per cent at Best Western hotels.

The hotel group, which has won awards for its pet friendliness, offers customised dog-beds (complete with dog treat on the pillow) as well as fine dining canine-menu (which include "leash and potato soup" and "prawn dogtail"). The group’s Monkbar hotel, in York, has walks which have been especially devised for dogs depending on whether they have short, medium or long legs, while the Dower House hotel offers rooms with direct access to the gardens.

“There’s been a huge uptake of rooms by dog owners and their pets in the past 12 months,” said Chris Webb, a Best Western spokesman. “In order to accommodate this increase we are investing in lots of new features to make sure our guests, and their four-legged best friends, are well catered for,” he added.

Next month sees the launch of Pet Airways, an airline for pets only, which will fly dogs and cats between five US cities that include New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Pets will travel in a specially adapted Beechcraft 1900 aircraft that has been designed to accommodate 50 average sized animals, two pilots and one pet attendant.

In Britain, the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) currently allows pets entering or returning the country to pass freely without having to undergo the usual six-month quarantine period.

“Dogs love a change of scenery just like anyone else so we are very pleased that dog-owners are increasingly choosing to holiday with their canine chums,” said Clarissa Baldwin, chief executive of Dogs Trust, a dog-welfare charity. “Boarding kennels are not necessarily ideal for every pet and some, like the very old, very timid, or animals that have spent time in a Rehoming Centre may find it a stressful experience and, where possible, would be far happier joining you on your break.” she addded.

In 2006, Avolus, a charter transport company, introduced a loyalty card that enables pets to travel the world by private jet, while Virgin Atlantic currently offers frequent flier schemes for pets.

The value of the worldwide pet market is estimated to be in excess of £4bn.




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