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Traveler Preferences are Changing:

Upscale San Diego Hoteliers are Increasingly
Becoming Pet Friendly Offering
Pet Amenities From Surfing Lessons to Pet Psychic Sessions

By Lori Weisberg, The San Diego Union-Tribune
August 12, 2010

When downtown San Diego resident Christine Bishop needed to find temporary living quarters while her condo’s water damage was being repaired, she and her two Shih Tzu dogs turned a nuisance into an extended getaway at the Hotel Solamar where she quickly learned pets are treated like VIP’s — very important pets, that is.

Her three-year-old “boys,” as she calls them, were so enamored with their stay that they now instinctively tug at their leashes whenever she walks by the hotel, hoping to snag a dog treat.

“They were treated just like guests,” said Bishop, an accountant who regularly returns to the hotel with her pooches to celebrate special occasions. “They always greet you by your name and they greet the dogs as well. I don’t think I’d stay at a hotel that didn’t allow pets.”

Cody, a pug puppy, roams the pool area at the Hotel Solamar in downtown San Diego where his owner is staying.

Bishop’s sentiment is one shared by a growing number of Americans, who increasingly are choosing to travel with their pets, often regarded as much a part of their families as their children. Travel marketing firm YPartnership has found from its surveys that one in five travelers prefer hotels that are pet friendly, evidence of a burgeoning demand not lost on hoteliers always sniffing out creative ways to fill beds.

San Diego, with its temperate climate and ample supply of outdoor venues and cafes, is considered a prime market for the pet travel niche, say those in the know. The county is well-positioned to attract pet-lovers looking for a quick getaway because tourists are drawn here from other Southern California counties, as well as from Nevada and Arizona.

“There are 80 pet friendly hotels listed on our web site in San Diego. I’d say that’s a lot,” said Melissa Haliburton, co-founder of, a canine travel directory of pet friendly U.S. hotels that has seen its listings more than double to 35,000 in just five years.

“San Diego has great weather, and you’re a year-round destination. Tons of people want to travel with their pets, and in a bad economy, it costs more to board your pets than bring them to a hotel, so we’ve seen more traffic on our site.”

The Auto Club’s “Traveling with Your Pet” guide also shows significant growth in San Diego County, with pet friendly properties increasing from 53 in 2008 to 74 properties this year.

The pet-friendly shingle hung out by many a hotel, though, has come to mean much more than a comfy room for your cat or dog to curl up in.

Increasingly, upscale and boutique properties are trying to outdo one another with luxe pet amenities that include everything from surfing lessons, guided hikes and sessions with pet psychics to gourmet room service menus and spa treatments (think pooch pedicures). Recently, the Hotel Solamar and Loews Coronado Bay Resort made it onto to’s list of the nation’s top 10 pet-friendly hotels.

For the rest of the story and accompanying video please visit:


Lori Weisberg, Staff Writer
San Diego Union-Tribune
350 Camino de la Reina
San Diego, CA  92102

Also See: Former Owner of San Diego's W Hotel, Sunstone Hotel Investors, Wants to Acquire Manchester Grand Hyatt / August 2010

San Diego's Downtown W Hotel Now Owned by Lender / July 2010

During Downturn San Diego Hotel Owners Face a Delicate Balancing Act in Calculating When and How Much to Invest in Restorations / April 2010

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