Is it time to let guests stay with their pets?

There’s always been a market for people who can’t bear to be separated from their four-legged friends, and this market is growing.

According to the American Pet Products Association 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 37 percent of pet owners take their animals on the road – almost as twice as many pet owners as a decade ago.

While holiday parks and camping grounds have long had families bring dogs to sleep outside the cabin or tent, New Zealand hotels have started making ground in the pet space.

At Jet Park Hotels, owners Liz Herrmann and John Lateulere have been avid supporters of the SPCA for a long time, so it makes sense that their hotels are pet-friendly. Both hotels at Auckland Airport and Rotorua have dedicated ‘Pet-Stay Rooms’.

The rooms are fitted out with tiled flooring making for easy clean-up and include a pet bed with a duvet or blanket and sheets, as well as food, water and some treats. The Auckland Airport property also has an open field to exercise animals, as well as a separate entrance to bring pets in and out of the hotel.

Pet-Stay Room at Jet Park Auckland Airport Hotel.

Inside a Pet-Stay Room at Jet Park Hotel Rotorua.

Nicole Lawson, group general manager for Jet Park Hotels said that pet stay rooms are becoming more and more popular.

“(They're) mainly leisure guests. We welcome all owners and pets into our hotels. Our staff enjoy engaging with all the family members, and their ‘fur-babies’. People who travel with their pets are delightful and respectful and cause no disruption to the business,” said Lawson.

Naumi Auckland Airport Hotel is another New Zealand hotel that embraces pets.

“At Naumi Auckland Airport Hotel we welcome dogs and cats up to 9kg. Guests can bring up to two pets per room with a charge of $30 per pet, however, guide dogs are hosted free of charge,” said Chris McIntosh, general manager, Naumi Auckland Airport Hotel.

“On arrival in the room pets are greeted with comfortable bedding, as well as food and water bowls so that guests don’t need to worry about packing these items. At our Paksa restaurant, we have a dedicated pet menu so cats and dogs can feast on the likes of salmon sashimi and venison tartare.”

“Our aim at Naumi Auckland Airport Hotel is that pets enjoy their stays as much as their owners.’

In terms of transport in New Zealand, Air New Zealand leads the way with its pet policy. Domestic cats and dogs, and even small birds can be checked in as baggage on all Air New Zealand’s domestic services.

Alternatively, Jetstar is not equipped to fly pets in any capacity.

Auckland Transport allows disability assist dogs to come onto buses and trains but does not allow for any other kind of pet. Waiheke Island Buses are the one exception as dogs are allowed on board. AT’s ferry services allow for dogs and small animals to be carried on board, although its recommended for guests to check with the operator beforehand.

Wellington’s Metlink is more forgiving for pet owners. It also allows assist dogs on all trains, buses, ferries and taxies, and as of April 2018 domestic pets are now also allowed to travel on all Metlink transport as long as the pet is enclosed in a cage or other carrier.

While there are some special conditions hotels need to consider with pets (allergies, cleaning, pet menus), the growing market share interested in travelling with pets makes it worth hotels taking another look.