Five Star Accommodation for Pets
Everybody has a Secret Love. For legendary singer Doris Day, who made this song famous more than fifty years ago, it’s animals.
While most people remember her as the star of 39 movies and the singer of more than 1000 songs dating back to Hollywood’s glitter era of the Fifties and Sixties, she is also known for her pioneering role in the pet hospitality industry.
When it comes to the pet friendly policies practiced by many of the large hotel chains and private inns around the country today, they are simply emulating what Day and her partner Dennis LeVett have considered standard petique at their famous Cypress Inn in the quaint seaside resort of Carmel in Northern California for more than two decades.
For many people, pet friendly usually means simply accommodating dogs. However The Cypress Inn is particularly renowned for its warm feline hospitality.
“We simply have less feline guests because cats don’t often enjoy traveling by car,” explains long-time manager Don Wiese proudly pointing to a certificate that celebrates the Inn’s animal conviviality. The Golden Grape Award is presented by a San Francisco TV station and ranks the Cypress Inn as the most pet friendly hotel in Californian wine country, a truly cozy home away from home for pet visitors.
To uphold Doris Day’s personal credo, the staff are handpicked and trained to attend to every furry whim. Anyone calling to enquire about accommodation is automatically asked. “Will any pets be accompanying you?”
Pet rates are $25 a day for the first cat and $15 for a second pet.
At check in, there is a large jar of treats on the desk and the very first paragraph on the registration card relates to the comfort and enjoyment of four-footed guests. Simultaneously, visitors are handed a list of pet sitters on hand 24/7 including Wiese and his wife Judy, as well as a list of fur-friendly establishments. For a tiny town, Carmel boasts two very trendy pet stores.
Wiese recalls that when he first took over the reins as manager about ten years ago, regulars included a family with three cats.
“They used to come over the Thanksgiving weekend. The cats were all leash-trained and every evening would accompany their owners to the living room and join other guests for a pre-dinner drink around the roaring fire. Other pets were always in the room and to this day there’s never been an incident.”
At the Cypress Inn, there is no jacket and tie rule for guests but pets are required to leash up at all times.
“We also request owners never leave them alone in a room. This is for their pet’s safety,” says Wiese who also admits that the inn is far more accommodating of animals than of small children.
“Housekeeping is informed in advance if a pet is checking in and a specially designed pet bed is placed in the room giving them their own comfort zone. They are made exclusively for us with lamb’s wool on one side for warmth and the other side is moisture-resistant in case of an accident.
“ We have a turn down service too,” explains the feline-friendly innkeeper. “When the staff places chocolates on guest pillows at night, they place treats in a special velvet bag on the pet bed.”
Tracing the history of the Cypress Inn, Wiese says Carmel has been an extremely pet-friendly town since the turn of the last century. Doris Day was a regular visitor during her movie star days and used to enjoy walking her menagerie on the town’s wonderful beaches long before she came to reside in the area.
Currently, she lives five minutes away in Carmel Valley leaving LeVett and Wiese to manage the establishment. The staff says she still visits, mostly incognito, and is no doubt thrilled to see cats and dogs enjoying family vacations.
Nevertheless, her presence is everywhere; From the piped music of her famous songs in all the guest areas to posters from some of her greatest films in which she starred alongside famous names like Rock Hudson and Cary Grant.
“Her pets are elderly and need her constant attention,” explains Wiese. “Also she’s very involved with the Doris Day Animal Foundation and it’s lobbying wing the Doris Day Animal League.”
For years, Day has campaigned tirelessly to get bills through Congress that reduce pain and suffering for all kinds of animals.
Some of the laws have been passed thanks to her legislative initiatives include the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000, banning the importation of products made with cat or dog fur and the manufacture of dog and cat fur products in the United States.
The Exotic Pet Protection Act that was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004 bans interstate commerce of certain species of large wild cats like lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, cougars and jaguars.
“It’s a labor of love,” says Day. “As far as I am concerned, animals are the loveliest things on earth.”
Off-season the inn runs at about 40 per cent with pet guests.
“But over holidays, every room has at least one cat or dog in residence,” says Wiese.
“The huge roaring fire in the main living room is a popular place and so is the sunny courtyard where guests can enjoy breakfast in the mornings.”
Darlene Wright, who works at the reception desk, is one of the hotel’s most popular pet sitters and has formed friendships with countless pets over the last five years.
“The first cat I was asked to sit spent the entire evening under the bed. I later discovered that its owners had left its leash on and it was too scared to come out.
“I think pets know when you love them and my charges usually warm quickly to me. When I pet sit a cat, we usually hang around the hotel. If they are comfortable on a leash, we’ll take a walk in a quiet courtyard, have dinner and then curl up together and watch TV.
“While I take instructions from the owners, ultimately, it’s all about what the pet wants to do and that’s just fine with me.”
For more information about the Cypress Inn visit www.cypress-inn.com. Information about the Doris Day Animal League can be found at www.ddal.org. For more about her tireless campaigning, visit www.ddaf.org.
•The man in the photographs is manager Don Wiese.
•Other pix show pet sitter Darlene Wright walking Katie the cat on a leash.
•The casual bar area has the posters of Doris Day. The other lady in the photograph attending to Katie is breakfast server Amanda Karn. (Katie is sitting on a special pet bed.)
•Photograph showing formal lounge — the popular room for a pre-dinner drink mentioned in the story.
•Name of miniature Collie guest will follow…