Swapna Mathivanan has grown up around pets since she was young and knows that life can become quite hellish during Deepavali. Her two golden retrievers become especially terrified when there are incessant blasts from loud crackers.
When she was looking to build a hotel back in 2018 outside Chennai, pets being allowed on campus became non-negotiable. She wanted to create a space where they could ‘happily trot around’ especially during the festive season to prevent situations where canines would crouch and cover their ears because of the noise. Her property K resort, about 120 kilometres from Chennai, is now usually booked out during Deepavali. This alludes to a trend that can be observed in other hotels across Chennai too.
Many executives at five star properties who own pets have workshopped programmes and developed standard operating procedures to accommodate their companions this year. At these locations, pets are served gourmet meals, given separate beds and toys and even pampered with paw butter.
Taj Fisherman’s Cove Resort and Spa, Covelong
“The popular Fisherman’s Cove shell garland is not limited to our two-legged guests”, says Ritesh Choudhary, the general manager. This property which has hosted dogs, cats and even parrots in the past, has separate bowls, beds and toys for animals with a special care package including pet-friendly shampoos, conditioners, fragrances and nose and paw butter.
The property’s proximity to the beach and its remoteness from the city and its noise pollution, appeal to the guests who stay here, Ritesh adds. There are also several open spaces including gardens and play areas for animals. An extensive menu serving rice, scrambled eggs, bacon, chicken broth, minced tenderloin, sausages and boiled vegetables is on offer for pets too.
When this hotel became pet-friendly during the pandemic, associates at the hotel were provided specific training on how to handle dogs. “We were told that our furry-friends like to sniff and get to know people better. We were also given training on what to never feed pets including chocolate, salt and butter. Even the staff who were apprehensive in the beginning have become expert pet-handlers. Our four-legged friends never have any complaints for us, just love,” he says. The Taj charges an additional ₹1,000 to accommodate pets.
K Resort, Puducherry
Every villa at K Resort allows pets to walk around and dance to the beat of their own drum, says Pratik Shah, chief executive officer of the property. In the last year, the organisation has played host to two horses, a large Persian cat, and parrots besides dogs and cats, he says. They are happy to accommodate other exotic creatures that come their way. There are special beds for pets and a curated menu for each pet’s preference.
However, the biggest draw here is a swimming pool for pets.
Swapna, owner of the resort says that she cherishes the memory of a guest who came all the way from Delhi to enjoy a vacation with their dog who beat cancer. “The dog was our first pet guest and I will never forget it,” she says.
Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay, Mamallapuram
Pooja Parameswaran, associate director, marketing, GRT Hotels and Resorts says that the process of building a pet-friendly hotel involves thorough research about all the possible situations that could arise while pets are boarding. After having fed strays in several areas during the pandemic, the group decided to make their properties accessible to pets and accommodate guests who wish to travel with pets.
At Temple Bay, there are special beds, mats and collars given for pets who enter the property. Food requirements for dogs and cats have also been customised with options such as chicken, rice, fish and kibble available for pets. Pooja says that other guests staying on the property tend to get along great with pets nowadays. They are expecting a significant inflow of furry friends during Deepavali.
ITC Grand Chola, Guindy
Since its inception in 2012, 78 serviced apartments within the ITC Grand Chola complex in Guindy, have been pet-friendly. Food here is customised on request and the hotel staff provide guidelines on where one can take their dogs for walks. The property also provides pet bags and scoops to the owners. There are also separate entries for dogs for the four-legged animals to have easy access. Most guests who book the property around Deepavali tend to be those from Chennai looking at accessible staycation options, says Shaariq Aktar, general manager, ITC Grand Chola.
At the Park Hyatt, Deepavali and New Year see several guests trotting in with their pets. “People want to bring in the festive season with their four-legged companions,” says Ankoura Vera, marketing and communications manager. “The brand is pet-friendly globally but now, we have special treats, toys and bowls for dogs who come in. There is also a small welcome ritual and a denim bandana that pets can wear,” she says.
They have also curated a flyer with details of all the pet-friendly cafes, spas and veterinary hospitals in and around the property to help guide their guests, she says. Park Hyatt charges an additional ₹3,000 each night to accommodate pets.