Pamper your pets at animal-only resorts and spas  »

I have long been an animal-lover who also enjoys traveling. As a result, I have often hired a petsitter or boarded my pets in kennels before heading out of town. Times have changed since I bid temporary farewell to my first pet, however; nowadays, pet resorts and spas are popping up all over, giving pet owners the chance to treat their companions to a little luxury while their humans are at play. As someone who thinks “roughing it” is a hotel without room service, I have been more than happy to board my spoiled pets in a little style.

The simple fact is that some of the pet resorts I’ve researched treat pets better than humans. Specialty services I’ve seen offered include “pawdicures,” and dog treadmills, where canines can get some indoor exercise. At first I didn’t think there was a difference between treadmills for humans and treadmills for dogs, but I was wrong. I hadn’t considered how much pets shed—my life is so covered in animal hair that it’s second nature to have a lint brush in my hand. Dog treadmills are equipped to handle inconveniences like that pet fluff and, like human treadmills, can be a great way for animals to get a little exercise, especially during inclement weather or if they’re unable to get outside for regular activity. I like knowing that my vacation means a vacation for my pets as well, and that they’ll be well looked after when I can’t take them for daily walks.

Some pf the amenities that pet spas offer are a little silly—limousine rides and spa treatments? I love my animals dearly, but my cat normally spends her day sleeping on top of a box lid, and my dog, although discouraged, drinks out of the toilet. I’m thankful for realistic-sounding folks like those at San Francisco’s Pet Camp. The services offered make me want to move to the West Coast so that my dear feline could experience the Cat Safari or my pup could romp with dogs his age and size at Dog Camp, as well as go for a dip in a heated indoor pool. It’s great to know that there are pet get-aways that treat animals well—probably so well that I would have trouble getting my buddies to come back home!

As people travel to see family at holidays and look for reliable and fun places where four-legged family members’ needs will be well looked after, I think they’ll increasingly turn to high-end pet-boarding. Amenities like catered meals, beds that look more luxurious than those humans sleep in, and fancy meals certainly make a gal want to vacation with her pets instead of boarding them.

Danielle Rhodes, who blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands, enjoys baking vegan brownies and volunteering a few times a month at her local animal shelter.

[photo by Jorge Quinteros via Flickr]


Road Trip THURSDAY (WHAT?): The Stanford Inn!  »

This is a Road Trip Thursday because you need extra time to get to Mendocino and back, but you still have time to call in sick to work tomorrow and get away for the weekend. DO IT EVERYONE ELSE IS DON’T YOU WANT TO BE POPULAR?

Okay so. The Stanford Inn is pretty much heaven on earth. It’s heaven if you are healthy and active and want to wake with the sun (PSYCHO) and mountain bike and kayak (CARAZAY) and do partner yoga (I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN) and you’re everything I stand against in this world, BUT it’s also heaven for lazy asses who just want to eat and drink and hot tub and lay around watching premium cable in their enormous bed with billion-thread-count sheets and eat complimentary vegan cookies and bon bons and pet llamas. I call that Living and you can quote me on that. Actually, I think you can technically quote me on everything I put on the internet and kids who are posting nerkid photos of themselves on myspace OUGHT TO THINK ABOUT THAT ONCE IN AWHILE*.

The Stanford Inn is located in Mendocino, about three hours up the Pacific Coast from SF. If you haven’t been to Mendocino, it’s what we like to call “God’s Country.” That is because it is very beautiful and also inhabited mainly by bible-thumping hicks. Those seem to be the two qualifiers for “God’s Country.” Actually, I don’t know about the hicks…that might not be true. I’m mainly talking nonsense. Okay strike that, I’m talking complete nonsense. Mendocino is filled with charming retirees, artists, and hippies and their disaffected youth (aka HOODLUMS). They have several restaurants with more than one vegan option on the menu, and an almost all-veg co-op grocery in an old church. cool.

It’s a little pricey for people in my demographic (i.e. people who live in SF and spend all their money on rent and eating out) but they’re currently running Spring Specials that allow you a gorgeous room for $198 (Mon-Thur) and $228 on the weekends. All rooms include FREE BREAKFAST (and this ain’t continental, you can choose from the menu! Pancakes, waffles, tofu scrambles, amazing SCONES?!—who knew! scones are such a boring non-food but these scones are ridiculous!—also, I love that if you pay for breakfast they charge you extra if you want EGGS. THAT IS CORRECT. Vegan tax in reverse, I love you!) and free rentalsonkayaksandmountainbikesSNOOZE. They also offer this couples special where you get two nights, FREE BREAKFAST AND DINNER at Raven’s Restaurant (the onsite all vegetarian mostly vegan restaurant) and a free massage or facial for $685. Now, I’ve done the math on this and while I’m basically a math illiterate, I believe it’s a very good deal, especially considering that dinner at Raven’s, while not $$$, will set you back about $100 for two people.

Speaking of Raven’s Restaurant. It’s excellent and the chef has a really sassy blog on the Stanford Inn website. I strongly recommend you check it out. He is pissed! He is sassy! He is ONE OF US! The food is not at quite the caliber of Millennium but it’s still VERY good and uses a lot of produce from their own gardens. Very cool. I especially liked the tofu scrambles at breakfast and the pancakes! I love a vegan pancake!

A couple things to note: 1) You will be the youngest people there and if you’re not into that, this is not the place for you. The other guests aren’t stuffy or lame, they’re just hella old like the crypt keeper, you dig? It’s to be expected when you look at the price and then consider that younger people spend their money on strippers, coke and other fun-in-the-moment but ultimately super-lame shit. 2) They have a pool and hot tub that are open 24/7. Midnight slightly boozy underwater handstands? Yes please! They also have a sauna but Jonas couldn’t get it as hot as he wanted it, even after he threw water on the furnace. We are lucky to be alive. 3) Make sure to be around for tea time from 3-4pm when they serve up drinks and homemade snacks like brownies and wraps and crostini and hummus! FREE FOOD AND DRINK DO NOT MISS IT. 4) Head into Mendocino and walk around and then head up the road 10 miles to Fort Bragg and walk around. Apparently Fort Bragg is the place where the first tempeh was cultured in the United States. Hippies. Also, check out the raw food restaurant/raw foods culinary school!? in Fort Bragg. It was really good, especially the ice cream! 5) IF YOU ARE THERE DURING THE WHALE MIGRATION, DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE OCEAN. I never stopped staring at the ocean and now I think I have a lazy eye! Worth it! 6) Also, on the drive up, you’ll pass Anderson Valley Brewing Company. All of their beer is vegan and you can snack on free pretzels and excellent house-made mustard. Perfect rest stop on your trip.

I guess to wrap this bitch up, save your pennies and go to The Stanford Inn. Since it’s about a three-hour drive from SF, you’re going to want to stay more than one night to make it worth your while and that package above looks pretty good. When you consider that you’re supporting an all-veg business in a beautiful place, it should push you over the edge! YOU MUST GO. Tomorrow. So call in sick with ebola** and hit the open road!

*signed, prudy mccheckyourself.

**I actually did this once when I was in college. I got confused, I thought I was saying I had e. coli. Oops!

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