Like hotel heiress and socialite Paris Hilton, beauty-expert Michelle Janis couldn’t live without her pet pooch. The four-year-old pug went everywhere with her.
So, when she decided to take a long vacation to India from the UK, her heart wouldn’t let her leave wrinkle-faced Yoda behind. “I got him quarantined, signed him on for export and got a crate measured to his size. That was the easy bit,” she says. “What was hard was to find a place to stay. India is just not a pet-friendly country.”
Unlike several cities around the world, where pets such as dogs, cats and birds are welcomed into most malls, restaurants and shops, few five-star hotels in the country allow you to stay with your pet.
Allergies, disturbing the neighbours, hair shedding and well, just the image of the hotel, become an issue.
But that’s not to say you cannot travel with your furry friend. Anupama Vinayak, who runs the website petvacations.in, has a host of resorts and hotels that she has collaborated with to let pets participate in vacations.
“We have collaborations with two-star and three-star hotels as well as bungalows and service apartments across the country,” she says. On her site though, the names of most of these hotels are kept anonymous.
“Many people don't feel comfortable about spending the night in a room where a dog or cat has slept in earlier. So, we tell the client only when we know they are serious about staying at the hotel.”
Checking out the pet policies is a great way of deciding where to stay. Marketing executive Siddharth Shah, for instance, located a perfect little heritage hotel in Jaipur to take his great Dane Toe-Toe to. “Pets need a break as well. A vacation with them is a great way to bond. Plus they are never ever bored of you.”
Delhi-based vet Dr Vikas Daga often advises his clients to prepare in advance before going on a vacation with their pets. “They are like babies. Don’t forget to pack in their food, toys and a first-aid kit as well as absorbent material, so that they don’t make a mess of themselves. Other than that, get ready to embark on a great vacation.”