This story was originally published in the 2014 April/May issue of Chattanooga Magazine.
“When I travel, even for business, I look for hotels that accept dogs,” says Debra Warren. “They are happier places.” The long-time hospitality professional says her dogs are happier traveling with her, too, even if they must be crated for a couple of hours, during the day. Warren is director of Sales & Marketing for Sheraton Read House, the historic hotel in the heart of Chattanooga’s downtown. Luxury amenities set the classic hotel apart and it continuously evolves to meet the demands of travelers. Warren and General Manager, Jen Prpich have a plan to make adjustments to the enclosed ground-floor area behind the fitness center that will include a dog run for canine guests.
The hotel already has a dog menu and when visitors check in they receive a bag of treats for their dogs. It will supply bags, bowls and a bed, if needed, although most guests bring their pet’s own items for comfort and familiarity.
“The kind of people that generally travel with dogs, keep them very well,” says Warren. “We rarely have any problem.” The Sheraton Read House has the amenities many of those people are looking for in a hotel. Dog owner and regional event planner, Elizabeth Fletcher, agrees.
“I love it that when I go to check in they all remember, not just my name, but my dog’s name,” says Fletcher. “On several occasions they even offered to walk him when I was out of the room for an extended time.
“Its nice to stay at a hotel that not only allows dogs but actually loves having dogs visit,” says Fletcher, who travels to Chattanooga several times a year with her Bernese Mountain Dog, Jimmy Choo. She recently brought Choo over to participate in the 50-Year Celebration of the Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll, baked in nearby Collegedale.
At the Sheraton Read House, dogs must be kept on a leash while in public areas and are not allowed in food and beverage outlets or the pool area. There is a $50, non-refundable fee to owners, who justify the cost by the savings in kennel board and in the general happiness and welfare of the pet. Read House management actively seeks ways to enhance the experience of pet owners.
The Staybridge Suites and Residence Inns at both downtown and Hamilton Place locations are also pet-friendly. In fact, accommodations in cities around the region are warming to the idea of providing amenities and even activities for traveling dogs and their owners.
Only a few blocks away from the Sheraton Read House, Chew Chew Dog Park is located on Carter Street behind the Findley Stadium. There is another dog park at Greenway Farm in Hixson, in addition to miles of on-leash trails to enjoy. The Stringer’s Ridge Trail located on the North Shore and managed by the city, makes it possible for joggers and their dogs (on leash) to get a workout. And for casual dining, WholeFoods Grocery at 2 North Shore and Panera Bread allow leashed dogs on the patios.
With solid preparation, traveling with one’s dog may be completely satisfying. The following is a selection of dog-friendly trips that owners may enjoy within easy driving distance of Chattanooga.
Sheraton Read House
827 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37402
Hyatt Regency, Greenville, SC
Greenville is a very pet friendly community. It is not an uncommon site to see water bowls outside merchant doors along Main Street in downtown Greenville. Greenville CVB spokesperson, Jennifer Stillwell says the area also has a host of pet friendly hotels throughout Greenville City and County.
If visitors look for luxury accommodations and in-town walkability, the Hyatt Regency may be a good choice. It accepts two pets, up to 30-40 lbs. each. The first pet is $125 per stay with the next pet staying for $50 per stay. Just outside the Hyatt at nearby Roost restaurant in NOMA Square, visitors and their dogs will encounter “Yappy Hour.” On the second Wednesday of every month from 6:00-8:00 p.m., people bring their dogs and enjoy treats and pup-tinis for the dogs, live music, specialty drinks and “Yappetizer” specials at Roost.
Canine Corner at Cleveland Park is located along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Both the trail and park make for great walking adventures with canine friends. If vet services are needed during a stay in town, the Cleveland Park Animal Hospital is just across the street from the dog park.
Two water parks – Otter Creek and Discover Island—shut down for four-legged friends to enjoy a fun-filled day of swimming in the park. These special days typically occur at the end of the summer season.
The Greenville Road Warriors hockey team sponsors “Pucks & Paws” once every year when hockey fans can bring dogs to the game at no extra cost! After the game, fans gather at the Greenville Beer Exchange where dogs are welcomes, too. It has rotating taps, growlers, and more than 1,000 bottles of beer from all over the word for dog owners to enjoy. The Barkery Bistro caters to four-legged family members with original treats like “Puppy Crack”.
And, what trip would be complete without a shopping option? Paw Paws in downtown Greenville is lauded as the most artistic and expressive line of nylon ribbon collars, leashes and harnesses in the pet industry. Its products are handcrafted in Greenville, and are sold in specialty shops throughout the United States.
Hyatt Regency, Greenville
220 N Main St, Greenville, SC 29601
Old Charleston Walking Tour and Charleston Place hotel, Charleston, South Carolina
A port city with a long and colorful history, Charleston activities may involve ghosts. Exploring Charleston in all its spooky glory, the Old Charleston Ghost Walk is a fun-filled option for dogs and their owners. The walking tour lasts 90 minutes, and begins at 7:30 and 9:30 each night from Tuesday through Sunday. As participants are taken through the city’s haunted graveyards and alleyways, they are told the old stories of the spirits that inhabit them. Dogs love all the new sights and smells a nighttime tour offers. Travelers will have the tour group and their dog along for comfort and protection!
While in Charleston, visitors will enjoy staying at Charleston Place. This historic hotel is located in Charleston City Centre, near the College of Charleston and the South Carolina Aquarium. The hotel offers award-winning dining and a full-service spa. Charleston Place features an indoor/outdoor saltwater pool and a fitness facility, shops and a full-service concierge. The 4-star Charleston Grill is actually located on-site at Charleston Place. Guests can have breakfast and lunch in the casual Palmetto Cafe or a cocktail in the Thoroughbred Club, however, pets are not permitted in restaurants, bars or pool areas.
The hotel happily accepts pets and service animals, but there is a mandatory non-refundable pet deposit of $75 per pet, per stay, due at time of check in.
Charleston Place Hotel
205 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
Barkwells Vacation Rentals, Asheville, North Carolina
Off the beaten path and nestled in the lush mountains of western North Carolina, travelers will find Barkwells, a vacation rental that offers as much comfort and luxury for your dog as it does for you. Known as “the dog lover’s retreat,” Barkwells luxury cabins occupy eight acres of land consisting of meadows, woodlands and a pond. Best of all, the entire area is securely fenced in, so dogs and their humans can safely explore and play. For relaxation they can hang out on the porch, rest by the fire, or play fetch in their private fenced yard.
Barkwells Vacation Rentals
290 Lance Rd, Mills River, NC 28759
Photos by Big Lenz Studio