Dogs on Vacation

DaVinci & Valentino Heading Out on One of Their Road Trips

DaVinci & Valentino

Mighty Valentino Testing Out the Red Rock in Moab, Utah

Mighty Valentino Testing Out the Red Rock in Moab, Utah

Warning:  This story includes tons of adorable photos of pups.

Woof, woof. Bark, bark. I’ve never seen so many happy dogs in my life as those that have padded, trotted and trounced through our little mountain town of Telluride, Colorado these past weeks. Little, big, short-haired, long-haired, well-groomed or scruffy, they all have an air de vacances, a certain joie de vivre that makes it clear they’re happy to be a part of their mom and dad’s vacation as well.

As a confirmed cat person, I hadn’t had much experience traveling with dogs up until over a year ago when I went on a road trip with my friend Mary Dawn (MD) and Valentino, her beautiful Bernese Mountain dog. Our travels, which I recount in my story, Travels with Valentino, culminated with the choosing of DaVinci, a new brother for Tino. As of last fall, we thought DaVinci was big enough to accompany us on a couple more trips:  one to Moab and Salt Lake City, Utah; the other to Denver, Beaver Creek and the Vail Valley. I tell you, these dogs get around. And wherever they go, they are greeted with a fanfare of enthusiasm that makes me happy to just be tagging along. Here are some of the highlights from the best pet-friendly properties we visited on our jaunts:

MOAB Sorrel River Ranch (8)

Playing and Sniffing at Sorrel River Ranch

"Cowboy" Entrance at Sorrel

“Cowboy” Entrance at Sorrel

The Pups and Me:  Riverfront Porch at Sorrel

The Pups and Me: Riverfront Porch at Sorrel

Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa, Moab, Utah

Pets—just like people—love the fresh air. Here Valentino and DaVinci reveled in it, western style, and took to ranch life like two alpine dudes basking in the high desert warmth. They loved the “open door” setup of their digs, with one door accessing the entrance porch, the other leading out to the Colorado River, providing movie-lot backdrops of red rock panoramas along this wild way. Watching the guys frolic and jump for joy on the grassy lawn at the river’s edge made me feel more on vacation, too, even though I had to spend a lot of time on my laptop. They rolled in the cool, green grass and nipped at each other’s heels, just a couple of innumerable antics that brought a smile to my face as I pounded away on deadlines.

View from the Red Cliffs Lodge Main Deck

View from the Red Cliffs Lodge Main Deck

Enjoying a Wine and Quiet Time with DaVinci at Red Cliffs Lodge

Enjoying a Wine and Quiet Time with DaVinci at Red Cliffs Lodge

Hiking with the Pups in Moab

Hiking with the Pups in Moab

Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab, Utah

By the time we moseyed up to Red Cliffs Lodge, just a slingshot throw from Sorrel, the guys were really digging the back door/front door configuration and the possibility to enjoy more romps along the verdant swatch bordering the Colorado River. Here, too, MD and I delighted in hanging out on the patio outside of our Western-styled room while keeping one eye on the pups. Just like at Sorrel, we appreciated the convenience of having a kitchen, replete with a sizable fridge where we could store all the necessary ingredients for the kids’ raw diet, including a barnyard supply of chicken necks. After we left here, we all headed out for a hike at Negro Bill Canyon, one of the best hikes in the West, fairly cool and shady, too.

Making Friends at the Hotel Monaco SLC

Making Friends at the Hotel Monaco SLC

Posing at the Style-y Hotel Monaco

Posing at the Style-y Hotel Monaco

Hotel Monaco, Salt Lake City, Utah

After so much fun in the great outdoors, I think we were all ready to hit the big city where we knew we’d enjoy more sophisticated surroundings and the possibility of interacting with more people. As soon as Tino and DaVinci arrived at the Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City, they were fawned over by hotel staff and visitors alike. Here, they had to “do their business” on a small albeit grassy patch just across from the hotel, but that didn’t matter since the attention they received here more than made up for any slight bathroom inconveniences they had to endure. Plus, with so many parks in SLC, it’s not like they were wanting for a good run. That didn’t interest them, since they preferred to hang around the hotel lobby where they were treated like rockstars. (We later found out that most rockstars and visiting celebs do stay at the Hotel Monaco, so it’s no wonder these two handsome fellas were so well received.)

Warwick Denver Hotel, Denver, Colorado

I met MD and the dogs here upon my return from an East Coast trip last November. What a thrill it was to walk into the room and be greeted by Valentino and DaVinci. Their affection for Auntie Maribeth bowled me over. The three of them were already well settled into the elegant accommodations at the Warwick and were enjoying a dog party of sorts since Stacy Temples, the dogs’ breeder from Wagontale in Fort Collins, made the trip in with another pup to pay MD and her babies a visit. I breathed a sigh of relief that the room was large enough and that the Warwick was such a pet friendly establishment to accommodate this rambunctious entourage and all the trappings that come with a pack of dogs. As if reading my mind, MD said, “You always have to schlepp a lot of stuff when you have dogs. Here it’s great to have a balcony where I can leave their cooler.” (All of the rooms at the Denver Warwick have balconies, a big bonus for people traveling with dogs.)

A Visit from Their First Mommy:  Stacy Temples

A Visit from Their First Mommy: Stacy Temples

Checking out of the Warwick Denver

Checking out of the Warwick Denver with Mary Dawn

Checking in at the Westin Riverfront at Beaver Creek Mountain

Checking in at The Westin Riverfront at Beaver Creek Mountain

The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain, Avon, Colorado

Here the dogs soaked up attention from virtually every staff member of this beautiful property. Even housekeeping would stop and greet the dogs when passing them in the hallway. They relished their own special doggie place, too, a grassy field just outside of the hotel away from the road. And when MD and I were delayed by partying at the World Cup, the doormen practically jumped at the opportunity to walk the dogs. At this riverside establishment, the dogs enjoyed all the benefits of being in a large, swanky hotel in a handsome natural setting. They also loved the fact that we had a spacious, two-bedroom condo, an arrangement that prompted DaVinci to come up on my big, king-sized bed one of the nights.

Cordillera Lodge:  The Perfect Setting for Cozying Up Fireside with the Pups

Cordillera Lodge: The Perfect Setting for Cozying Up Fireside with the Pups

The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, Edwards, Colorado

We all loved this quiet retreat perched high on a hill above the Vail Valley. The country setting provided many hours of relaxing by the fire and strolling around the grounds (well, romping for the dogs). Our richly decorated room opened out onto a patio that gave way to a sprawling grassy area beyond. This made it especially convenient to take the dogs out for early morning and late evening walks. Everyone here extended warm welcomes to Valentino and DaVinci by giving them extra pets and tender greetings as they walked by. I think—just like at the other properties—people were sad to see them go, since their smiling faces and sweet demeanor brightened everyone’s day where ever they went.

Valet AKA Dog Walker Par Excellence at the Westin Riverfront

Valet AKA Dog Walker Par Excellence at the Westin Riverfront

“They like the hotel experience. It’s a new adventure for them, filled with new smells and sniffs,” says Mary Dawn DeBriae.

Mary Dawn is also the owner of Alpen Schatz, a European-styled boutique in Telluride, Colorado. Visit her online site and sign up for her newsletter to receive updates on the Berner world and more. Many people have adopted Berners all over the U.S. thanks to her being such a top Bernese Mountain dog Mama.

A Plethora of Perks

DaVinci and Valentino enjoyed many added benefits at the above establishments including treats at the front desk, treats in the room, dog bowls and beds provided as well as many offers for dog walking. Be sure to provide a gratuity for the latter and any other special perks that may be showered upon your pup. Note also that many establishments have outdoor restaurants and decks where your pooch may “hang with you” or at least within view.

DaVinci and Valentino, especially well-mannered dogs, were a welcome addition to everywhere we stayed. Make sure this is the case with your dog when traveling and never leave a barking dog in a hotel room and make sure they never destroy anything in the room. Always act like a responsible pet owner and be considerate of others in your own actions and especially those of your pets.

Thank you to DaVinci and Tino for being such lovely travel companions. You were fun, too, MD.

Valentino:  A Well-Mannered Dog Inside and Out

Valentino: A Well-Mannered Dog Inside and Out

Enjoying Hotel Amenities

Enjoying Hotel Amenities

DaVinci Stealing One of My Socks

DaVinci Stealing One of My Socks

For more on Red Cliffs Lodge, read The Lone Ranger Showcases Monument Valley, Southwest Colorado and More and On the Trail of Western Movie-Making in Utah and Colorado.

For more on Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa, click here.

For more on Warwick Denver Hotel, read Summertime and the Livin’ Is Easy at the Denver Warwick Hotel and Celebrate Bastille Day at Randolph’s in Denver.

For more on The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain, click here.

And for All You Cat Lovers

Call me crazy but I really want to go on vacation with my cats. PLEASE read my story, Cat Vacations, if you have any ideas. There must be some suitable establishment out there that would welcome a travel writer with her two cats. I’m thinking, too, that if I sell enough copies of my new book, A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France,” I’ll open up my own feline retreat.

Clara Giving Me the Stink-Eye When Packing for My Dog Vacation

Clara Giving Me the Stink-Eye When Packing for My Dog Vacation

Leo Happy that Mommy Is Finally Home

Leo Happy that Mommy Is Finally Home

18 Jul 2013, 2:07am
by Susan Stone

Love the pictures! My dog Max is a great traveler — he’s been to eight different countries.

9 Aug 2013, 3:24pm
by lori Uebersax

What a great Berner travel story! We just spent 8 days on the road to Seattle with our 2-year-old Bernese Nicky-Flue–his second longest roadtrip after the trek we made from L.A. to New Mexico to pick him up as a pup. We had so much fun. So many fond memories, like him peering through the rear window of the car at night with a mystical look on his face, and wading into the Sacramento river under a famous bridge. There’s a fantastic little restaurant in Portland called the Tin Shed where dogs can dine with you tableside–cheesy grits, cocktails, and a special dog menu! Great conclusion to our trip–eating fine French cuisine in the foodie mecca Yountville, CA, on the patio of an amazing bistro called Cafe Jeanty. When you travel with a Berner, you really do need to build in “fan” time, because people just love to pet them and coo over them. Fortunately, Nicky was friendly, and a good ambassador for the breed–not so much because of our training, but because he just craves attention and is a happy dog. Thank you for your tips. We want to visit Colorado and Utah soon!


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