More and more hotels are rolling out the red carpet for canine guests, but one hotel in Asheville has taken pup hospitality to creative new heights, helping a local animal rescue group adopt out dogs to guests and the community.
Aloft Asheville Downtown recently marked its 100th dog adoption when the hotel found a forever home for Lolly, a Papillon-Chihuahua mix. Aloft works with Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue in Fletcher, North Carolina, to foster one dog at a time within the lobby of the hotel, a program Aloft started in 2014.
“We have always been a dog friendly hotel, and in 2014, we were thinking about a community service project to do. Fostering a dog made perfect sense for us,” says David McCartney, general manager. “When we brought the first dog in and set up a doggy play pen in the lobby, we saw the overwhelmingly positive reaction from guests. When the first dog got adopted in about three days, the staff felt like we couldn’t live without a dog. So, we got another, and it’s continued since then.”
Other hotels caught onto the idea, frequently calling McCartney for advice. Foster dog programs have been implemented at at least ten other hotels including Aloft locations in Orlando, Charlotte, and Greenville, South Carolina, as well as the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Aloft doesn’t handle the adoption process itself, but coordinates with Charlie’s Angels to schedule home visits and help the adopter complete the required paperwork.
“Guests see the dog first thing when they check in, on a leash at the front desk, sitting on an ottoman, in a play pen, or laying on a blanket in the lobby,” McCartney says. “Our guests get to sit with a dog at the bar, or play with them in the lobby in a home-like setting.”
McCartney says he regularly sees travelers take selfies with the dogs, text them back to their husbands or wives, and then, with spousal approval, start the adoption process. “On average, the dogs are adopted in two and a half weeks, but we had one Shih Tzu that went in an hour,” McCartney says.
The hotel staff takes care of the dogs throughout the day and during night shifts. “There’s an evening staff member who loves dogs, and if the dog we’re fostering is up late, he’ll take them walking through the halls during his nightly rounds.”
For those traveling with their own dogs, Aloft welcomes four-legged guests with a complimentary dog bed, food and water bowls, and a bag of treats and toys. And for those (guest or general public) looking to adopt, Polly the Shih Tzu is currently being fostered at the hotel and is looking to become Aloft Asheville’s 101st success story.