The wagging tails of canine companions that are going with us are much happier to see than the forlorn eyes of pets we’re leaving behind at home. And who doesn’t love waking up to a cuddly dog or being greeted when you come back to the room with sloppy wet kisses? These seven Southern hotels and resorts welcome pets as warmly as our pets welcome us, offering plenty of oppawtunities (sorry, had to) for vacationing together in style.
Miami Beach, Florida
There’s a good chance you’ll be welcomed by Betsy and Rosa, the two golden retriever Canine Executive Officers (CEOs), when you check in to this landmark Art Deco property on Miami Beach’s famed Ocean Drive. The dog-centered hotel also features a photo gallery of the hotel’s resident pups by dog photographer Carlos Andres Cruz. Your pup can join you in most of the public spaces at The Betsy, except at the pool area and in the main dining room at the restaurant. The hotel charges a one-time pet fee of $150, but 50 percent of the proceeds benefit Miami-Dade Animal Rescue and the SPCA in Zimbabwe (the home country of one of the hotel’s owners).
Pet-friendly perks at this riverfront hotel in downtown Savannah begin with plush dog beds and house-made treats from Stevedore Bakery upon arrival. You’ll also receive an artsy “Pet in Room” sign and a pet-friendly dining, drinking, and walking map created by lead concierge Amanda Marks (who, by the way, keeps a stash of dog treats at her desk). Your pup can also join you for hand-crafted cocktails and small bites in the lobby at the Bar by Fleeting. After a recent visit, our own Tibetan Terrier, Rhythm, gave two paws up for the floor-to-ceiling windows with city and Savannah River views and the dog park across the street that features a tunnel, climbing mounds, and turf.
This newly opened four-bedroom bed and breakfast is situated atop five acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The dog-forward property boasts custom-made dog beds, a dog washing station, and unlimited treats for canine guests. The owners, Stephanie and Kyle Thomas, decorated with locally sourced antiques and reclaimed wood, and they serve local wines, cheeses, and snacks in the property’s honor bar. There are many dog-friendly options close by for checking out the dining, winery, and brewery scene in Nelson County and nearby Charlottesville. “We love sending our guests and their pups out to explore Nelson County and the bounty of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” Stephanie says, “and then welcoming them back home to sit by the fire with a craft beverage from a local maker.”
Mills River, North Carolina
An eight-cabin property just outside of Asheville has gone to the dogs. “Barkwells is a dog-centric vacation retreat, which means it was designed for families and their four-legged members,” owners Jeff and Patti Krider explain. The retreat features seven acres of fenced meadows to romp and play, individual fences at each cabin, a pond for swimming and fishing, dog beds, bowls, and towels and furniture covers specifically for your furry pals. You’ll also find a dog washing station with locally made organic shampoo—and lots of free treats and tennis balls.
Cary, North Carolina
This lakeside retreat, just a short distance from Raleigh, indulges human guests with luxurious accommodations, five-star cuisine at Herons restaurant, and relaxing signature treatments at the spa. But there’s no ruffing for pets either—amenities include food and water bowls, a custom pet toy, doggie treats, and pet oops bags. During visits with our pup, we especially enjoy quiet walks through the gardens and exploring (and sniffing) around the lake. DogWoods, the property’s enclosed playground, is the place to go for off-leash play with other doggie pals. For an extended evening out on the town, or a special event, the concierge is happy to assist with pet sitting.
Situated along the shores of Lake Oconee, this beautiful luxury resort is always a hit when we visit with our dog, especially when there’s a room with a balcony and a view overlooking the water. The property’s pets-in-residence, Labrador retrievers Copper and Scout, are often found in the lobby greeting and playing with guests. VIP (Very Important Pet) welcome gifts include dog bowls, tasty treats, and a tennis ball. A favorite pastime during our stays is a long walk around the grounds and by the lake (complete with doggie bag stations). When you’re ready for adults-only time, hit the links at one of five championship golf courses or try your hand at sporting clays at Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds.
Bluffton, South Carolina
Cauley, the resident Canine Ambassador and a rescue from the Hilton Head Humane Society, greets guests at this gorgeous 20,000-acre property in the Lowcountry. “We see so many guests that travel with their dogs, and they often arrive with a favorite blanket or stuffed animal,” says Firoze Nizam, the director of rooms. “Just like humans, having their favorite comforts from home in addition to our welcoming touches make them feel most relaxed.” The pawfect getaway to Palmetto Bluff includes dog-friendly amenities like plush beds, custom-baked treats (the sweet potato chews are a favorite), and chic accessories and toys. There’s also a Pet Cuisine menu with dishes like Best in Show, made with angus beef, rice, and vegetables. The concierge can also arrange pet sitting, doggie daycare, or dog walking services during your stay.