(Victor Valley)– About 45 million households in the U.S. have dogs and 21 percent of them travel with their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association. Southern California, with its year-round mild weather, miles of beaches, and multitude of sights and activities, is a frequent destination for vacationers. It’s also considered one of the most pet-inclusive regions of the country. Dog Fancy magazine named San Diego “America’s Best City for Dogs” due to its dog-friendly beaches.
Not every hotel, open-air restaurant, or shop welcomes dogs, so San Diego resident Maggie Espinosa and her dog Marcel set out to find the best ones that do. The result is The Privileged Pooch: Luxury Travel with Your Pet in Southern California, a guide to 69 hotels, 55 bistros, 56 fun-in-the-sun activities, and 36 trendy shops. The book covers San Diego, Palm Springs, Orange County, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. There is a photo or a map on every page, and price ranges for the hotels, restaurants, and activities.
“I rated the hotels with one to four wags for pet friendliness,” says Espinosa. “If a hotel or resort’s pet regulations were too stringent with weight limit and access to certain areas, or charged exorbitant fees, I didn’t include it in the book.”
An award-winning travel writer, Espinosa provides a thorough description of the setting, décor, and services at each location, written in an entertaining commentary style. She mentions each hotel’s special services for pets-from welcoming toys and doggy menus to spas and dog sitters.
Examples of the amenities and treatment travelers can expect for their pets:
- The Casa Laguna Inn & Spa welcomes dogs at breakfast and at the afternoon wine hour. Owners and their dogs can partake in a “Togetherness Massage.” A licensed canine masseuse treats the dog, kneading its back legs and shoulders, stroking its ears, and checking paws for proper circulation.
- Pups at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel can enjoy the “Grrrreen Dog” package with a recyclable rubber chew, in-room meal, and an organic cotton bandana. At check-in, food bowls, treats and a placemat are delivered to the room.
- The Healthy Spot, one in West Hollywood and one in Santa Monica, provides blueberry and plum pet facials, milk and honey baths, and moisturizing paw rubs. Organic and vegetarian canine cuisine, Fou Fou brand toys and K9 art fill the shelves. A grassy play area includes a red fire hydrant.
- Many of the high-end shops at Fashion Island, an outdoor mall in Newport Beach, welcome pets. A Betsy Johnson Boutique treats pups to water and doggie snaps. Pets join their owners at the outdoor seating area at a number of stylish cafes and restaurants.
Accommodating dogs is the focus of The Privileged Pooch, but Espinosa features hotels, boutiques, and eateries that would appeal to dog owners whether or not they were traveling with their pets. If more information is needed, she included the website and phone number for almost every location.
The Privileged Pooch
Published by I Heart Travel Publishing
Trade Paperback, 206 pages
About the Author
Maggie Espinosa is an award-winning travel journalist who writes for national and international publications. She has been interviewed on syndicated radio programs and has reported on ABC TV. She has traveled to five continents and has lived in Europe and the Caribbean. She now lives in San Diego, CA, with her husband and Privileged Pooch, Marcel. www.travelwithmaggie.com