• Lisa Codianne Fowler

In Florida, Every Dog has its Stay


THE ALFOND INN • 407-998-8090 • thealfondinn.com

One of the most prominent pet-friendly locals is smack in the center of the state: The Alfond Inn at Rollins, voted Florida’s No. 1 Hotel by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler. Your furry friends will love the Alfond’s VIP Pup Package, which offers a host of amenities: two nights in a dog-friendly guest room, complimentary keepsake water bowls, signature treats at turndown, tennis balls and a complimentary ThunderShirt, a special soothing vest that gives dogs a “hug” as it applies a gentle, constant pressure for a calming effect. In keeping with the hotel’s philanthropic mission, for each VIP package booked, a donation will be made to the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

The boutique hotel celebrates the growing trend that has unfolded this year: faithful animal companions joining the bride and groom as they take their vows. Whether the beloved pooch is a ring bearer, a flow-er pup or a member of the bridal party or simply struts down the aisle, there’s no question that dogs are taking a bigger role in weddings.

In addition to its elegant design, artwork and culinary expertise, the inn features tranquil outdoor settings where everyone can feel relaxed for photo ops, receptions and al fresco weddings on the courtyard lawn. When the celebration heads inside to the Park Avenue Ballroom or one of the private dining rooms, the inn will arrange complimentary onsite services through the local doggy daycare provider. Each wedding at the Alfond is customized and will be the only celebration taking place in the hotel at the time, allowing plenty of attention for the entire bridal party and the Pup of Honor.

The Alfond Inn at Rollins is located in Winter Park, also referred to as “Winter Bark,” the historic, walkable city known for its welcoming dog-friendly shops, more than two dozen dog-friendly restaurants and sidewalk cafes, and a 23-acre green space on Lake Baldwin, where dogs can run off leash during specific posted hours.

THE CHESTERFIELD HOTEL • 561-659-5800 • chesterfieldpb.com

Looking for coastal quarters? Luxury seekers will find extravagance at the Chesterfield Hotel in Palm Beach, which extends its award-winning service to pets, with a Very Important Pet package that includes a welcome basket with toys and treats to take home. The Chesterfield also provides dog sitting and walking services, a pet-oriented room service menu, grooming service, leashes and litter boxes, and dog and cat first aid kits.

EPIC HOTEL • 305-424-5226 • epichotel.com

Downtown Miami’s Epic Hotel invites you to “bring your furry, feathery or scaly family member” no matter its size, weight or breed, with no pet deposit required. The ultra-luxe resort even has a director of pet relations on staff who welcomes pets by name. Hotel amenities include plush pet-bed loaners, food, water bowls and mats, a concierge list of nearby pet-friendly restaurants, parks, groomers and pet boutiques, and a nightly wine reception where pets are welcome to join the party.

NAPLES BAY RESORT • 866-605-1199 • naplesbayresort.com

Naples Bay Resort in pet-friendly Naples welcomes dogs up to 40 pounds, or larger at the discretion of the general manager. Pooches can join you on the patio at Fred’s Food, Fun & Spirits, named for the owner’s dog, where waiters will bring your dog a cool drink. There are three off-leash dog parks in town and leashed dogs are welcome on Keewaydin Island, accessible by boat.

BAYFRONT MARIN HOUSE HISTORIC INN • 904-824-4301 • bayfrontmarinhouse.com

Voted the No. 1 Hotel in St. Augustine on TripAdvisor, Bayfront Marin House Historic Inn is a romantic B&B that welcomes dogs up to 75 pounds. Your pup will be fawned over by the attentive staff and treated to a relaxing, luxurious getaway. Food and water bowls are available, as are pet treats, loaner leashes and puppy popsicles during the summer months. St. Augustine is full of pet-friendly restaurants and boasts miles of pet-friendly beaches and attractions.

ROLLING WAVES BEACH COTTAGES • 941-383-1323 • rollingwaves.com

For more casual digs, consider Rolling Waves Beach Cottages on Longboat Key. This secluded island oasis consists of eight self-contained cottages perched directly on the powdery, white beach, and the owners permit pets of any type, size and number as long as they are well-behaved. Bring steaks for the whole family — each unit is equipped with an outdoor charcoal grill, among many other conveniences.

BEACHSIDE INN • 850-650-9099 • destinbeachsideinn.com

Expect your pets to be treated like special guests at the cozy Beachside Inn in Destin. One or two dogs per room are welcome and there is no weight limit. Pets are allowed in every part of the inn, including Camille’s Sidewalk Café, open for breakfast and lunch. While dogs are not permitted on the beach, Scenic Gulf Drive features paved sidewalks for enjoying leisurely walks adjacent to the beach.


Aloft Hotels has an Animals R Fun program (ARF), giving a little special treatment to furry family members. Aloft pets receive a complimentary ARF kit that includes their own bowl, picker-upper bags, tasty treats, a dog tag, pet toys and their own signature bed. Aloft welcomes dogs up to 40 pounds. This chic boutique hotel chain has locations in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Orlando and Miami.

THE RITZ CARLTON • ritzcarlton.com

The Ritz-Carlton offers a refined pet-friendly package for dogs and cats with exceptional amenities and has varying pet weight restrictions by location. Guests are always welcome to travel with their pets at the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale; the Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami; the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island; the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota; and guests at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, can order a delicious meal for their furry friends off the curated doggie menu, including items like Chicken Paw Pie, a doggy version of a chicken pot pie; and Screw Tail Rice, made with fried brown rice, carrots, peas, zucchini and cage-free eggs.

At time of publication and unless otherwise stated, pet deposits and/or fees are required. For a complete list of pet-friendly accommodations in Florida, visit bringfido.com, visitflorida.com or contact the tourism bureau of your destination city.


A free app that can help pet owners find nearby veterinarians, groomers, shelters and pet-friendly restaurants, stores and parks at home or while traveling. Called Pawscout, it has real-time mapping that makes it easy to connect with pet lovers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Pawscout also pairs with an inexpensive and smart ID tag that uses Bluetooth to track your pet’s movements. The tag stores a digital profile with your pet’s medical records, behavior traits and owner contact information. Pawscout’s Virtual Leash option even sends your smartphone an “out of range” alert if your pet wanders more than 300 feet away from you.

The American Kennel Club recently released its list of the 50 most popular dogs in America. The No. 1 breed? Labrador retrievers, for their tendency to be both easygoing and athletic at the same time. akc.org

According to VisitFlorida, the most dog-friendly places in Florida are St. Augustine, Amelia Island, the Space Coast, Daytona Beach, the Palm Beaches, Fort Lauderdale, Naples, the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel, Sarasota, St. Pete/Clearwater, Mexico Beach and Panama City Beach. visitflorida.com.

Tampa Bay Times | Sunday, June 24, 2018 |

Travel Florida is an annual publication of the Tampa Bay Times.

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