July 17, 2014 | by Justin Peligri
Pup-friendly policies
Kimpton, gay news, Washington Blade

Yappy Hour at Hotel Monaco (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

Jackson 20, the restaurant at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, is known to host not only hotel guests and local Alexandria residents, it’s also a popular place for dogs, especially during the hotel’s weekly “doggy happy hour.”

The gay-friendly Kimpton franchise welcomes guests’ furry friends at all their hotels, but Hotel Monaco is one of the only establishments in the District still offering a happy hour explicitly geared toward pets and their owners. The event, which takes place Thursday evenings at 5 p.m., features complimentary dog treats and water bowls in the hotel’s courtyard.

Annee Gillett, director of catering for local Kimpton Hotels, says Alexandria locals and out-of-town guests gather for doggy happy hour because it fosters a sense of community among dog lovers. She says the diverse group of people enthusiastic about the event — including tourists and people stopping by with their dogs after work — has enabled Hotel Monaco’s doggy happy hour to remain open even as other dog-friendly events at D.C. restaurants and bars have gone out of fashion.

“They’re not just a pet but they’re a member of the family and they’re important to people,” Gillett says. “It’s important that we welcome everyone. Things like the doggy happy hour give guests an opportunity to come together. They’re really social events where everyone chats and talks about their dogs.”

Gillett owns Charlie, a 7-year-old Bichon who works as the Kimpton’s “director of pet relations.” He greets pets and owners at the beginning of their stay at the hotel. Guests with pets are often provided with dog treats and a list of Charlie’s favorite dog parks and local shops.

“I travel with my dog all the time,” Gillett says. Without a Kimpton hotel, your choices are pretty bleak.”

The Kimpton has long been known as an LGBT-friendly hotel chain, in part through its partnership with the Trevor Project. Even though same-sex marriage is not legal in Virginia, about eight couples have held wedding receptions at the Hotel Monaco, according to Gillett.

“It’s awesome,” she says. “I don’t know of any other company that embraces the LGBT community in such an open way.

But the hotels also make clear that pets, especially dogs, are valued.

“At all Kimpton Hotels, including the eight in D.C. and three in Old Town Alexandria, we offer a warm welcome to any size, weight or breed of pet at no extra charge,” says Jaclyn Randolph, Kimpton Hotel’s public relations manager, in an email. “We love and respect our furry guests as much as our human ones.”

Many events catering to dogs, including doggy happy hours as well as a costume event for dogs at Halloween and a Christmas-time event featuring Santa Claus, also function as charity events. In the past, the Kimpton has collected donations for the Animal Welfare League and Veterans Moving Forward, a service that trains dogs to assist veterans with physical and emotional needs.

The hotel has a pet-free floor for guests who aren’t interested in sharing space with non-human visitors. But Gillett says that by and large, most hotel goers — even those who haven’t brought a pet along with them — are receptive to animals.

“The majority of them love it. Even if they don’t have their dog, they think that that’s awesome that you can travel with them. They say, ‘Well, I can bring my dog next time,’” she says, adding that many people without pets enjoy petting and playing with Charlie during their stay.

“We’re pretty open about what our brand is and the things that Kimpton embraces,” she says. “Maybe it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but people who like animals tend to be nice people!”

 

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