These hotel ‘ambassadogs’ greet guests with wet-nosed affection

Imagine being met on arrival at your hotel by a happy dog excited to see you. At these hotels, you can.

By Matt Lennon, March 24 2022
These hotel ‘ambassadogs’ greet guests with wet-nosed affection

Hotels are really stepping it up in the pet friendly department for guests holidaying with their ‘best friend’, with doggy treats on arrival and mini bars curated especially for canine companions. But there’s a ‘paw-fect’ new breed of hotel taking it even further. 

Some properties have their own puppies and pooches as an official welcoming novelty.

And once you pry yourself away from the pats, cuddles, and belly-rubs long enough to reach the check-in counter, they even offer you the chance to take your new four-legged friend for a walk.

That’s right, and no matter what your day was like or how long the journey has taken, all those stresses melt away the moment you gaze into those big, happy brown eyes. 

Mr Walker – Park Hyatt Melbourne

Mr Walker is perhaps the most popular employee at Park Hyatt Melbourne
Mr Walker is perhaps the most popular employee at Park Hyatt Melbourne

As one of Melbourne’s five-star hotels, you’d expect to receive a friendly greeting, and you certainly get one. But then you can also reach down and shake paws with Mr Walker, the hotel’s friendly and delightfully fluffy ‘Ambassadog’.

Aged six, the affectionate yellow Labrador joined the hotel team in 2017 after undergoing training with Guide Dogs Victoria, where he learned skills including keeping calm around unfamiliar people, smells and noises. In case you were wondering, yes, he’s a very good boy. 

However, Guide Dogs decided Mr Walker’s larger-than-life personality made him better suited elsewhere in the community and he was adopted by Park Hyatt Melbourne’s General Manager, Leigh Shepheard.

Mr Walker with his adopter, Park Hyatt Melbourne GM Leigh Shepheard
Mr Walker with his adopter, Park Hyatt Melbourne GM Leigh Shepheard

“Mr Walker provides companionship to hotel guests and staff, giving them a home away from home,” Shepheard says.

Mr Walker enthusiastically greets new arrivals daily at the hotel’s main entrance and six days a week at 7am, guests can join him for a walk in the leafy Fitzroy Gardens nearby.

You’ll also find him lounging in the lobby on a custom Tasmanian Oak bed where he’s happy to pose for pictures, but don’t wake him up. You can like his official Instagram @mrwalker_parkhyatt and share your own selfies with the hashtag #BarkHyattMelbourne.

Bea – Pier One Sydney Harbour

Bea is a connoisseur of canine comfort at Pier One Sydney Harbour
Bea is a connoisseur of canine comfort at Pier One Sydney Harbour

Joining the Pier One Sydney Harbour General Manager at work each day is Bea, a miniature schnauzer, affectionately known as the hotel’s ‘Director of Pet Experiences’. It’s a hard life for some!

Guests can find Bea sitting next to the check-in desk assessing and welcoming each new guest. Other times, she’s interacting with them in puppy-friendly rooms and outside on the pier.

Bea is the inspiration behind innovative hotel services such as the doggy minibar, loaded with fun products such as a chase ball, healthy treats and even a fragrant body spray - for those days when it’s too difficult to wash. We’ve all been there.

“In addition to greeting and interacting with guests, Bea has tested the hotel’s pooch beds and pup-friendly offerings to make sure four-legged family members don't have to miss out on their family’s next getaway,” notes Pier One General Manager, Kim Mahaffy.

Archie – Peppers Silo Hotel Launceston

Archie keeps a close watch on Peppers Silo Hotel Launceston
Archie keeps a close watch on Peppers Silo Hotel Launceston

If you’re heading to Launceston in Tasmania, drop in and say hello to Archie, a delightful black Labrador who calls Peppers Silo Hotel his home.

Like Mr Walker, Archie is also a former service animal trained by Guide Dogs Tasmania but who fell a little short of passing his final exam, said General Manager Paul Seaman.

“Unfortunately – or fortunately for us, Archie did not pass his Guide Dog training, being a little too enthusiastic and was reclassified into a more suitable career,” Seaman tells Executive Traveller.

Archie loves walks along the Tamar River and guests can take him down there if they wish
Archie loves walks along the Tamar River and guests can take him down there if they wish

Archie loves squeaky toys and can often be found running around the grounds, excitedly welcoming new arrivals to the hotel, or taking a post-run nap in his bed at reception.

Guests can also arrange time to take him for a walk along the Tamar River, where his guide dog training makes him the perfect companion.

Mac – Oshen Yeppoon

Mac has a hard life keeping the team in line at Oshen Yeppoon
Mac has a hard life keeping the team in line at Oshen Yeppoon

Just outside Rockhampton in central Queensland, you’ll find the delightful toy poodle, Mac, moonlighting across multiple roles at the Oshen Yeppoon Holiday Apartments.

Some days he’ll be the receptionist, other days working the beat as security, and on occasion he’s also known for jumping into the Manager’s chair. It’s a busy life for ‘ol Mac! 

Resort Managers, Bill and Andrea Stojke, welcomed Mac to the resort family in 2019 when he was 10 weeks old, raising him among the relaxed holiday vibe of the Capricorn Coast town. “He’s grown up as a little resort dog,” Andrea told Executive Traveller.

Mac is great at generating repeat business with many travellers returning just to see him
Mac is great at generating repeat business with many travellers returning just to see him

“He certainly has a play with people around the resort and he loves it. We let him out on the patio for a run around.”

Although highly spirited and energetic, Mac will gladly take time out of his busy schedule to indulge in pats or cuddles while guests complete their check-in or out formalities. He has even been known to fall asleep in the arms of some guests.

In fact, Mac is proving to be quite the drawcard for repeat business, with many guests returning to stay again just to see him. Management field numerous requests for in-room visits but generally prefer him to roam with guests in common areas. 

Apparently they’re worried somebody will steal him. But we can understand why - just look at that face!

Beau – Park Hyatt Auckland

The Concierge team is noticing highly distracted guests whenever Beau is working the desk too
The Concierge team is noticing highly distracted guests whenever Beau is working the desk too

As far as working dogs go, Beau the Labrador is a paws-on, wet-nose to the grindstone kind of pooch. Along with greeting guests on arrival, Beau is more than willing to help with luggage and keeps a watchful eye over anything remotely fun happening in the lobby - ready to jump in and play.

Beau was trained by Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs and remains an official ambassador. Through his training, Beau learned to provide calm and focused companionship and assistance, but narrowly missed out on graduating. Maybe he had a big run the day before and slept through the exam…

“Beau is a trained Labrador however he did not pass the final test so we decided to adopt him into the Park Hyatt Auckland family,” said Park Hyatt Auckland General Manager, Brett Sweetman.

Beau in particular loves children and will gladly join in games and fetch balls or soft toys lobbed in his direction, eager to please with his friendly nature.

If he’s not doing his rounds of the lobby sniffing out playtime opportunities, you’ll find Beau sitting next to the Concierge desk.

“This initiative has been very well received by all guests,” relished Sweetman.

Emma – Kimpton Kitlay Samui

Emma's surrounds include the turquoise Gulf of Thailand
Emma's surrounds include the turquoise Gulf of Thailand

Guests at Kimpton Kitlay Samui in Thailand will see Emma, the Labrador Retriever owned by General Manager, Michael Janssen, roaming the idyllic resort each day and from time to time, testing the pool water. Just make sure you’re outside the shake zone.

“She walks the resort with me every morning when I go on my rounds – greeting our guests and their furkids too,” Janssen beamed.

“On occasions, she hosts our Pets Programme activities with me such as our popular beach walks in the evenings along Choeng Mon beach.”

Emma loves hearing travel stories from her fellow visiting pooches
Emma loves hearing travel stories from her fellow visiting pooches

The pet-friendly hotel has developed the ‘Paw Priority’ bag loaded with healthy treats for guests bringing their own puppy to the resort. And much like Kimpton’s ‘Social Hour’ community gathering, there’s also the ‘Furry Hour’ where pets enjoying a holiday with their owners can mingle.

Even dogs need their social time.

Winston - Fairmont Empress Victoria, Canada

Winston is just one of more than a dozen pups in residence at Fairmont hotels in North America
Winston is just one of more than a dozen pups in residence at Fairmont hotels in North America

Stay at any one of 12 Fairmont hotels in the US and Canada and you’re bound to run into at least one (there are two at some hotels) of the adorable pups in its ‘Canine Ambassador’ program.

Now this is a loyalty program I can get behind!

The program works with Canada’s Guide Dogs for the Blind and similar non-profit organisations to rehome trained dogs at Fairmont hotels for new careers in hospitality.

One of the most well-known is Winston, a five-year-old Labrador/Golden Retriever who landed his job at Fairmont Empress Victoria in 2019.

Winston can often be found gathering inspiration for his popular blog 'What's Up Winston?'
Winston can often be found gathering inspiration for his popular blog 'What's Up Winston?'

Usually found in the lobby greeting guests, Winston will also keep the door staff company and happily accompanies guests for walks around the hotel’s expansive grounds. The hotel even schedules play sessions for guests to hang out with ‘Winnie’.

“Winston welcomes guests, reduces travel stress, takes guests out for walks around Victoria, and makes everyone feel right at home,” said Fairmont Empress General Manager, Dan McGowan.

The talented Winston even has his own column on the hotel’s website entitled ‘What’s Up, Winston?’ It’s not quite The Daily Growl, but it’s a good read.


Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 125

Now this is one hotel novelty or gimmick which will never go old and stale. How could you possibly feel down when greeted by Man's Best Friend?

06 Nov 2018

Total posts 3

Labradors the clear winner in this department! I know my two would love nothing more than to spend their days like this.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 686

Nice story, Matt - and a fun commentary on an emergent hotel trend.

Also, extra points to "Mac" (Oshen Yeppoon Apartments), "Mr Walker" (Park Hyatt Melbourne) and "Archie" (Peppers Silo, Launceston) who all exhibit stylish taste in fashion with their interesting uniforms.

Woof ! 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1087

The company of dogs is acknowledged as being a great way to reduce anxiety and stress.  As well as hotels, many airports and schools have now introduced a roving canine companion to help people suffering from panic attacks etc.

As the proud owner of a much loved 14 year Labrador, it is very understandable that such a wonderful breed features so highly in these programs.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 503

Doggone it what would the cat people think of this? No reactions so far; Probably cat got their tongue? 

I personally am happy as a dog with a bone.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 503

Mind you, they probably have to be careful not to adopt retired police and sniffer dogs….. old habits may die hard

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jun 2016

Total posts 46

Oh, I love this story - and what a great trend to see. Thanks for a refreshing and happy news story. Something we all need of late.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Sep 2015

Total posts 43

Gimmick. I grew up in the country with hunting dogs and love animals but hope the day never comes when I'll have to stay in hotels with other people's pets running around!

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2022

Total posts 6

Love this story! Great idea - I can't think of a better way to be greeted at a hotel.  


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