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Lifestyle : Everything Pets Special Report
1HERSA1 C031 The Sydney Morning Herald smh.com.au March 9-10, 2013 31 High life: Red Dog's Koko the kelpie was a regular at Sebel Pier One. Altamont Hotel, a 14-room boutique hotel boasting six pet- friendly rooms. The impetus to turn pet-friendly came in 2002 when Slick, the resid- ent kelpie-border collie cross who died recently, turned out to be a hit with guests as she hung out in the lobby. "We thought, 'Hang on, we've got rooms with courtyards and it would be just perfect to have a pet-friendly hotel'," says Slick's owner, hotel manager Alan Morris. "We put it on the website and haven't looked back since." "We find that people who travel with their pets [have animals] that are often better behaved than some people. I know if I had a dog that wasn't well behaved, I wouldn't be travelling with it -- I'd be leaving it at home for someone else to look after." More unusual guests at the Alta- mont over the years include a small kangaroo, snakes, ferrets and a magi- cian and his 20 doves, which were performing a show at the Opera House. "The owners are always delighted and we don't charge any extra--alot of pet-friendly hotels charge cleaning fees," Morris says. Some hotels, he says, also have weight restrictions that mean larger dogs can't stay. "Peo- ple come to us . . . really delighted to find a hotel that takes all sizes and all pets," he says. Slick played an important role for guests who were missing their own dog. That role has been taken over by Slick's five-year-old daughter, Bear. "Slick lives on through her daughter, who is so like her mother," says Mor- ris. "She is just as delightful a dog.''" The Altamont's sister hotel, the Diamant in Potts Point, is considering turning pet-friendly, Morris says. For some accommodation pro- viders, offering pet-friendly rooms simply isn't feasible because of the extra cost and time involved in thor- oughly cleaning and sanitising rooms. CEO of the Accommodation Asso- ciation of Australia, Richard Munro, says: "It's like a restaurant -- if you can't turn it around quickly, you don't make the money that you expect to make. That's the operational aspect but the upside is that more people might stay at your property if you market that you are pet-friendly. "There are all sorts of demograph- ics that travel with pets and if you can facilitate it -- you've got the rooms and facilities -- we encourage them to do that." Laws surrounding the compulsory acceptance of guide dogs have also encouraged more accommodation providers to accept pets as guests, he says. Extra sense: Jac Taylor with Lily the python. Photo: Anna Kucera THE PET FILE Owner: Jac Taylor, Strathfield What is it? Lily is an Atherton Tablelands jun- gle python -- she's 12 years old and just under two metres long. Where do I get one? I joined certain Yahoo chat groups and learned a great deal through that -- you don't go to a pet shop and get a snake, and I think we all rather like it that way. What does it cost to keep one? In summer a snake eats once a week and in winter you've got a snake eating once a month. She eats one large rat per cycle -- each rat costs about $10 or $11. I had my enclosure custom-built in the corner of the lounge room -- it cost about $400. What maintenance is required? You need to give them a certain amount of attention so they stay tame. Who does it suit? Snakes are great pets, particularly if you travel and are away a lot. They're pretty clean as well, which makes them really good for kids. Any cons? You need to know their cycle so you're not giving her a nice hug and she suddenly poos all over you -- there's not a whole lot of warning. 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